Is all Laundry Detergent Good Or Toxic? Is It Safe?

All detergent

all laundry detergent was set up by Unilever in 1959 and acquired by Henkel in 2016. Marketed as a biodegradable formula that is free of perfumes, dyes, and phosphates, all is one of the leading and affordable laundry detergent brands in the United States.

Let’s dive into the details of the product and explore if all in all this is a good product.

Ingredients in all laundry detergent

The all laundry detergent comes in different variants, such as for sensitive skin, stain removal, odor removal, and fresh scents. They are available in the form of liquid, single-dose mighty packs, powder, fabric softener, and laundry boosters.

Ingredients differ based on the variant. However, the most common ones are:

  • Sodium lauryl sulfate
  • Sodium citrate
  • Sodium cocoate
  • Methylisothiazolinone
  • Fragrance
  • Ethyl alcohol
  • Calcium chloride
  • Mannanase enzyme
  • Protease enzyme
  • Triethanolamine
  • Fluorescent brightener

Is all laundry detergent toxic?

all laundry detergent is advertised as free of bleach, dyes, and phosphates. It is commended as being safe even for sensitive skin. Does this mean it is free of toxins? Let us figure it out.

Here are some ingredients in all laundry detergent that can be unsafe for you.

IngredientIs It Good or Bad?
Sodium lauryl sulfateSurfactant that’s used as an emulsifying cleaning agent. It is a skin irritant and can cause dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, rashes, and even hormonal disruptions. It is toxic to aquatic life.
Triethanolamine Surfactant that’s used as an emulsifier. It can cause skin and eye allergies and be toxic over prolonged absorption through the skin. The compound is used in cosmetic and household products in the US despite being banned by the European Commission.
Sodium citrate Used as a builder in phosphate-free detergents. Inhalation of the compound from aerosols can cause respiratory tract irritation. Its absorption through the skin can also be harmful.
Sodium cocoate A surfactant derived from coconut oil. It is a common ingredient in detergents, soaps, and cleaning products. It can cause serious itching, redness, and swelling of the eyes. However, it is recognized as a safe ingredient by the FDA.
Methylisothiazolinone Used as a preservative. It is a skin sensitizer and allergen – has been classified by the FDA as a standardized chemical allergen. It can cause scaly skin, breakouts, itching, and eye swelling.
Calcium chlorideUsed in the laundry detergent to improve viscosity and stability. It is recognized as a safe ingredient by the FDA but can cause skin irritation besides irritation or damage to the nose and throat if inhaled.
Mannanase An enzyme that’s chiefly produced from microorganisms. It is used in detergents to remove stains from fabrics. It is considered a safe additive.
Ethyl alcohol Maintains the viscosity in liquid detergents in addition to improving the washing performance. It is an organic compound – its inhalation can irritate the nose and throat though. It may also be a slight irritant to the skin.
Protease enzyme A breakdown protein that helps in the discharge of small molecular material in the stain. It may cause skin irritation.
Fluorescent brighteners or optical brightenersA hazardous ingredient that is usually derivatives of anionic diamino stilbene (DAS) or distyryl biphenyl (DSBP). They are toxic to humans, having the potential of causing irritation and allergies, especially in those who are sun-sensitive. The compounds are toxic to the environment alike as they remain in wastewater for a long time.
Fragrance ingredientsThe product is advertised as being free of fragrances – while the ingredients list discloses its presence. Only some of all laundry detergent variants are devoid of fragrance. Fragrance ingredients in detergents are known to cause skin irritation and eczema. They are also known to be highly toxic.

The list is only a small list of the gamut of chemicals that go into all laundry detergents. The all laundry detergent variants for babies, and even plant-based ones have these harmful chemicals.

Detergents – even if biodegradable – are noted contributors to environmental pollution. Some of their ingredients stay as residue on the fabric and enter the human body through the skin.

all laundry detergent has earned the F rating from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) – this is something to ponder about.

Is all laundry detergent concentrated?

Some variants of all laundry detergents are available in concentrated form. They offer increased cleaning power in every drop. Concentrated formulas come in smaller packages – which means lesser plastic or paper and lesser harm to the environment. Further, concentrated liquids dissolve well in hot water and last for a long time – thus making them more economical.

Does all laundry detergent kill germs?

Firstly, a laundry detergent alone cannot kill germs. Washing your clothes in temperatures of over 60 degrees Fahrenheit will help in killing the germs and bacteria. The dryer can also kill germs if it is hot enough (at about 135 degrees Fahrenheit).

A laundry detergent can contribute in small ways to killing germs if it has ingredients like bleach, alcohol, and hydrogen peroxide. all laundry detergent has alcohol and some variants have another disinfectant called benzisothiazolinone – so it may not be very effective in killing the germs in your fabric. Therefore, for the purpose of disinfecting, you can add a cup of white vinegar along with all laundry detergent.

What is in all laundry detergent?

Laundry detergents are usually made of enzymes, builders, bleach, fragrances, dyes, and surfactants. What all are present in all laundry detergent? Here’s a look.

IngredientDoes all laundry detergent contain this ingredient?Is this ingredient safe or toxic?
EnzymesYesHas protease, mannanase, amalyse enzymesRemoves stains by breaking down protein, lipid, and polysaccharide soils

May cause skin irritation
BleachNoBrightens fabricsRemoves stubborn stains

Can cause eye and skin irritation

Can lead to breathing difficulties
BoraxNoIs extremely alkaline and helps fight acidic stains

Helps soften hard water

Very toxic if ingested
GlutenNoProvides soft texture to the detergent

Can cause skin irritation if you are celiac
FormaldehydeNoIs an antibacterial and preservative

Can cause dermatitis and eczema

Can cause respiratory issues
PhosphatesNoSoftens hard water

Enhances cleaning power of detergents

Remain as residue on fabrics

Can cause skin irritation

Remains in wastewater and land up in natural water bodies

Banned in some countries – including many states of USA
Optical brightenersYes – some productsEnhances brightness of fabrics

Can make the fabric stiffer

Can cause skin irritation

Is harmful to the environment

Is all laundry detergent safe?

Detergents have become an integral part of our everyday lives. As we go about our daily business, a lot of dirt, germs, bacteria, and stains gather on our clothing. A laundry detergent helps in clearing away all this – it not only gives us clean fabrics but is also central to our health and hygiene.

That said, it is critical that the detergent we use does not become a health hazard. The chemical ingredients in detergents may make your fabric as fresh as summer, but they usually leave a residue on the fabric and cause skin problems. Inhalation of chemical fragrances and aerosols is also known to cause respiratory issues.

What does all laundry detergent do to us? Is it safe? Here is what we found:

The all laundry detergent is advertised to be free of dyes, phosphates, gluten, and bleach. This sounds impressive! However, ingredients like Sodium lauryl sulfate, triethanolamine, sodium citrate, calcium chloride, methylisothiazolinone, enzymes, and fragrance ingredients are known to cause skin and respiratory issues.

You may probably avoid it depending on your specific circumstance.

Pregnant women

If you are pregnant, the common side effects of the laundry detergent would be applicable. You would have to be more cautious as increased exposure to the chemical ingredients through inhalation or skin contact can cause them to enter your bloodstream and be passed on to your fetus.

These chemicals can also appear in your breastmilk. Further, exposure to these chemicals enhances the risk of the baby being born with congenital disorders or other health problems.

It is best for you to avoid the variants with fragrance, artificial colors, and surfactants. Also, avoid skin contact with the laundry detergent and rinse your clothes well to remove residue. If possible, cover your nose and mouth while using the detergent to avoid inhalation.


The all laundry detergent variant recommended for babies is Free Clear. The brand also has all baby 880z Liquid Laundry Detergent for baby clothes. However, the ingredients in baby products are pretty much the same as those in general products.

Chemicals such as sodium lauryl sulfate, triethanolamine, sodium citrate, calcium chloride, methylisothiazolinone, enzymes, and fragrance ingredients can be extremely harmful to the thin epidermis of your baby. Prolonged exposure can even lead to organ damage.

Furthermore, as babies are known to chew on their clothes, there is a greater danger of ingestion of these harmful chemicals.

Additionally, the baby product variants are listed to have inert substances without any further specifications. Simply put, inert substances in detergents include dyes, aerosol propellants, emulsifiers, solvents, carriers, and dyes.

We have already discussed the adverse effects of other chemical ingredients on babies, The inert substances in all laundry detergent make it worse for babies.

Therefore, read washing instructions on the baby product. It is also important to rinse your baby’s clothes well to make sure that you leave very little residue from the laundry detergent. 

Also, keep a watch if your baby displays symptoms like rash, redness, itching, nausea, vomiting, and allergies. Visit your pediatrician for cures and change the product if required. Additionally, keep the product out of reach of your baby to avoid accidental eye and skin contact, and ingestion.

Sensitive skin

all laundry detergent has a dedicated line of products for sensitive skin. However, again the ingredients are about the same as the products for regular use. These ingredients can cause allergies, rash, and redness if you have sensitive skin.

Additionally, there are other ingredients in this line such as ethylene oxide and 1,4 dioxane that are known to cause skin irritation and blisters. They can even irritate the eyes, nose, and throat.

If your skin is sensitive, it is prudent to avoid skin contact with the detergent while washing your fabrics. Rinse your fabrics well to ensure there is no residue.


A detergent to wash things that your pets wear or play with should preferably be devoid of dyes and fragrances. Pets are likely to chew on their beddings and toys besides other fabrics, foot mats, and rugs that lie around the house. Therefore, make sure these things are well rinsed as ingestion of harmful chemicals can be seriously toxic to the pets. It is also a good idea to keep the products out of reach of pets to avoid accidental ingestion.

Pets also have a heightened sense of smell – especially dogs. The strong perfumes may make your dog or cat uncomfortable and alter its behavior. Pick up the laundry detergent product that does not contain fragrance.

Additionally, to wash the beddings, toys, and other things that belong to your dog or cat, use pet-friendly detergents.

Septic systems

Yes, all laundry detergents are safe for cleaning your septic systems as they do not contain bleach. 

Is all laundry detergent safe for colors?

The all laundry detergent is safe for both white and color fabrics. The manufacturers however advise you to wash them separately to avoid color transfer.

Does all laundry detergent work for slime?

Borax is the detergent ingredient that works the best for slime. As all laundry detergent products do not contain borax, they may not be the best option to remove slime.

Does all laundry detergent work well in cold water?

The all laundry might pacs dissolve well in cold water. The company recommends warm water use only for baby and children’s clothes. Most detergents work well in cold water with their enzymes being cold water stable. However, detergents dissolve and work faster in hot water.

Is all laundry detergent vegan?

There is no mention of the use of any animal-derived product in the ingredients list of all laundry detergents. We infer that this brand is vegan.

Is all laundry detergent cruelty-free?

With an increasing number of customers desisting products that are tested on animals and some countries banning animal testing, cruelty-free products are wearing the logo and displaying the proclamation on their websites. However, there is no logo display or proclamation in the case of all laundry detergents.

Is all laundry detergent biodegradable?

all laundry detergent is advertised as a biodegradable product. But it contains chemicals such as dyes, fragrances, brighteners, and many other chemicals that are not natural and are not biodegradable.

Does all laundry detergent expire?

Most detergent products do not expire but are likely to lose their effectiveness after a year of manufacture. all laundry detergent does not provide information about its expiration. For any related information, you can contact the company.




Anand Srinivasan
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