Laundry Detergents:
7 Hidden Dangers for Children

At VegHealth, we’re all about health in all its forms… Not just what we feed our bodies with food, but also what we feed our bodies through our environment, as well. 


Your skin absorbs far more than just the cosmetics you put on it. As your largest organ, it’s always absorbing at least a little from whatever touches it. 


That’s even more true for children. Their skin is less thick and more permeable. So what goes next to your child’s skin is really worth considering.


Including clothing! 

Today we’re looking at 7 common toxins that are found in many laundry detergents, stain removers and softeners, so you can avoid them and choose healthier alternatives.

Laundry detergents are a common household product that many of us use without a second thought. We trust them to get our clothes clean, fresh, and free from stains. 

Yet, many (if not most!) laundry detergents contain chemicals and toxins that can be harmful to our health, especially for children. 

Here are seven of these dangerous chemicals, their effects, and ways to avoid them.

1. Phosphates

What they are: Phosphates are used in detergents to soften water and enhance detergent performance.

Why they’re harmful: While phosphates break down naturally, their excessive use has led to environmental concerns. In waterways, they can cause harmful algal blooms which deplete oxygen and harm aquatic life. More directly, phosphates can cause skin irritation in children, and when ingested, can result in symptoms like nausea and diarrhea.

2. Surfactants (like nonylphenol ethoxylates, NPEs)

What they are: Surfactants help detergents to spread, penetrate, and wash away dirt.

Why they’re harmful: Some surfactants are known to be endocrine disruptors. They can mimic hormones in the body and disturb normal hormonal functions. Children, with their developing bodies, are particularly vulnerable to these disruptions.

3. Fragrances

What they are: Chemical compounds used to give laundry a pleasant smell.

Why they’re harmful: Many synthetic fragrances contain phthalates, which are known endocrine disruptors. Additionally, fragrances can cause allergic reactions, asthma attacks, and other respiratory issues, especially in children who are more susceptible.

4. Formaldehyde and Formaldehyde Releasers

What they are: These chemicals are used as preservatives in some laundry detergents.

Why they’re harmful: Formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen. Its releasers can cause allergic reactions and skin irritations. Children’s skin is more delicate and permeable than adults’, making them more vulnerable to these irritants.

5. Bleaching Agents (like chlorine bleach)

What they are: Chemicals used to whiten and brighten laundry.

Why they’re harmful: Bleaching agents can cause skin, eye, and respiratory irritations. When mixed with other household chemicals, chlorine bleach can produce dangerous fumes.

6. 1,4-dioxane

What they are: A by-product of the ethoxylation process in making detergents.

Why they’re harmful: 1,4-dioxane is a probable human carcinogen. Even though it’s a by-product and not an intentionally added ingredient, it’s still found in many laundry detergents.

7. Optical Brighteners

What they are: Chemicals that make clothes appear whiter and brighter.

Why they’re harmful: They can cause skin irritation, and when they wash off into waterways, they can be toxic to aquatic life. Moreover, they can cause allergic reactions in some children when residues remain on clothes.

How to Protect Your Children

1. Read Labels: Check for chemicals listed above and opt for products that are free from them.

2. Opt for Fragrance-Free: Choose detergents that don’t have added, unlisted fragrances.

3. Natural and Organic: Consider using natural or organic laundry detergents which will have fewer harmful ingredients.

4. Homemade Detergents: Making your own detergent at home allows you to control the ingredients.

5. Rinse Thoroughly: Ensure that clothes, especially children’s clothes, are well-rinsed to remove detergent residues. This can especially be helpful for kids with a lot of allergies. 

While laundry detergents are essential in our daily lives, it’s crucial to be aware of their potential harm, especially to children. 

By staying informed and making conscious choices, we can protect the health and well-being of our youngest family members and yourself!

Our very favorite, clean laundry detergent is from TrulyFree and they are GIVING AWAY 50 FREE LOADS OF TOXIN-FREE LAUNDRY! 

They always sell out during these Back to School deals so make sure you take advantage of it now. 

To Health Inside & Out! 


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