Detoxifying Your Home– Part 1: Laundry

This is a long one, but it is FILLED with the scary facts that are hidden in the ingredient list on the back of your laundry detergent.

The typical American home contains 3-10 GALLONS of toxic materials—everything from glass and bathroom cleaners to garden pesticides and fertilizers.

These all-too-common ingredients have the ability to cause you:

  • Respiratory problems
  • Eye irritation
  • Cancer
  • Disruption of the endocrine system

In one New York medical center, the staff switched over to a combination of less toxic cleaning products. Just from that alone, reports of burns, rashes, dizziness and scratchy throats among hospital employees plummeted. The number of missed work days due to cleaning product injuries declined from 54 in 2004 to zero in 2009.

Because these toxins are so common in almost everything we use, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that the air inside the typical home is 2-5 times more polluted than the air immediately outside—and in extreme cases, 100 times more contaminated.

Contributors to indoor pollution include the products you use every day in your home, which can come in contact with your skin and lungs. Household products have been found to contain very powerful, and often toxic, chemicals that you unknowingly expose yourself to in the course of an ordinary day.

One of the most common household products, and cause for concern, is laundry detergent.


Common household laundry detergents promise consumers a blanket of fresh mountain air that’s clean, soft, and odorless. What’s really happening when you take your sheets out of the wash is you’re wrapping your body in a toxic blanket of chemicals.

Here’s the question you need to be asking: is it really clean laundry if it’s saturated in harmful chemicals?

Here is what most detergents commonly contain:

  • Phenols-Deemed toxic by the National Health Institute, phenols can cause damage to the lungs, heart, kidneys and liver. They are very easily absorbed into the skin, making them especially dangerous. Phenols have been linked to serious health conditions and even death.
  • Optical brighteners: These are a popular new ingredient in commercial detergents. They trick the eye by altering ultraviolet wavelengths to make clothes look whiter. The result may be a facade, but the chemical dangers from these products are very real. Studies have shown these agents are extremely toxic to fish and can cause mutations in bacteria. They can also trigger strong allergic reactions in humans when exposed to sunlight.
  • Bleach: A traditional household cleaner, bleach has harmful side effects that have been known for decades. Bleach, or sodium hypochlorite, is a leading cause of poisoning in the home. It is a strong irritant to the eyes, nose and throat. Bleach can also cause severe reactions if it comes in contact with the skin.
  • Surfactants: A surfactant is a substance which basically binds to oily particles and carries them away with water during washing. These are what make our clothes clean when we wash them. Surfactants can be natural or synthetic. Natural surfactants are generally safe for people and the water supply, but chemical surfactants are not. Commercial laundry detergents are loaded with synthetic surfactants.
  • Fragrance: Artificial fragrances in laundry products are a strong irritant. The chemicals in fragrance additives can cause itchy, watery eyes and stinging nostrils. But the effects go much deeper than that. Chemical fragrances can trigger asthma attacks and aggravate allergies. They can even affect your thinking, making concentration and coordination difficult. All of these irritations show their worst in sensitive individuals, although no one is immune to the effects of these chemicals
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)/sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)– Nearly 16,000 studies have been done about the harmful effects of SLS and SLES. Every one of them found that it causes irritation of the skin and eyes, organ toxicity, developmental/reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption, ecotoxicology, and biochemical or cellular changes, and possible mutations and cancer
  • 1,4-dioxane– Two thirds of laundry detergents contain 1,4-dioxane. How does 1,4-dioxane get into your products? It’s not added intentionally. It is a by-product of SLS, which is an extremely common ingredient in detergents. Since it is a byproduct rather than ingredient, it doesn’t have to be listed on product labels. But you really DON’T want to have your skin coming into contact with this stuff, byproduct or not. 1,4-dioxane is considered by the State of California to cause CANCER and has been found to be potentially toxic to your brain and central nervous system, kidneys, liver and respiratory system, according to the CDC. The U.S. federal regulation systems consider dioxane’s potency to be equivalent to or greater than many pesticides considered dangerous to humans.
  • NPE (nonylphenol ethoxylate)– NPE is an endocrine disruptor and estrogen mimicker that can potentially cause hormonal problems, or even cancer. When you absorb NPE, your body can’t tell the difference between NPE and estrogen. Even the most sophisticated water treatment plants are unable to remove NPEs and their toxic metabolites. In fact, according to the Sierra Club report, sewage processing can make NPE metabolites more toxic, more estrogenic, and more persistent than NPE itself. When rainbow trout are exposed to NPEs, they become part male and part female
  • Phosphates– Phosphates are the main cleaning ingredient in many detergents and household cleaners because they break down dirt particles and remove stains by softening the water and allowing suds to form, which enhances the cleaning power of the detergent.  Phosphate residues on items that have been cleaned with phosphate-containing detergents have been known to cause nausea, diarrhea and skin irritations. The largest concern with phosphates, however, is the environmental hazards they are creating. Phosphates are difficult to remove from wastewater and often end up in rivers and lakes, where they increase algae growth, choking off waterways and suffocating salmon and other aquatic life, literally starving them of oxygen. Phosphates act like a “fertilizer” in waterways. When the overabundant algae die, they release toxins that deplete the waterways of oxygen. Phosphates remain active even after wastewater treatment. The worst part is, the most common detergents can contain 30% Phosphates!

The skin is exceptionally permeable; it quickly absorbs outside substances directly into the blood stream. Many experts recommend: if you wouldn`t eat it or drink it, you shouldn`t be letting it come into contact with your skin. Ditch the commercial laundry detergents and seek out more natural ways to clean your clothes.

Here’s the bright side

All these problems caused by harmful toxins can be easily avoided by the natural detergents sold at The Spirit Goat. A combination of:

  • Sodium sesquicarbonate– A more natural alternative to phosphates and has a pH level that is more gentle while keeping the same effectiveness as phosphates.
  • Borax– Probably the most natural way to clean clothes. This way you can keep the cleaning power in your laundry without using chemicals.
  • Saponified coconut oil– Using this ingredient makes the water used for doing laundry safe to use immediately in irrigation. No need for purification. It also whitens whites and removes iron buildup and residue.
  • Orange essential oil– Part of the power of Orange Essential Oil comes from D-Limonene (a constituent of the oil) which works as a mild solvent. This makes for an excellent, natural grease-cutter and cleanser/
Now you can effectively clean your clothes while keeping you safe from the effects of a traditional detergent (even in your high efficiency machine)!

Get yours at The Spirit Goat and take the first step to detox your home


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