Washed clothes may be free from grime but be very toxic.
Your Laundry Detergent may be Hazardous to Your Health
By Joan McDaniel August 23, 2013
Before I start this article, I would like to ask;
What does everyone have against dirt? When I was a kid, I made mud pies for me and my friends. What is so dirty about dirt? We Americans seemed obsessed with getting rid of dirt like we are with bacteria. Science has proven dirt is beneficial to a child’s life, playing in dirt builds a strong immune system. It’s interesting to know mankind used to get B-12 from ingesting dirt. People throughout history weren’t so dirt-phobic or germ conscious, as they are today.
Most of the products sold in the grocery store are labeled anti-xxxx. We want all dirt gone and all bacteria dead (Germ Theory), and that goes for both good and bad bacteria. Is our concept of clean made us dependent on toxic chemicals? It also seems to me to be a little unbalanced when the producers of personal and household cleaners seem more concerned about harm to the environment than harm to the human body.
Before you reach for that laundry detergent you better read a little further.
Big business and well financed laundry detergent commercials are full of propaganda. They show pictures of nature’s mountains, streams, and wildflowers’ giving the impression their product makes clothes fresh as pure mountain air. Words like natural aroma, freshness, and spring renewal are printed on the product label. But, in reality you are wrapping yourself in a toxic blanket of chemicals. Commercial laundry detergents may remove the stains and grime as this old advertisement shows, but leave toxins that cause unwanted problems ranging from cancer, inflammation, neurological damage, skin irritations, and many others.
Clothes cover the whole body and as you sweat, clothes cling to the skin. As I have documented in “Are Skin Care Products Harmful?”, the skin is very absorbent. It is a great delivery system for medications such as birth control, nicorderm patch, pain control and many others. You can absorb more toxins from the skin than you can with food. Eating food goes threw a digestive system that filters out toxins.
Many experts recommend: if you would not eat it or drink it, you should not be letting it come into contact with your skin. Ditch the commercial laundry detergents and seek out more natural ways to clean your clothes.
If you launder with common supermarket toxic detergents, switch to natural detergents. It will take a few washings to remove the residual toxic detergent ingredients completely.
What are some of these toxic chemicals?
Here are just some of the toxic chemicals. These chemicals can not only cause you harm but the environment as well. These chemicals can build up in your clothes and will penetrate your skin and have been known to cause; internal inflammation leading to major disease, and organ failure due to immune malfunction and hormone disruption.
There are at least 17 toxins that go unlisted on the label one of these could be 1,4-dioxane, a synthetic petrochemical carcinogen is a chemical byproduct contaminant of the manufacturing process and is not required to be listed on product labels. This ingredient may also be in shampoos and household cleaning products. 1, 4-dioxane is a surfactant.
Bleach – Sodium Hypochlorite (household bleach) Chemical precursor to chlorine which is extremely toxic. Bleach has harmful side effects that have been known for decades. Bleach is a leading cause of poisoning in the home. It is an irritant to the eyes, nose, skin, and throat. Skin contact can produce caustic irritation or burns. Mixing it with other chemicals will also cause fumes. Bleach also kills all bacteria good and bad.
Brighteners – Can be toxic to fish and other wildlife let alone cause allergic reactions in humans.
Fragrance – Want your clothes to smell fresh? Fragrance chemical additives can be very irritating. They have been known to irritate the eyes, skin and nostrils causing itchy watery eyes, stinging nostrils and red irritated skin. They can also trigger asthma attacks, aggravate allergies, affect your thinking, concentration and coordination. These chemicals have also been linked to toxic effect on fish and mammals.
Phenols – National Health Institute has deemed Phenol as toxic. It can cause damage to body organs like heart, kidney, liver, and lungs. It is very easily absorbed into the skin. Phenols are linked to serious health conditions even death.
Phosphates – Used to prevent dirt from settling back on clothes after being washed. Can stimulate growth of marine plants and trigger unbalanced ecosystems.
Surfactants – A substance which basically binds to oily particles and carries them away with the water during washing. These are what make our clothes clean when we wash them. Surfactants can be natural or synthetic. Natural surfactants are generally safe but chemical or synthetic surfactants are not. Commercial laundry detergents are loaded with synthetic surfactants such as 1,4-dioxane, Linear Alky Benzene Sulfonate (LAS), nonylphenol Ethoxylate (NPE), Petroleum distillates (aka napthas derived from crude oil), and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS).
I find this extremely interesting for most detergents have a Warning label. Harmful is swallowed or comes in contact with the skin. Hmmmmmmm I wear my clothes on my skin and I have found it takes more than one rinse cycle to rid the clothes of the detergent. Have you ever taken a fresh washed towel and soaked it in water only to watch the water bubble. That is left over soap. Good thing for big business and the team of lawyers that represent it.
Any one of these above listed chemical additives can be harmful on its own, but they are combined in most commercial laundry detergents products and can react with each other becoming even more dangerous justifying the above label.
And now we come to Fabric Softener and Dryer Sheets
If you thought the advertisements for Laundry detergent are propaganda what about the Ads for Dryer Sheets?
Fabric softener and Dryer sheet products are available using such names as; Bounce, Cling Free, Downy, Ultra Downy, Essentials, Final touch, Fresh’n Soft, Purex, Snuggle and others. They may make your clothes feel soft and smell fresh, bit these softeners have some of the most toxic products used in laundering products.
Here is a list of contaminants;
- A-Terpineol – Can cause respiratory and nervous system problems.
- Benzyl acetate – Linked to pancreatic cancer.
- Ethyl Acetate – A narcotic on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste list.
- Camphor – May causes potential central nervous system disorders.
- Chloroform — Neurotoxin, anesthetic and carcinogenic
- Limonene – Known carcinogen
- Pentane – A chemical known to be harmful if inhaled
Plus, some fabric softeners and dryer sheets even contain ethanol, an alternative fuel derived from corn, grain, or even agricultural waste. Any wonder it’s on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste list?
What to do
And not wear any clothes or you can stop washing your clothes or
listen to Lee Euler, editor of Cancer Defeated, has some much more realistic tips on how to minimize your risk:
- Wear your clothes longer before laundering them — 2 or 3 times, especially during cooler seasons when they’re barely soiled after one wearing.
- Use 100% non-toxic, biodegradable laundry products.
- Use phosphate-free products.
- Seek out plant-based enzymes and food-based detergents.
- Say no to bleach, dyes, fragrances, optical brighteners, and masking agents.
- Reduce the amount of detergent per load. Remember, the manufacturer’s goal is to sell as much product as possible. You might find your clothes get just as clean with ¼ cup of detergent as with ½ cup. Plus, you’ll save money.
Once you start looking, there a plenty of sources for natural laundry detergents and household cleaners. I searched the internet and found products made from my favorite source Coconut Oil and you can too. Take the time to scrutinize the product contents and more importantly what it is free of.
I have removed all toxins from my house. I wash everything from the bathroom, kitchen sink to the clothes on my back with natural products. I even filter out chlorine from my water, but that is another subject entirely.
What can be easier than dropping a pile of sweaty clothes off to the Dry Cleaners. The returned clothes look sharp. They are pressed and make you look like a pro.
Dry cleaning is used to clean delicate fabrics and textiles that cannot withstand the rough and tumble of a washing machine and clothes dryer; it can also eliminate labor-intensive hand washing. But dry cleaning is anything that would make one think of clean. The process uses a toxic chemical process called tetrachloroethylene (perchloroethylente) which the industry calls “perc” or “PERC”. This is a non-water-based solvent to remove soil and stains from clothes.
But the process perc is an modern day improvement. The ancient Romans used ammonia (derived from urine) to launder their woolen togas. Dry cleaning was first discovered by a French dye-works owner Jean Baptiste Jolly in the mid 19th century. This process used petroleum-based solvents such as gasoline and kerosene. Jean noticed that his tablecloth became cleaner after his maid spilled kerosene on it. He subsequently developed a service cleaning people’s clothes in this manner, which became known as “nettoyage à sec”—i.e., dry cleaning.
Shift to tetrachloroethylene
Flammability concerns led William Joseph Stoddard, to develop Stoddard solvent a less flammable solvent and after World War I much less flammable solvent chlorinated was used. In the 1930s, the dry cleaning industry adopted tetrachloroethylene (perc) a stable, nonflammable, and gentle solvent. It Perc, however, was incidentally the first chemical to be classified as a carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1993.
The dry cleaning industry is in the process of replacing perc with other chemicals and/or methods. If you must dry clean certain clothes, look for an eco-friendly ‘green’ dry cleaner in your area. But remember it is still using chemicals which may be good for the environment but not so great for your health.
Some Cleaners are using a green dry cleaning process which uses a silicone-based solvent and has been around since the late 1990s. The substance is comparable to deodorant, but has a very different job! GreenEarth Cleaning is designed to use detergents and the dry cleaning process to remove stains and soil from fabric, but does so without actually “touching” the fibres.
Following is documentation on the Solviar Cleaning System using the GreenEarth Cleaning system. In my opinion it still contains chemicals, which may be safe for the environment but not very good for the skin. If you can’t eat it, then don’t wear it. But I will let the Company speak for itself. This is from their web-site:
The Solvair Cleaning System, along with being safe for our environment, is a completely heat less process, making it safe for your delicate garments. Parkers were the first dry cleaner in Canada to adopt this technology and we have been amazed by the results we achieve through this process. Solvair uses a biodegradable cleaning liquid to remove dirt and stains and then dries by floating garments in cool liquid C02. This removes the potential for tumbling damage and protects delicate details like buttons and beadwork.
How Dry Cleaning Works