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January 19, 2023

8 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 8 laundry detergent ingredients you should eliminate from your home, especially if you have sensitive skin.

1. Nonylphenol ethoxylate

Many of the ingredients on this list are part of the surfactant family. These substances are known to make your products foamy and to reduce the surface tension of water to effectively remove dirt.

Thankfully, not all surfactants are harmful, but nonylphenol ethoxylate is the first to avoid. When used in a detergent, it contaminates wastewater and significantly harms marine life1. Far from ideal for human health, nonylphenol ethoxylate could also be linked to reproductive system problems2.

2. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)

Also from the surfactant family, sodium lauryl sulfate3 and sodium laureth sulfate4 have some nasty flaws. In addition to frequently causing irritation, these two chemical ingredients are very harmful to marine life and can be contaminated with potentially carcinogenic impurities.

3. Phosphates

Phosphate is a mineral substance that is often listed as a laundry detergent ingredient. However, according to Environmental Working Group (EWG), when used frequently in household products, it can cause skin and eye irritation in addition to contributing to water pollution5.

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, fragrances, etc.) found in the detergent used. If that’s the case, you could benefit from switching to a laundry detergent for sensitive skin.

8 laundry detergent ingredients to avoid laundry basket outside

4. Dyes

Have you ever wondered why typical detergents are blue? While the dye added to the detergent doesn’t have a true cleaning effect, it 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.

5. 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 fibres6.

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 problems7

6. 1,4-Dioxane

Considered to be a possible carcinogen under California’s Proposition 658, 1,4-dioxane is the most common contaminant9, 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 blowing agents and emulsifiers:

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

Psst! Most of the laundry detergent ingredients on this list are synthetic substances. Choosing a detergent made from naturally sourced ingredients is a great and simple way to avoid them!

8 laundry detergent ingredients to avoid laundry room

7. Formaldehyde

Classified as a carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer10, this contaminant acts as a preservative and disinfectant in many products that are used daily. Despite being used in low concentrations, this carcinogenic contaminant can still prove harmful to the skin.

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

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

8. 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 life11.

The best laundry detergents for sensitive skin

8 laundry detergent ingredients to avoid laundry basket inside

Have you eliminated each of these laundry detergent ingredients, but your sensitive skin is still acting up? This could be happening because with every wash in your aromatic laundry detergent, comes a mixture of fragrances that can cause asthma and allergic reactions.

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 specifically designed for sensitive 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!

you continue to suffer from itchiness, it could be because you have eczema! Learn more about our tips for appeasing this common skin condition right here.

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Written by Team ATTITUDE

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