Thou shalt smell of lush, shimmer, fresh or spring!
Have you seen the commercials for Downy’s Unstopables In-Wash Scent Boosters? …A pretty young woman doing laundry in her brightly colored laundry room, boosting her boring laundry with scents that “just won’t stop!”
Why Use Unstopables?
For some reason every time I watch this commercial, all I can think is WHY? My mind curls up with the question: Why would anyone spend $6 to pour chemical fragrances into their washer and HOPE that it will stay in their clothes for up to 12 weeks? (AND, what the heck does “shimmer” smell like???)
For me as a label reader and “seeker of all things toxin-free,” out of concern for our health and that of the environment, three BIG things jump out at me and they are, not coincidentally, the three “ingredients” listed on the Unstopables bottle…
Problem Number One — Undisclosed Ingredients
When looking at the Unstopables label, they only list three ingredients: 1) Perfume dispersant, 2) Perfume, and 3) Dye.
The big problem with this is that the three ingredients listed, aren’t actually ingredients. They are categories of ingredients, meaning that based the information disclosed, we have no idea what is actually in the product or how it can affect our health, the health of the water supply or the environment as a whole.
And sadly, because the “fragrance industry” is mostly unregulated, the ingredients are likely undisclosed for a reason — to hide the toxins and VOCs (volatile organic compounds, chemicals that easily enter the air as gas or vapor) lurking inside, under the guise of “protecting proprietary information.”
There is no U.S. law requiring disclosure and it is left up to the companies themselves to provide “voluntary consumer safety standards.” Basically, if the company doesn’t feel there is a significant danger, they don’t have to warn you that there might be. (1)
Related Post: Please Stop, Your Fragrance is Killing Me!
No ingredients here.
Problem Number Two — “D” is for Dispersant
The Environmental Working Group (EWG.org) gives dispersants a big fat “D” rating for a few reasons, including the fact that by only listing “dispersant” we don’t have enough information to know if it contains toxins or not.
What we do know that dispersants often contain impurities like nitrosamines. These little impurities, according to Prop 65 of California, the National Toxicology Program, the EPA, and the EWG’s own Toxicology Program are known to cause cancer in humans.
In addition to being a known carcinogenic, nitrosamines are a huge threat to the water supply. The EWG reports that once dispersants are introduced to the water system they are “harmful to aquatic life with long-lasting effects.” (2)
Problem Number Three — Perfume is a BIG Problem & Dying from Dye
Listing perfume (aka fragrance) is also not helpful. What fragrance or more accurately, what combination of petrochemicals, are you using to create this particular fragrance?
The EWG had this to say, “These mystery mixtures can contain hundreds of untested chemicals, including toxic ingredients like phthalates and synthetic musks – both hormone disruptors. Fragrances are also among the top five allergens in the world.” (3)
The third and final ingredient listed on the Unstopables label is dye. Like it’s other companion ingredients, dye is a family of unknown chemicals which can contain cancer-causing contaminants. Thus, the dye can increase your risk to die! (3)
The Bottom Line on Unstopables
With all of this information, my question still stands: Why do our clothes (and bodies for that matter) have to smell like perfume or fragrance to be considered “fresh”? AND the even bigger question is why are we willing to risk using unknown and potentially cancer-causing ingredients to have it?
All three categories of “ingredients” listed on the Unstopables label are full unknown chemicals and VOCs. Based on the little information Proctor & Gamble is willing to share with consumers about the contents of Unstopables, in my opinion, it’s best to never start!
Green Alternatives for Fresh Laundry
If you really want “fresh” laundry, ditch the chemical-filled products and consider changing your laundry detergent to one that is either scent-neutral or is scented with organic essential oils, like Molly’s Suds or Tru Earth Detergent Sheets. They both are lightly scented with essential oils and Tru Earth has an unscented option as well.
You can read my full review of Molly’s Suds and Earth Breeze for details on why I love them:
Molly’s Suds Laundry Powder. Eco-friendly, Affordable and Safe Laundry Detergent
Green & Eco-friendly Laundry Scent Boosters
If it’s important to you, you can boost the scent of your laundry without dangerous toxins by ditching dryer sheets and switching to wool dryer balls.
Not only are these awesome dryer balls soft and fluffy, they are also reusable and can be used in combination with essential oils for an extra punch of scent. My husband prefers his clothes with additional scent, so we use organic dryer ball oil mixes by Poofy Organics or organic orange essential oil, but any scent you like will work.
Related Post: What are Laundry Dryer Balls and Do They Work?
So next time you see an Unstopables commercial, say a little prayer for the pretty young woman and you have my permission to throw a dryer ball (boosted essential oils, of course) at the TV.
Quick Links to My Favorite Laundry Scent Options:
- EWG Rating on Unstoppables
Professor Anne C. Steinemann, “Fragranced Consumer Products and Undisclosed Ingredients”
- EWG Report on Dispersants
California EPA, “NDMA and Other Nitrosamines”
National Toxicology Program, “Report on Carcinogens, Fourteenth Edition”
EPA, “Method 607: Nitrosamines”
EWG, Report on Nitrosamines
- EWG, “Could be hard to avoid these 7 cleaning ingredients, but you should try”
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