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Got allergic reactions? Check your detergent labels.

Fragrance sounds fancy. Plant-derived means natural. Bacteria needs to die – a bit of biocides won't kill us. After all, what doesn't kill us, makes us stronger.

So why do some people slowly develop allergic reactions?

Some ingredients in most cleaning detergents are not that innocent. They are harsh chemicals disguised in fancy and scientific names. These are the top 5 ingredients to avoid in detergents, suggested by our product partner SimplyClean.

1. Fragrances (unspecified / parfum)

Artificial fragrances are the dirty cheap trade secrets. Feeling good smelling the cool ocean breeze from your laundry detergent? Your laundry ocean breeze is mostly made from hundreds of synthetic and petroleum-based chemicals, to cover the smell of other even nastier chemicals.

Why is it bad for you?

They are classified as allergens, hormone disruptors and neurotoxins. They cause skin and eye irritation, trigger asthma attacks and allergies.

If you find fragrances linger on your washed clothes, phthalates are likely to be. Phthalates helps scents last longer, but is linked to cancer, reproductive harm and respiratory toxicity. (source: Breast Cancer Prevention Partners)

2. SLES & SLS 

SLES and SLS are derived from palm kernel oil or coconut oil. Generally, any commercial products that makes bubbles – shampoo, soaps, toothpastes, you name it. They also act as surfactants (surface-active agents) to dissolve grease and dirt.

Why is it bad for you?

The amount of 1,4-dioxane that may be found in the SLES compound. 1,4-dioxane is ‘a likely human carcinogen’, according to the US EPA. It’s not easily degradable and can contaminate the waterways. 

SLS is not established to be carcinogenic, though they showed various toxicities. It could cause skin and eye irritation as it removes the oils from your skin.  

3. MIT and BIT

They are biocides, period. They control microbial growth in water-containing solutions, that's why they are widely used as preservatives in household cleaning products. Note, those products contain MIT and BIT, still can claim to be ‘natural’.

Why is it bad for you?

MIT has been partially banned in the European Union since 2017, due to its toxicity, allergic skin reactions, skin sensitization and potentially neurotoxicity. (source: Chemical & Engineering News)

Although BIT is not banned, it’s classified as an irritant for skin and eyes and only a very limited dose is allowed. It was also established to be toxic to aquatic life in the EPA’s 2015 review.

4. PEGs

PEGs are made from the by-products from petroleum refining, or derived from natural gas and coal. They are used as thickeners, softeners, moisture-carrying agents, penetration enhancers and surfactants.

Why is it bad for you?

Carcinogenic contaminants are the primary concern for PEGs. Like SLES, PEGs may be contaminated with measurable amounts of 1,4-dioxane. The ethoxylation process of making PEGs could also contaminate ethylene oxide, another carcinogen. 

According to David Suzuki’s Dirty Dozen list, PEGs show evidence of genotoxicity and are unsafe to be used on damaged skin. Its function as a ‘penetration enhancer’ could increase absorption of toxins in the skin. 

5. Fillers

Ingredients in fillers are also not disclosed. Fillers are cheap bulking agents, added to most laundry powder to make the volume appear bigger. So how do brands make a concentrated laundry powder? Simply take out the fillers!

Why is it bad for you?

If you’ve found any white residues in your laundry, that’s it – they’re the fillers. These particles are trapped in your clothes and bed sheets, and could trigger allergic reactions and develop allergy in the long term. 


A cleaning detergent can perform perfectly without any harmful chemicals.

Always check the labels. Or simply, get our refillable laundry powder and dishwasher powder, proudly made by SimplyClean from Lismore, NSW. SimplyClean has been committed to making true eco-friendly products for more than a decade.

Both products are loved by our customers, especially families with young children. We collect your empty glass jar and deliver your refill to help reduce plastic waste and carbon emissions. Shop here

Laundry powder
Scented with lemon myrtle essential oil. From $13.95. Up to 42 loads. Shop here

Dishwasher powder (Australian Non-toxic Awards 2020 Finalist)
Scented with lemon myrtle essential oil. From $15.95. Up to 56-70 loads. Shop here

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