Laundry Detergent Ingredients And How They Work

Know which components are safe and which ones are not

Written by Olivia Paxton. Updated on Know which components are safe and which ones are not

Everyone uses laundry products. Someone prefers powdered ones, others go for liquids or more convenient capsules. But all of them have the same common trait – they are chemicals.

Those of us who are concerned about laundering safely (since we will be wearing that washed clothing later directly on the skin), would probably like to learn what detergent components are safe, and also how the basic ingredients work.

So, let’s begin!

What Components Can We Meet In Detergents

Most of the laundry products have approximately the same content. Cleaning and degreasing agents, anti-staining components, and deodorizers are meant to make our garments clean, stainless, and well-smelling.

However, let’s agree that most of us have no idea about what exactly certain chemicals are used for. That’s why we offer you a brief checklist.

  • Alkalies

They delete stains and dirt from the fabric without the vigorous rubbing and thus ruining the fibers. Some of them also work as grease removers by making the oily particles stick together and be easier washed with water.

  • Surfactants

These chemicals break stains and alter the dirt in the water to prevent it from getting back to the apparel.

Thanks to them, dirt that’s usually not dissolved can be removed easily.

  • Functional additives

This section includes various chemicals that are meant for balancing pH, brightening colors, conditioning water, and preventing microbes from growing.

  • Colors, dyes, fragrances
  • Catalytic enzymes

These are targeted for breaking different soils and washing them off easily.

What Components Can We Meet In Detergents
Photo by Daniel Koponyas

And of course, remember that detergents work well when used in the proper amount.

Level of dirt Front-load washer/amount of detergent Top load washer/amount of detergent Semi-automatic/amount of detergent Manual wash/amount of detergent
Light  60g 90g 60g 120g
Heavy 90g 120g 90g 180g

What Chemicals to Avoid By All Means

We usually don’t pay much attention to the backside of the detergent bottle, and that’s a mistake. Reading the content carefully can eliminate the hazardous components that can affect our skin badly or cause other harmful effects.


These ones can be met not only in laundry liquids but also in soaps, shampoos, and dish liquids. Their main goal is to remove soil but originally these chemicals were created for…degreasing the garage floors!

Being in constant contact with them can inflame the skin, eyes, and lungs, and sometimes even damage the organs.

What Happens When You Use TOO MUCH Laundry Detergent? TKOR's How To Do Laundry Guide {Or Not}What Happens When You Use TOO MUCH Laundry Detergent? TKOR’s How To Do Laundry Guide {Or Not}


These ingredients can result in cardiovascular disease, and osteoporosis, besides, they pollute the nature a lot.


Even when breathing in a little bit of this chemical, we are at a high risk of developing cancer, allergy, or cancer. In addition, this chemical makes tissues die.

What Chemicals to Avoid By All Means
Photo by Dimitri Houtteman

Ammonium sulfate

It’s so dangerous, that it’s not recommended to use indoors! It’s not only restricted on the skin, but also forbidden to be drained.


Its vapors can cause not only the skin, eye, and lungs inflammation, but also cancer so this chemical must be kept away from any home.


Except for the harm it causes to eyes, skin, and lungs, its fumes can be fatal, especially if being inhaled regularly.

Benzyl acetate

Harmful to the skin and eyes, this chemical is dangerous for the kidneys and nervous system.

Look For the Safe Substitutes

To make your household safer, we suggest everyone to double-check their cleaning and laundering products and find safer substitutes for those that happen to have any toxic or harmful ingredients.

In addition, certain home cleaning remedies can be prepared by yourself using the well-known components that are absolutely harmless.

1. To replace bleach:

  • Lemon juice added to the load will work the same as a chemical product
  • Try the diluted hydrogen peroxide, only remember to keep clothing away from the sun, otherwise, the fabric will be damaged
  • Pre-soak blotted parts of your apparel with an oxy-boost before laundering – the effect will be marvelous!

2. To soften the apparel:

  • Add baking soda in the wash and acetum in the rinse
  • When tumble drying, add wool dryer balls with 1-2 drops of essential oil
  • Try water softener for laundering if your water is harsh

Frequently Asked Questions

⭐ What is the best inexpensive laundry detergent?

Purex Ultra liquid detergent, Arm&Hammer 2in1, Mountain Breeze.

⭐ Which is the best laundry detergent?

Puracy, Tide, Ecos, Woolite, Arm&Hammer.

⭐ Does cheap laundry detergent ruin clothes?

Some of them can, it depends on what chemicals are used in those liquids.

⭐ What is the most toxic laundry detergent?

They say that Tide is toxic, but almost any detergent has harmful components.

⭐ What are the worst laundry detergents?

Xtra, Home Solv, Sun Triple Clean, Tide Plus Ultra Stain Release, Arm and Hammer todd and done, Woolite Everyday.

⭐ Does Laundry Detergent kill bacteria?

No, detergent is not enough for removing bacteria from garments.

⭐ What is the difference between laundry detergent and laundry soap?

Detergents don’t leave a residue, whereas soap must be washed off.

Written by
Olivia shares all she knows about the hotels, houses, and home cleaning with Beezzly readers. And she knows a lot! 15 years of work experience as a Manager in a former Four Season Service gave Olivia an exceptional base of professional knowledge and practical experience.
Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here.
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