Tide Laundry Detergent is Toxic

Written by:

John Goss

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This might be hard to believe, but there is an upside to the Tide Pod Challenge phenomenon that you’ve probably heard about at the time. It has caused scientists, doctors, politicians, newscasters and even Tide itself to publicly announce what our readers have known for a long time, which is that these laundry products contain “highly concentrated, toxic detergent.”

That’s right, “TOXIC.” Those are also the words of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Tide laundry detergent is toxic.

Obviously, nobody should eat any laundry product (even the ones we call Good Stuff!). But, we’ve known for years that most major brands contain a wide array of toxic ingredients.

Chief among these concerns is a chemical known as 1,4-dioxane. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, exposure to this compound can cause eye and nose irritation, kidney problems, and possible long-term lung damage.

The EPA on 1,4-Dioxane

“1,4-Dioxane is used as a solvent.  Acute (short-term) inhalation exposure to high levels of 1,4-dioxane has caused vertigo, drowsiness, headache, anorexia, and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs in humans…Damage to the liver and kidneys has been observed in rats chronically (long-term) exposed in their drinking water…  Tumors have been observed in orally exposed animals. EPA has classified 1,4-dioxane as a Group B2, probable human carcinogen.”

1,4-dioxane is commonly found in Tide and many other major brands of laundry detergent. This is true whether or not you see it listed as an ingredient.

Phthalates in Laundry Detergent

Another toxin is something as benign sounding as “fragrance.” Fragrance, as you’ve probably heard us mention, is almost always packed with a group of chemicals known as phthalates, which cannegatively affect reproductive systems, endocrine systems, and infant development.

Don’t Detergent Toxins Wash Out?

So my question is; why would we wash our clothes with known toxins?

It would be easy to think that these toxins simply wash down the drain (and into lakes, rivers, and oceans), and yes they do wind up in the environment and cause all sorts of problems there.

In addition, ingredients in these toxic laundry products are intentionally made to stick to fabrics, mostly to keep our clothes smelling “clean.” This means that as we wear our clothes and sweat, these chemicals break down and are being absorbed through our skin. So when we use these products we are being exposed to these chemicals essentially all the time, even when we sleep.

Alternatives to Tide’s Toxic Laundry Detergent

The fact is that there is very little meaningful regulation around cleaning and laundry products. Because of this, it’s up to each of us to stay informed.

Gimme the Good Stuff is far from the first to bring awareness to these problems, but we do offer alternatives to toxic laundry detergents. Below are some of our very favorite safe laundry soaps and detergents. (But still, don’t eat them!).

Stay sane,

John, Certified Holistic Health Coach

Check Out Our Safe Laundry Guide Here

Note: This article contains affiliate links or sponsored content, which means that if you make a purchase, we may earn a commission. We only recommend products that meet our strict standards for non-toxicity and that we use (or want to use!) ourselves. Thank you so much for supporting the brands that make Good Stuff! 

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Leave a Reply

  1. Paul Avatar

    Thank you so much for keeping the word out on this poison. I get such headaches and warm face and feel angry and depressed when exposed to this stuff at relative’s homes and Airbnbs. Sometimes can’t stand next to my parents since they stink so badly. For us a rather mainstream product arm and Hammer scent and dye free doesn’t cause any symptoms.

  2. Andrew Freeman Avatar
    Andrew Freeman

    Recently travelled to North America and the hideous smell from the laundry soap my mom used ( Tide ) takes many washes to get rid of . It’s so pungent the smell permeates my skin .
    My mom thinks it’s smell fresh and like flowers .
    I’ve never smelled a flower in my life that smells that chemically enhanced .
    I’ve used plant based products in New Zealand for 2 decades and feel very good about not polluting the lakes rivers and streams . It may cost a bit more but here’s a suggestion maybe prioritise your spending .
    Cheap comes at a cost to all of us in the future .

  3. zidane Avatar

    very clear and good article easy to understand. Thank you

  4. Phyllis Avatar

    The laundry products bond Literally forever to clothing. I had previously taken a pair of pants and tried, in vain, to remove the Revolting odor. I washed them with unscented laundry soap multiple times, I left them in a bucket with vinegar and water, which didn’t do anything to alleviate the odor. Then buried them in snow for the winter, in 6 months they Still stunk. For Anyone using these products..it gets into food, into your body, into your brain.. BTW If you use these products You Don’t smell good, you Reek, you’re an environmental hazard.

  5. Kris Brewer Avatar
    Kris Brewer

    My understanding about the “unscented Tide products” is that they use even MORE CHEMICALS to mask the strong fragrance-y smell. But the consumer thinks they are getting the best of all worlds. I just used a towel cleaned in unscented Tide for a yoga session and my hair smelled of that (sure, more subtle) Tide smell for hours. That’s a sign!

  6. Pamela Avatar

    The only reason I was considering Tide is because my sister uses it and her clothes always smell so good. (I usually get the dollar store stuff) Do these leave your clothes smelling good, or just not dirty?

    1. Suzanne Weaver-Goss Avatar
      Suzanne Weaver-Goss

      Hi Pamela, Yes Tide and many detergents do make the clothing smell. This is a personal preference and I am the opposite of you; I do not like the perfume smell on clothing and maybe that’s because I know how unhealthy it is! Especially for children and clothing that has that “smell” has to be washed numerous times to get the smell out. It’s not worth sacrificing your health for the smell. There are some products that are scented with essential oils like lavender, however those scents aren’t as strong as synthetic fragrance. I would recommend Sonett Lavender Laundry or Tandi’s Natural Lavender or Citrusy Trio. Both natural, smell good and healthy! https://bit.ly/3uRLltZ

  7. ricky ly Avatar
    ricky ly

    Yes. We used 10ml of our plant based biodegradable liquid detergent Per Load . It’s safe, effective, concentrated & affordable ($0.187/load). 100% safety guaranteed & Made in USA. Can contact me for more info. rickyly143@gmail.com.

  8. Jamie Avatar

    Has anybody tried Tru Earth products? It keeps popping up on Instagram and I’ve been wanting to find a good alternative…

  9. Jeannine Avatar

    I use Biokleen. It costs between $20-$26 on amazon and you get 300 loads out of it! You end up using much less because of the concentration.

    1. katmeow Avatar

      I also use Biokleen and they have one type called “sport” that gets the smelliest sweaty clothes clean!

  10. Marianne Guinee Avatar
    Marianne Guinee

    Melaleuca’s Melapower is the best detergent out there. Affordable and safe, both for humans and the environment.

  11. Dave Avatar

    Is All Free and Clear safe?

  12. Abbey Avatar

    I have been using some plant based detergents for a while now and have been trying to convert my husband too. His big issue (and I don’t disagree) are that our workout clothes don’t get clean. Do you have a recommendation for an eco-friendly laundry soap that has the power to clean really sweaty clothes?

    1. Suzanne Weaver-Goss Avatar
      Suzanne Weaver-Goss

      Hi Abbey, My husband and I have work-out clothes and of course they get clean. However, I switch back and forth between plant based and the old fashioned soap that we sell made from tallow. I’ve never noticed that the plant based don’t clean as well but you might give that a try unless you are committed to only use plant based soap. You don’t mention a brand, have you tried our plant-based brands?

    2. Amy Vallejo Avatar

      I highly highly recommend Norwex they have a sportzyme which is enzyme based and there laundry detergent just amazes me and can be used as an all purpose spray too!
      You only need a teaspoon in your HE front loading machine, yes a teaspoon! Look me up

  13. Moriah Hanisburgh Avatar
    Moriah Hanisburgh

    Was looking for an affordable alternative a while back after I first read this article. There were a few “pure” products I found and tried from my local Walmart, but for whatever reason, they left a weird (not nasty, but just weird) smell and texture to the clothes after wash.

    Few more days of searching and I came across this product: http://bit.ly/NoMoreDetergent , which doesn’t even use detergent at all!
    Of course I was skeptical at first, but after washing 2 large loads I can say it does indeed wash clean. No different than when I used detergents and detergent boosters.

    Hope that helps others like myself.

  14. Kelly Avatar

    Thanks for shedding light on this. I was working on a post last week highlighting the dangers of Tide and offering alternative options, so this is perfect timing! I’ll cite some of this in an upcoming article. It’s a shame Tide has hid this from the public. I can’t believe they don’t even disclose their ingredients on the packaging (too many ingredients and toxicity to count!).

    In response to John above – luckily, there are affordable alternatives (such as Grab Green, Eco-Me, greenshield Organic) on Amazon, Target, and Walmart as inexpensive as $10. These alternatives use less of a serving size than Tide and other toxic detergents too, so you’re using less but getting more out of washes. I hope that helps!

  15. John Avatar

    Most, if not the majority of families cannot afford 27 dollar laundry detergent. If we want this toxic laundry issue to be remedied and taken seriously, we have to give families affordable non toxic options. Toxic products are affordable and have generational sentimentality attached to them. People do not like change. Facilitating change means offering affordable and easily attainable sources. Thank you.

    1. Julie Avatar

      If you click on the product link you see it’s TWO bottles for this price. That makes it on par with other natural detergents I’ve used (maybe just a few dollars higher).

    2. PJ Avatar

      Yes, I agree. The companies that sell these “safe” products are no better than the companies that sell the “toxic” products. Only those fortunate enough to be able to afford these safe products can protect their families?? Some of us hard working middle class people struggle just to make ends meet. When they start selling their product for $20 for a bottle that will clean 100 loads of laundry, then they can brag about what a great company they are and how much they care about making a better world for all of us!

      1. STaylor71 Avatar

        They do sell products for under $20. Try MelaPower, it cleans amazing. Most my family is allergic to most detergents and no one has had issues with the laundry soap. It is under $20 for 97 loads.

  16. Liliana Avatar

    My problem so far has been that I have not found a soap that actually cleans. As you make rankings and suggestions, can you also talk about effectiveness of the soaps?


  17. Connie J. Burgan Avatar
    Connie J. Burgan

    If you haven’t tried PURE detergent, you are missing something great! There are no chemicals left on the fabric, your clothes are clean and you don’t need a dryer sheet. Doesn’t get much better than that – oh, unless you have a stain. THEN you realize the good stuff. Pour it on the stain full strength, leave overnight, wash as usual. BOOM! The stain is gone. If the article of clothing has been washed and dried many, many times – no problem. This stuff is magic!!