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The Hidden Chemicals in Laundry Soap & 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 household products that impact your health in negative ways - without you even realising it.

You may have cleaned up your diet and started using organic and handcrafted  personal care items, but lurking in most kitchen and laundry products are a raft of hidden chemical toxins which are not only detrimental to the environment, but your health as well.

In fact, ailments and conditions such as skin disease, allergies and respiratory problems, can all result from the laundry products you use, which is why this is such an important area to get right. 

With some simple, conscious adjustments to the laundry products you buy, you'll not only have clothes and linen that smell fresh and feel soft and clean, but you'll go a long way to preventing many health problems that can creep up on you over time. 

Here, we highlight the main issues with chemical laundry soaps and what you can do about it.

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 over time, 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 cleaning performance.

The only purpose they serve, is to make the product seem more effective, to add synthetic fragrance and to create a longer shelf life.

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

This is just one chemical category that are a problem alongside other concerning substances that include:

  • Phosphates
  • Benzene Sulfonates
  • Petroleum Distillates
  • Optical Brighteners
  • Polyalkylene Glycol
  • Ethylene Oxide
  • Sodium Laural Sulfates
  • Benzene


Some detergents also contain the following chemicals that have known cancer-causing compounds:

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

Signs & Symptoms

When these toxic substances come into contact with your body on a regular basis, they can 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 DIY Natural Laundry Detergent

You can create your own DIY, homemade, safer and more environmentally friendly laundry soap, using some fairly easy-to-get and non-toxic ingredients.

Here’s a suggested DIY 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 Bronners Castille Liquid Soap
  • 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. If using liquid Castille soap instead of a soap bar, add 1-2 tablespoons
  3. Stir in drops of essential oils
  4. Store in a large glass jar
  5. Use as you normally would your regular laundry soap or powder.

If you're short on time or ingredients and want a convenient tox-free alternative, we handcraft our own natural laundry powder called Earth Made, which is available in four varieties in our store at

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 and 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 over night.

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

The Main Takeaway

With the shift to more healthy, conscious living, many people still overlook the chemical cleaning products they use around the home.

One of the biggest culprits of respiratory problems, skin irritations and allergies, are the toxic chemicals in commercial laundry powders and soaps.  And for this reason alone, it is so important to make the switch to natural alternatives that are helpful rather than harmful to the health of you and your family.

Tolman Self Care. 


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