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Poison. Not something we usually think about, but when it comes to household cleaning products, you really should be thinking about poisons. Your typical cleaning supplies, including laundry detergent, are full of nasty chemicals, most of which are extremely toxic and harmful to our bodies and the environment. These chemicals can be transferred to our skin (our largest organ) from our clothes and then absorbed into our body. Household chemicals have been linked to cancer, liver and kidney dysfunction, and neurological issues.
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Let’s Talk Chemicals
The list of chemicals on your jug of detergent is often pretty vague. If you look at the ingredients, you’ll probably just see a list of things like “cleaning agents”, “fragrance”, “buffering agent”, etc. According to a comprehensive list found on Dr. Mercola’s website, these are some of the most common ingredients found in laundry detergent:
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) – Chemical foaming agent known as a surfactant. Studies have linked use of this chemical to a variety of health issues from skin irritation to organ toxicity.
- Dioxane (1,4-dioxane) – The majority of top laundry detergent brands contain this synthetic petrochemical known as a carcinogen. This is a by-product contaminant of the manufacturing process and is not required to be listed on product labels.
- Linear Alky Benzene Sulfonates (LAS) – Synthetic petrochemicals that biodegrade slowly making them an environmental hazard. Benzene may cause cancer in humans and animals.
- Nonylphenol Ethoxylate (NPE) – Petrochemical surfactant banned in the EU and Canada. May cause liver and kidney damage. Biodegradable, but biodegrades into more toxic substances.
- Petroleum distillates (aka napthas) – Derived from synthetic crude oil, linked to cancer, lung and mucous membrane damage.
- Phenols – Can cause toxicity throughout the entire body.
- Optical brighteners – Can be toxic to fish and cause allergic reactions in humans.
- Artificial fragrances – Linked to various toxic effects on fish and mammals, and can cause allergies, skin and eye irritation to humans.
- Phosphates – Used to prevent dirt from settling back into clothes after being washed. Can stimulate growth of marine plants that trigger unbalanced ecosystems.
- Ethylene diamine tetraacetic acid (EDTA) – Group of compounds used as an alternative to phosphates. Found to cause reproductive and developmental effects in lab animals and does not readily biodegrade.
- Sodium Hypochlorite (household bleach) – Chemical precursor to chlorine, which is extremely toxic. Skin contact can produce caustic irritation or burns. Mixing with other cleaning products can create hazardous fumes.
Ewwww! And here we are letting these chemical residues touch our largest organ and get sucked into our body! OK. Time for that to stop!
Let’s Talk About Eliminating Chemicals
One of my goals for 2012 is to work more on reducing my chemical exposure. Switching to a better laundry detergent is a great place to start. So, I decided to give Tropical Traditions’ powdered laundry detergent and oxygen bleach a try. They have a short ingredient lists.
Tropical Traditions’ Powdered Laundry Detergent Ingredients:
Soda ash – This is sodium carbonate or washing soda. It’s a sodium salt of carbonic acid and is most often used as a water softener. It can be naturally extracted from the ashes of plants, or synthetically produced from salt and limestone.
Sodium percarbonate – This is a colorless, crystalline, water-soluble chemical, that is often used in eco-friendly cleaning products. It’s typically made from a reaction of sodium carbonate and hydrogen peroxide. After the chemical reaction, it is crystallized.
Mild surfactants – A natural cleaning agent, created from coconut or palm kernel oil. Very mild on the skin, while helping get clothes clean.
Tropical Traditions’ Oxygen Bleach Ingredients contains soda ash and sodium percarbonate. That’s it. Nothing more.
What I found interesting is the oxygen bleach can be used for more than jsut laundry. You can use it in the kitchen, bathroom, yard, and througout your house! You can check out its many handy household uses here.
Getting Down to the Nitty Gritty – The Stain Test
I used both products on my regular laundry and I was quite pleased with the results. Everything came out clean and fresh. In order to really test the power of the product, I decided to do a stain test. I took an old 100% cotton t-shirt and cut it up into pieces to stain. I used red wine, ketchup and mustard, chocolate, and oil on the pieces. These are all foods that stain easily and can be quite tough to remove if you’re not careful.
After the food had dried on the cloth, I pre-treated the pieces of cloth with the oxygen bleach by soaking the items in a hot water/oxygen bleach solution for 1 hour. Then, I laundered the fabric on the hot water cycle with the laundry detergent and a little sprinkle of oxygen bleach. Here are the results. The red wine and oil were completely removed. The ketchup and mustard were almost completely removed, but there was just a tiny hint of stain left. The chocolate was mostly gone as well, but still had a yellowish stain left.
I decided to treat the cloths again by soaking them in the hot water/oxygen bleach solution overnight. Then, I laundered again. Everything was sparkling white, except for the chocolate stained garment, which has a very, very faint yellow stain on it still. The lesson here? If you spill chocolate on your clothes, make sure you treat that stain right away! (or, just always wear brown cloths 🙂
All in all, I am quite pleased with the products and I will continue using them. I’m excited that there is a product that works and is safe for our body and environment. Now, it’s your turn! Want to try some chemical-free powdered laundry detergent and oxygen bleach of your own? Just enter below for your chance to win!
Looks great! Oil stains are always the hardest for me.
Grass stains on the knees of my sons jeans are so hard
I love oxygen bleach – it really works and doesn’t make me itch! I buy the Biokleen brand; the factory is local to me and I can get it in bulk for a significant savings. I’m excited to try the Tropical Traditions to see how it stacks up!
What a great looking product!
WOW! Love the pictures! Can’t wait to try it! Thank you for the opportunity!
tomato base sauces are hard stains for me
Would love to win some of this “detergent” (I have been wanting to try it!!)
Toddler playing outside in the dirt stains (and grease stains on my sweetie’s clothes).
I would love to try TT’s detergent! We are just now getting into making our own…
Grass stains are the hardest for me!
I’ve been eying up the TT Oxygen Bleach for a few days now! I seem to always have new stains on my clothes. I would love to win some to try it out!
DH’s armpit sweat stains/buildup are hardest for me to remove.
Definitely the tree sap my husband gets on his clothes from landscaping & the grass & mud stains that embed themselves in my boys’ clothes! 🙂
This was a great post. Thanks for the giveaway!
The hardest stain for me to treat is chocolate also. I’ll just have to be more careful when eating chocolate. 🙂
Wow! Sounds amazing. Love the pictures! Soooo excited! I hope I get to try this awesome product….(:
The hardest for me to get is chapstick. Every now and then a chapstick will accidentally go through the washer…and then the dryer…and then stain everything in the load with these oily looking spots. I have never been able to save these clothing items
The hardest stain for me is definitely oil/grease!
Hardest stain to treat, sketti sauce
Grass stain is the worst!!
Oil stains are the biggest challenge.
I would say oil stains too. Closely followed by soil/mineral stains (cuffs/ankles/knees).
Blood stains are the hardest for me to get rid of.
Oil and grease stains!
Thanks for the chance to win!
gina.m.maddox (at) gmail (dot) com
Grass stains are tough for us.
Yup, I love their laundry powder! I really need to try their bleach (I currently use….nothing!).
I guess our clothes are doomed then;( My children are addicted to chocolate like their father… and I.
Lots of kids, lots of stains! Babyfood and underarm stains are the worst for me if I don’t get to them right away~which I never seem to do haha! I use Melaleuca detergent (which is supposed to be natural, chemical free) and sometimes it seems like the clothes have a weird smell afterward. I’m looking forward to trying this brand! Thank you for a chance to win! :D)
Great blog post, would love to try the two laundry products.
Have a God Filled Day
I would definitely love to try out a safer laundry detergent and this stuff sounds to be promising. That’s my goal this year too…get rid of those harmful cleaning supplies and replace them with safe ones!
For us, the hardest stain to treat is ketchup & chocolate!
Would love to give this product a try!! Our green smoothies are my biggest staining issue!
How about on grease stains?
i would have to say grease stains
grass stains are my nemesis!
Thanks so much for doing this – have often wondered about TT laundry detgt – hopefully I’ll win it! My toughest stain is the dirt from here where we live and grease. Our dirt has red mineral in it.
I have been looking for a good chemical-free laundry detergent for my husband’s clothes since his liver doesn’t keep up with all the toxins he comes in contact with at work.
I am definitely game for trying a new laundry detergent!
Hardest stain – blood or grass. Thanks
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The hardest stain for me to treat is underarm pit stains on my husband’s white t-shirts!
Cloth diapers! Regular detergent doesn’t do the job right – but this stuff is great!
I tried TT dishwasher detergent and I am very pleased. I would be happy to try their laundry detergent as well )))
tomatoe sauces are the hardest for me to treat
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Red wine!! Beet juice!!
gray on the soles of white socks. hard to keep white socks “white”!