DITCH THIS CHEMICAL #2: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

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DITCH THIS CHEMICAL #2: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

Did you know that the average family washes around 36kg of laundry per week. That results in a huge amount of cups of laundry detergent per year, and that’s just in your family. Combine that by the millions of people that live in Australia washing their clothes in toxic detergents, filling their clothes, water supplies and the air with carcinogenic substances that are supposed to be used to ‘clean.’ Not only can you come in contact with caustic chemicals via your clothing, from having been laundered in them, but you can breathe them into your lungs once they become airborne in the process of doing your laundry.

The detergent you’re using may contain a cocktail of potent cancer-causing chemicals, some of which the manufacturer doesn’t even have to list on the label. This loophole reduces the odds that you’ll ever discover what’s in there.

One of the worst offenders is Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) (also known as sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)). This dangerous chemical is commercially used as engine greaser – how’s that for paradoxical?! We’re cleaning our clothes with greasy engine greaser! Many studies have shown the health concerns associated with this chemical. Known effects include skin irritation and rash, teeth damage, endocrine disruption, hair loss, cataracts, mouth ulcers, respiratory tract, eye and oral toxicity, headaches, nausea, coughing and congestion. SLS and SLES are found in many household cleaning products, and also in shampoos, toothpaste, mouth wash, hand creams, lotions and cleansers – SLS/SLES is literally seeping into skin and into your bloodstream.

A natural alternative, of course, is to make your own washing detergent. I heard about doing this from a naturopath five or so years ago. At the time, the thought of it was way too much for me to get my head around. How could I possibly make my own washing detergent that would actually work? And how would I find the time, and also the ingredients?

liquid washing powder

It took five years of contemplation until I finally took the time to try some DIY recipes. And oh my, I can’t believe how QUICK and EASY and CHEAP it was to make my own laundry liquid detergent. Like I’m talking DIRT CHEAP! The recipe I used made about 40 litres, and my rough calculations tell me it cost under $10 to make. The batch will last about 580 loads, which will keep us going for well over a year – probably even two!

In my current batch of laundry liquid, I used a few capfuls of my Young Living Thieves Essential Oils Household Cleaner, as well as some other cheap and easy to find natural ingredients. I love it that I can wash my clothes with total confidence that they will come out TOXIC-FREE, and so will the air and water around me.

So…Challenge #2 – Have a look at your current cleaning products (and if you dare, any other product you have in the house), and check out the ingredients to see if the product contains ‘sodium laurel sulphate’ or ‘sodium laureth sulphate.’ If you’re using regular supermarket brand products and you don’t see these listed, give the company a call and query if these ingredients are in fact inside your products – chances are they will be. Becoming aware is the first step to making real changes. And if you feel like you’re ready to take the next step, stop using the product! If you’re planning to come to our Chemical-Free Cleaning ‘Make-and-Take’ Workshop on Sat 11 June, 7pm at Alchemy Cafe, save your toxic products to chuck away in the ‘Toxic Bin’ – the person who chucks away the most products will win a prize!


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