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What You Will Learn in this Article 

  • Why the Seventh Generation Detergent I’ve Been Using isn’t as Clean as Advertised
  • What the Problem Ingredients are:
         Sodium Alcohol Ethoxylate Sulfate
         Linear Alkylbenzene Sulfonate
         “Fragrance”
  • What isn’t Listed in Laundry Detergents that’s Toxic
  • Ingredient-to-Ingredient Comparison Table of Three Products
  • Safer Alternatives

My Own Big Fat Surprise

It was a big surprise for me to learn that the laundry detergent I was personally using all this time (Ecover and 7th Generation) both contain hormone-disrupting chemicals—more on this below.

I thought: “I’ve spent years researching and doing due diligence on chemicals that impact our hormones. If I didn’t know what the very products I use contain, then I’m pretty sure most the Hormones Balance readers won’t know either.”

You may also be surprised to learn that 7th Generation is now owned by Unilever—the very company that also makes Comfort (fabric softener), Dove, Knorr, and Vaseline—products I would never recommend to anyone who wants to be healthy.  

The story repeats itself—companies such as Unilever, Proctor & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, L’Oreal, Pepsi, and Coke are known to buy small, clean companies with strong health-conscious fans and buyers and quietly reformulate the products over time, without consumers’ awareness. I’ve seen it happen first hand to Kiehl’s, Body Shop and now Seventh Generation.

What is the Problem?

To my big disappointment, 7th Generation, which was my product of choice, contains Sodium Laureth Sulfate, also known as SLS.

Even though EWG rates SLS as a “1” (which means not harmful), many toxicity experts disagree and see it as a “moderate hazard” that has been linked to skin irritation.

At this point, in spite of the internet buzz, SLS has not been linked to cancer (it doesn’t mean it’s safe). The problem occurs when it’s combined with dioxane, it stays in the body for a long time as the liver can’t metabolize it properly—this increases the overall toxic load on the body.

Bottom line: To balance hormones, minimize the synthetic compound load on your body.

If you’re experiencing symptoms estrogen dominance, you can find out more by taking my Free Estrogen Quiz. The truth is estrogen dominance symptoms occur to 75% of women, but a whopping 90% of them don’t even realize they have it. I recommend taking this quiz to find out for yourself here.

 

SLS is a penetration enhancer, the molecules are so small that they are able to cross the membranes of your body’s cells to inflict damage. A study from the University of Georgia Medicine showed that SLS has the power to permeate the eyes, brain, heart, and liver.

SLS is also used as a pesticide and herbicide in organic farming and is a water pollutant. Sadly, when you wash your clothes, the water must go somewhere—affecting marine life.

This is not to mention the obvious—the darling of all TV commercials and prime shelf space is Tide. It contains a cocktail of chemicals that are scary to look at, let alone put on your clothes. Other mass-market brands I would advise you to stay away from are Spring Fresh, Mountain Breeze or any products containing the below chemical cocktails.

They include chemicals such as:

  • Sodium Alcohol Ethoxylate Sulfate
  • Linear Alkylbenzene Sulfonate
  • “Fragrance”

Sodium Alcohol Ethoxylate Sulfate is a surfactant, a cleaning agent that makes water wetter and makes suds, sudsier. Sodium Alcohol Ethoxylate Sulfate has been shown to be a skin irritant, may cause respiratory problems, and have potential cancer links. Sodium Alcohol Ethoxylate is even found listed in the ingredients in the leading conventional “baby-safe” laundry detergents such as Dreft.

Linear Alkylbenzene Sulfonate (LAS) is a common surfactant used in detergents worldwide and is of concern to the impact on the environment. The European Union Ecolabel program data shows this substance has high chronic toxicity to aquatic life.

 

“Fragrance” is a cover-up name for phthalates—are a very well documented family of chemicals causing a number of hormone imbalances, including thyroid problems in both men and women as well as early puberty in girls.

Phthalates were dubbed an “obesogen” in 2006 by Felix Grün and Bruce Blumberg of the University of California, Irvine who showed that they affect genes that uptake fat and grow fat cells. Phthalates are xenoestrogens (external estrogen-mimicking compounds) and have also been linked to endometriosis, reduced sperm concentration and motility in men, abnormal reproductive system development in baby boys.

A 2017 study found collected blood samples of pregnant women and found that as phthalate blood levels increased, leptin levels decreased. Leptin is a hormone that lets us know we are full, and decreased levels can result in overeating.  

Department of Medical Endocrinology of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark found that phthalates can also severely disrupt the immune system.

Lastly, phthalates have been linked to skin issues, such as contact dermatitis, increased allergies and asthma and even changes in the brains and behaviors of infants and children.

NOTE: Because of a loophole in US Law, you won’t see “phthalates” on product labels; you’ll instead see “fragrance” or “perfume.”

 

What You Won’t Find Listed in Laundry Detergents

What is also problematic is what is not listed on conventional laundry detergent labels such as Tide. You won’t find 1,4-dioxane in the list of ingredients because technically it is a by-product and is not required by law to be listed.  

The EPA (Environment Protection Agency) lists 1,4-dioxane as a solvent that is a human carcinogen. Being exposed to high levels of inhalation has caused headaches, vertigo, drowsiness, and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, skin, and lungs in people. Testing in laboratory rats, scientists have observed damage to liver and kidneys, as well as tumors in animals that have been exposed through their drinking water. In 2012, 1,4 dioxane, a petrochemical was found in Tide products: Tide Original Scent Liquid Laundry Detergent and Tide Free and Gentle Liquid Laundry Detergent.

“Natural” Doesn’t Mean Non-Toxic

What I’m concluding from doing the research on laundry detergent is that “greenwashing” is happening here just as it is with skincare products. Even though plant-based ingredients don’t use petrochemicals, some of them can cause allergic reactions. Some chemicals used in “green” product lines have not been thoroughly tested and get low grades for lack of safety data.

I’m feeling angry and disappointed as I’m researching and writing on this topic. How can our governing bodies not protect us from such harmful chemicals?!  

What are Safer Alternatives?

Given my disappointment with my current washing detergent, I went looking for cleaner laundry washing alternatives which I want to pass on to you.

Soap Nuts

I like to live as close to nature as possible and soap nuts offer this alternative. These Himalayan berries contain naturally occurring saponin which cleanses.

Pros:

–  Totally natural and non-toxic
–  Can be re-used 7 times
–  You can travel with them

Cons:

–  Inconvenient: Soap nuts need to be put to a linen sachet when used in the wash. They then need to be dried up or else they would go moldy.
–  Efficacy: Laundry needs to be double washed if clothes are heavily soiled.
–  Unscented (if you want fragrance)

If you want to try soap nuts, these are the ones I used.

Soap nuts are just one natural alternative to harmful products in our daily lives. “One of our iconic programs—Herbs for Balance—shows you how to use everyday herbs and DIY skincare recipes to restore hormonal health. It’s a self-guided, 6-week program with live online community support.

Herbs for Balance was developed to help our community bring the power of common herbs (such as dandelions, nettles, red clover) into everyday life; whether it’s your laundry room, kitchen, bathroom, food, or topical applications. Our Herbs for Balance program is available for just $57. Get it here.

Branch Basics

Branch Basics cleaning products are highly effective, biodegradable, and they’re made with plants and minerals that actually smell good. Plus, you add the water yourself, so you don’t need to worry about preservatives. Instead, you get a whole bottle of the concentrated cleaner that can be used to clean basically everything you own (yes, including your hands and body).

Here’s what you get with the Home Cleaning Starter Kit:

  • 33 oz. bottle of soap concentrate
  • 32 oz. laundry bottle
  • 3 empty 24 oz. spray bottles
  • 10 oz. foaming wash bottle (for hand washing or dish soap)
  • 2 lbs. Oxygen Boost (helps whiten clothes and remove stains)

This bundle is so versatile. Here’s just a sample of the cleaning tasks it’s up for:

  • All-Purpose: Appliances, Dishes, Fruits & Vegetables, Granite, Grills, Highchairs, Jewelry, Marble, Natural Stone, Pacifiers, Pots & Pans, Stains, Stovetops, Sticky Spills, Yoga Mats
  • Bathroom: Tile, Grout, Countertops, Sinks, Showers, Tubs, Toilets, Fixtures, Shower Liners, Soap Scum
  • Streak-Free: Windows, Mirrors, Glass Surfaces, Computer Screens, Phones and Tablets, Fixtures, Aquariums, Shower Doors, Picture Frames
  • Foaming Wash: Hands, Face, Body, Baby, Hair, Pets, Removing Make-Up, Shaving, Dishes, Fruits & Vegetables
  • Laundry: Whites, Colors, Sheets and more!
  • Misc: Stainless Steel, Wood and Vinyl Floors, Carpet

The founder of Branch Basics understands firsthand how important it is to avoid exposure to unnatural chemicals. After a struggle with hormonal issues and a son who battled toxicity from pesticides, Marilee Nelson worked to remove chemicals from both their diet and household.

Now fully recovered from their illnesses, Marilee works as a Dietary and Environmental Consultant and Materials Specialist—so she knows what she’s talking about.

These cleaning products are made without fragrances or harmful chemicals, so you don’t need to grab your rubber gloves to scrub down your bathtub next time. The soap concentrate formula was designed with the most sensitive people in mind, so those with asthma, eczema, allergies and other issues can use it liberally without worrying about a reaction.

Branch Basics multipurpose concentrates makes cleaning simple, affordable and sustainable.

Because they’re refillable, they’re significantly less expensive than similar single-use products. Simply dilute the concentrate with water, and you’ll be ready to tackle any cleaning job around the house, even your dirty laundry.

I’m also a fan of their dryer balls, made of 100% American wool and are free of pesticides, dyes and fragrance.

You can check out Branch Basics here. Use the code “hormonesbalance” for 15% off all kits.


 

Resources:

Human studies have reported that exposure to phthalates or bisphenol A (BPA) may affect thyroid signaling
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21749963

Estrogen-like endocrine disrupting chemicals affecting puberty in humans
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19478717  

Toxic Load
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3249606/#R7  

Phthalate metabolites related to infertile biomarkers and infertility
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28810198

Mono-2-ethyhexyl phthalate (MEHP), an environmental xenoestrogen, on the development of cervical cancers
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29382535  

Phthalates and type 1 diabetes: is there any link?
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29680886

Potential influence of the phthalates on normal liver function and cardiometabolic risk in males.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29234897  

Consumer product exposures associated with urinary phthalate levels in pregnant women
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3439834/  

Association between prenatal bisphenol A and phthalate exposures and fetal metabolic related biomarkers: The Hokkaido study on Environment and Children’s Health.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29223775

Dangers of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
https://www.livestrong.com/article/174367-dangers-of-sodium-lauryl-sulfate/