Non-Toxic Laundry Detergent Options That Work & Simpler than Making Your Own.
Non-Toxic laundry detergent options that are a simple self-care swap reducing the toxin exposure for you and everyone in your home.
Laundry detergent has toxins we should be aware of. This INCLUDES detergents labeled:
‘Natural’ – ‘Green’ – ‘Organic’.
- WHY Swap to Non-toxic Detergent
- The 3 Top Toxins that convinced me to switch
- 2 Options that work & are Simpler than DYI
- How I Use Each
Q: WHY Should You Consider Swapping to Non-toxic Laundry Detergent?
A: The toxicity.
Our laundry detergent plays a BIG role in our ongoing excess toxin load our body must process.
Alone the 3 toxins in detergents I’m covering are:
- in the air of our home
- on our clothing
- sheets, bedding
- storage surfaces
and are negatively impacting our body.
Today’s 3 Top Toxins Were Enough for Me to Make the Switch
Toxin #1 VOCs from the Fragrance – Scent in Laundry Detergent
“Fragranced laundry products emit a range of VOCs such as acetaldehyde, acetone, ethanol, α-pinene, linalool, and d-limonene…. VOCs are classified as potentially hazardous and can have adverse effects on human health”
How Do These VOC’s Impact The Body?
“ …some VOC’s are trapped by the kidneys, heart, brain, and bones, or are neutralized by our immune system, which attacks foreign bodies and stores them in immune cells….and can even penetrate our brains…..
Once they have penetrated our organs, it appears that these foreign bodies cannot be eliminated.
This means that they accumulate, creating a chronic and continuous low-level inflammation that has a negative impact on our health.” (bold added) (23)
Maybe your first thought was:
mo, I’m sure my detergent is good enough. It is Organic, Natural or labeled ‘GREEN’.
“across the studies, no significant difference was found in the emissions of the most prevalent potentially hazardous VOCs between green (organic, natural) fragranced products and regular fragranced products.”(1)
Labels and Marketing is Misleading.
Such a shame. We keep running up against the same issue when it comes to products. Lots of Greenwashing.
“the process of conveying a false impression; misleading information about how a company’s products are more environmentally sound/safe than they are.”(26)
Fragrance is a Misleading Ingredient On Detergent Labels
Synthetic Fragrances & ‘Natural’ Fragrances:
- wreak havoc on our bodies
- are unregulated
- endocrine disruptors and
- chock full of chemical combinations.
Why would there be fragrances in our laundry detergent if they are bad for our health?
Because that is what we choose to buy.
Fragrance/Scent is the number one driver of sales in the laundry market.
Our ‘trained perception of cleanliness’ associates the fragrance of detergent to cleanliness.
We explored how SCENT is directly connected to our mood in the post SCENT.
It is exactly the mechanism in play here.
Fragrance/Scent is a powerful influencer on what we buy and use. This is well known and marketers uses it extremely well.
We consumers choose detergents with fragrance over the same products that are unscented. I certainly did until I understood its negative impact.
What Makes Fragrance Bad?
A ‘fragrance’ is a scent and, despite its singular name, it is a formulation of dozens of chemicals, such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Nearly 4000 ingredients have been documented for use in the composition of a fragrance (IFRA 2020b). A fragrance is generally intended to “provide an aroma, to mask an odor, or both”
(Steinemann 2019a). (1)
Fragrance/Scent DOES NOT impact the cleanliness of our laundry.
It does however add to the toxic load our body must process.
An example of the hardship placed on your body when exposed just to our first toxin – the VOCs from Fragrance:
Hormone disruption. VOCs disrupt our hormones.
Our hormones control everything!
Knowingly disrupting them is never a good idea.
Fragrance doesn’t only impact our clothes and laundry room air it impacts our entire body and home.
“fragrance molecules can adhere to surfaces during product use and be re-emitted later, even without the product in use” (1)
The Science is There But It is Up to the Consumer to Self Educate, Advocate & Protect their Health.
Easily from way back in 2007 (and I’m sure before) research concluding chronic exposure to VOCs -like those in:
- laundry detergents
- dryer sheets
- spot cleaning products
can be blatantly harmful has existed.
“Children have had seizures after exposure to dryer sheets,…” (1)(24) Some people can’t breathe when exposed to their clean laundry and often don’t make the connection…
More insidious are symptoms exacerbated by VOC hormone disruption like:
- Sleep disturbance
- Weight issues
- Skin issues that are chronic
- Ongoing low level inflammation
- Musculoskeletal system aches
- BP, Immunity, Headaches, Migraines
- Respiratory problems like Asthma, Worsen COPD
- Dizziness, seizures, head pain, fainting, loss of coordination
- Fast or irregular heartbeat, jitteriness, chest discomfort
- Vulnerability to cancer….(1)
Every chemical coming into our body must be processed by our body. Let’s lighten the load!
Bottom line we can all benefit from double checking our laundry detergent to be sure it is actually non-toxic.
Eliminating Detergents with Fragrance or Scent is a fantastic first step.
Q: Why eliminate ALL detergents with fragrance or scent listed?
A: There is zero regulation when it comes to listing what chemicals are in a products fragrance.
“fragranced product ingredients are not required to be fully and specifically disclosed, not on labels, safety data sheets, or elsewhere.
Fragranced products cover hundreds of everyday items, such as air fresheners, deodorizers, cleaning supplies, laundry detergents, fabric softeners, essential oils, candles, soaps, personal care products, and hand sanitizers.” (bold added)(1)
Simple Self Care Tip: When it comes to Toxin 1: Minimally protect yourself by choosing Fragrant FREE – Scent FREE Laundry Detergent
Next up: Toxin #2 Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
The most common toxic ingredient that synthetic sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is derived from is petroleum.
SLS is a foaming agent. We like to see our soap foam up.
We again have been trained to perceive the product is doing a better job.
Unfortunately for our body products with SLS are cause for:
- skin irritation,
- respiratory problems,
- and again endocrine disruption.
If sodium lauryl sulfate is on the label keep looking for a safer detergent.
Toxin # 3: 1,4-Dioxane
This is because 1,4-Dioxane is a solvent and has degreasing action.
It is easily absorbed through our skin as well as through inhalation.
Skip over any detergent with 1,4-Dioxane for a safer option.
The 3 toxins:
- VOCs from Fragrance and Scent
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) derived from petroleum
were on the top of my list to eliminate when I sought out a detergent option that would not add to my/my family’s toxic load.
There are plenty more ingredients plaguing laundry detergent like:
- Heavy metals – arsenic, lead,
- Formaldehyde to name a just few.
If you are looking to dig deeper and explore even more you’ll find the many linked references and resources I’ve provided you below a good starting point.
Now Here’s What I Chose As My Non-toxic Laundry Detergent Options
My 2 non-toxic laundry detergent options that are Simpler than DYI
#1 Soap Nuts. Soapberries.
Simpler, quicker and more cost effective for me than making my own.
- grab 4-6 nuts
- place them in the little draw string bag and
- put it in the washing machine.
Large load 8-10 nuts.
The bag lasts for 4ish loads.
It’s that simple!
How soap nuts work:
Soap nuts (soap berries) contain saponin, a natural detergent! It is inside the soap nut so having them slightly cracked open is needed (they come that way).
The saponin is released when hot water comes in contact with it. It is a detergent that is good at breaking down dirt. NOT oils & stains.
Soap nuts have antibacterial, anti fungal properties and are hypoallergenic. (2)
No Fabric Softener needed. Soap Nuts naturally soften your fabrics.
I personally would separate out items like diapers and heavy stains and use my next non toxic detergent for those items needing more aggressive cleaning.
The same goes for cold water washing. Soap nuts work when the water is heated.
TRAVEL FRIENDLY!!!!! Even internationally! Fantastic.
I always fill a few bags and throw them in my suit case.
That’s it! Always handy whether I want to soak and scrub things in the sink by hand or use a machine.
What you’ll need to make the switch to Soap Nuts as your Non-Toxic Detergent.
This is my laundry basket. It has my
- soap berries
- a bag of little muslin bags
The 1 con I had to overcome
The thing that I needed to figure out and adapt to most was the bags. Untying them was my hurdle.
To resolve this issue I found an inexpensive bag solution.
I bought 100 muslin drawstring bags. (Photo linked below)
That’s 400-600 loads lasting me a couple years.
Soap Nuts Storage Tip
Soap Nuts absorb moisture easily. They become dark & sticky if left exposed to air.
Ideally the nuts should be packed in an airtight container or a plastic bag with the excess air pressed out.
This is the container I use.
It is Ceramic and has a lid that allows the air to escape as you press it down.
Once the lid is down positioned against the Soap Nuts you lower the handle to seal the air out.
Place the Bamboo lid on top.
My Soap Nuts last me for a more than a year when stored this way.
Where to find Soap Nuts.
Your Grocery Store, Online. This is the brand I happen to use:
When there is no soap left in the Soap Nuts you can compost them.
They are 100% biodegradable.
Laundry Detergent Option #2 Puracy FREE CLEAR
They are one ingredient and have a ton to offer and do a nice job on my laundry. They are also gentle on clothing.
BUT when in need of a bit more power the enzymes in this Puracy detergent do the trick EXTREMELY WELL.
This is 64 loads.
They also offer a Refill Bag pictured below.
It pours easily into the Pump Bottle filling it another 3 times! There is very little waste.
These products are concentrated. They are NOT filled with water.
It has gotten out stains that I thought were impossible. Not just clothing stains but table cloth stains, old stains!
The Enzymes in this Non toxic Laundry Detergent
“Plant enzymes are proteins that help break down a wide variety of organic materials… Each one provides different natural chemical reactions.
When you use an enzyme based cleaner, it gets in between cracks, crevices, and fibers to break down stains (and subsequent odors) until the particles are totally eradicated. The best enzyme solutions do it without the harsh detergents and caustic chemicals.” (27)
Both The Detergent Options are Great Non-Toxic Swaps.
They are especially helpful for those who have:
- Sensitive skin
- MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivities)
- Nervous systems of new borns which are sensitive
- Those in a healing crisis
and are both:
- Easy on your clothing
- Strong enough to really clean
- Work well with all machine types
Todays Self Care tip. Swap your detergent to one
- that works!
- doesn’t require you to make it yourself
- is actually non-toxic to you, your family & home.
Knowing how to choose and swap out self care products that can be harmful to ones that support your body:
- helps slow aging
- slow disease
- reduces chronic inflammation
- is favorable to your health span
Your body simply does not have to work as hard when its toxic load is reduced.
Other Popular Posts On Removing Toxins:
References/Resources for you
1 Steinemann, A. The fragranced products phenomenon: air quality and health, science and policy. *Air Qual Atmos Health* **14,**235–243 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11869-020-00928-1
2 Multifacetious Uses of Soapnut Tree – A Review researchgate.net/publication/236632198MultifacetiousUsesofSoapnut
3 Goodman NB, Wheeler AJ, Paevere PJ, Agosti G, Nematollahi N, Steinemann A (2019b) Emissions from dryer vents during use of fragranced and fragrance-free laundry products. Air Qual Atmos Health 12(3):289–295
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