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The toxic laundry room. Making the switch to safer alternatives.

Ever wonder what toxins are in your laundry detergent and dryer sheets? Unfortunately ingredients are not required to be listed.  The U.S. department of health and human services website has a health rating on some of the more popular household products.  Go to   http://householdproducts.nlm.nih.gov and see how your favorite products rank.  Avoid anything with a health rating more than a 0.  If you or your children are prone to asthma or skin sensitivity, avoiding these products is a smart idea.  They go into the air, water, and your body.  There are safe and cheap alternatives to each of these products.  Use products that are natural, fragrance-free, concentrated and without chlorine or phosphates. 

I listed a few top household items to avoid and homemade alternatives to help you save money.  Buying eco-friendly options at the store is not always more expensive.  These products are concentrated, so you are not spending money on water.  You can feel better knowing it is better for the environment since these chemicals are not ending up in our water and air and most are made with recycled plastics.  Your family is also not being exposed to the bi-products of these toxins in the air and on their clothes.  

Here are three top selling products and why you should avoid them.  You will also find a homemade alternative. 

Downey fabric softener– Contains mild irritants that go into our water supply, air, and gets absorbed into our bodies.  The warning on the bottle says to not wash children’s flame resistant sleepwear with it. The level of chemicals breaks down the flame retardant chemicals (also something to avoid.)  Signs and symptoms of exposure, if ingested, are gastrointestinal irritation with nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea.  Skin contact may result in transient slight irritation.  They claim this product does not get absorbed into the skin or bloodstream. The health risk is ranked at slight. 

Homemade fabric softener:

In a large bucket mix 1 cup baking soda.  Add 1 cup water.  It will fizz. Add 6 cups distilled white vinegar.  Add another 6 cups of water.   Adding essential oils is optional.  Store in a old detergent bottle.  Add to the final rinse of your laundry cycle. 

Tide laundry detergent An eye irritant, harmful if swallowed, and the warning of keeping away from children.  If inhaled, it can cause respiratory irritation and prolonged exposure may cause respiratory sensitization.  If ingested gastrointestinal irritation with nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea.  This product is used on your clothes and gets absorbed into our water supply, body, and air.  They also claim that it does not get absorbed into your skin.  The health risk is labeled as slight.

Homemade laundry detergent-Add 4 cups hot tap water,1 fels-naptha soap bar or other natural soap bar shaved, 1 cup arm and hammer super washing soda, and ½ cup borax.  Grate the bar of soap and add to saucepan with water.  Stir over medium-low heat until melted completely.  Add 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water.  Add melted soap, washing soda, and borax.  Stir well.  Fill bucket to the top with more hot water, stir, and let sit out overnight to thicken.  Stir and fill a used, clean laundry soap container with the mixture and fill the rest of the way with water.  Shake before using.  You can also add 10-15 drops of essential oil. Makes 10 gallons.

Dreft On the label it states the product is a mild eye irritant, harmful if swallowed, keep out of reach of children.  According to the U.S. department of health and human services website, the potential health hazards include mild transient irritation if exposed to eyes.  If inhaled can cause respiratory sensitivity or symptomatic response (asthma like response). If ingested can cause possible gastrointestinal irritation, nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea.  It gets a mild health rating.  This is especially upsetting since the product is for baby clothes.  They claim it does not get into your baby’s skin or bloodstream. 

Homemade baby laundry detergent– add 1 cup borax, 1 cup washing soda, and 1 cup of powered oxygen cleaner in a plastic container.  Mix ingredients all the way though.  Keep in a large container with a lid.  Add ¼ cup of the detergent to baby clothes wash.  This can also be used for removing stains. 

Being healthy is about avoiding exposure to daily toxins that can hinder your health.  Using laundry detergents and fabric softeners that are harmful to our air, water, and bodies puts us at risk for respiratory problems (asthma), skin conditions, and cancer.  Try making the switch to healthier alternatives.


About dailyhealthtipsformoms

Mom, teacher, coach and wife. I am dedicated to help other mom's live a healthy and happy lifestyle through good eating habits, exercise, and emotional wellness. I graduated with a B.S in Kinesiology and got my Master's in Physical Education. My Thesis was called "Food for Thought" and it investigated how school's sell their students health for profits. This was an eye opening experience for me. I LOVE to run, swim, bike, walk, and be active. I will never slow down! My passion involves learning about new health topics and to share those insights with others.



  1. Pingback: Diabetes Articles» The toxic laundry room. Making the switch to safer alternatives … - April 21, 2011

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