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The Truth About Laundry Detergents

Having fresh, clean clothes is important for good health, but when it comes to our health, the conventional detergent does way more harm than good. In fact, most people would be surprised to know that laundry detergents are not soap.

The Birth of Laundry Detergents
During WWII, the fats and oils that were used to make soap became scarce because they were being used instead to manufacture nitro-glycerine for explosives, and so another chemical source for cleaning agents had to be found. We were finding petroleum all over the place by this time, and scientists discovered that they could make thousands of new chemicals from this petroleum, including what they called detergents. Detergents soon became a regular household item because there was no alternative during WWII.

Petrochemicals, which are the synthetic chemicals made out of petroleum, are found in the ingredients on laundry detergents such as fragrance, phthalates, artificial colors and NPEs.

Corporate Brain ‘Wash’
Detergents are still much cheaper to manufacture than true soaps, and marketing has ensured that a majority of the population is absolutely convinced that detergents are safe to use. Would you be surprised to learn that the vast majority (greater than 80%) have never been tested? And the majority of the others have been tested only by the manufacturer and not an independent testing laboratory?

Hidden Ingredients
What’s even more disturbing is that they are not legally required to list their ingredients on the labels. While these chemicals may not be on the label, recent studies show many of them to be proven lethal toxins. They build up in your skin, and may cause many serious health problems such as asthma, autism, infertility, allergies, and even cancer.

The Filth within a Clean Scent
When shopping for cleaning products, what is the first thing you look for? After considering the price, you want to know what it smells like. You may think you are choosing between spring blossoms and mountain rain, but you might actually be sniffing formaldehyde and inhaling at least one carcinogen (cancer-causing agent).

The EPA reports that formaldehyde causes cancer in animals and may do so in humans. In addition to severe allergic reactions, this gas can also irritate your respiratory system and cause nausea. It is nauseating indeed to think of how often we are exposed to these fumes while doing laundry and wearing clothes that carry the scent.

Not only are the fragrances harmful, but the carriers of fragrance (phthalates) show adverse effects on reproductive health. The
Environmental Working Group notes that phthalates cause deformities in the testicles of exposed male animals, while Women’s Voices for the Earth reports that phthalates may harm male children and reduce sperm count. This chemical pollutes the air and water while increasing your risk of developing liver cancer.

If you are wondering why companies use such harmful ingredients for fragrance, the answer is simply money. Natural fragrances, such as essential oils, are costly in comparison to synthetic fragrances.

The flowery perfumes escaping your wash cycle may smell pleasant, but they may trigger asthma in your children and cause the development of new allergies.

Optical Brighteners: The Illusion of Whiter
Are your white clothes really whiter after you wash them? Most laundry detergents contain optical brighteners, which are chemicals that trick your sensory perception. Your clothes are not really whiter and brighter, you only think they are. Optical brighteners leave a residue of molecules that reflect ultraviolet light from your clothing. The detergents are not providing a deeper clean to brighten fabrics; they are leaving yet another layer of chemicals to give the appearance of vivid color.

The brighteners stick to more than just your clothes. While you are working, relaxing, eating and sleeping, the chemical coating on your clothes and bedding is rubbing against your skin. Due to the ultraviolet reactive molecules, your skin can become photosensitive and easily burn from exposure to sunlight. Increased exposure to ultraviolet rays increases your risk for skin cancer, which is only one of the many reasons to avoid optical brighteners.

People with sensitive skin often experience irritation and develop skin rashes from optical brighteners. Because many people assume this is some sort of allergy, they opt for detergents that market “hypo-allergenic” formulas. The problem with such detergents is that many of them actually contain ingredients to mask undesirable chemical odors.

In addition to the irritation that optical brighteners may cause your skin, they harm the life within our waterways. Such toxic chemicals can change the physical properties of small organisms and poison fish. As they do not readily biodegrade, their effects are long lasting within our environment.

Bleach within laundry detergents, whether regular or color-safe, seems like a great idea because we know that bleach disinfects and brightens clothing; however, the negative health risks outweigh any possible benefits. While you’ve probably heard the warning not to mix bleach with ammonia, you may not have heard about the dangers of bleach itself. A bleach and ammonia mixture will steal all oxygen from the air, but bleach alone is a harmful irritant that hurts your lungs.

In Green Living, the editors of E/The Environmental Magazine note that chlorine bleach, as it flows down the drain, can produce organochlorines (OC), which create problems for your reproductive and neurological system while increasing your risk of developing cancer. Vinegar and baking soda provide the same benefits of chlorine bleach without harming your health and the environment.

Harsh chemicals are just as bad for your fabrics as they are for your health. According to the EPA, you are increasing the potential for fires by using chlorine bleach in your laundry. As the chemicals break down fabric fibers, the amount of lint increases and may catch fire in your dryer.

To stabilize bleaching agents, manufacturers add ethylene-diamine-tetra-acetic acid (EDTA). EDTA slowly biodegrades and can release settled heavy metals into the water supply.

Nonylphenol Ethoxylate (NPE)
What’s used to actually clean our clothes is yet another petrochemical: nonylphenol ethoxylate (NPE). Extensive research and reports from the Sierra Club show us, yet again, that the bottom line is more important than our health. While Canada and the European Union have banned NPEs, the United States continues their use. According to the Sierra Club, the possible reason behind the continued use is that the Alkyphenol Ethoxylates Research Council (APERC) represents the manufacturers of this harmful petrochemical.

One of the many problems with the use of NPEs is that they imitate the hormone estrogen, which then classifies them as an endocrine disruptor (as seen in phthalates). Our hormones regulate many of our bodily functions, such as reproduction, and anything that disturbs our hormonal balance can severely affect physical function and fetal development.

Another problem is that our current water treatment facilities are unable to completely break down and neutralize NPEs, which is unfortunate because NPEs actually become more toxic as they linger in our environment. The Sierra Club report shows that 61% of tested waters contain NPEs, and at a concentration of less than one part per billion (ppb), NPEs adversely affect aquatic life.

When these artificial hormone-like chemicals get into your bloodstream through your skin, they start to cause serious damage to your body, ESPECIALLY in Children and Infants.

The Journal of Pesticide Reform shows strong evidence that these chemicals cause severe damage to heart and muscle function.

How These Chemicals May Damage Your Health And Your Body

Just like lead poisoning, the effects of these chemicals usually are not instant, they gradually eat away at your health over time, because they are absorbed through your skin. Your skin is like a sponge. The chemicals in laundry detergent end up on your clothes and they are never rinsed completely. As you wear them on your body, the chemicals soak into your skin.

Have you ever had dry, itchy, or irritable skin in areas where you wear clothes? Do you ever get headaches when cleaning? These may be the initial 'mild' symptoms of these toxins in your body. Over time this toxic gunk can build up in your body and begin to wreak havoc on your immune system and overall health.

We’re not saying these chemicals are the main cause of disease. However, companies shouldn't have the right to put toxic chemicals into something you put on your skin, and on your children, without you knowing about it. Over the past 30 years skin-cancer rates have increased dramatically, and the cancer rate in America is now 1 in 3. Yes... one in three people will have some kind of cancer in their life.  Only 100 years ago, it used to be 1 in 100.

While there's no magic pill to cure the serious illnesses rampant today, removing these toxic chemicals from your life is definitely a step in the right direction.

Why are they allowed to be sold to the public?
If you are wondering why companies use such harmful chemicals, the answer is simply Money. Natural fragrances, such as essential oils, are expensive. This stuff is cheap to make, and companies make millions selling by the truckloads every day. But going even deeper, there’s a far more serious problem behind all this - our chemical laws.

What about ‘Green, Natural’ Detergents?
As we become more aware of the dangers posed by commercial products, the companies are trying to save face by marketing new “natural” products. The big companies know that the natural product market is growing by 25% every year and consumers are demanding products that are healthier and better for the environment. These big corporations have jumped on the "natural" bandwagon and cranked up their marketing machines to benefit from green consumerism.  But the term “natural” in the product market really means nothing.

While it is true that the “natural power of baking soda” will cleanse and brighten your clothing, it will not neutralize the other cancer-causing chemicals that leave a fresh scent, nor will it need the addition of harmful surfactants (cleaning agents) to clean your fabrics. Some of the biggest culprits within detergents are chemicals that we often overlook. The average consumer does not recognize the dangers of a seemingly harmless ingredient (fragrance), and most of us cannot pronounce the other ingredients (nonylphenol ethoxylates), let alone know what they do!

Your health is in your hands - read and study ALL labels!
You’ll be even more surprised to learn that there are ‘green alternative’ brand detergents that contain chemicals such as SLS. As they promise, these green brands disclose their full ingredients on their websites, but not on their product packaging. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is commonly used in many soaps, shampoos, detergents, toothpastes and other products that we expect to "foam up". Both chemicals are very effective foaming agents, chemically known as surfactants. But the fact is, SLS is commonly contaminated with dioxane, a known carcinogen. Do your homework and research the ingredients in your products. Check out EWG’s Skin Deep product data base to check the toxicity levels of the products you use at home.

How does SmartKlean differ from laundry detergents?
In the 1930's, it was found that chemicals could change the molecular structure of water with the world's first laundry detergent. It was understood that you needed to reduce the surface tension of the water to help it clean better. The concept behind the SmartKlean Laundry Ball is that you can achieve the same results with its unique technology at a molecular scale without using any harsh chemicals whatsoever. On an atomic level,  the water is entirely affected by its special ceramic components. Our laundry ball cleans garments by utilizing these physical principles rather than harsh and expensive laundry detergent chemicals.

It’s your choice. Only you have the power to remove toxic products from your life.
If you’ve read this far, you have taken a big step into permanently removing these toxic wastes from your life and from your family’s. Detergent companies depend on you to buy their toxic chemicals over and over again for the rest of your life. Just imagine how many gallons of this toxic waste you’ve bought over the years, how much money you’ve spent and how much of it has ended up in your skin?

SmartKlean® is a family project that offers a 100% safe alternative for your health. We started this business in hope that our Laundry Ball creates a movement and inspires people to pass on the message that we’re sick of toxicity and we’re done supporting giant corporations that take our money without any care to our well-being and the environment.

Save your money, but most important, protect your health. If you already suffer from any type of skin condition, you’ll quickly notice viable and measurable differences in how you feel after using the Laundry Ball. You can sleep at night knowing your family is one step towards living in harmony with nature instead of chained to toxic death-dealing chemicals.
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