Laundry detergents are supposed to get clothes clean, right? While detergents clear away soil and stains, too many of them leave behind chemicals that are harmful to humans and the environment.
Here are some common laundry toxins from The Galveston County Daily News:
Nonyl Phenoxy Ethoxylate, also known as NPE, is not biodegradable and becomes more toxic as it streams into wastewater. It can block the growth and survival of fish and shellfish.
Optical brighteners coat laundry with microscopic fluorescent particles, thus creating the illustion that clothes are cleaner than they really are. These particles come from benzene, which is also non-biodegradable and poisonous to aquatic life; they can also cause allergic reactions when they rub off on the skin.
Chlorine is common in laundry and cleaning products. It is a powerful irritant to the eyes, respiratory tract, and lungs. In fact, it was used as a chemical weapon in World War I. In the environment, chlorine reacts with other chemicals to form even more harmful compounds.
Other ingredients to avoid include ammonia, artificial fragrances, butoxy ethanol, EDTA, anionic surfactants, monoethanolamine, parabens, phenols, phosphates, phosphoric acid, and sodium lauryl sulfate.
Fortunately, these days you can purchase natural, plant-based laundry detergents made by companies like Seventh Generation.
You can even make your own laundry detergent! Mix equal parts of borax and baking soda in a tightly sealed container; use two tablespoons per load.
Be aware that common household cleaners often contain toxic chemicals, too. Instead of using chemical cleaners that could trigger allergies and asthma, opt for a multi-purpose dry steam cleaner. Steam cleaners use only regular water and steam to clean and disinfect. They’re safe for your family and the environment.