Why Don’t Detergent Companies Display their Ingredients List?

Why Don’t Detergent Companies Display their Ingredients List?

Roger Cook

August 23, 2022

“Full of toxic chemicals that cause cancer to marine life, and severely irritate your skin” is probably not something you would want to see written all over your laundry detergent that you use. This is the reasoning for why detergent companies do not display their ingredients list on their products.


Liquid detergents account for majority of the shelf space at your local supermarkets, with majority of Australians choosing to use the liquid option for their laundry detergent. This is because liquid detergents are simple to use, just pour in a cup full and they usually have great cleaning power. However, you will notice there is no sign anywhere of what ingredients they use to make their detergent.


Now, why wouldn’t they provide their list of ingredients? Well, a lot of liquid detergents use many toxic chemicals such as bleach, brighteners, and phosphates. That might be a bad look if they displayed that on the back of their product.


So, lets have a look at what they’re not showing you.


Bleaches are toxic chemicals that help destroy stains and leave your clothes clean, however once they reach our waterways they form dioxins, known as carcinogens, which cause serious harm to aquatic life (and human life).


Brighteners are chemicals that attach to your clothes in the wash and reflect the sun’s UVA rays, making your whites appear whiter. These brighteners are usually identified as fluorescent whitening agents (FWAs) and they are hydrophilic, meaning they dissolve in water to boost the brightening power of detergents. Brighteners are a leading cause for skin irritation in laundry detergents and pose a significant threat to marine life as they are found to bioaccumulate in our waterways and lead to eutrophication. Eutrophication is just a fancy word for a large build up of minerals which leads to dense growth of plant life (algae blooms).


Phosphates are a common ingredient to many detergents as they are used to soften hard water. In chemistry, water hardness refers to the mineral content within the water. In Australia water hardness is not regulated and in many places around the country the water is rich in calcium and magnesium. These metals are soluble in water (meaning they dissolve) and can saturate the water and lead to precipitation to occur (this is when the metals change from being dissolved in the water to a solid). This can be a massive problem when soaps are added as the metal precipitates will react with them to form scum, which is a layer of dirt or froth on the surface on a liquid. Without going into in-depth chemistry, the phosphates being added reduce the “hardness” of the water so that scum does not form. However, like brighteners, phosphates cause skin irritation, nausea and diarrhoea. They also have a detrimental impact on aquatic life and can cause algae blooms which suffocate marine life.


Some detergent companies will attempt to open up about what ingredients they use, but they often classify these ingredients; bleaches, brighteners and phosphates, as terms the average person will not understand.


So next time you are looking to purchase your detergent, make sure to do a little bit of research (usually quite hard when companies aren’t transparent with what they put in their products) to make sure you’re choosing an option that is safe for your family and better for our marine life. If you’re looking for an alternative to your traditional toxic and irritating detergent, we have the perfect solution right here.