The issue with laundry detergents is that they leave a residue on the clothing after they are dried. These residue contain a variety of chemicals which
- Cause irritation to skin and eyes
- Cause Endocrine Disruptions
- Have carcinogenic ingredients
But before the baby was born it never occurred to us to research on the potential hazards of using the laundry detergents. The fact is that they may be responsible in many ways for the proliferation of cancer in society but a co-relation is yet to be discovered and is unlikely to be, considering the variety of hazards we encounter on a daily basis.
Conventional detergents contain the following in addition to unknown elements in fragrances etc. that don’t need disclosure.
- synthetic detergents, which are often made of petrochemicals
- phenols (established endocrine disruptors, of which BPA is the most notorious)
- Toxic fragrance (which usually contains phthalates)
- optical brighteners, which are often made from benzene, a definite carcinogen
- bleach, which contains chlorine (an environmental toxin–and possibly a carcinogen and endocrine disruptor)
- phosphates, which break down minerals and render detergent more effective, but with harmful environmental ramifications
In any case you will not want to use regular detergents for your babies clothes and believe me you will have a ton to wash. So you go to a baby store and you see a particular brand that is omnipresent – Dreft, marketed widely as being safe for babies. So you let out a sigh of relief and add a big bottle to your cart. For most parents this is where their vigilance ends.
But there is where our journey begins – since I already knew that Dreft was the most popular product and decided to do some due diligence.
Here is a partial list of ingredients of Dreft – none of which leave you with a feel good emotion.
Fragrance, propylene glycol, ethanolamine, ethanol, sodium hydroxide, diethylene glycol, polyethylene glycol 4000 (which Skin Deep scores as 5-8), and about a dozen other ingredients make up the “gentle” clean of Dreft. EWG score: D-F, depending on formula.
My suggestion – skip this brand that is advertised widely as safe for babies, its not about the safety of the product, it is just a perception that good marketing can create without somehow crossing the limits of illegality.
So what do you choose – you don’t just want a safe detergent( that does not cause visible rashes or allergy and does not have poisonous chemicals), you also want one that works – right? If you are using cloth diapers, you want one that cleans them well and does not reduce their absorbing capabilities.
Here are my recommendations –
- Charlie’s Soap “Laundry Powder” 2.64 lbs – My no 1 is a powder that is truly effective is mostly safe. I can only go so far in attesting to its safety because I know that they dont disclose certain ingredients(as propreitory) and there is no way I can guarantee that there is nothing offensive. Many cloth diaper companies recommend this detergent. Some folks may not like the powder and for them I suggest the Charlie’s Soap Laundry Liquid which is a little more expensive.
3. Method 8x– There are a few other brands that are highly recommended across blogs but they are usually only useful for gentle stains. The only one that stands out in this group is the Method 8x which cleaned extremely well. I would recommend the Method followed by Bio-Kleen among all these but you might try out the others as well – you cannot go wrong with lighter stains or if your kids have grown up a bit.
- Eco- Me
- Planet 2X Ultra Laundry Detergent, Unscented
- Method 8x Concentrated Laundry Detergent
Puracy Natural Liquid Laundry Detergent – Sulfate-Free – THE BEST High Efficiency Soap – Free & Clear – 10x Concentrated – Puracy has emerged as the leading brand for laundry and it has no phosphates, sulfates, petrochemicals, animal by-products, chlorine, perfumes, dyes, allergens. However, it has got an F EWG rating on account of the presence of enzymes which contain borax(enzymes are supposed to help the detergent perform better. I still dont have enough information to base my recommendation on. I suggest you do more research and decide on this one. Only other con is that the pump does not seem to be the best available- it is leaky and hard to use. It is the best seller in cloth diaper detergents.