Laundry Detergent: 10 Harmful Ingredients to Avoid

Laundry detergent is a necessity in everyone’s home. There are so many different brands, prices, sizes, forms, and fragrances out there that it’s hard to know which ones are best to use. Sometimes people just get the cheapest ones that they can find, no matter what brand or any of those other attributes.

One thing that I like to look for in laundry detergents to determine if it’s what’s best for our family is the ingredient list.

There are some ingredients that are in well-known brand laundry detergents that can be harmful to humans. When looking for the right detergent, avoiding the ones with those harmful ingredients may be healthier for the whole family. Which laundry detergent ingredients are harmful? Why are they considered harmful? Which brands are safe to buy without those harmful ingredients?

10 Harmful Ingredients in Laundry Detergents 

1. Synthetic fragrances. I put this one first, because when most people think about
laundry detergent, they may think about making their clothes SMELL better. If they smell
better, they MUST be clean, right? That’s not always the case. Looking for the best
smelling detergent isn’t always the way to go. Most scented detergents use synthetic
fragrances and those synthetic fragrances cover up bad smells, not necessarily remove
them from the clothes. Plus, they could be made out of chemicals that are bad for the
lungs, skin, and body overall. Companies get away with not having to list all of the
ingredients that are put into their fragrances because of a legal loophole. They can
simply just add the word “fragrance” to the ingredients list and it be made up of 10 or
more ingredients. After further studying, some companies use ingredients for their
fragrances that are known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors. 

2. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate & Sodium Laureth Sulfate/ Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate
. These are probably the most prevalent ingredients in most laundry
detergents. SLS and SLES are also found in other home products like dish soap,
shampoo, and handwash soaps. These ingredients are surfactants used to remove dirt
and stains from the clothes. Little do most people know, these ingredients can cause
inflammation to the skin, eyes, and lungs.

3. Phosphates. There are links between exposure to phosphates and diseases like heart
disease, bone disease, and even death. 

4. Formaldehyde. Did you know that this is the toxic chemical used to preserve dead
bodies? Being exposed to this chemical can increase your risk of cancer, lower your
immune system, and cause allergic reactions. 

5. Chlorine Bleach. This is one of the most common ingredients in cleaning and laundry
agents used, because it’s known to make things WHITE. The strong smell of bleach and
headache that follows, along with warning labels on the products with the bleach in it,
makes it clear that this isn’t a chemical you should be exposed to daily. If you are told on
labels that you should wear gloves, masks, and wash after being exposed, it’s not
something to add to your laundry loads. Bleach is a lung and skin irritant. 

6. Harmful Dyes. This ingredient doesn’t do anything for the cleanliness of the clothes. It’s
usually just added to make the detergent a different color. Why? Just for commercial
purposes. The chemicals that make up the dyes are skin irritants and are proven
carcinogens and endocrine disruptors. 

7. Optical Brighteners. These are added to laundry detergents to help “remove stains”.
Instead of removing the stains, they provide a layer of chemicals that HIDES the stains.
These brighteners are bad for the skin and lungs. Also, they aren’t supposed to be
exposed to static electricity and they aren’t biodegradable. They contaminate our water

8. Benzyl Acetate. This chemical is bad for the skin and can do some damage to the
kidneys and nervous system. 

9. Nonylphenol Ethoxylates (Nonoxynol, NPEs). This ingredient has many warnings
about being harmful to the eyes, skin, and lungs. Prolonged exposure may even lead to

10. Dichlorobenzene (P-Dichlorobenzene/ Benzene). This one is known as an eye irritant and can cause permanent eye damage. It is also listed with a carcinogen warning.

Some brands that use these ingredients are Tide, Bounty, All, and Arm & Hammer. Yes, those are the most popular ones you know of, right? I’d like to share some brands with you that may be better alternatives to use.

Laundry Detergent Brands Without Harmful Ingredients 

 Truly Free Elevate your home environment, protect your health, and revel in the peace of mind that comes from using safe, eco-friendly cleaning products delivered to your home. Get your first 300 loads free here! (My husband even loves this one!)

 Rowe Casa – This powerful laundry detergent recipe is safe for all family members while doing an excellent job getting your clothes clean. Say goodbye to false fragrances and harmful chemicals which transfer to you and your family through your skin. Use the code LYNELL20 to save 20% on your first order.

 Branch Basics – This one concentrate that you can turn into laundry soap, all-purpose cleaner, foaming hand soap, and more! Get a discount at the check-out with this link.

Hopefully, this list of other brands will help you with finding the best alternatives for your family to avoid the harmful ingredients listed above. Have you used any of these brands mentioned? If so, let me know below! I’d love to hear your experience!

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