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Commercial laundry products: the forgotten enemy in the fight for the environment

Hi! Amanda from Bubby’s Bubbles here! Thanks for coming to check out my blog post on the not-so-fun realities of commercial laundry products. I’m writing this blog because I think that cleaning product companies have gotten very lucky that they’ve been able to fly under the radar for quite some time as the world fights against climate change. Why have they been able to get by without catching some heat? Well, in my opinion, it’s that:

  1. They operate with the notion that most people do not read ingredient labels of their cleaning products (and are not legally obliged to – fun hint: google the products, they list everything on their website usually!)

  2. If people read the ingredients of the cleaning products, they are likely to shrug at the ingredients they don’t understand, buy it anyway because it’s easy and readily available (absolutely no judgment here – we’ve all been there! This is just about creating awareness without judgment. Well, I do judge big companies…more on that later).

  3. Most people trust the government! Why shouldn’t we? If something is being sold in our grocery stores and pharmacies, I’m safe to assume it’s okay for us, our families, and our environment?

  4. People associate a clean smell with cleanliness. “If I use this laundry detergent and my clothes come out smelling fresh, then this laundry detergent works, and I am happy.”

Let’s dive in, and I apologize in advance for the gloom and doom, but hey – all in the name of awareness!

As you look for ways to improve the health of your home and family, avoiding dangerous chemicals can be somewhat challenging. Unfortunately, they are everywhere in almost all personal care, food items, and ironically, cleaning and laundry products. For the past 70 years, commercial laundry products have become a chemical cocktail causing irrefutable damage to the environment and to human health.

Although the chore of laundry will never go away, there are a lot of ways to avoid and eliminate harmful chemicals making their way to your clothes, your skin, and from going down the drain.

The list of harmful chemicals in laundry detergents is eerily long stemming from a combination of scarce ingredients during the second world war, an excess of chemicals after the war, and a way to make laundry detergents available commercially when more advanced equipment entered the world. During the new age of products for convenience, very little, if any testing was done to monitor the mass production and use of these chemicals in terms of cancers and future environmental impact. It’s been 70 years since those chemicals entered the market and 70 years since they were tested for toxicity in humans, animals, plant life and in water systems. During that time, researchers have found that the chemicals in commercial laundry detergents contain known human carcinogens, skin irritants, lung irritants, toxic air pollutants and are poisonous to marine life.

A lot has happened to the planet in 70 years where our buying habits and the products we use have been shown to have a direct link to our health, the environment, and the globe. Changing the world is not an easy feat, however, making small, simple changes in your home and community do make a difference. As small pockets and communities take charge of helping the planet, a movement grows to do no harm and clean up the products we use. The future of cleaning up the planet starts with homes and communities acting by supporting natural products and being mindful of their footprint and product lifecycle. Ways you can help:

  1. Look for laundry products that do not contain:

Phosphates, Formaldehyde, Chlorine, Ammonium Sulfate, Dioxane & Diethylene Dioxide, Optical/UV Brighteners, SLS/SLES, Dyes, Benzyl Acetate, Dichlorobenzene, Phthalates, Ammonia, Nonylphenol Ethoxylate, and Phenols. (Spoiler alert: that “clean smell” from point #4 above is a lovely cocktail of harmful ingredients – many listed here!)

2. Look for ways to use natural products in your home and community:

  • Look for refill stations or companies that offer refillable zero-waste options to avoid wasting single-use plastic

  • Support companies that use vegan saponified soaps and castile soaps which not only offer a superior clean but has a natural lifecycle of returning to nature without harm

  • Look for laundry products with oxygen bleach or hydrogen peroxide as a bleach alternative that will not only prolong the life of your clothing but will not irritate your skin or cause damage to watersheds

  • Seek products that use essential oils in their ingredients rather than synthetic chemical fragrances that can cause headaches and have been linked to several types of endocrine cancers

3. Support movements for change in your community

I would also like to point out that we know being environmentally aware is a privilege. Things that are mindfully and eco-consciously made take time, quality ingredients, and as a result usually are less accessible. Bubby’s is trying to change that by being more affordable per load than leading commercial laundry detergents. A lovely friend of mine once told me that every dollar we spend is a vote for what we believe in. You work so hard for your money – spend it with integrity.

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