Harmful Chemicals in Laundry Detergent


Laundry detergent makes our clothes and linens smell great, removes stains and even helps clothes look fresh and new. Conventional laundry detergents, however, may contain chemicals that could have harmful or dangerous effects on humans and the environment.


  • Napthas, phenols, phosphates, chlorine bleach, chemical fragrance, dioxane and sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate are examples of chemicals found in laundry detergents.

Environmental Effects

  • These chemicals can kill or otherwise harm fish, are toxic to wildlife and pollute water, according to SixWise.com. They also can stimulate algae and other marine plant growth, causing imbalance in ecosystems.

Effects on Humans

  • The chemicals in laundry detergents can irritate skin, eyes and the respiratory system; disrupt hormones; and cause allergies, according to SixWise.com. Some, such as naphthas, have been linked to cancer.


  • Chemicals are diluted when used to make detergent and diluted further when used in the washing machine, making the concentrations low and generally considered safe for use.

Chemical-Free Detergent

  • You can create your own, chemical-free laundry detergent at home by combining 1 grated bar of soap, 1/2 cup borax and 1/2 cup washing soda.

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