A Real Clean Shouldn't Be An Optical Illusion | Seventh Generation
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A Real Clean Shouldn't Be An Optical Illusion

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10 comments
Author: the Inkslinger

Your laundry room may not look like a Hollywood studio, but if you're using conventional detergents there's some serious visual trickery going on when you pull each load off the line. It's strange but true -- almost every conventional detergent contains chemicals called optical brighteners whose only purpose is to trick us into believing that the fabrics of our lives are whiter than white and brighter than bright.

I'd say yeah-sure-whatever-who-cares except that optical brighteners pull some nasty tricks on people and the environment as well, and that makes them a pretty dim idea at the end of the day. A spooky October video shows the eerie things optical brighteners leave behind on our clothes and bedding. Check it out and just say no to the glow.

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Comments

spalthoffs picture
spalthoffs
11/04/10
Wow I had no idea about these chemicals in traditional laundry products. No only do they leave residue on your clothing that in turn gets left on and absorbed into your skin, but also your clothes might actually still be dirty and you wouldn't even know it! Gross!
Consumer Insights Team picture
Consumer Insights Team
11/01/10
The only thing I can think of is the detergent...is it dyed blue? Are you washing whites with whites or do your blue jeans get tossed in with the undershirts? Is "bluing" listed on the label? I am not familar with this but I can ask the chemists here too. I will let you know if I find out anything more to help you.
laurawk1 picture
laurawk1
10/30/10
Is bluing an optical brightener? It makes whites appear more blue so they don't look yellow and dingy. Over time my Dad's undershirts have gone from looking white to light blue! I'm guessing this is not an eco-friendly ingredient, but maybe I'm wrong? I'd appreciate any info you have so I can pass it on to my parents. Thanks!
jeannev picture
jeannev
10/29/10
That does help, thank you. Of course, most laundry products don't list all of their ingredients, but those claiming to be "toxic free" certainly should. Thanks for this great infromation. I have used toxic free laundry products for the past 9 years, but had not heard of optical brighteners until now.
mneria picture
mneria
10/28/10
this is great information; thinking it may be the reason we get rashes in dry weather; sorry, i see that i should be using 7th generation ALL the time :)
Shauna Lee picture
Shauna Lee
10/28/10
Military members are not allowed to use optical brighteners on their uniforms because it makes them more visible to enemies using night vision and the like. Definitely NOT beneficial to their health.
Consumer Insights Team picture
Consumer Insights Team
10/28/10
Hi There! I checked with Cara on this and she held the light at the bottom of the shirts right between the two. Before the wash both shirts looked like the one on the right – no glow. The reason why the one on the left glows is because optical brighteners have been deposited on the fabric by the laundry detergent. You should try this experiment at home or go to your bowling alley when they have "Galactic" bowling or when they have the black lights on...you will see who uses laundry detergent with optical brighteners in them!
Consumer Insights Team picture
Consumer Insights Team
10/28/10
The two names that are used the most are: Disodium Diaminostilbene Disulfonate and Disodium Distyrylbiphenyl Disulfonate. Products that list their ingredients might list these chemical names. Products that use chemical category names might have something like brightening agent, whitening agent, whitener, brightener,or fluorescent whitening agent. I hope this helps!
yourjones picture
yourjones
10/28/10
Although, I agree that we should not be using laundry detergents with opitcal brighteners, I noticed that in the video she only put the light on the shirt washed with conventional detergent. It seems to me that she should have did it to both to show the difference between the two. Also, doesn't white glow under a dark light anyways? Not trying to be a hater, I LOVE Seventh Generation!
jeannev picture
jeannev
10/28/10
What are the names (chemical or brand) of these optical brighteners? Thank you.