Using laundry detergents is part of our everyday lives. It's an essential cleaning product that we must always have in order to ensure that our clothes and sheets are tidy and hygienic. That is why it is very important to find out what ingredients make up the laundry products we use.
Moreover, we should be critical of them in the same way that we are critical of the food we eat. After all, we wash our clothes with these soaps and wear these same clothes for long hours in a day. We should at least feel safe that we are not in contact with any harmful chemicals or inhaling high doses of fragrances.
Here are three of the most common ingredients of laundry detergents and how each of them can be toxic to you and the environment.
Fragrances are ever present in detergents, and they usually cling to fabrics to preserve the scent for many hours. Sometimes the smell is too strong causing allergies or skin irritation. Moreover, fragrances are typically made from petroleum, which do not degrade in the environment.
Optical brighteners are commonly found in detergents as well. Composed of various synthetic chemicals, it mainly functions to make clothes appear "whiter". However, they don't really help in cleaning the fabric; optical brighteners simply trick your eye.
Much like artificial fragrances, optical brighteners may also cause an allergic reaction when they come in contact with skin. They don't easily degrade as well, so they may be toxic to other living organisms in the environment.
Diethanolamines are synthetic compounds added to detergents in order to make the product non-irritating. Don't be fooled, though, because diethanolamines are quite slow to degrade. Furthermore, they are known to react with natural nitrogen oxides and sodium nitrate pollutants. This can eventually form nitrosamines, which is a family of potent carcinogens.
Keep yourself informed with the products that you are using at home. If you can, you may opt for natural and non-toxic alternatives instead.