So you do your laundry and they smell clean, look clean and you’re happy. That’s how it was for me until I learned that some of the ingredients used in my laundry and household cleaners were in fact not so clean themselves.

Thanks to sound science, we now know more about a lot of the ingredients that are being used in household cleaning products, personal care products, beauty and wellness products. Hooray, I say.

That said. What do we do with the information that science gifts us? Well, we can use it to take better care of ourselves by deciding what goes in and on our bodies.

You may not have realized it but your laundry process is a part of your beauty/wellness rituals. Approximately 60 percent of what you put on your body gets absorbed through your skin and end up in your bloodstream, and who knows what can happen when they get in there. The hope is that they will be detoxified by the liver.

Studies have found that household cleaning products release a slew of different chemicals into the atmosphere and guess what? We oftentimes inhale those molecules into our bloodstream. In addition, they can also pollute the air and water.

5 Toxicants In Your Laundry Supplies

1. Bleach

Bleach is an irritant found as a stand-alone or mixed into your laundry product. It is a known eye, lungs, and skin irritant. It has also been linked to organ system toxicity including, lungs, kidney, and liver.

2. Surfactants (Cleaning Agents)

In the words of Angela Richardson, founder of PUR Home, these are the OGs of cleaning products. She has a high respect for them and also a disdain for them. She respects them for their ability to clean. However, her disdain stems from the fact that they are capable of causing the body great harm.

Commonly used surfactants include Quaternium-15, which releases formaldehyde, a known carcinogen (cancer-causing substance); Petroleum distillates also a known carcinogen and organ system toxicant; Diethanolamine (DEA) causes organ system toxicity (liver) and is an eye irritant.


EDTA is used to bind to and decrease the amount of heavy metal (calcium and magnesium) ions in detergent, which softens hard water. They cause organ system toxicity and skin irritation. In addition, they are also environmentally unfriendly to waterways causing algae blooms that reap havoc on ecosystems. 

4. 1, 4-dioxane

1,4-dioxane is a by-product of ethoxylation that dilutes the harshness of other chemicals. It basically creates suds. Be on the alert for polysorbate -20, which can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane. It is a known carcinogen, irritant and causes organ system toxicity.

5. Fragrance

A fragrance is used to give the product a distinct smell. The process of creating fragrances are complex as several chemicals are combined to arrive at the desired fragrance.

The problem is that toxicants can be a by-product of the creation process. Fragrances are known to cause immunotoxicity, neurotoxicity, skin irritations, cancer, and reproductive toxicity.

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