The Hidden Chemicals in Laundry Detergent & How To Make Your Own


One of the easiest things to overlook when it comes to everyday Self Care, are the hidden chemicals in commercial laundry products that impact your health in negative ways.

You may have cleaned up your diet and started using organic personal care products, but lurking in your laundry is a potential source of toxins which can not only damage your health but also be detrimental to the environment.

Skin disease, allergies and respiratory problems can all result from the laundry soap you use, without you even knowing it.

Your clothes and linen may smell and feel soft and clean, but the long term impact to your health is worth doing something about. 

So what exactly is the problem?

The toxic chemicals contained in many laundry products leave residues in the fibres of your washing even after it’s been rinsed and dried.

Once in contact with your skin, they then get absorbed and even breathed into your lungs where they can wreak havoc in your immune and respiratory systems, causing you to have adverse reactions that you will likely not link to the source of the problem.

Additionally, when dried in a dryer, the vents often then spread these toxic substances through the air polluting your home in the same way other environmental toxins can.

Toxic Laundry Detergent Chemicals

Many of the ingredients, such as fragrances, colourings and preservatives, added to laundry detergent and washing powders do not actually make a difference to the cleaning performance. The only purpose they serve is to make the product seem more effective, to add sweet smell and to last longer on the shelf.

Surfactants sometimes referred to as “cleaning agents”, are chemical compounds that help to remove dirt from fabric.

These and other toxic substances include:

  • Phosphates
  • Linear Alkyl Benzene Sulfonates
  • Petroleum Distillates
  • Optical Brighteners
  • Quanternium-15
  • Nonylphenol Ethoxylate
  • Diethanolamine
  • Polyalkylene Glycol
  • Ethylene Oxide
  • Sodium Laural Sulfates
  • Benzene


Some detergents also contain these cancer-causing chemicals:

  • 1, 4-Dioxane
  • Nonylphenol Ethoxylate
  • Alcohol Ethoxylates
  • Colours
  • Stabilisers 

Learn more about carcinogens and how they affect the body in Cancer-Causing Chemicals In Supermarket Foods

Signs & Symptoms

When these toxic substances come in contact with your body they typically trigger inflammation, like an allergic response which can present physically as:

  • Itchiness & irritations of skin, throat & eyes
  • Rashes & hives
  • Respiratory issues
  • Watery nose or eyes
  • Exacerbation of skin conditions like Psoriasis & Eczema

Over time and distance, the constant exposure can take its toll on your health and lead to more serious health issues, including cancer.

Natural Non-Toxic Alternatives

Washing your dirty laundry in water alone is not always effective at removing all dirt, grime and stains, so thankfully there are chemical-free, nature and plant-derived substitutes that you can use instead.

By swapping your big brand laundry detergent for an organic or natural alternative, or making your own, you’ll not only stop any irritations or symptoms, but also be kinder to mother earth.

Better For You & The Environment

Using only plant-based ingredients and naturally-occurring minerals will ensure that your laundry detergent is not only totally safe for you, but also biodegradable and sustainable making it earth-friendly as well.

Any runoff from your washing loads poses no threat to water resources or aquatic life beyond your home.

How To Make Your Own Natural Laundry Detergent

You can create your own homemade safer and more environmentally sound version using some fairly easy-to-get and non-toxic ingredients.

Here’s a suggested recipe:


  • 1/2 Cup Baking Soda (Sodium Bicarbonate)
  • 1/2 Cup of Washing Soda (Sodium Carbonate)
  • 1 Cup of Borax
  • 1 bar of natural soap such as coconut or ‘Castile’
  • 20 drops of Pure Essential Oils of your choice


  1. Grate up the soap with a grater or food processor into small particles
  2. In a large bowl mix grated soap in with the baking soda, washing soda and borax
  3. Stir in drops of essential oils
  4. Store in a large glass jar

Earth-Made Laundry Powder

To save you the time and remove the guess work, we handcraft our own natural non-toxic laundry powder in 3 beautiful scents:

Or if you’d prefer to add in your own combination of essential oils, it’s also available in an unscented version.

How To Use

For Colours/Blacks/Whites we recommend the following amounts:

Small Load: 1/3 Cup

Medium Load: 1/2 Cup

Large Load: 3/4 Cup

For Stains: Form a paste with water, rub into the stain and allow to soak in a bucket of hot water.

To wash, follow the instructions for your particular washing machine.

Whatever you do, make the switch to non-toxic, non-commercial laundry soaps and powders as soon as you can and you and your family will be happier and healthier for it.

Tolman Self Care. 


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