Get the DIRT on your laundry

This so-called clean industry has done a great job of hiding their dirty secrets.  

It is estimated Australians do 1.9 billion loads of laundry every year.  Laundry detergent is one of the most common products used in the household.  Detergents are used to clean, remove stains and smelly odours from ourclothes, but atwhat cost is it to the environment andour health?

It is a common thought that the detergent you put in the wash cycle gets washed away.  Unbeknown to you, there is a cocktail of chemicals that gets left behind. A toxic residue that clings to your clothes and absorbs into your skin. This concoction of hazardous chemicals is contributing to the rapid decline in our environment.  It may seem harmless, but laundry detergent is an "everyday" item that can also cause damage to you and your family's health.


Laundry detergents can be loaded with fragrances, preservatives and dyes, endocrine disruptors, neurotoxins and potent cancer-causing chemicals. This toxic concoction can be an issue for those with allergies and skin conditions, causing them to suffer from a ‘hidden allergy’.

Australian law does not require makers of consumer products to list all their ingredients.

 Not only are certain chemicals found in laundry detergents arguably damaging to your health, but they are also polluting waterways and devastating the environment.   

nasty chemicals in your laundry detergent


 So, just how toxic is your prefered laundry, powder or liquid?

Let's take a look at some of the common chemicals included in our laundry detergents.  

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate & Sodium Laureth Sulfate                

Utilised in detergents as a foaming agent (SLS) is a proven a skin irritant, that is doing more harm than good for a few bubbles. That dry and itchy feeling after using certain soaps? That’s from SLS stripping your skin of its moisture. If the toxic side doesn’t get to you, think of the dry, uncomfortable skin.

 SLS is also known to emit toxic fumes when heated.  You can find SLS in many floor cleaners and engine degreasers. It has also been linked to endocrine disruption, neurotoxicity, organ toxicity, skin irritation, and even cancer.

1,4 Dioxane

It is classified by the National Toxicology Program as "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen".It won’t appear on ingredient lists because it’s not intentionally-added. It’s a contaminantthat’s created when certain common ingredients are mixed. Sodium Laureth Sulfate is one of the main chemicals that is found in shampoos and laundry detergents that are commonly contaminated with Dioxane. 



The good news is that phosphates are in the process of being phased out by Australian manufacturers, due to the damaging effects on the environment.  The chemicals have been linked to algal blooms in rivers, which high levels of results in a stifling of aquatic life.


While this is listed as a toxic chemical in laundry detergents, our bodies produce formaldehyde in smaller amounts that isn’t harmful.

However, it is also used to preserve dead bodies and can be damaging in large amounts.

Irritation to the eyes, nose, throat, and the lungs can occur, and there is a possibility of developing contact dermatitis after exposure.  Can also cause coughing, wheezing, chest pains and bronchitis in high levels.

Formaldehyde is also a carcinogenic (cancer-causing) to humans in high doses.

Formaldehyde Source: click here.

hazardous carcinogens in laundry detergent


Along with irritating the skin, it can also affect our lungs and air quality. Most households use top-selling liquid laundry detergent and dryer sheets, which often come with heavy scents. These fragrances contain hazardous chemicals, including two that fall under the carcinogen category. These hazardous chemicals are being emitted from our machines and into the air around us. 

Synthetic fragrances are also often derived from petrochemicals (95%), and some of these are the same ones found in cigarette smoke

Want to know more about synthetic fragrances click herefor my blog post


Chlorine Bleach

This skin and lung irritant can quickly fade colours along with damaging clothes and weakening the fibres of your favourite tee. It also creates extra lint and can even cause yellowing if overused.


 Fillers are used to bulk up laundry powdersto make it look like you are getting more for your money.

 A lot of the fillers used can cause allergic reactions to your skin and affect your health. After the wash cycle, the fillers remain in the microfibers of your fabrics. They are one of the leading causes of skin irritations and have absolutely no impact on the performance of the wash.

As they don't dissolve in water, they can cause build up inside washing machines, causing corrosion and damage over time.  Eventually, they make their way out into the environment. 

Sodium sulphate, Gluten, alcohol, Calcium Carbonates - chalk, limestone and calcite perfume and dyes.


With no cleaning power at all, they are added to make the detergent look appealing and "clean". Many of the dyes found in laundry powders and liquids are even proven carcinogens.  Incredibly irritating on the skin and can cause rashes and allergies. 

Anne Steinemann is a University of Melbourne expert in environmental pollutants who warns more than 90 per cent of exposure to pollutants that affect human health occurs indoors.

“The primary sources of indoor pollutants are building materials and consumer products. They often contain certain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including known carcinogens and neurotoxins which can trigger ill health.” 


Laundry detergent toxins

Don’t let this list of toxic chemicals leave you feeling overwhelmed and concerned about you and your family's health. There are three easy steps you can take to eliminate these harmful chemicals, immediately: 

Review, Ditch and Switch.  

 What to look for when making the switch?

 Always read the labels and check the ingredients. If you are unsure what a particular ingredient is, do a quick Google search. Look for a plant-based, biodegradable formula that performs well and is free from synthesised chemicals and excess packaging. 

Beware of dyes and scented laundry detergents. If you still want that ‘fresh laundry scent’, look for detergents that use ingredients that haven’t been synthesised.  ensure that if it is scented, it's using 100% essential oils

Using natural ingredients as a chemical-free alternative can be just as powerful as using regular tox-filled laundry detergent. Making this small change in every household will protect the environment and your family's health. We have a fantastic range of Australian, chemical-free, environmentally friendly solutions that work for your laundry that has been tested and used by myself and my own family. Click here to see more. 


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