When we are considering the health of our family, another area to take a closer look are the products we are using in the laundry room. I encourage you to consider the ingredients in your laundry detergent. Once you have stopped using your old laundry detergent for even a month and you go back and try to breathe that stuff or anything that’s been washed in it, you will thank me. If, for some reason, some article of our clothing gets washed in traditional detergents, I have to wash it multiple times to get that out before I’m comfortable with us using it. Just because it’s “free and clear” and you don’t smell fragrances, there can still be many of these other lurking ingredients.
Many families suffer from eczema, respiratory issues, cancer, sensory processing disorders, and autoimmune diseases that can be triggered or worsened by ingredients found in detergents. Your traditional laundry detergent needs to go. It is literally 24/7 exposure through your respiratory system and skin to horrible things your body has to work hard to process. Strain on your organs. Strain on your health.
- Fragrance: Manufacturers combine a number of chemicals to produce a fragrance—so you’ll believe your clothes are clean because they smell clean—and they don’t have to list those chemicals on the label because of trade protection. As we’ve seen, some of those chemicals can be very toxic.
- Cleaning agents (surfactants): These are included in the formula to help the product clean better. Examples include chemicals like quaternium-15 (known to release formaldehyde, a known carcinogen), diethanolamine (linked with skin and eye irritation and possibly liver problems), nonlphenol ethoxylate or NPE (toxic to nerves, irritating to skin, potential hormone disruptor, toxic to aquatic life), linear alkyl benzene sulfonates or LAS (irritating to skin and eyes and toxic to aquatic life; benzene on its own is a carcinogen), and petroleum distillates (linked to cancer and lung damage).
- Stabilizers: These chemicals help stabilize the formula, so that it lasts longer on the shelf. Examples include polyalkylene oxide or ethylene oxide, which are linked with eye and lung irritation, and even dermatitis. And yet we wonder why we can’t clear up these lingering skin issues.
- Bleach: Bleach may be used separately or may be included in the detergent itself. It’s known to irritate skin, eyes, and lungs, and when it mixes with wastewater, it can form toxic organic compounds that have been linked with respiratory issues, liver, and kidney damage. 1,4-dioxane: This is a chemical by-product of detergent manufacturing. In independent tests, Women’s Voices for the Earth found 89 parts per million (ppm) in Tide Free & Gentle and 63 ppm in regular Tide. They helped increase awareness, and Proctor & Gamble agreed to reformulate to reduce levels to below 25 ppm. Future tests should show whether they made good on that promise. Don’t have a lot of confidence in the progress being made here.
- Brighteners: You’ll find these in detergents advertising their “brightening” powers. Brighter whites! Brighter colors! What’s creating all this brightness? Chemicals that actually remain on the clothes to absorb UV light and help clothes “appear” brighter. We’re talking things like naphthotriazolystilbenes (linked with developmental and reproductive effects), benzoxazolyl, diaminostilbene disulfonate, and more. Since these remain on the clothes, they are likely to come into contact with skin.
- Phosphates & EDTA: Manufacturers use these to make detergents more effective in hard water, and to help prevent dirt from settling back on clothes when they’re washing. These chemicals have long been associated with environmental damage, particularly in our streams and waterways. They cause algae blooms that damage ecosystems. Many detergents have eliminated these, but they’re often using ethylene diamine tetraacetic acid (EDTA) in its place, which does not readily biodegrade, and has been found to be toxic in animal studies.
Even though it was hard to break away from the detergent I had used for years, I knew that switching to Thieves Laundry Soap was right for me. Ask yourself, “is my health worth at least TRYING this out for a little while?” I know you can make the commitment."