In the quest for a less toxic lifestyle, it is important to pay attention to the products we use every day, such as detergent and fabric softener. Did you know that many common detergents and fabric softeners are full of chemicals that are extremely harmful to your health? No worries, we didn't know that either and have done laundry for years with supermarket detergent full of SLS... yikes! In this blog we tell you which ingredients you should absolutely avoid in detergent, we show you our favorite less toxic detergents and we give you a DIY detergent recipe.
The Chemical Cocktail in Common Detergents
Almost all detergents and fabric softeners contain substances that you would rather avoid. In the Netherlands, detergent must comply with the European Detergent Regulation (648/2004/EC). This regulation requires manufacturers to make information on the composition of detergents (including dishwashing detergents, cleaners, detergents, detergents and washing powders) available on a website. This is intended to provide information to people who are allergic to certain ingredients in these products.
While many common detergents contain ingredients that have been formally approved for use, it is important to understand that adverse health effects are not solely dependent on individual ingredients. The problem often lies in the cumulative exposure to these substances over time. Also, many of these ingredients can gradually accumulate in our body. This can lead to health problems over time, even if each individual ingredient remains within legal limits.
Let's take a look at some of the harmful ingredients found in most detergents/fabric softeners:
Petroleum Distillates: Petroleum in your detergent? Rather not! They are often used in detergents while they can be carcinogenic.
Perfume: Perfume makes your clothes smell nice after washing. Or at least... you're still convinced of that now. You will find that as you eliminate more and more toxic products from your life, you will develop a natural aversion to all artificial fragrances (except when the perfume is composed of essential oils). Artificial fragrances (also referred to as perfume, aroma, or fragrance on the label) can be toxic to humans. They often contain endocrine disrupting chemicals, such as phthalates, which can disrupt hormone balance. That can lead to fertility problems, disturbed thyroid function, diabetes, obesity and even certain cancers.
Optical brighteners: Optical brighteners ensure that white clothing and textiles remain white over time. These whitening agents are logically mainly found in detergents for white clothing. They can cause skin irritations and allergies, and are particularly bad for the environment because they are not easily degradable. So avoid!
Phosphates: Although phosphates are now banned in detergents in many countries, it is still important to check whether a detergent is phosphate-free. Phosphates can cause water pollution and algal blooms in water bodies.
Chlorine bleaches: Chlorine bleaches can create toxic fumes when interacting with other substances and are potentially hazardous to the respiratory system and health in general.
Palm oil: Many detergents contain palm oil. Well, do we really have to explain that the use of palm oil is no longer possible in 2023... the devastating deforestation, anyone?
SLS and SLES: Both SLS and SLES can irritate the skin, especially in people with sensitive skin. Prolonged or repeated exposure to products containing these substances can lead to dryness, redness and itching. In addition, concerns have been raised about the potential of SLS and SLES to have endocrine disrupting effects as they may affect hormone balance. This can lead to fertility problems and other health problems.
Chemicals in fabric softeners: Benzyl acetate (linked to pancreatic cancer) and benzy alcohol (irritates the upper respiratory tract) are harmful substances commonly found in fabric softeners.
Fabric softeners out the door
Was it a bit of a shock, to our list of harmful ingredients? Got it! It can sometimes feel quite overwhelming to start a less toxic life. Does going through detergent etiquettes make you a little too dizzy? Then start throwing out all the fabric softeners you can find in your home. Fabric softeners are packed with nasty substances, and there are good natural alternatives to make your laundry smell nice. With a dash of vinegar in the fabric softener compartment, you can keep your clothes wonderfully soft. How much vinegar you should use depends on the water hardness in your home (vinegar removes the lime from the water). You can check this for your address on waterhardheid.nl .
Our favorite detergents with less toxins
Here are some of our favorite 'less toxic' laundry detergents:
- Marius Fabre laundry detergent . Consists of 100% vegetable oils. No dyes, no added fragrances, no preservatives, no palm oil and no chemical additives.
- The non-toxic Bondi Wash with Tasmanian Pepper & Lavender. Bondi Wash laundry detergent is non-petroleum based and does not contain sulfates, synthetic fragrances, Quats, Phthalates, Triclosan and other toxic substances in their detergents. In addition, Bondi wash products do not contain ingredients that are proven to cause irritation (such as SLS and SLES).
- 100% natural soapnuts . Soapnuts are a great natural and inexpensive alternative to washing with. Soap nuts (or soap nuts) are biodegradable, free of fragrances, free of synthetic fragrances, free of synthetic additives, hypoallergenic, vegan and compostable.
DIY laundry detergent
Did you know that you can also make your own detergent very well? This option is good for your wallet and your health. This is our recipe:
- Grate 1 strip of natural soap (for example from Weleda or a Marseille soap ).
- 1 cup soda.
- 1/2 cup of salt.
- A few liters of hot water.
- Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil.
Add the grated soap, the cup of soda, 1/2 cup of salt and the essential oil to the boiled water and then let the mixture cool down thoroughly (about 24 hours). Et voilà, you have made your own less toxic detergent!