How Laundry Detergents Affect Your Gut Bacteria and Microbiome
By now, you’re probably fully aware of how your gut health plays a huge role in your physical health. Did you know that laundry detergent affects your gut health too?
You’ve heard about how you need to eat a diet that’s rich in both probiotics and prebiotics to feed the community of healthy bacteria living in your digestive system.
You probably also know that poor gut health is tied in with a bunch of serious health complications. These can include diabetes, cardiovascular disease (CVD), and even acne.
In other words, nourishing your gut microbiome is extremely important.
On the other hand, you may or may not be aware that there are other things that can affect your gut health. Certain foods, for example, have been shown to disrupt it, such as those high in sugar.
Other foods, though, are great for it! Anything naturally rich in probiotics (such as yogurt, kimchi, and even miso paste) can help replenish your natural gut bacteria.
Medications can tinker with it, too. Antibiotics can be absolutely devastating to your gut flora and can all but wipe it out. Other medications can also affect it, such as certain antidepressants and even some statins.
Oh, and your lifestyle? That’s another biggie. If you’re constantly under a lot of stress, or you’re struggling to get enough sleep, that can also fry your gut flora.
It can be absolutely overwhelming trying to keep your gut healthy, especially with so many things that seem to be out to get it. Trying to maintain a healthy gut can seem challenging.
Unfortunately, there’s more bad news. Even if you eat right, try to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and avoid antibiotics or other things that can disrupt your microbiome, there’s still something else that can be harming.
And it’s something you probably do every single day (maybe even several times per day!) without thinking twice about it.
The Relationship Between Laundry Detergent & Gut Health
You know what’s scary? Your favorite laundry detergent brand does not want you to know what’s in it.
A bill introduced back in 2011, called the “Cleaning Product Right to Know Act,” was shot down and never enacted. It makes you wonder what these detergent companies were trying to hide, huh?
In response, the state of California introduced its own bill, which finally prompted some of these major detergent companies to post their ingredients.
And now that you know what’s actually in them?
It’s pretty awful, honestly. Many of the ingredients have seriously strange chemicals, many of which are darn near impossible to pronounce.
And while it’s not fair to slam them just because they’re synthetic or made in some chemical lab, the problem is actually much bigger than that.
Many of these active (and inactive) synthetic ingredients in your laundry detergent could be wreaking havoc on your gut health right now.
I get it. You’re not eating laundry detergent pods by the handful. You’re too smart for that.
But. You don’t have to be munching on the brightly colored soap packets to be harming your gut microbiome.
In fact, many of these active ingredients are seeping into your system through your skin. That means that if you throw your favorite shirt or socks in the wash, then put it on fresh and toasty from the dryer, you’re not just getting cozy with a soft and clean outfit.
You’re actually exposing yourself to a myriad of serious, potentially toxic chemicals that could be destroying your gut health.
Worried? Well, perhaps you have a good reason to be.
A Closer Look at the Active Ingredients in Laundry Detergent
When you look at the back of a food label to read the ingredients, there are likely a few things you’re looking for.
You want to make sure there’s nothing in there that’ll increase your risk of developing diabetes or CVD. You look at saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium. You look at the portion size.
You probably also want to make sure there’s nothing in there that’ll make you sick. You probably check for sugar, artificial dyes and flavorings, and things like trans fats.
But do you look at the label on the back of your laundry detergent bottle? After all, it should just rinse off and your clothes will be free from any ingredients by the time you wear them, right?
It’s a well-established fact that laundry detergent can remain on your clothes even after the rinse cycle. This can lead to serious problems like a rash and even a severe allergic reaction.
So what’s causing all of these problems?
Here are some of the more problematic ingredients in your laundry detergent. Exposure to them could cause your gut flora to become unbalanced, which means you can get sick.
One common ingredient is called benzothiazolinone. This ingredient is recognized to be a preservative, but it’s also a serious skin irritant. And if it’s killing the bacteria in your detergent, what can it be doing to the bacteria in your gut?
Then there are phthalates. These are usually found in plastics, but they’re also quite common in your laundry detergent, too.
While phthalates have been shown to cause cancer, which is terrifying on its own, that’s not the only risk. They can also destroy your gut health.
Then there are surfactants; those chemicals that help make a nice lather. You see them in shampoo and soaps, which make them foamy.
That may not seem too bad at a glance, but this ingredient is actually terrible for you. Surfactants (such as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate) are considered hazardous by the 2012 OSHA Hazard Communication Standard. They’re also hazardous to waterways where they can accumulate after use.
What does this mean for you? Just doing a few loads of laundry per week could be changing your microbiome and causing unwanted pounds to pile on, at no fault of your own.
Finally, there’s good old formaldehyde. You may know it by its more common name: embalming fluid. It’s found in a lot of cleaning products, but it’s especially common in laundry detergent.
Not only is it a well-known carcinogen (which means it can cause cancer), but it can also cause serious problems with your digestive health. Exposure to formaldehyde has been demonstrated to harm your gut microbiome.
When you look at it like that, there’s really no good reason to reach for commercial laundry detergents when washing your clothes.
With so many health risks associated with them, then what can you do? Are you going to have to walk around wearing stinky clothes for the rest of your life?
Fortunately, no. There are a few safer, natural detergent alternatives that can get your clothes nice and clean without destroying your health.
Choosing Safer Alternatives to Common Household Cleaning Supplies
If the ingredients in your laundry detergent are disrupting your gut flora and leading to weight gain, what can you do to avoid it?
Instead of rushing out and spending a lot of money on costly laundry detergents (or other cleaning products), you can instead go shopping…in your own pantry!
A few items you already have on hand can be used to also clean your laundry.
For instance, baking soda is a common ingredient in many commercial detergents. It’s used because it can help freshen and brighten your laundry, but it can also be used as a standalone in your washing.
Lemon juice is also a great ingredient for washing your laundry. It sounds weird, but citric acid is perfect for removing many stains and odors and brightening your wash.
Keeping Your Family Safe & Healthy
At the end of the day, you and your family’s wellness are your number one priority.
It can be extremely frustrating to learn that something you thought was completely innocent was exposing you to so many dangers, though.
Trying to stay healthy can be like trying to navigate some digestive health minefield. One misstep, and boom: your gut health is suddenly at risk of being decimated.
If you’ve been using conventional laundry soaps in your washing machine, don’t stress. It’s not the end of the world.
You can start making little changes to avoid being exposed to these hazardous chemicals. One thing you can do is wash your laundry less.
Wait, it’s not as gross as it sounds! Of course, you’ll still need to wash your socks and underwear after each wear.
But what about sweaters? If you wear a sweat-wicking base layer beneath them, you can avoid needing to wash them so frequently.
Jeans can also last several years without needing to be washed.
And if you’re ready to switch to natural laundry soap, that’s very good, too! Little things here and there can really add up in taking care of your gut health. Things like minding your diet and making sure you eat plenty of probiotics and prebiotics. Stay on top of your lifestyle, too.
The fact is, your laundry habits don’t have to make or break your microbiome.
Can your laundry detergent harm your gut health? Sure, it’s a pretty well-established fact.
But if you take the steps to phase out these dangerous laundry detergent ingredients and start to take a more natural approach?
You can finally regain control of your gut health – for good!
How to Rebalance Your Gut If You’ve Been Using “Conventional” Detergents…
Like I said before, if you’ve been using conventional detergents, don’t worry TOO much.
If you switch over to healthier alternatives… you’ll start the long process of rebuilding and rebalancing the good bacteria in your gut
HOWEVER… if you want to speed up the process… I don’t blame you one bit.
That’s because every day you wait to fight the bad bacteria that are in your gut…
It’s another day to let them breed and multiply down there unchecked.
So if you want a “shortcut” to fight these bad gut bacteria… and repopulate your gut with GOOD bacteria… the kinds that turn food into energy instead of storing it as fat…
I’d highly recommend watching this video by the renowned doctor Steven Masley.
Dr. Masley has run his own Weight Loss Clinic in Florida for decades now. He’s on the cutting edge of probiotic research…
And he’s isolated 4 probiotic “super strains” in particular that will rebalance your gut… prevent bloating… and yes, even help you lose weight.
To see what these 4 probiotic super strains are… and where to get them all in one place… watch Dr. Masley’s web episode on the 4 Probiotic “Super strains” that heal your gut faster.
Like this article? Be sure to check out 6 Reasons I Cleaned Up My Laundry Routine
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