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Is Laundry Detergent Toxic?

We all know laundry detergent is a household staple. But have you ever paused to consider is laundry detergent toxic?

This article delves into the often overlooked aspects of laundry detergents, including their potentially harmful ingredients, the risks they pose to our health and the environment, and why switching to eco-friendly alternatives, like those offered by Activated Eco, is not just a trend but a necessity.

We'll also explore the hidden dangers lurking in conventional laundry detergents and provide insights into safer, more sustainable choices. 

Let's unravel the truth behind what's really in your laundry detergent.

What this article covers:

Toxic Ingredients Frequently Found in Laundry Detergents

When investigating whether laundry detergents are toxic, the ingredients they contain must be scrutinized. Many conventional detergents are formulated with chemicals that can be harmful to both human health and the environment.

Understanding these toxic ingredients is the first step towards making a health-first, environmentally conscious choice.


While enhancing the sensory experience, fragrances in traditional laundry detergents can be a source of hidden toxicity. Based on our observations these scents are often a complex blend of chemicals that carry health risks that are not immediately apparent.

Many fragrances contain chemicals like benzene and acetaldehyde, which have been linked to serious health issues such as leukemia and other forms of cancer. Not to mention causing skin irritation.

On the other hand, our detergent sheets are available in a fragrance-free variety. They are made from natural, coconut-derived ingredients that are gentle on the skin.

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Dyes in laundry detergents are primarily used for aesthetic purposes, giving products a visually appealing colour. However, these seemingly harmless colourants can have hidden harmful effects, both on human health and the environment.

Up to 26% of people may experience adverse reactions to certain dye components. Additionally, many dyes used in laundry detergents are not readily biodegradable, meaning they can linger on clothes and in the environment long after the washing process.

When washed away, these dyes can contaminate waterways, adversely affecting aquatic life. This contamination can disrupt the balance of marine environments, leading to broader ecological consequences.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is a common ingredient in laundry detergents, valued for its effectiveness in removing dirt and creating a satisfying lather. However, its inclusion in these products is not without controversy.

Our research indicates that according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, while SLS can be safe in cleaning products when formulated correctly, it has irritancy potential, particularly when used in higher concentrations.

This can lead to skin irritation, and in some cases, more severe reactions like dermatitis.

Sodium Laureth Sulfate

Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) is a surfactant commonly found in laundry detergents. While similar to Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), SLES is often considered a gentler alternative. However, it's not without its own set of concerns.

Like SLS, a primary issue with SLES is its potential for irritation. Although it's generally less irritating than SLS, prolonged exposure to concentrated SLES can still cause skin irritation.

is washing detergent toxic

As it pertains to how is detergent made, the manufacturing process of SLES also raises environmental concerns, namely regarding the use of ethylene oxide, a chemical used in its production that is harmful to both humans and the environment, given extended exposure.

Lastly, SLES can sometimes be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a byproduct formed during the manufacturing process. This brings us to our next point.

1, 4-Dioxane

As mentioned, 1, 4-Dioxane is a contaminant often found in laundry detergents, not as an intentional ingredient but as a byproduct of the manufacturing process.

This compound has raised significant health concerns due to its classification as a likely carcinogen. Even short-term exposure to this chemical can irritate the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs.

The risks are heightened with long-term exposure, which can lead to more serious health issues involving the liver and kidneys.

Furthermore, 1, 4-Dioxane is not only a concern for human health but also for the environment. It is not easily biodegradable and can contaminate water sources, posing risks to ecosystems.


Phosphates are commonly used in regular laundry detergents. Our findings show that their primary function is to soften hard water, allowing detergents to work more efficiently by preventing mineral deposits and improving soil removal.

One of the main concerns is their environmental impact. When phosphates from detergents enter waterways, they can lead to eutrophication, a process where excess nutrients cause an overgrowth of algae. This algal bloom can deplete oxygen in the water, harming aquatic life.

Chlorine Bleach

When asked, “Does laundry detergent kill germs?” Chlorine bleach enters the discussion. It is a common additive in laundry detergents, known for its strong disinfecting and whitening properties. However, its use in laundry care is not without drawbacks.

is washing detergent really toxic

The primary concern with chlorine bleach is its corrosive nature. It can weaken fibers, create holes in fabrics, and cause significant colour removal in coloured fabrics.

Additionally, chlorine bleach can be harmful to human health, particularly for those with sensitive skin. Its strong oxidizing properties can lead to skin irritation and chemical burns, causing tissue damage.

The Effect of Toxic Laundry Detergent on the Environment

Beyond negatively affecting water quality and causing harm to aquatic life, some traditional laundry detergents can interact with other pollutants: synthetic surfactants in laundry detergents can reduce the surface tension of water, making it more susceptible to pollutants such as car exhaust and industrial waste.

This interaction can lead to further contamination of water sources and harm to marine life.

Chemical surfactants can also cause gill damage in fish, affecting their ability to breathe and survive in their natural habitat.

The Benefits of Using Eco-Friendy Laundry Detergent

Using eco-friendly laundry detergents offers several benefits, both for personal health and the environment. These detergents are typically made with natural, biodegradable ingredients, which reduce their footprint compared to traditional detergents.

One of the key advantages of eco-friendly laundry detergents is their formulation. They are often hypoallergenic and free from harsh chemicals, making them safer for the skin and respiratory health. What is mild detergent? This is your answer!

Plus, eco-friendly detergents are effective at lower temperatures, which reduces energy consumption and the environmental impact of laundry routines.

Laundry Detergent Alternatives

Introducing Activated Eco's laundry detergent sheets, a revolutionary product designed to transform your laundry experience. Available in scented and unscented varieties, these sheets are an innovative solution, offering a sustainable and efficient alternative to potentially toxic laundry detergents.

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These detergent sheets are derived from natural ingredients, making them safe for use in septic tanks and greywater tank systems.

The packaging of these sheets is also green, as they are shipped in a recyclable cardboard box. The sheets themselves are lightweight and take up less than a quarter of the space of large plastic containers or laundry powders, reducing transport pollution.


The question, “Is laundry detergent toxic?” reveals a complex reality. Traditional laundry detergents often contain harmful ingredients. These substances pose significant risks to human health and have a detrimental impact on the environment.

However, there is a silver lining: eco-friendly alternatives offer a safer, more sustainable solution. Made from natural ingredients, they are gentle on the skin and the environment.

As we strive for a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle, switching to eco-friendly laundry detergents like Activated Eco's sheets is a necessary step towards a safer future.

So visit our online store today and contribute to a cleaner, greener world. 

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