Potentially Toxic Ingredients Found in Most Laundry Detergents

Dr Mercola

For several years now, I've been alerting and educating people on some of the dangers of many popular brands laundry detergent ingredients.

And I can tell you most laundry detergents contain a potentially toxic stew of chemicals that can leave residues behind on your clothing… and can be absorbed by your skin or released into the air you breathe.

Here are just some of the toxins found in typical detergent …

  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) – Chemical foaming agent known as a surfactant. Studies have linked use of this chemical to a variety of health issues from skin irritation to organ toxicity.
  • Dioxane (1,4-dioxane) – The majority of top laundry detergent brands contain this synthetic petrochemical known as a carcinogen. This is a by-product contaminant of the manufacturing process and is not required to be listed on product labels.
  • Linear Alky Benzene Sulfonates (LAS) – Synthetic petrochemicals that biodegrade slowly making them an environmental hazard. Benzene may cause cancer in humans and animals.
  • Nonylphenol Ethoxylate (NPE) – Petrochemical surfactant banned in the EU and Canada. May cause liver and kidney damage. Biodegradable, but biodegrades into more toxic substances.
  • Petroleum distillates (aka napthas) – Derived from synthetic crude oil, linked to cancer, lung and mucous membrane damage.
  • Phenols – Can cause toxicity throughout the entire body.
  • Optical brighteners – Can be toxic to fish and cause allergic reactions in humans.
  • Artificial fragrances – Linked to various toxic effects on fish and mammals, and can cause allergies, skin and eye irritation to humans.
  • Phosphates – Used to prevent dirt from settling back into clothes after being washed. Can stimulate growth of marine plants that trigger unbalanced ecosystems.
  • Ethylene diamine tetraacetic acid (EDTA) – Group of compounds used as an alternative to phosphates. Found to cause reproductive and developmental effects in lab animals and does not readily biodegrade.
  • Sodium Hypochlorite (household bleach) – Chemical precursor to chlorine, which is extremely toxic. Skin contact can produce caustic irritation or burns. Mixing with other cleaning products can create hazardous fumes.

These are just some of the toxic chemicals found in typical laundry detergents that can not only cause you harm, but raise havoc in the environment as well. These harsh chemicals can build up in your clothes and eventually penetrate your skin.

Detergent makers are not required by law to list these ingredients.