Laundry detergent is the ultimate backstabber. The fresh scents, and pearly whites leave you trusting and believing your clothes are clean and fresh. As you embrace the smell of a fresh shirt, you are actually inhaling synthetic chemicals and expelling toxic wastewater into the environment.
The natural direction most people take is switching to natural or organic detergents. While these prove better, some still have faults. The price is always a consideration. Generally all natural products tend to be more expensive. Also, they can be sneaky.
The following “natural” or “better” detergents still proved some-what bad. This was taken from www.gimmethegoodstuff.com:
• Green Works Free & Clear Detergent. Contains a number of bad ingredients, including synthetic preservatives. EWG score: F.
• BabyGanics Loads of Love Laundry Detergent. Contains SLES and undisclosed conditioning agents. I like that they are relatively transparent about all of their ingredients, and while nothing sounds particularly horrid, when I asked for more details on what was meant by “naturally derived plant based cleaning agents,” they admitted: “Our products do not contain SLS however some our products do have SLES in them.” Yuck! I’ve often made my peace with SLS, but definitely not with its more sinister cousin, which is sometimes contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a well-established carcinogen. EWG Score: F.
• Mrs. Meyers Clean Day Laundry Detergent. Contains synthetic fragrance (though phthalate-free), and preservatives such as methylisothiazolinone, a suspected neurotoxin. EWG Score: F.
• Seventh Generation Liquid Formulas. Also contains methylisothiazolinone. The powder formulas are okay, but not quite Good Stuff. EWG Score: D.
• Caldrea Laundry Detergent. Also contains neurotoxic methylisothiazolinone and sodium laureth sulfate. EWG score: F.
• Charlie’s Soap is the perennial favorite on tons of natural living blogs, and having used their powder formula, I can attest to its effectiveness. Like other producers, Charlie’s is unwilling to provide their exact ingredients, and would only say this when I probed them further: “Our formulas are what make us special. They have been fully tested for toxicity (Duke University) and biodegradability (Japan Food Research Labs) and effectiveness (SGS US Testing Labs). They are unique and (following the practices of Coca-Cola) secret. Their formula is secret too, but that doesn’t keep folks from drinking it.” Hmmm, comparing themselves to Coke probably isn’t Charlie’s savviest PR move—The Coca-Cola Company is not exactly exemplary when it comes to concern for the health of its consumers. While Charlie’s denies using SLS or SLES, one of the ingredients they disclosed is sodium metasilicate–which Skin Deeps considers moderately hazardous and which the Journal of Reproduction and Fertility found to show reproductive effects in animals at low doses. EWG Score: D
• Citra-Suds has also been moved from Good Stuff to Sneaky Stuff. One of my readers suspected that their laundry detergent contains sodium laureth sulfate and I followed up to discover that it does. When doing the initial review I had an email exchange with a company representative and I asked twice if their laundry detergent contained SLES and was told that it did not. I suspect that the woman I talked to was just uniformed, but this is no excuse. In addition, some Citra products (laundry and otherwise) contain limonene, a potential carcinogen and definite respiratory irritant. I was told they used orange oil for fragrance, which is a misleading answer as orange oil is technically a different (and harmless) ingredient. It also contains neurotoxic methylisothiazolinon. EWG Score: C.
Tide Free & Gentle contains optical brighteners and 1,4-dioxane, a probable carcinogen. (A recent New York Times blog post discussed Tide Free & Gentle specifically.) EWG Score: F.
So, you can’t believe everything you hear. The EcoWasher® immediately fixes the problem by eliminating all chemicals correlated with detergents.