To live a truly green and healthy life, simply changing what you eat and how often you exercise can make a huge impact; but, why stop there? Your home is your haven, and it is meant to keep you and your family safe and comfortable. Unfortunately, there are certain products common to many homes that might be damaging your health, and a main offender may be in your laundry room. Many commercial varieties of laundry detergent contain pollutants, chemicals, and artificial preservatives, all toxic to human health.
The Dirty Truth Behind Clean Clothes
When selecting a laundry detergent, it's common to breeze past the unpronounceable ingredient list that is printed on the back of the product. Heck, sometimes what's on sale is the biggest factor in which detergent gets purchased. If you do look at the ingredient label on most commercial laundry detergents, you’ll probably notice that surfactants are listed. This ingredient is a wetting agent that helps water penetrate fabrics. The term "surfactants" isn’t simply one ingredient but a reference to a number of different chemical ingredients.  Surfactants can release benzene, a toxin linked to cancer and reproductive disorders.  
The puzzling thing is that many of the chemicals that are used in brand name detergents aren’t really geared toward keeping our clothes clean. In fact, most detergents are simply aesthetic enhancers, only improving the smell and appearance of clothing. Don't think the rinse cycle will protect you either – the ingredients in these detergents are known to agitate our health and can contribute to allergies. 
What You Can Do
The answer is simple: use organic laundry detergent.
Organic laundry detergent does not contain chlorine, phosphates, and other artificial additives that are dangerous to human health. They are also free of synthetic dyes and perfumes, both of which can cause allergic reactions in some people and skin outbreaks in others.
Chemicals found in conventional laundry detergent emit fumes that are constantly inhaled throughout the day. Breathing in chemical fumes, even at minute concentrations, may have damaging consequences on endocrinological and neurological health.  When you use organic laundry soap, you and your family are avoiding those dangers.
Phosphate, a common chemical added to laundry detergent, has significantly damaged the environment over the past 40 years. The use of phosphates in detergents has been increasingly scrutinized, mostly due to their poisonous effects on fish and the environment.  Choosing organic detergent can help reduce the chemicals that invade our natural landscape. 
In direct response to consumer demand, many manufacturers are attempting to go green with their products in an effort to protect the environment and satisfy their customers. Also, many laundry detergents are now being sold in smaller, concentrated forms, which some may say can reduce waste. However, the best alternative for environmental and physical health is to purchase organic detergents that are made with natural, certified ingredients. They are more gentle on fabrics, healthier for our bodies, and safer for every living thing.
Do you have a favorite organic laundry detergent? Please leave a comment and share it with us!
- Milton J. Rosen, Joy T. Kunjappu. Surfactants. Surfactants and Interfacial Phenomena. Fourth Edition. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
- James Huff, PhD. Benzene-induced Cancers: Abridged History and Occupational Health Impact. International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health. 2007 April-June; 13(2): 213-221.
- Xing C, F Marchetti, G Li, RH Weldon, E Kurtovich, S Young, TE Schmid, L Zhang, S Rappaport S Waidyanatha, AJ Wyrobek and B Eskenazi. Benzene exposure near the U.S. permissible limit is associated with sper aneuploidy. Environmental Health Perspectives doi: 10.1289/ehp.0901531.
- Belsito DV, Fransway AF, Fowler JF Jr, Sherertz EF, Maibach HI, Mark JG Jr, Mathias CG, Rietschel RL, Storrs FJ, Nethercott JR. Allergic contact dermatitis to detergents: a multicenter study to assess prevalence. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2002 February;46(2):200-6.
- Yin Li, Colin J. Luh, Katherine A. Burns, Yukitomo Arao, Zhongliang Jiang, Christina T. Teng, Raymond R. Tice, and Kenneth S. Korach. Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs): In Vitro Mechanism of Estrogenic Activation and Differential Effects on ER Target Genes. Environmental Health Perspective. DOI: 10.1289/ehp.1205941.
- EPA. Phosphorus. United States Environmental Protection Agency.
- Jonathan Köhler. Detergen Phosphates: an EU Policy Assessment. Journal of Business Chemistry. Vol. 3, Issue 2. May 2006.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.