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Phosphates, Phthalates, Ammonia, Solvents, and Dyes – Oh My!

Posted by Andres Jimenez on
laundry detergent with phosphates


When was the last time you really read through each ingredient in your laundry detergent?  You may be surprised by how many ingredients aren’t actually benefiting your day-to-day life in any way, and exist merely as fillers, to increase the volume rather than the value of the formula.  Worse, some of the cheapest ingredients for companies to use happen to be the worst for our health, not to mention for the environment. 

Let’s cover some of the worst offenders found in commercial laundry detergents, and also explain why we should start ditching them for good.

#1: Phosphates

Phosphates are synthetic derivatives of phosphorus, and their main role in detergents is chelating calcium and magnesium ions to make laundry detergent more efficient at cleaning and deodorizing clothing.  But, there’s a reason why phosphates are banned from laundry products in many parts of the world.  For one thing, they make their way into our water supply, causing contamination that’s harmful to marine life, as well as the soil we use to grow our fruits and vegetables.  And, they have a negative effect on human health, including negative effects on our heart function and kidney function.

#2: Phthalates

Then, there are phthalates, which are most commonly used to soften plastic materials to help them bind to liquid formulations.  In laundry detergents, they can play a role in helping get the ideal gel-like consistency.  Their biggest offense seems to be acting as endocrine disruptors, which can cause hormonal imbalances, reproductive disorders and more.  Besides that, it seems that many people are allergic to them, and can experience a variety of allergic symptoms when exposed to them regularly.

#3: Ammonia

Ammonia can be an enormously harmful chemical that has been linked to neurological dysfunction, respiratory problems, and nervous system disorders – and yet it’s found in many commercial laundry products.  The reason why is because it’s also a potent cleansing and disinfecting agent, so you can understand why so many laundry detergent companies would want to use it in their products.  It’s one of the most common active ingredients in strain removers.  While it could be safe when used in moderate levels, it can linger in the fibers of your laundered clothing, meaning that you’re more exposed to it each day than you think you are.

#4: Solvents

Solvents refer to a category of ingredients that serve the purpose of dissolving one or more other types of ingredients, so that you can end up with a homogenized solution.  Solvents are used in just about everything commercial that we consume, and there are far too many out there to name each one.  But, the bottom line is that the fewer chemical solvents we expose ourselves to each day, the better.  The vapors of many commonly used solvents can be hard on the respiratory system, and even toxic.  And, it’s not uncommon to develop dermatitis or eczema from topical exposure to solvents, which is why so many people struggle with them in laundry products.


If your laundry detergent is colored, then it’s dyed.  After all, adding lavender to a laundry detergent doesn’t turn it purple.  The problem is that many people are allergic to common dyes, and these ingredients can even worsen asthma symptoms.  So, it’s best to avoid them altogether, since they’re used solely for superficial reasons anyway.

Choose Cleaner Laundry Products from Now On – Check Out Grab Green Home

It’s always important to read each ingredient in a laundry product before purchasing it.  Because, as you can see, a lot of commonly used ingredients can be contributing to poor health over time.  At Grab Green Home, you won’t find any of the above problematic additives in our laundry products, since we work with clean plant derivatives that are gentle and safe for the body.

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