What is laundry slime?
Laundry suds aren’t good for your fabrics. Unfortunately when you’re doing your wash with conventional laundry products you’re creating not just suds, but laundry slime. Most people don’t realize just how many chemicals they put on their clothes and what these chemicals actually do to their linens and other fabrics.
Let’s talk about how laundry suds can actually shorten the life of your linens. Most people don’t realize the number of chemicals they put on their clothes and what these chemicals actually do to their fabrics.
Roleplay with me for a second. You just got out of a really hot shower and you’re soaking wet. All you want to do is dry off so you grab a towel. One cleaned in conventional laundry detergent. So you begin to dry yourself off but for some reason, you’re just not getting dry. It almost feels like the towel you are using is sliding right off of your body. Have you ever experienced this or wondered why?
Well, let me tell you why. Conventional laundry products are specifically designed to leave chemical sheen on your fabrics. These chemicals soak into your fabrics, or in this case, your absorbent towels. If that’s not bad enough, the chemicals bake into your towels when they go into your dryer. That’s why your towel isn’t drying you off after you take a shower. That chemical sheen? I call it laundry slime.
The basics of soap (and detergent)
Generations ago, our ancestors would make their own soap from rendered animal fat and lye. They understood the basic principle of cleaning: oils attract oil. Conventional laundry products are not made with oils. Instead, they are made with petroleum surfactants. These conventional laundry products are synthesized and they have no resemblance to anything that would have been used generations ago.
These synthesized petroleum surfactants serve a specific purpose. They are carriers for UV brighteners, perfumes and optical brighteners. All of these chemicals are designed to leave a chemical sheen on your linen. As I mentioned earlier, your towel is supposed to dry you off. However, if your towel is coated with chemicals every time you wash it, it becomes less absorbent. Over time, that towel will shred faster and will actually become ineffective.
If you are the athletic type, you’ve probably also noticed your high-performance gear stinks after you finish working out. Have you ever wondered why? Part of the the reason is because those chemicals left behind on your high-tech fabrics mix with your perspiration. That causes a whole lot of funk.
Avoid Laundry Slime Ingredients
The good news is that there are options for cleaning that don’t include turning your washing machine into a toxic dumping ground. It starts with avoiding the toxins found in these products.
Here are just a few of the chemicals to watch out for:
- Ammonium Sulfate – Listed as a serious eye irritant as well as an irritant for the skin and the respiratory system. One form of this ingredient, Ammonium Laureth Sulfate (ALES) is especially harmful to small children and animals. According to the Saety Data Sheet this ingredient should only be used outdoors or in a very well-ventilated area.
- Benzyl Acetate – Used in many scent boosters and dryer sheets to reduce static. It is very important to avoid any laundry products that include this toxic chemical. This additive is harmful if inhaled or spilled on the skin and targets the kidneys and nervous system. This chemical is also linked to pancreatic cancer.
- Benzisothiazolinone – There are concerns about allergies and cytotoxicity.
- Chlorine – Bleach can create halogenated volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which are harmful to respiratory health. The use of chlorine can pose an increased risk for adult-onset asthma as well as an increased risk for cancer. Additionally, it can destroy beneficial bacteria in the septic system.
- Dichlorobenzene (P-Dichlorobenzene/ Benzene) – Benzene has an immediate, highly toxic effect on aquatic life that can continue poisoning the watershed for years to come. The fumes cause optical damage. Listed as a possible human carcinogen.
- Dioxane (1,4 Dioxane/ Diethylene Dioxide/ Diethylene Ether/ Dioxan) –This laundry additive belongs as far away from your home and family as possible. Its liquid and fumes can spontaneously combust; plus it’s a known carcinogen (known to cause cancer since 1988); it causes skin, eye, and lung inflammation (some irreversible).
- Formaldehyde – Exposure, even at low levels, from breathing or smelling formaldehyde increases your risk of cancer according to the CDC. The EPA calls it a class B1 probable carcinogen (cancer-causing substance) and says it causes acute toxicity when in contact with skin.
- Methylisothiazolinone – Linked to lung irritation, intestinal tract issues, and weight gain.
- Nonylphenol Ethoxylates (Nonoxynol, NPEs) – In addition to many warnings of harm to eyes, skin, and lungs, this laundry detergent ingredient states that prolonged exposure to inhaled fumes or mist may be fatal!
- Optical Brighteners/UV Brighteners – This chemical coats the fabric in such a way that it absorbs and re-emits light. Weirdly enough, this fluorescent type of effect makes your fabrics look brighter even if they’re not. Optical brighteners have been linked to allergies. They don’t break down in waterways and are dangerous to aquatic life.
- Phosphates – Banned in other countries this chemical is very harmful to aquatic life, waterways, and wastewater treatment facilities. Directly tied to eutrophication – a process where the detergent run-off changes the mineral and nutrient levels of water leading to overgrowth of algae and possible oxygen depletion of the body of water affected.
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate (SLS/SLES). This tends to be the primary ingredient in most commercial detergents. This surfactant is supposed to create suds and remove dirt. However, it can also cause damage to the eyes, skin, and lungs. A known irritant, used in laboratory settings to cause irritation.
- Sodium Methyl 2-Sulfolaurate – Potential to cause serious eye damage, and hazardous to aquatic life.
Choose a laundry product that has none of those harmful chemicals. One made from eco-friendly plant-based ingredients is best. This is the best way to provide truly clean clothes that won’t harm you, your family, or the environment.