What’s in Your Laundry Detergent?

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Hidden Toxins: How to Find Cancer-Causing Chemicals in Your Personal Care Products (in 10 Seconds or Less)

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September 14, 2017

Have you ever wondered what’s really in your laundry detergent?¬†Find out which toxins may be lurking in this video from my new video series “What’s in it Wednesday” that I do live each week in my private Facebook Community (want to watch live so you can ask questions, or want to catch up on all the videos? Request to join the community here.)

In this video, I’ll tell you what ingredients to be on the lookout for, the surprising “safer” brands that contain some surprising toxins, plus my favorite brands that truly are safer.

My husband also decided to pop in for the video, so I had him help me pronounce (or not pronounce ūüôā ) the ingredient names.

Watch the video, or read the highlights of the transcript below!

Video Transcript (Summary)

For this week’s video, I had a request for¬†Tide laundry detergent. But I decided not to do Tide specifically, and instead just talk about laundry detergents in general.¬†I think we all know that Tide is¬†probably bad for you, and it is. A lot of those laundry detergents are.

A lot of them contain ingredients¬†that can lead to developmental, reproductive, neurodevelopmental issues, and even respiratory effects. We probably don’t¬†even think about that when we’re pouring laundry detergent into our washing machine. But those toxins are absorbing into our clothes, sheets, towels, etc., which means they will be able to absorb into our skin.

Common Toxins in Laundry Detergents

Phenols,¬†which are endocrine disrupters.¬†Basically an endocrine disrupter is a synthetic chemical¬†that disrupts the endocrine system in our bodies. The endocrine system regulates¬†every single function of the body. This includes your thyroid, your reproductive system, your brain, everything. If you’ve got a chemical that’s coming in there and getting in the way of your body’s hormones doing their job, a lot of problems can crop up from that.

Fragrance, and we’ve talked about fragrance in past episodes. I think we did that last week when we talked about the baby shampoo. Fragrance is¬†considered to be a¬†proprietary formula, so companies are not required to tell you which chemicals are used¬†in their fragrance. It can be a few chemicals up to 100 or more chemicals. I’ve read varying reports of how many chemicals can make up fragrance, but the average seems to be about 3,000. The problem is we don’t know which chemicals, including toxins are in any given formula, and¬†a lot¬†of those are formaldehyde-containing, and formaldehyde is a known cancer-causer.

Some of the other chemicals of fragrance most likely include¬†phthalates which are another strong endocrine disrupter. Again, you want to avoid some of those with fragrance because again you don’t know what’s in them. Phthalates are also strong endocrine disruptors, and are also linked to lower IQ in children who were exposed to higher levels of phthalates in the womb.

Then there’s optical brighteners. They are¬†synthetic and they can be linked to cancer, and many also include bleach. Bleach is corrosive to the mucus membranes and harmful to the lungs. You have to think about when you’re washing your clothes, your towels, your clothes, and your sheets and all absorbing all those chemicals, and then you’re putting them on your skin. It’s easy for your skin to absorb those, not to mention that they found that skin is a method of absorption rather than a barrier, so it’s really easy to get some of those chemicals into our bodies.

Toxins in “Natural” Products

You’ll see my husband popping into the video (literally!) for this section He¬†offered to help me go through these chemical names that I’m about to go through for some of the other common toxins in laundry detergents that are considered to be safer, or more “natural brands”.¬†He’s going to help me say some of these ingredient names, so we’ll see how he does. He fully supports what I do, and he likes that we’re doing none toxic and having better, safer products in our home, but he does not want to know the why. He’s just like, “Get the products.” He’s never seen these words before. I just thought maybe it’ll be entertaining if he tells us the words and then I’ll tell you the real word.

(Watch the video from 6:25 to 9:25 to see how he does!)

Methylisothiazolinone (MIT for short). This was named the 2013 allergen of the year. It’s toxic to human skin, so it’s hard to imagine why it’s¬†in your laundry detergent. And¬†lab¬†tests have shown it to be a neurotoxin, meaning that it’s toxic to the nervous system. It’s also toxic to the immune system. One MIT study author said there are probably neurodevelopmental consequences to this ingredient, stating that although¬†he knows it’s a big leap, but the amount of MIT that’s starting to be used in your products is correlating with the rise in neurodevelopmental disorders that we’re seeing with kids like autism, ADHD, and learning disabilities.
Laureth-7¬†and other surfactants. This is another one we talked about¬†last week, too. Anything that ends in “-eth” it going to have possible 1,4 dioxane concerns. 1,4 dioxane is one of those things that’s not required to be listed on a label, yet it’s a probable human carcinogen and¬†it’s been found to be toxic to the kidneys and the liver. Definitely something you don’t want in your natural detergent.

Fragrance. Again, we don’t know what’s in the term “fragrance,” so I recommend avoiding it. Formaldehyde and phthalate exposure is common in the fragrance, so unless the label says something along the lines of “scented with essential oils,” or something similar, I avoid it as much as possible.

And again,¬†phthalates are huge endocrine disrupters. Especially when you’re using this on your kids, And you don’t want to be putting these¬†on your children. Their body systems are still developing, and they have different detoxification systems that can’t flush the chemicals out as quickly as we can.

It could be part of the reason, too, why so many kids are going through puberty at an earlier age because the last stat I read was age seven is the average age that a girl in the United States begins puberty.

Cocamidopropyl betaine.¬†This one has possible nitrosamine contamination. Nitrosamines are definitely cancer-causing, meaning they are known to cause cancer. A lot of natural products actually have this. It helps with the foaming action when they’re taking out something like sodium¬†lauryl sulfate.

“Natural” Brands of Laundry Detergents That Contain Toxins

Mrs. Meyers, The Clean Day Laundry Detergent: Laureth-7, fragrance, and Methylisothiazolinone.

The Honest Company: Cocamidopropyl betaine and MIT.

Greenworks: Fragrance, MIT, and colorants. A lot of the colorants are derived from petroleum sources, and the label doesn’t state that¬†they come¬†from natural sources. I can’t say for sure because they don’t list the source, but that’s probably why they score an F on the Environmental Working Groups Guide to Healthy Cleaning. They also have another ingredient¬†called Sodium Borate, which leads to endocrine and developmental issues.

Safer Laundry Detergents

Molly’s Suds. We’ve used it for a while now. I just use the regular powder. It lasts me forever. You just put one scoop directly into your washing machine. My son cut himself at work. It got blood out of his shirt. It’s gotten grass stains out, it’s gotten everything. I’ve had to soak it a little bit in there, but really it’s done a fantastic job. You can order it through their website or you can get it on Amazon.

Another one I would recommend is MamaSuds. This is another great brand that is safer to use and doesn’t have undesirable toxins.
Side note: I don’t want to scare anybody. I get¬†a lot of great comments and messages, and I’m so happy this video series is helping, but I don’t want to scare anyone off. I’m not 100% chemical free because you can’t be, but what I do is that I pick the chemicals that are important to me and my family because of¬†some of the health issues that we’re facing. My top toxins to prioritize avoiding may be different than yours, and that’s ok; we’re all different. I really concentrate on the neurotoxic ones because I do have a child with learning disabilities and ADHD. That’s really important to us. I am a childhood cancer survivor, so we’ve always been a little careful about what we put on ourselves. Choose what’s right for your family.

I would say start with the one or two products that you use the most, and go¬†from there. Laundry detergent is definitely a big one because if you’re like me, you’re doing laundry everyday. That would be one product I would replace first. I would do the Molly’s Suds or MamaSuds.

If you’re doing food, I would just replace the one or two most-consumed foods in your home. If your child likes hot dogs buy a safer brand a majority of the time, such as Applegate.
What I want you to realize is it’s all about balance. If you have a family member or yourself and you have a health condition, I would definitely go as chemical free as possible. I usually do, but there are just some things you can’t. I just don’t want you to feel the stress. We’re doing the best we can for our families. It can get a little expensive, or you might even run out of options. If you’re traveling or for some reason can’t buy a safer product that you need,¬†you may need to¬†buy those brands that you wouldn’t normally buy, but you can feel good knowing that you’ve taken enough¬†out of your homes and out of your bodies that you can do that every once in a while and feel okay about it.

(Because post is is based off of a transcript from a Facebook Live video, there are no sources. If you would like a list of my sources for this article, please contact me).



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Hidden Toxins: How to Find Cancer-Causing Chemicals in Your Personal Care Products (in 10 Seconds or Less)

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