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The Worst Ingredients in Laundry Detergent

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Getting Down on Dirty Detergents

The average family washes approximately 80 pounds of laundry per week—or 35 billion loads of laundry per year! This means that 17.5 billion cups of laundry detergent are being used every year in the U.S. alone. Not only can you come in contact with caustic chemicals via your clothing, from having been laundered in them, but you can breathe them into your lungs once they become airborne in the process of doing your laundry.

The detergent you’re using may contain a cocktail of potent cancer-causing chemicals, some of which the manufacturer doesn’t even have to list on the label. This loophole reduces the odds that you’ll ever discover what’s in there.

Four of the worst offenders are:

1. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)/sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)

2. 1,4-dioxane

3. NPE (nonylphenol ethoxylate)

4. Phosphates

Not only are these chemicals potentially damaging to your health, but they are also contaminating waterways and harming the environment.

According to an article in the Journal of Oleo Science, a laundry detergent concentration of only 2 ppm can cause fish to absorb double the amount of chemicals they would ordinarily absorb. The accumulation of these compounds—phosphates and toxic surfactants—in the environment through wastewaters has had a terrible impact on aquatic wildlife. First, let’s take a look at the surfactants, SLS and SES.

Any discussion of SLS/SLES must include a discussion of 1,4 dioxane because the manufacturing process of SLS/SLES results in its being contaminated with 1,4 dioxane—a known carcinogen.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), and Ammonium Laurel Sulfate (ALS)

Sodium lauryl sulfate is a surfactant, detergent and emulsifier used in thousands of industrial cleaners and cosmetic products. It is present in nearly all shampoos, scalp treatments, hair color and bleaching agents, toothpastes, body washes and cleansers, make-up foundations, liquid hand soaps, and laundry detergents.

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Dr. Mercola

Dr. Mercola has been passionate about health and technology for most of his life. As a doctor of osteopathic medicine, he treated many thousands of patients for over 20 years. In the mid 90’s he integrated his passion for natural health with modern technology via the internet and developed a website, to spread the word about natural ways to achieve optimal health.


+ add your own
12:50PM PDT on Jul 3, 2012

Thanks for the info.

6:10PM PDT on Jun 15, 2012

Thanx, for taking such chances and exposing these toxins. I appreciate your article.

5:24AM PDT on May 23, 2012

One ingredient not mentioned here may also be causing your father to have his rash...
methylisothiazolinone (several names for, check wikipedia) My wife and several others I know have developed alergic reactions (alergies) to this ingredient. AND it is in almost everything.
Laundry soap, dish soap, bar soap, cosmetics, baby wipes, toilet paper, et. al. It is used as a preservative but one web site I was on compared it to of all things... "Agent Orange" (not sure if this is true). But, anytime my wife uses anything with this indredient (methylisothiazolinone) she gets a rash. And it usually takes a couple of days for it to go away. Unfortunately, it is in 7th generation products as well.

8:52AM PDT on May 22, 2012

Scary. My father has rashes from laundry detergent so we have been very careful from what we buy. I have copied the recipe for making your own laundry detergent a few weeks back and will be trying it. My other recipe says to use Bonners soap, which I will. I also have 7th generation on my shelf. I'll have to see if it has any of these chemicals in it.

7:46AM PDT on May 22, 2012

It's great that people are becoming more aware about what is in their household cleaning products, this is something I have known for a while so I use an eco-friendly organic laundry liquid from Faith In Nature that is as good as any of the other detergents,Natural laundry detergent by Faith In Nature

4:24AM PDT on May 21, 2012

Thanks for the heads up about these awful ingredients.

Most states have now banned or severely curtailed phosphates in soaps.

4:39AM PDT on May 18, 2012

thanks for sharing

5:12PM PDT on May 17, 2012

Thanks for the info..

11:48AM PDT on May 17, 2012

I am wondering why governmental and health agencies allow toxic products to be manufactured and distributed.

7:58AM PDT on May 17, 2012

I have eliminated commercial toothpaste and deodorant (found great recipes for natural substitues that work), and now after reading this, the laundry soap and dish soap are next to kick to the curb. There are great homemade recipes that work for these as well. GOODBYE TIDE, GOODBYE GAIN, GOODBYE SURF, GOOD BYE SUNLIGHT.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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Thank you for sharing.

It's nice to be vegan

Interesting. TYFS.


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