The Quest For A Better Laundry Detergent - Washing Your Clothes Shouldn't Be Dangerous ... or itchy. 10 Safe Laundry Detergents For Your Family
Washing your clothing in appropriate intervals is part of good hygiene. It helps your clothes to last and is good for your health. Or is it?
Many have switched to fragrance-free laundry detergents to avoid fragrance sensitivity issues or the additional chemicals, but is that really enough? Did you know that the high-level scrubbing power we expect from our laundry detergents is actually the result of some very hash chemicals?
Below I will share some research I have done along with some possible better options. I am very much in the learning and self-educating phase, so feel free to do continued research on these subjects and products especially as time goes on and more information becomes available. I do not claim to be an expert on any of this, hence referencing the experts in the sources linked below. Hope you find it insightful and that it helps you make educated decisions for a safer, cleaner, greener, healthier life!
About 1,4 Dioxane - Is It Dangerous? How To Identify It?
For instance, the solvent 1,4-Dioxane is considered by the EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency) likely to be a human carcinogen. [Read the EPA 1,4 - Dioxane Fact Sheet Here]
What's a carcinogen? Something that has the potential to cause cancer.
Studies on rats whose drinking water has been exposed long-term to 1,4-Dioxane has revealed liver and kidney damage and tumors. In humans 1,4-Dioxane side effects can include headache, dizziness, drowsiness, lack of appetite, and irritation of the throat, lungs, nose, eyes, and skin.
Now add to that knowledge the fact that 1,4- Dioxane is found commonly in laundry detergent. And the more laundry we do, the more we are exposed to this chemical as some of it will remain in the fabric after washing and the more this chemical infiltrates the water system. According to the FDA (US Food & Drug Administration), 1,4 Dioxane "forms as a byproduct during the manufacturing process of certain cosmetic ingredients. These ingredients include certain detergents, foaming agents, emulsifiers, and solvents identifiable by the prefix, word, or syllables "PEG," "Polyethylene," "Polyethylene glycol," "Polyoxyethylene," "-eth-," or "-oxynol-." (source)
So, again, if you are seeing the following, know that 1,4- Dioxane is nearby:
Look carefully. I found quite a few "natural" "eco" laundry detergents that contained some of these! Hopefully I didn't miss any in the brands I list below. If I did, please let me know!
In 2013, Tide agreed to reduce the amount of 1,4 Dioxane in their laundry products. Why the need to reduce it, if it's not a bad ingredient? Why just reduce rather than find a way to eliminate it? [ENS article]
Other Harmful Laundry Detergent Chemicals
Phenols, Phosphates, SLS [sodium laurel sulfate], ammonia, are just a few other harmful ingredients in laundry detergent that can impact your skin, causing irritation and dermatitis. Even worse, some chemicals, such as Nonylphenol Ethoxylate [NPE] are endocrine disrupters, causing hormonal imbalances, lowered metabolism, kidney and liver damage, fertility issues, immune system suppression and more. While some of these chemicals are "inexpensive", the cost on our health is quite high.
Better Laundry Detergent Choices - Grab Green
Philosophy: "You Shouldn't Have To Sacrifice Effective For Non-Toxic".
"It's Not Just About What's Removed, But Also What's Left Behind."
Grab Green wants to combine better-for-you ingredients that are still effective and good for the environment.
Learn about their brand here. Learn about their ingredients here. Shop Grab Green here.
3-In-1 Laundry Detergent Pods
The Grab Green 3-in-1 Laundry Detergent Pods line is made in USA and free of phosphates, chlorine, phthalates, parabens, perfumes, caustic chemicals and dyes. Ingredients are naturally derived and non-toxic. These pouches use 98% less plastic than conventional cleaning products and packaging is recyclable. These are also safer for little ones because they are not dyed which means they don't look like an appealing piece of candy for them to try to eat. Powder pods are also hard to swallow and if ruptured are much less likely to be consumed compared to liquid pods.
These do contain C9011 Pareth-6 as a surfactant of low concern on EWG.
Stoneworks Laundry Detergent Pods
Stoneworks Laundry Detergent Pods are an EPA Safer Choice Certified product. They are also powder pods making them a safer choice to prevent ingestion by children. Plastic-free outer packaging is made from Kraft paper. Again, made without phosphate, chlorine, dyes, and available in fragrance free or some interesting essential oil fragrances.
Stoneworks Laundry Detergent Pods in Olive Leaf [Patchouli, Geranium, Clove, and Peppermint Essential Oils]
Stoneworks Laundry Detergent Pods in Oak Tree [Cedarwood, Cinnamon, Geranium, and Patchouli Essential Oils]
These do contain C9011 Pareth-6 as a surfactant of low concern on EWG.
Better Laundry Detergent Choices - Dropps
Mission: "Prevention is the Cure. We believe that individuals and families can take simple steps to replace everyday products that are both eco-responsible and economical - which, if multiplied across a multitude of individuals and families, can have a measurable impact on the planet. #onefamilyonehomeonefuture" [source]
Dropps is very interested in reducing plastic waste and it's far reaching effects on earth. Dropps Laundry Pods are free of dyes, chlorine, phosphates, enzymes, optical brighteners and are made from plant-derived ingredients making them biodegradable. See their ingredients here and click "show me the ingredients". The packaging is 100% recyclable, repulpable, and compostable cardboard boxes. The pod film is made of polyvinyl alcohol [PVA] which is said to be biodegradable by micro-organisms naturally in water. Within one month or less it is broken down into component parts, unlike micro plastics which essentially never break down entirely. According to NCBI of NLM of NIH [National Center for Biotechnology Information of US National Library of Medicine of National Institutes of Health. whew, that's a mouthful], Orally administered PVA is relatively harmless. yay! source.
Dropps Stain & Odor Laundry Detergent Pacs - Unscented
Dropps Stain & Odor Laundry Detergent Pacs - Lavender Eucalyptus Essential Oils
Dropps Stain & Odor Laundry Detergent Pacs - Clean Scent Orange and Fir Needle Essential Oils
Dropps Small Loads Sensitive Skin Natural Detergent Pods - Unscented
Dropps Small Loads Sensitive Skin Natural Detergent Pods - Fresh
Contains triethanolamine which may be of concern according to EWG.
Better Laundry Detergent Choices - Lucky Fiji Water Soluble Detergent Sheet by LG
Wish I could find more information on these, but they could be great for travel in particular. They are free from Petroleum Surfactants, Phosphate, Fluorescent Whitening Agents, Parabens, and Triclosan. Safe cleaning ingredients include Baking Soda, Coconut Fruits, Papaya and "Aroma Oil" [I would like more information on that.] They say the Lucky Fiji laundry sheets are 100% water soluble, so not like those sheets you used to put in the washer then the dryer and later throw away.
Better Laundry Detergent Choices - Seventh Generation Laundry Detergent Packs
Seventh Generation Laundry Packs are 100% Free of fragrances, dyes, synthetic brighteners. An EPA safer choice product, you can find an ingredient list on the container. Unfortunately they come in plastic containers, but the good thing is the container is made from 100% recycled plastic and is recyclable.
These do contain Laureth-6 as a cleaning agent of low concern on EWG.
Better Laundry Detergent Choices - Nellie's All Natural Non Toxic Vegan Powdered Laundry Detergent
Nellie's has no SLS, SLES, gluten, phosphates, fragrance or chlorine. It comes in a metal container.
Better Laundry Detergent Choices - Clean Cult Biodegradable Non Toxic Laundry Detergent Tablets
CleanCult makes use of coconuts as an SLS alternative. See all ingredients on their site here
They are also promoting zero waste packaging which is excellent.
Better Laundry Detergent Choices - Molly's Suds
Molly's Suds Natural Laundry Soap Powder is free of toxins, synthetic fragrances, dyes, optical brighteners, parabens, chlorine, fillers, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Phthalates, Petrochemicals, or known carcinogens. Nice.
Better Laundry Detergent Choices - Rockin' Green
Rockin' Green is all about Vegan, Gluten Free, Biodegradable, Recyclable Packaging, Plant-Based, Cruelty Free, Sustainably Manufactured products. They are not all about parabens, phthalates, optical brighteners, sodium hypochlorite, phosphates, artificial fragrance, SLS, SLES, or dyes. Solid.
Better Laundry Detergent Choices - SoapNuts/Soap Berries
For one of the most natural options out there - straight up soap nuts. This is a dried fruit that naturally cleans your laundry! [read more here] Toss them in the pouch and then into your washer. Or you can boil them to make liquid soap too!
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