Your Laundry Detergent Is Harming the Environment

Washing your clothes with traditional detergents kills animals and destroys the environment. Despite how much effort you might put into sustainable living, this one simple household chore causes countless environmental problems.

Chemical emissions are just the tip of the melting iceberg, and the environmental impacts of laundry detergents continue to get worse. 

Read on to find out how your laundry detergent may leave your clothes clean, but not your hands.

The 11 Worst Chemicals in Laundry Detergent

Each of the following chemicals harms ecosystems in its own way. Combined, they’re a chemical weapon that destroys aquatic environments and kills aquatic organisms. And they aren’t too good for humans, either. 

Eleven specific chemicals commonly found in laundry detergent harm people, animals, and the environment.

1. Phosphates

Phosphates are made of phosphorus, a mineral that encourages plant growth. Phosphates in laundry that are washed into water sources through washing machines are responsible for algal blooms that use up the oxygen in aquatic ecosystems resulting in the suffocation of aquatic life. 

Entire ecosystems are killed off and destroyed, and biodiversity is increasingly threatened. 

Phosphates are also directly linked to heart disease, air pollution, and wildlife destruction.

Phosphate-free products are now mandatory in the European Union, but the chemical still threatens the environment because of its use in multiple other countries. 

2. Formaldehyde

Classified as a carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency, formaldehyde is commonly used to preserve corpses. Doesn’t feel so clean, does it? The environmental impact of this chemical will make you feel even worse, as it’s been linked to the destruction of aquatic life.

Marine animals affected by formaldehyde are unable to breed and its toxicity shortens their lifespans. It also decreases oxygen levels in these environments, resulting in suffocation and respiratory failure in any species unfortunate enough to be living there.

3. Chlorine bleach

Chlorine bleach is found in multiple products around the house. Used to brighten whites, it’s also one of the more toxic ingredients of laundry products and harms the environment and aquatic life as much as it affects human health. When mixed with ammonia, it becomes highly toxic and leads to respiratory disease when inhaled. Skin contact is also known to cause burns.

4. Surfactants

Surfactants—both cationic and synthetic—reduce the surface tension in water and causes water to absorb pollutants and absorb pesticides in greater volumes. The more you reduce the surface tension in water, the more toxic chemicals are found in it. 

These “surface-active agents” also cause acute toxicity in fish, attacking the central nervous system. They also degrade the protective mucus layer that coats fish, exposing them to pesticides, pathogens, and bacteria. Surfactants ultimately undermine