Optical Brighteners: Just Say No to the Glow! | Seventh Generation
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Optical Brighteners: Just Say No to the Glow!

118 comments
Author: lwoodburne

Cara Bondi, Research Chemist at Seventh Generation explains what optical brighteners are and why Seventh Generation doesn't use them: a real clean shouldn't be an optical illusion. Optical brighteners are synthetic chemicals that make fabrics appear to glow in the presence of ultraviolet light. They don't have anything to do with getting things clean -- they're only added to detergents to make us think our laundry is brighter and whiter than it really is. Designed to intentionally remain behind on our clothes and linens, optical brighteners rub off on our skin where they can cause a reaction that looks like sunburn. They're no fun for the environment either. Optical brighteners washed down our drains frequently survive wastewater treatment and escape into our lakes, rivers, and streams. Once there, they don't completely biodegrade and instead accumulate in fish.

Test Your Knowledge! Take this short quiz about optical brighteners after you watch the video.

118
Comments

momomama picture
momomama
08/29/11
Wow scary, does seventh generation also make spotter? I would like to get as many safe products as possible to replace the harmful ones.
drummergrl picture
drummergrl
08/25/11
I have been a loyal consumer of 7th Gen products for years. I am so pleased to see this kind of education here. I didn't know about the brighteners, but I'm not surprised. Bummer for those who don't know.
Lizmara picture
Lizmara
08/25/11
I forgot to add that if you want your whites to brighten up, dry them in the sun. It's the best natural whitener we have! We cloth diaper and the sun removes 95% (if not 100%) of any stains in the diapers.
Lizmara picture
Lizmara
08/25/11
Glad to know I made the right choice to choose 7th Gen detergent! Unless I plan on going clubbing (not anytime soon), optical brighteners are pretty scary stuff!
lalaramsay picture
lalaramsay
08/20/11
Thanks for the info. I had no idea.
alkiss picture
alkiss
08/17/11
I am frustrated--I hate the look of dingy clothes--wish it did not take opticak brighteners to make today's fabrics actually look white--good thing most of it is socks and underwear. I hate what these things do to the environment. I'm switching.
ongmingh picture
ongmingh
08/16/11
good thing i've been using 7th gen for a long time now.
rachelmr picture
rachelmr
08/14/11
I love the products and they work great, and smell wonderful.
Laura Burgess picture
Laura Burgess
08/11/11
Since I have never believed or been swayed by ads, I have always felt that reasonably clean was good enough - anything that is a step above beating the clothes on rocks!
sroyse picture
sroyse
08/11/11
Very interesting...passing this video along to some conventional laundry detergent friends!
edwong picture
edwong
08/07/11
I notice that I was reading your product ingredients.... thyme oil was 0.05% What are the other ingredients that is 99.99%. Why isn't it listed? Is it all natural plants? What plant kills 99.99% of germs?
rosakamper picture
rosakamper
08/05/11
my clothing may not be as bright, but it is still clean! This detergent smells great with causing skin irritation in my kids, how great is that?!
molly3 picture
molly3
08/04/11
I had no idea what these optical brighteners left behind, thanks for educating me.
kimbermata picture
kimbermata
07/22/11
That is why I'll continue to use my Seventh Generation laundry detergent!!
xaveria2 picture
xaveria2
07/07/11
I will now change my laundry habits forever. I don't want my family exposed to any new dangers.
lizziemomma picture
lizziemomma
07/07/11
This is the reason why I switched over to 7th gen.
lgalford picture
lgalford
06/16/11
not good to have unnecessary stuff in our detergent
goingreen picture
goingreen
05/26/11
It never fails to amaze me at what a detergent company will add to their product in order to sell it to the public. People with sensitivity to the chemicals in the optical brighteners now have some idea of why their skin felt a little itchy or they got got a rash that day after they wore an article of clothing washed in that stuff.Spread the word to dermatologists!!
ilovemylife615 picture
ilovemylife615
05/26/11
This must be one of the reasons why my dermatologist recommends all natural laundry detergents!!
laura_ward picture
laura_ward
05/16/11
I especially feel for military personnell who are unaware of this.
marggie picture
marggie
05/13/11
Glad I watched the video. I'll be looking for 7th Generation in the store more often.
ChristyIreneMiller picture
ChristyIreneMiller
05/13/11
I have used non-toxic, all naturall, organic cleaning products since I learned I was pregnant and being healthy became vitally important to me. Thank You Seventh Generation.
AngelaClifford picture
AngelaClifford
04/30/11
Yikes. I guess it's true that you learn something new every day. Glad I use 7th generation!
khallinan picture
khallinan
04/26/11
Had no clue about this! I only use Seventh Gen detergent!
creatingquerencia picture
creatingquerencia
04/24/11
Other laundry soaps aren't clearly labeled as to which contain optical brighteners and they ruin military uniforms rendering the camo useless. I destroyed several sets of ACUS rendering them essentially useless with different non labeled optical brightening detergents.. very frustrating..
carpeconnie picture
carpeconnie
04/17/11
I have used a black light in my home and everything white glows. Now I know.
Juanita1940 picture
Juanita1940
04/14/11
I do not intende for my clothes to be glowing under a bright light I will change
Rita Hartman picture
Rita Hartman
04/13/11
Is there something on the label that idntifies it as having optical pbrighteners? how long does it take to wash out. I've only started using the 7th generation producs a few months ago due to allergies.
magmamaof4 picture
magmamaof4
04/13/11
I had no idea!
ValerieBrady picture
ValerieBrady
04/13/11
That's crazy!
nc3IL7 picture
nc3IL7
04/13/11
i had no idea
marlazick picture
marlazick
04/13/11
didn't know that!!
starxr picture
starxr
04/13/11
I knew conventional detergents were toxic - just didn't realize how far they took it! Thanks for the info.
ladyshady picture
ladyshady
04/13/11
I had no idea and I definitely don't feel good about that. I'm so glad I'm now in the know. I'll be more careful from here on out when purchasing products!
lindajune picture
lindajune
04/13/11
Learned something important today!
dakgulley picture
dakgulley
04/13/11
It's scarey that we just don't know what some manufactors are putting into their products! Thank God for 7th Generation! :)
anothermeaning picture
anothermeaning
04/13/11
Definitely something to think about.I never would have guessed.
Bperrier picture
Bperrier
04/12/11
Did not even know about that stuff! Poor fish! Poor people who eat the fish!
proud_mom picture
proud_mom
04/12/11
Makes the dull white tee all the more attractive!
sweetnolabear picture
sweetnolabear
04/12/11
Interesting.
amandapet24 picture
amandapet24
04/12/11
That is crazy!! But I have Been using Seventh Generation for years so I've not been worried about my clothing.
jack_leroy picture
jack_leroy
04/12/11
Thank You, Cara for shining the light on the truth. But it doesn't surprise me, since wholesalers have been using all kinds of similar tactics to make the items we buy from them appear to be more appealing like putting wax on cucumbers and apples to make them shine or dying salmon red. Enough already!
nancyr08 picture
nancyr08
04/12/11
I can't believe that!
anfiveash picture
anfiveash
04/12/11
It is amazing what is used to make us think things are actually working!
jennlt picture
jennlt
04/12/11
I never knew that!
marypt23 picture
marypt23
04/12/11
Extremely interesting.
leamkenny picture
leamkenny
04/11/11
The black light doesn't lie.
sasher420 picture
sasher420
04/11/11
Thanks for keeping us consumers informed! We have the right to know what is in the products we use.
abhoward91 picture
abhoward91
04/11/11
I had no idea about this. I wish that companies had to put on the label the things they are putting into their products. I just want to be healthy, white clothes don't matter that much to me.
GRISW picture
GRISW
04/11/11
more to look after... keep the coming, thanks for the heads up!