What are we Cleaning Ourselves with?

August 27th, 2013



I was looking at a liquid body wash readily available in supermarkets, browsing through the list of ingredients, and having never heard of some of them, decided to find out what these ingredients really were.  What I discovered horrifies me.


The ingredients:  Water, Sodium Laureth Sulphate, Ammonium Lauryl Sulphate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Coacamide DEA, Polyquarternium 7, Glygol Distearate, CocamideMEA, Laureth10, Fragrance, Mineral salt, Citric Acid, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone.


Water:      No problem with that, essential to life


Sodium Laureth Sulphate:

Along with Sodium Laurel Sulphate it is used widely to make products foam.  Used in labs to break down blood cells, can stay in the body for up to 5 days. Found in toothpaste, shampoo, bath and shower products.


Ammonium Lauryl Sulphate:

A good base for cleaners as it disrupts hydrogen bonding in water. Allows salts, greases, etc, to readily dissolve. BUT High concentrations may cause irritation to eyes and skin.


Cocamidopropyl Betaine:

A synthetic surficant derived from coconut oil and used in shampoo and hand soaps and as a thickener in cosmetics. Has antiseptic properties.  Associated with irritation and contact dermatitis.


Cocamide DEA/MEA:

Used to thicken shampoo, body wash, facial cleanser and give it a nice consistency. Made from coconut oil mixed with diethanolamine.  (This is the DEA part, which is a chemical used as a wetting agent and provides a rich lather.)

Readily absorbed through the skin from detergents, it has been linked to major increases in liver and kidney cancers and inhibits fetal brain development by blocking the absorption of chloline, a nutrient required for brain development and maintenance.  Nasty


Polyquarternium 7:

Used as a catatonic conditioner for hair and a moisturizing ingredient for skin. Has the ability to remove tangles and straighten hair. Considered quite safe in hair products.


Glycol Distearate:

A combination of ethylene glycol and stearic acid. Has a high foaming capacity and is found in liquid soaps, hand sanitisers, bubble baths and body washes. Ethylene glycol is used to make anti-freeze, de-icing solutions for cars and aeroplanes, hydraulic brake fluid, lacquers, resins, wood stains and synthetic waxes.

It was used during World War II by Spitfires and Hurricanes to stop their engines freezing and is used in bars to keep beer cold but not to freeze. I’ve even stuck my fingers in it and it has quite a thick consistency. However since I have no intention of taking an outdoor shower in Antartica, I’m not sure of its value in my body wash.


Laureth 10:

AKA Polyetheline Glycol Ether of Lauryl Alcohol. A chemical emulsific, that supports the formation and stabilisation of an emulsion.  Declared safe in cosmetics subject to concentration or use limitations.



Carginogenic and toxic. Synthetic fragrance can have up to 3000 separate ingredients.


Mineral Salt:

An inorganic compound, required as a nutrient by living organisms. Necessary for good health.


Citric Acid:

Food additive. Natural acid found in many fruits



A preservative that has amazing antibacterial properties. Kills yeast and fungi. It was first used in the cosmetics industry in the 1970’s and also used as a preservative for glue, paint, fuels, soaps, chemical cleaners and detergents.

In high concentrations can cause chemical burns, irritate skin and nearby membranes. It has now been removed from many cosmetics and should not be used by people with sensitive skin.



Used as a preservative in cleaning products, laundry detergents, liquid dish detergents, cream cleaners, all-purpose cleaners, window cleaners, floor cleaners, counter sprays, stain removers, air fresheners, room sprays, carpet shampoo and wipes.

Prevents bacteria, fungi, mould, mildew, sapstein and algae from forming.

Also used in paper mills, oil field operations, metal working fluids, water-cooling treatment systems and building materials such as adhesives, paints, resins, emulsions and wood products.

Its also used in almost any personal care product – shampoo, conditioners, diaper creams, body washes, moisturisers, sunscreens, shaving cream, feminine hygiene products and mascara.

It is a highly corrosive chemical, toxic when ingested, inhaled or applied to skin and eyes. Suspected of being a neurotoxin.

It’s toxic to freshwater, estuaries and marine organisms.

There have been restrictions placed on it for use in cosmetics in Canada and Japan, it’s use is monitored in the USA by the FDA and EPA.


Manufacturers will say that the quantities they use are minute and therefore safe. But they don’t state the amounts used on their list of ingredients so we don’t know how much is being used. Many products such as body washes, soaps, shampoos, conditioners and cosmetics are used daily, over a long period of time.


Makes you wonder?

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