Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

5 Ways to Detox Your Laundry

Health + Wellness
5 Ways to Detox Your Laundry

Ah, laundry! Clean, fresh-smelling clothes after that week you spent in those grubby sweats. But is that laundry really as healthy as that fresh smell suggests? Maybe not. Here are a few things you can do to make sure you aren't carrying toxic chemicals around in your laundry basket.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

1. Know what's in your laundry detergent. Read the label and you'll see a long list of things that sounds like the components of a toxic dump site. Fragrant laundry detergents in particular are apt to contain volatile organic compounds, but even unscented detergents can contain more than a dozen such chemicals, including one or more of 24 classified by the U.S. government as hazardous or toxic or even carcinogenic. Since you probably don't have the time or expertise to look up each one, Environmental Working Group has a handy guide that rates hundreds of laundry products on an A-F scale. Sadly, it rates almost 40 percent "F" and only 5.4 percent "A."

2. Don't fall for marketing labels like "natural," "green, "environmentally friendly" or even "organic," which means nothing  on a cleaning product. There are no set standards for any of these terms. However, Green Seal and EcoLogo are independent certifiers of environmentally friendly products that restrict some chemicals. Products with their seal must be reevaluated regularly to assure they meet current standards. The seals are most often found on commercial cleaning products, but if you see it on a home laundry product, grab it.

2. Don't use dyer sheets! Seriously, why are you doing that? You don't need to smell like a field of flowers if your clothes are clean and about the only thing they contribute is another dose of chemicals. Even if you're not sensitive to the fragrance chemicals used to make them smell so sweet—and some of your friends probably are—they have other toxic impacts. While the exact makeup of fragrance compounds is usually a trade secret (and doesn't THAT make you uneasy?), the fabric softeners found in dryer sheets have chemicals known to cause headaches, dizziness and asthma attacks.

5. You obviously want to avoid adding a fabric softener to your wash too. It contains all those toxic chemicals found in dryer sheets. It works by coating your clothes with a thin layer of chemicals that make them feel smoother. One of the most frequently used is quantenary ammonium salts which can cause skin irritation, respiratory problems, nausea, vomiting, convulsions, coma and even death. Although you are unlikely to die from walking around in clothes coated with it—a rash or allergic-type reaction is more likely— why would you want to?

5. Instead of dryer sheets, try an alternative like reusable wool balls. They will soften your clothes and get rid of static clean and wrinkles, won't create waste like throw-away dryer sheets and won't leave your clothes smelling like a cloying bouquet. Or just toss an old wool sweater in the dryer along with your clothes to make them dry faster and smoother.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Are Your Clothes Toxic?

6 Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Toxic Dryer Sheets

3 Common Chemicals That May Cause Breast Cancer

Project goal: To create an environmentally friendly and sustainable alternative to leather, in this case using fungi.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Plastic waste is bulldozed at a landfill. Needpix

The plastic recycling model was never economically viable, but oil and gas companies still touted it as a magic solution to waste, selling the American public a lie so the companies could keep pushing new plastic.

Read More Show Less

Trending

54% of parents with school-age children expressed concern that their children could fall behind academically, according to a poll conducted over the summer of 2020. Maria Symchych-Navrotska / Getty Images

By Pamela Davis-Kean

With in-person instruction becoming the exception rather than the norm, 54% of parents with school-age children expressed concern that their children could fall behind academically, according to a poll conducted over the summer of 2020. Initial projections from the Northwest Evaluation Association, which conducts research and creates commonly used standardized tests, suggest that these fears are well-grounded, especially for children from low-income families.

Read More Show Less
A teenager reads a school English assignment at home after her school shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic on March 22, 2020 in Brooklyn, New York. Andrew Lichtenstein / Corbis via Getty Images

The pandemic has affected everyone, but mental health experts warn that youth and teens are suffering disproportionately and that depression and suicide rates are increasing.

Read More Show Less
In an ad released by Republican Voters Against Trump, former coronavirus task force member Olivia Troye roasted the president for his response. Republican Voters Against Trump / YouTube

Yet another former Trump administration staffer has come out with an endorsement for former Vice President Joe Biden, this time in response to President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch