Scary Facts About Detergents
Laundry soap is something we all use- that is if we want clean clothes. Many people don't realize that laundry soap is actually very harmful to our health and the environment. The chemicals found in laundry soap leak back into the earth through our water systems. Laundry soaps also contain harmful ingredients that can absorb into the skin. Every day more consumers are becoming aware of the dangerous toxic chemicals which are entering their homes.
What are some of the harmful chemicals found in laundry soap?
•Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS). Studies have linked the use of this chemical foaming agent (also known as surfactant) to a scary number of health issues —from skin irritation to organ toxicity to even cancer.
•Dioxane (1,4-dioxane). A majority of top laundry detergent brands contain this synthetic petrochemical, which is a carcinogen (toxic to the brain and nervous system). A by-product contaminant of the manufacturing process, unfortunately, it is not required to be listed on product labels.
•Linear Alky Benzene Sulfonates (LAS). Synthetic petrochemicals biodegrade slowly, making them an environmental hazard. Benzene may cause cancer in humans and animals.
•Nonylphenol Ethoxylate (NPE). This petrochemical surfactant has been banned in European Union countries and Canada. The reason is it may cause liver and kidney damage. It’s biodegradable but biodegrades into more toxic substances.
• Petroleum distillates (aka napthas). This is derived from synthetic crude oil, and has been linked to cancer, lung and mucous membrane damage.
• Phenols. This can cause toxicity throughout the entire body.
• Optical brighteners. It can be toxic to fish and cause allergic reactions in humans.
• Artificial fragrances. These are 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, they can stimulate the growth of marine plants that trigger unbalanced ecosystems.
• Ethylene diamine tetraacetic acid (EDTA). This group of compounds is used as an alternative to phosphates. It’s been found to cause reproductive and developmental effects in lab animals and does not readily biodegrade.
• Sodium Hypochlorite (household bleach). It’s a chemical precursor to chlorine, which is extremely toxic. Skin contact can produce caustic irritation or burns. Mixing with other cleaning products can create hazardous and sometimes carcinogenic fumes.
These are just a few of the harmful chemicals found in laundry soap.
Healthy Alternatives to Detergents
To avoid exposure to these toxic chemicals, here are some green laundry tips::
• Buy concentrated detergents. These types of detergents have reduced packaging and a smaller carbon footprint (requiring less space and fuel for shipping).
• Wear it more than once. Instead of washing your clothes after wearing them only once, if they’re really not dirty, washing them less often saves energy and extends the life of your clothes as well.
• Wash and rinse in cold water. You’ll save a bundle on electricity by not heating water because 90 percent of the energy required for washing lies in heating up the water.
• Wash only full loads of laundry. Washing small loads of laundry is very inefficient and wastes water and energy.
• Hang it out to dry. Because they use so much energy, anything you can do to cut back on dryer use can make a real difference. If possible, put up a clothesline … your clothes will last longer and smell fresher as well.
• Try making your own detergent. Go green and make your own laundry detergent. At least you know what ingredients you’re using.
The good news is that there is a way to get clean clothing without using traditional laundry soaps or at least minimise the use of detergents by mixing following ingredients in your wash loads
Use soap Nuts: From Ancient times this natural soap has been used.
Soap flakes: If you can make soap from used cooking oil i.e. after single fry cooking oil must not be used, so the best use will be to make soap out of it, which is more environment friendly than using detergents.
Baking Soda: It is another sodium bicarbonate and alkaline similar to washing soda but less harmful, when we can consume it why not here.
Washing Soda: Washing soda is an alkaline known as sodium carbonate. It isn't the same as baking powder although the two are closely related. It's not the same thing as washing powder, which is soap, so be sure not to confuse the two. It can be derived from plant ash or common table salt. Washing soda will not only remove stains, it will also adhere to minerals in the wash water, softening the water and allowing easier rinsing of residue. It also cares for the dyes in your fabrics, helping them to adhere.
Lemon peel: Don’t throw away lemon peel after squeezing the juice, put in a glass jar add water and salt to it. Keep adding as you use when full let it rest for at least a month and then you can add these lemon peels in wash loads one by one or as per need, this will give you enzyme wash and LEMON fragrance too free of cost and Natural.
Hydrogen Peroxide- It is very safe natural bleaching chemical and gives out oxygen and water when used. Peroxide is an extremely potent stain remover and whitener. Peroxide is an excellent substitute for bleach cleaners and additives in the laundry and bath.
Sodium Percarbonate: It's an oxidizing agent which is an excellent cleaning agent. It dissolves easily in water eventually decomposing into water and sodium carbonate.
Borax: It's a substance which is natural. It has many properties which act to produce a basic solution in water, boosting the cleaning ability of other substances and maintains a stable pH balance. It also inhibits the metabolic processes of many organisms, killing and ridding your laundry of unwanted pests.
Bentonite Clay ( Multani Mitti): Another natural ingredient, bentonite consists mostly of montmorillonite clay and is formed by weathering volcanic ash. It helps to bind to oils and impurities in your fabrics so they can be rinsed out and has softening effect on fabric. In some case we can even use only bentonite for washing purposes.
Lavender Essential Oil: Lavender essential oil is the pure volatile oil which remains after lavender flowers and plants have been distilled. It not only smells clean and fresh, it's also an excellent anti-fungal, anti-viral and antibacterial to ensure your clothes are clean and germ-free. Another nice side effect of the lavender oil is the fragrance also imparts a wonderful calming effect.
Zeolite: This is neutral substance used for hard water, this will reduce the workload of other substances responsible for washing. Normally phosphates are used which create problem with water bodies.
Other house hold cleaners:
Vinegar: (acetic acid) For centuries peoples around the globe have known about the amazing properties of common white vinegar (from the French 'vin- agre' or sour wine). The acids in vinegar can cut grease and remove the most stubborn dirt and grime. Vinegar makes an excellent floor, oven and window. Vinegar can replace the toxic fumes and propellants of floor polish, ammonia and oven cleaners. Vinegar is safe for skin unlike chemical cleaners. Use vinegar straight for heavy grease. Dilute it for window cleaning and lighter work.
Baking Soda Baking soda is one of the seven wonders of the cleaner world. It neutralizes and removes odors, purifies, absorbs moisture, scours and scrubs, polishes, disinfects and cleans. Mixed with vinegar baking soda will create a foaming, effervescent action that will clean drains. Say goodbye to poisonous, lethal, explosive, corrosive drain cleaners.
Lemons: The acid in a fresh cut lemon will remove stains from metal pans, flatware, stoves, bakeware, countertops, appliances, etc. Sprinkle some salt on the lemon for added abrasive cleaning for baked on foods in the oven, on the stovetop and on cookware, flatware and bakeware. Oven cleaners are among the most toxic of the household chemicals. They are harmful to skin and if inhaled. Using lemon and salt may take a bit more elbow grease, but it pays off by not having to wear a gas mask when cleaning the oven or suffering from lung damage.
Lemon Juice Lemon juice as an acid will cut grease, purify, deodorize and whiten. Lemon juice is especially effective to clean stoves and greasy pans and dishes. Lemon juice will shine glassware, windows and appliances. Lemon also repels many insects and pests. Lemon makes a great air purifier and odor neutralizer also. Put a small amount in a vented container anywhere you would use an solid, plug-in or spray air freshener, such as in the bathroom, kitchen or nursery.
Hydrogen Peroxide- Peroxide is an extremely potent stain remover and whitener. Peroxide is an excellent substitute for bleach cleaners and additives in the laundry and bath. Clean carpet and upholstery stains with peroxide also. Peroxide does not remove color from fabrics like bleach will do.
Borax: Borax is a natural, safe cleaner for floors, clothing, curtains, bedding, carpet, upholstery, rugs, etc. It has gentle cleaning, mild abrasive properties. Borax
can be used to remove soap scrum from sinks and showers.
Salt : Salt has preservative and anti-puritic qualities as well as being a safe non-scratch abrasive. Rinse carefully as extended exposure to salt will oxidize (rust) metal
cornstarch: Use cornstarch to scours and scrub glass and metal. It will not scratch, but provides just enough abrasive to remove dirt and stains. Cornstarch polishes windows nicely as well.
Pepper/Tabasco sauce: Pepper sauce, although harsh to hands is an organic alternative to toxic metal polishes. Pepper sauce is especially useful and safe for copper, brass and jewelry. Wear gloves to prevent burns.
More Scary Facts About Detergents --The Main Pollutants
One of the main sources of chemical pollutants is everyday detergents. Specific contaminants leading to water pollution include a wide range of chemicals (such as bleach) and microbes. Several chemicals that we use in our daily life are harmful elements and compounds. These could be magnesium or calcium-based substances that affect water. Detergents sometimes could be carcinogenic, so they should be eliminated from the water. The detergents can contain suspected carcinogens, and ingredients that do not fully biodegrade."
The Hazards of Detergents to Environment
Detergents also contain oxygen-reducing substances (i.e. a chemical compound that readily transfers oxygen atoms) that may cause severe damage to the fish and marine animals. This may also lead to eutrophication. Eutrophication is a process by which a water body becomes enriched in dissolved nutrients (e.g., phosphates, calcium and magnesium). It has negative impacts on the environment, especially on aquatic animals because water rich in nutrients stimulates the growth of aquatic plant life, resulting in depletion of oxygen.
Hazard to Human Health
Chemicals could be a source of drinking water contamination. Drinking water contaminated by detergents can be hazardous to human health. Humans can become ill with a range of symptoms such as skin irritation, sore throat, nausea, stomach cramps and liver damage. Such contaminated water can also damage crops, such as rice, wheat and soybean.
Detergents and Foams
Detergents are surface-active agents, which tend to produce stable, copious foams in rivers. These foams generally form a thick and dense layer over the surface of the water, extending over several hundred yards of the river water. The foamy water is unsafe for both humans and fish.
Water pollution is a serious problem today. Many of the chemical substances which are disposed of in water are toxic. Apart from immediate health hazards that these detergents pose, the elements (e.g., lead) present in some of them can lead to more subtle, long-term health issues, such as thyroid problems or poor bone development.
Should stop using detergents that are made from powerful chemicals which can lead to pollution. The detergents should not be used in excess quantity. Use eco-friendly washing detergents and cleaning agents. Look for phosphate-free and biodegradable detergents and cleaners for your dishwasher, washing machine, house cleaning. They are much kinder to our bays and waterways, as well as providing a less toxic home environment with improved air quality.
Almost all the homes use a synthetic detergent and this synthetic detergent is a main cause for water pollution. The origin of a synthetic detergent is Germany. After losing a war, Germany couldn't get oil and fat, the material of soap, so it made a synthetic detergent by synthesizing with the extract of petroleum. After that, the USA made it into a product and now almost all the countries are using it. Unlike other pollutants, a synthetic detergent, which is melted in water, can't be dissolved by microorganisms and it generates bubbles on water so oxygen can't go into water and sunlight is blocked. Therefore, it interferes with the normal propagation of plankton. In other words, a synthetic detergent does serious harm to the health of water. The cause for the bubbles that we can easily see in the stream around our houses or apartment complexes is the very synthetic detergent. The excessive use of a synthetic detergent can make the stream where not only fish, but also microorganisms can't live.
Detergents contain 20% active ingredients and remaining are sodium sulphate, inorganic phosphates, foaming agents. Phosphates from detergents assist algae and weeds to grow in water, which deplete the oxygen for sea animals. Hence, detergents cause water pollution.
Bacteria are important to the health of the waterways running through our backyards. As decomposers - organisms that break down substances - they are an essential part of a natural healthy ecosystem. These bacteria live on the substances that wash into the waterway.
While bacteria are small, what they lack in size they make up for in their numbers and how fast they growth. I often find millions in one millilitre of creek and river water, with bacterial populations doubling every 20 minutes.
"Most of the pollution comes from clothes, and what you eat and drink. In Sweden, many water companies work with information to the people not to use detergent and pharmaceuticals and some pharmaceuticals are worse than others, they just pass through the waste water treatment plant, and to the rivers.