Sodium laureth sulfate
Found in laundry detergents and dish soaps as well as many personal care products, this synthetic compound can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a known carcinogen.
A type of salt derived from limestone, calcium chloride is often added to fabric softeners to act as a safe, natural thinner and drying agent.
The antifungal and antiseptic properties of thymol—a natural, aromatic crystalline compound derived from thyme oil—make it a great germ killer. It’s commonly used in bathroom and kitchen surface cleaners as a disinfectant.
Banned for use in cosmetics in Japan, and restricted in Canada, boric acid is found in many U.S. liquid laundry detergents as an enzyme stabilizer, but may disrupt the endocrine system. Scientific studies have linked long-term exposure to reproductive-health issues such as decreased semen quality and birth defects.
Also known as glycerol, this natural alcohol derived from sugar is used to make soap, laundry detergent and baby wipes. Glycerin naturally removes stains from clothes and serves as a humectant for the skin.
Sources: Environmental Working Group, Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides