Impact of detergents on the environment: What are the negative effects?

As a society, we have a growing awareness of the harmful additives in our food and products around the home. While we may pay close attention to bathroom and kitchen chemicals and detergents, what about the laundry room? Have you ever wondered what impact do laundry detergents have on the environment? And is there an eco-friendly alternative to traditional detergents?


The impact of laundry detergent on the environment is twofold. There are the chemical effects and also the long-term impact related to their plastic packaging.

Chemical effects
Laundry detergent is far more than just a basic cleansing soap. It contains a huge number of harmful chemicals that have a serious impact on our environment.

Some of the most concerning ones are:
Phosphates – linked to cardiovascular (heart) disease as well as osteoporosis. These toxins are particularly damaging to the marine environment when dispersed in wastewater from your wash.
Bleach – often used to brighten whites, its toxic fumes cause respiratory distress and on contact with skin and eyes it is able to cause caustic burns.
Ammonium Sulfate and Ammonium Quaternary Sanitizers – harsh cleansing agents that are corrosive and toxic. They can cause eye, skin and lung damage even with minimal exposure.
Dioxane (1,4 Dioxane/ Diethylene Dioxide/ Diethylene Ether/ Dioxan) is quite possibly one of the worst additives. Dioxane is also a carcinogen and has been known to pose a combustion risk. Exposure to this toxin can damage your kidneys, lungs, central nervous system, eyes, skin and respiratory function.

Packaging effects
Up to 1 billion plastic detergent jugs are purchased in the US alone each year, with only 10% of these ever being successfully recycled. It stands to reason that this waste has to go somewhere, right? Sadly it most often ends up in landfills where the residues of the detergents leech into the soil and the plastic remains for hundreds of years. This is probably the most harmful and concerning effect of detergent on the environment.

What can we do to minimize the negative effects?
The answer is to choose laundry detergents that use minimal ingredients, with natural herbal ingredients and have completely biodegradable packaging.

At Top Cleaner’s, we use only environmentally friendly and safe products, for your health and for a cleaner environment. Come and convince yourself!