Monday, March 19, 2012

AIRING THE DIRTY LAUNDRY.... on laundry products!

Just like every other mom of active munchkins, we do a lot of laundry at home.   My son gets to the playground clean and comes home looking like he spent the afternoon rolling all over the floor  and diving into the dirt and sand... oh wait that is exactly what he does,  most days, at the playground!

Anyway, as you might suspect, I pride myself on being really good about choosing nontoxic alternatives in every aspect of life, and  for the most part, I have found great products that have work just as good if not better than their toxic counterparts ( skin care products, baby care, cleaning, toys etc) and products I know are non toxic.   There is, however, one area where I have REALLY struggled:    the laundry room.

 Cleaning product companies (including those that produce laundry detergent) aren’t required to disclose the ingredients they use in their products, and what they’re keeping from you could be hazardous to your health.   Even ‘green alternatives’ have been found to have toxic chemicals in them. 

Two independent studies, one from  Women’s Voice for the Earth,   and another from CBC News in Canada,  found that some of the most popular brands of laundry detergents, including those offering ‘green’ claims, had potentially toxic chemicals.

These detergents are specifically marketed to people (like me and you!) who care about keeping chemicals away, who are trying to make a smart healthy choice for their families.... and all had chemicals of concern, none of which are posted in the ingredients list... grrrrrrr

Few things come in such close contact with our bodies as do those things that we wash in the laundry. 

The laundry detergent you use for your family  has access to us and to our munchkin’s bodies twenty four hours a day, every single day.  The detergent (or the chemicals that give our just clean clothes that ‘fresh’ smell) will remain on our clothes all day,  allowing our skin to absorb the chemicals.  Our just washed bed sheets will give off the same chemicals and we will breathe these chemicals in all night long.  Even our munchkin’s teddy bear or precious blankie that he/she carries around all day will be washed using the same detergent. 

A 2010 study by the University of Washington tested 25 popular fragranced consumer products including laundry products (detergents, fabric softeners and dryer) as well was air fresheners, cleaners and personal care products.   It found that:
  • every single one of the products tested (including laundry products) contained an average of 17 volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) .  
  • Every single product had at least ONE VOCs considered toxic or hazardous under federal laws, some even considered  probable carcinogens. 
  • None of the VOC’s emitted from the products were listed on the ingredients label.
  • Even the ‘green ‘ products that made claims of being ‘organic’, ‘natural’ having ‘essential oils’ or being ‘non-toxic’  were found to have these toxic ingredients.

Among the chemicals found in the study and commonly found in laundry products:
  • limonene, a compound with a citrus scent;  Suspected Gastrointestinal or Liver Toxicant, Immunotoxicant, Kidney Toxicant, Neurotoxicant, Respiratory Toxicant, and Skin or Sense Organ Toxicant.
  • ethanol; and acetone, a solvent found in nail polish remover and fabric softener. On the EPA's Hazardous Waste list and can cause central nervous system disorders.
  • acetaldehyde, 1,4-dioxane, formaldehyde and methylene chloride (all probable carcinogen according to the EPA)


For easy steps to follow that can help you eliminate, or at least greatly reduce, the use of nasty chemicals in your laundry... just read our blog post  : Non-Toxic Munchkin 123’s : HOW TO DETOX your laundry room

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