This blog entry is part of our “What’s Wrong With” series, each installment of which profiles a different product and gives you the bottom line on its safety. Think of these as cheat sheets for our more comprehensive Safety Reviews (which we publish less frequently).
Any laundry detergent you use will leave a residue on clothing and linens, which is then inhaled and absorbed (via skin) by the people who come in contact with it. Many of you probably use a different detergent for your baby’s clothes, and you probably assume this detergent is a special formulation. This is very rarely the case. Most conventional detergents, be they marketed for baby clothes or grownup clothes, contain some combination of the following:
- synthetic detergents, which are often made of petrochemicals;
- phenols (established endocrine disruptors, of which BPA is the most notorious);
- fragrance, which often contains phthalates;
- optical brighteners, which are often made from benzene, a definite carcinogen;
- bleach, which contains chlorine (an environmental toxin–and possibly a carcinogen and endocrine disruptor);
- phosphates, which break down minerals and render detergent more effective, at the cost of harmful environmental ramifications.
If you ask your pediatrician what detergent you should use for your baby’s clothes, she’s probably going to suggest Dreft. Dreft’s prolific marketing campaign doesn’t includes a single example of their actual ingredients, so you might wonder what actually makes up the “gentle clean” of Dreft? Here’s a list of Dreft ingredients, and some that I don’t consider gentle include fragrance, propylene glycol, ethanolamine, ethanol, sodium hydroxide, diethylene glycol, polyethylene glycol 4000 (which Skin Deep scores as 5-8, depending on usage), and about a dozen other ingredients. It’s got more bad stuff in it than Tide does!
Tandi’s Naturals makes a laundry soap that works wonderfully on baby clothes and is tallow-based.
Check out our Laundry Detergent Shopping Review for a list of other Good Stuff.
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