6 Hidden Toxins in Your Laundry, and How to Reduce Them

6 Hidden Toxins in Your Laundry, and How to Reduce Them


What if your fashion style was described by the toxins you wear? Let me tell you: it would be a little less sexy. “Candice is wearing Perchlorethylene, with a subtle layer of sodium lauryl sulfate and ethyl acetate to finish off the look.”  No thanks.


There are a surprising number of Hidden Toxins in Your Laundry, so here’s How to Reduce Them! Your clothing and linens are near your skin all the time, so don’t let them wear toxins.

The Hidden Toxins in Your Laundry:

You might be surprised at the hidden toxins in your laundry room. Not only are they present, the fabrics that carry them onto your skin, and into each room of your house and life are also following you. Unlike food and cosmetics, cleaning products are not required to comprehensively disclose all ingredients. A 2012 study by the David Suzuki Foundation surveyed 10,500 Canadians who reported on over 15,000 household cleaning products:

  • Only 42% of products contained a complete ingredients list;
  • 70% of products entered contained some kind of claim to being “green” compared to just 47% that displayed eco-certification.

Review and remove what you have in your laundry room, but also be careful about how you’re disposing it since laundry items like fabric softeners, bleach, and stain removers are actually considered Household Hazardous Waste.

Have you signed up for our 30 Day Home Detox Challenge? 

1. What’s touching your skin?

It may seem like common sense, but since skin is your body’s largest organ, the types of fabrics you buy and how you treat it matters. We apply this logic to eco beauty, but for some reason, it doesn’t echo as loudly when it comes to fashion. Fabrics like nylon, polyester, and cotton are either manufactured using petroleum or treated with chemicals, so are best to avoid whenever possible. I also try to avoid anything that requires dry cleaning, since it simplifies my routine, but also, dry cleaners often use harsh chemicals including 2-Butoxyethanol and Perchloroethylene (Perc) to yield results. Save your money and your clothes!

What you can do:

Opt for more sustainable fabrics whenever possible like Lycocell and Organic Cotton or natural fabrics like hemp, wool and linen.

6 Hidden Toxins in Your Laundry, and How to Reduce Them

Related Post: All-Natural Bleach Alternative (That Works)


2. Don’t Reach for the Bleach

In addition to being unnecessarily harsh to your clothing, bleach can spur an allergic reaction and releases toxic gases in the air. One study cites that in households where bleach was used, much higher rates of influenza, sinusitis and pneumonia were experienced by the children in those households. What’s more, when water is polluted, our best efforts to control where it goes and how it is treated is always going to be less efficient than not polluting in the first place.

What you can do:

Make your own homemade bleach out of hydrogen peroxide, citric acid and lemon juice! Both citric acid and lemon juice are natural whiteners, and the hydrogen peroxide is basically water, but with H202, an extra oxygen atom. The homemade bleach can be poured into your washing machine bleach cycle (1-2 cups), or you can use it as a bleach replacement in your bathroom as well.

6 Hidden Toxins in Your Laundry, and How to Reduce Them

Related Post: Invisible Health Hazards Trapped In Your Home

3. Be deterred by some detergents.

Many conventional detergents could have ingredients that have negative effects on you, the clothes being washed, or on aquatic environments after they’re poured down the drain. Liquid laundry soaps are likely to contain sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), which contain traces of a known carcinogen, 1,4-dioxin.  Further, that ‘fresh’ scent of detergent could very well be a synthetic fragrance, which typically contain pthalates.

What you can do:

Find an eco-friendly detergent that is should be plant and vegetable-based, biodegradable and phosphate-free.

  • A brand like Sapadilla is refillable and widely distributed across Canada (check out our Zero Waste Guides for your province).
  • If you’d like to use a concentrate, I suggest Ecover ZERO Laundry Liquid Concentrate
  • Soap nuts are shelled berries that grow on trees in the himalayas. They can be put in a cloth bag in the wash, then composted afterwards. They are very gentle, so ideal for those with skin sensitivities or those who want to minimize toxins. You can order them online (I like Eco-Nuts), but I have also seen them at Bulk Barn.
    • Bonus Washing Tip: Make sure it’s a full load and be Bold with Cold!
      • Heating water in your washing machine uses a load of energy. But is it necessary? Consider how stains like sweat and blood on clothing actually set in when you use warm water! By switching to cold, you’ll save money, and are less likely to fade/shrink your clothes. Eco-detergents also work great with cold water.


4. Be a Softie for Non-Toxic!

Fabric softener reduces moisture which softens your clothes but doesn’t clean them. So one simple way to avoid coating your clothes in Ethyl acetate (an irritant and neurotoxin), is to simply skip fabric softener altogether, or replace it with a household alternative: our dear friend white vinegar!

What you can do:

For a full load, pour in 1 cup of white vinegar during the rinse cycle. It truly does the trick, and if you’d like it scented, either add a few drops of lavender oil, or steep a fresh herb like mint in a jug of vinegar for 24 hours and use that. Vinegar also reduces some static, AND works well to get rid of mildew!

6 Hidden Toxins in Your Laundry, and How to Reduce Them

Related Post: DIY All-Purpose Kitchen Scouring Scrub; Cleanser

5. Dryer Sheets are Replace-a-ball.

There are many reasons to ditch dryer sheets without even considering the chemicals on them that are permeating your laundry room. These single-use, polyester sheets do not break down in landfills. Have you ever rubbed a dryer sheet between your fingers? You’ll notice that it is slightly tacky, which is either a coating of quaternary ammonium compounds or silicone oil.

What you can do:

Wool dryer balls can easily replace dryer sheets. They work by separating the fabrics as they bounce around, allowing heat to better circulate throughout the dryer. I usually put 4 dryer balls in, and when shopping for them, see what the indicated lifetime is for the dryer ball. I’ve seen them as reusable up to 1000 times!

If you miss the scent, you can let 3-4 drops of lavender oil soak into the dryer balls and set the dryer on a tumble dry heat setting.


6. Bonus tip: Harvest Solar Energy like an #EcoBoss!
What if I told you-you can harvest solar energy for free and without leaving your backyard? Drying clothes are like drying dishes, depending on who you are, you may decide to delegate to mother nature on this one. Not only does hanging clothes to dry preserve clothes better, it also cuts static and many delicates need to be hang-dried anyway. I find that the only items I prefer machine dried are my jeans (after being re-worn several times) and my towels (to keep them fluffy).

There you have it: several small, simple ways to support mother nature, your clothes and yourself in having a less toxic and more sustainable household. The truth is, there is really no need for toxins in the laundry room.


Hidden Toxins in Your Laundry, and How to Reduce Them


The Eco Hub

The Eco Hub is a digital media company where success is based on building relationships and empowering others to live more mindfully. It's a place for women (and men) to come learn, engage and be inspired to live well, by doing good.

  1. What is the brand and where do you get the white laundry bag that you put certain clothes in, in the washer, so that some tiny bits of plastic that are released during the wash will be trapped in the bag, and not released into our oceans and waterways? Candice Batista demonstrated this bag on the Marilyn Denis show on Monday, April 22, 2019. Many thanks!

  2. I’m loving these tips (many of which I use already), but just wanted to comment that I love the writer’s style, particularly the pun-tastic subheadings. I totally giggled at Replace-a-ball lol.

    Would love to see an article talking about the pros and cons of powder vs. liquid detergent. I am trying to reduce the amount of plastic I bring into my home, and liquid detergents in plastic jugs are harder to deal with once empty than powder in a cardboard box, but I’m now hearing that powder detergent is worse for the environment than liquid. I’d love to know if there’s a way to declare one a clear winner.

    1. Thank you for your message, Monica 😉
      I am so glad you found this article useful. I giggle too. I am actually working on this right now. So please do stay tuned.
      warm regards,

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