blog 8 ingredients to avoid in laundry detergent ATTITUDE
February 1, 20244 laundry detergent ingredients to avoid

Have you ever thought about what goes into your laundry detergent? Maybe it’s about time you did! Your clothes, sheets, and towels are in direct contact with your skin – and so are the products you use to wash them!


Here are 4 laundry detergent ingredients you should eliminate from your home, especially if you have delicate skin.


1. Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)

Sodium laureth sulfateis surfactant that has some nasty flaws. In addition to frequently causing irritation, this chemical substance is very harmful to marine life and can be contaminated with potentially carcinogenic impurities.

Why is my skin so sensitive to laundry detergent?

The skin is the largest organ of the human body! It acts like a shield by protecting us against several external factors. However, when the skin comes in direct contact with your clean clothes, it can react to various chemical substances (surfactants, dyes, etc.) found in the detergent used. If that’s the case, you could benefit from switching to a laundry detergent for delicate skin.

8 laundry detergent ingredients to avoid laundry basket outside

2. Dyes

Have you ever wondered why typical detergents are blue? Some dyes added to detergent, such as D&C VIOLET NO. 2 (CI 60725)2, may not have a true cleaning effect and can cause skin irritation. The blue tint contains optical brighteners that only make your clothes appear whiter. 

That’s why dye-free laundry detergents are clear! Made from naturally sourced ingredients, these gentle detergents and softeners are the perfect example.

3. Optical brighteners

Like dyes, optical brighteners have no cleaning power. Instead, they act as fluorescent whitening agents that are designed to brighten colours or mask the yellowing of plastic or clothing fibres3.

So why is it best to avoid them? Because many optical brighteners contain a lot of chemical substances, including benzene, which is a totally unacceptable substance according to EWG. Benzene represents an elevated risk in cancer and reproductive system-related problems4. Some, like triazine-stilbenes, do not break down easily and can accumulate in the environment, where they can be toxic to aquatic life5.


4. Chlorine bleach

If your skin is itchy when you get out of the pool, you should avoid chorine bleach in your laundry detergent at all costs. Not only will it irritate your skin, but it can also cause irreparable damage to marine life6.


8 laundry detergent ingredients to avoid laundry room



The contaminants are chemicals that can be found in trace amounts in household products without having been intentionally added. Since they are not ingredients as such, and it is not mandatory to list them among the ingredients on the label, it is difficult to avoid or identify them.




Considered to be a possible carcinogen under California’s Proposition 657, 1,4-dioxane is the most common contaminant8, and perhaps the most difficult to detect because it is not intentionally added to a cleaning product.

Therefore, this contaminant is frequently found in products as a residual (leftover from the manufacturing process) in the following surfactants and emulsifiers:


  • Sodium laureth sulfate and all ingredients ending in the suffix “eth” or “oxynol”
  • Polyethylene, polyethylene glycols (PEG)
  • Polysorbate (20, 30, 80)


    Formaldehyde is classified as a carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer9Although it is prohibited in cosmetic products, substances that can gradually release formaldehyde are allowed.

    To detect formaldehyde, search for the following ingredients on the labels of your cleaning products.

    • DMDM hydantoin
    • Dioazolidinyl urea / imidazolidinyl urea
    • Quaternium-15

    The best laundry detergents for delicate skin

    8 laundry detergent ingredients to avoid laundry basket inside

    Have you eliminated each of these laundry detergent ingredients, but your delicate skin is still acting up? It's possible that you're simply more sensitive to fragrances!

    Fortunately, our collection includes odourless options and even products made for fragile baby skin. Both are available in the standard format and as eco-refills that offer up to four times more product with 80% less plastic!

    Beauty Tip

    If your skin tends to react to laundry detergent, it’s likely that you will need to give it some extra attention. Don’t hesitate to give it all the love and protection it needs by choosing products that are crafted for delicate skin.

    Enriched with soothing naturally sourced ingredients, these products – from baby wipes to deodorants – help soothe and nourish delicate skin.

    With this list of laundry detergent ingredients to avoid, you should be able to wash your clothes – and your worries away!

    If you continue to suffer from patches and itching, we recommend seeking the advice of your health practitioner.

    3. (French only)
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      Written by Team ATTITUDE