How to Clean Clothes without Dirty Chemicals

How to Clean Clothes without Dirty Chemicals

When we think of clean clothes and laundry, the last thing we think is that we’re soaking our laundry in harmful chemicals that wreak havoc on our health. What are these chemicals, you ask? Let’s take a look at 3 chemicals commonly found in laundry detergents and supplies:

1. 1, 4-Dioxane

You won’t see this on ingredient lists, as it is a byproduct of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate that is “reasonably expected to be a human carcinogen” by the The U.S. National Toxicology Program. It has been found in 75% of laundry detergents. The CDC states their concerns with 1, 4-Dioxane here.

2. Phosphates

Banned in Canada since the 70s, phosphates pose “…human health problems as well as major environmental hazards… Phosphate residues on items that have been cleaned with phosphate-containing detergents have been known to cause nausea, diarrhea, and skin irritations.” (source)

3. Fragrance

The term ‘fragrance’ literally means a cocktail of thousands of different types of chemicals that are combined to produce a specific scent. You may see “fragrance” listed as an ingredient, but many harmful chemicals can fall under this term and companies are not required to disclose what those are.

We allow these chemicals to soak into our clothes, which are then absorbed by our skin and lungs throughout the day.


Detergents aren’t the only culprits

Dryer sheets, though they seem harmless at first, have been proven to contain hazardous chemicals including several types of volatile organic compounds and unregulated ‘fragrance’ chemicals, some of which are known carcinogens and neurotoxins! Doesn’t sound very clean and fresh if you ask me!

Since dryer sheets are being heated for long periods of time, they not only off-gas onto your clothes, but can cause respiratory issues as well.

(Hint: if you walk into your laundry room and can smell your laundry detergent or fabric softeners, you can bet they’re off-gassing harmful chemicals, polluting your indoor air.)

Related Post: Is Filtered Water Really Better?

How to Clean Clothes without Dirty Chemicals

1. Swap your conventional detergent for a nontoxic laundry detergentClean Clothes without the Chemicals

My favorite nontoxic laundry detergent is Soapberry Suds from Buckaroo Organics. Their formula is ‘organic, simple, and safe for the whole family’. With only 4 simple ingredients, you don’t have to worry about exposing your family to unnecessary chemicals. This detergent uses Soapberries, which are actually fruits from the lychee family. Buckaroo Organics states,

“Soap nuts contain saponins which are natural surfactants that lower the surface tension of water and allow the water to penetrate and lift dirt and grime. Most commercial detergents contain chemical surfactants, some of which have been shown to be carcinogenic and volatile. But soap nuts are all-natural and have been used for centuries around the world. The soapberries used in Soapberry Suds™ are imported from the Himalayas and are USDA Certified Organic.”

Read more about their organic laundry detergent here.


2. Ditch the dryer sheets
Clean Clothes without the Dirty Chemicals

There’s simply no need to be using chemically-laden dryer sheets. If you’re trying to reduce static and soften laundry, opt for dryer balls instead. They’re not only natural, but they reduce drying time significantly and are 100% eco-friendly as they eliminate the waste of one-use dryer sheets (they last 1,000 loads!!) These dryer balls are made with 100% New Zealand Wool and are completely hypoallergenic.

Related Post: Why Filtering Your Shower Water is Critical

3. Avoid synthetic ‘fragrances’

Nontoxic laundry doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your favorite scents; just make sure the fragrance you’re using isn’t mysteriously listed as ‘fragrance’. If you are looking for a nontoxic way to keep your laundry smelling clean and fresh, just add a few drops of essential oils to your dryer balls. They not only add a pleasant aroma, but naturally fight bacteria and germs!

My favorite essential oils for laundry are orange and eucalyptus!


For a limited time, Buckaroo Organics is kindly offering 10% OFF for my readers. Just use code healthfullyhannah to save!

Have you made the switch to nontoxic laundry supplies?


Sources and Further Reading:

Hidden Toxins in Laundry Detergent
1, 4-Dioxane
Phosphates in Laundry Detergents
World Health Organization on Nonylphenol Ethoxylate

Hannah Smith

Hannah is the founder of Healthfully Hannah and is a nutrition professional empowering women to live healthfully through science-based, step-by-step guidance. Read Hannah’s health journey that led her to discover the power of Functional Medicine and Nutrition. Get in touch with Hannah right here.

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2 thoughts on “How to Clean Clothes without Dirty Chemicals”

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  1. I have been trying to switch to a more natural lifestyle and weirdly enough I have found that I am highly allergic to the pollen in soap nuts and I’m allergic to wool. Do you know if one can use these wool dryer balls if your allergic to wool? I just don’t use anything in the dryer at present but I would love to add some essential oils to freshen my laundry up a bit!

    1. Hi Denise, the dryer balls are hypoallergenic and safe for wool allergies! They don’t shed but if a tiny piece did shed by chance the lint screen should catch it. I’m excited to hear how these work for you 🙂