Information on Laundry Detergent Ingredients

Surfactants – active cleaning agents that perform three major roles.

▪ Penetrating and wetting fabric
▪ Loosening soils (assisted by the mechanical action of the washing machine)
▪ Emulsifying soils and keeping them suspended in the wash solution

Toxicity to aquatic organisms, like fish (vertebrates), daphnids (invertebrates) and algae, persistence in the environment, toxicity of biodegradation byproducts. 

Alkyl benzene sulfonates or ABS (also linear alkyl sulfonates or LAS, linear alkyl sodium sulfonates) – A class of synthetic surfactants, usually identified as anionic surfactants.

Alkylphenol ethoxylates 
– Biodegrade under anaerobic conditions to alkylphenols, which persist in the environment, have high toxicity to aquatic organism, and may be endocrine disruptors (compounds that adversely affect the endocrine system that controls metabolism, reproduction, and growth) 

Alkyl phenoxy polyethoxy ethanols (also nonyl phenoxy ethoxylate or nonyl phenol) 
– This is a general name for a group of synthetic surfactants. They are slow to biodegrade in the environment and have been implicated in chronic health problems.

Deithanolamines (also diethanolamine, triethanolamine and monoethanolamine)
– A synthetic family of surfactants, this group of compounds is used to neutralize acids in products to make them non-irritating.

Ethoxylated alcohol – A surfactant commonly derived from coconuts. It is used widely because it is known to be less irritating to the skin than other similar products.

Xylene sulfonate
– Xylene is a synthetic that when reacted with sulfuric acid, creates a surfactant. Slow to biodegrade in the environment and moderately toxic.  

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) – Chemical foaming agent known as a surfactant. Studies have linked use of this chemical to a variety of health issues from skin irritation to organ toxicity to even cancer.