Founded in 1988. For more than 20 years, it’s been Seventh Generation‘s mission to help you protect our world with our naturally safe and effective household products.

Does your laundry detergent have optical brighteners in it? Likely you have no clue.  I didn’t, even though I thought I was pretty informed about chemicals.

What are optical brighteners and why are they added?  OB’s for short, have replaced bluers in many laundry detergents.  Their intended purpose is to change the appearance of the fabric by giving it a “whitening” affect.  It’s to make the fabric look less yellow by adding more blue light.  These same chemicals can be found in eye and face makeup to remove under-eye circles and shadowed areas.

They work, but for many people they can cause allergic reactions and worse yet, they’re toxic to small fish and other aquatic life and can pollute our waterways when they’re used in the washer. Using a whitener doesn’t mean your clothes are cleaner, just that your eye is being tricked into thinking they’re whiter.

The good news is you don’t have to use optical brighteners.  Seventh Generation makes their laundry detergents are free of optical brighteners, and  they´re also non-toxic . In addition, because Seventh Generation liquid laundry detergents are both hypo-allergenic and biodegradable it’s less likely you and your family will have allergic reactions to it.

Seventh Generation provided the following information and the means for me to do my own test. Sadly, time got away from me during this crazy holiday season so it wasn’t until today that I sat down to try the experiment.  It was then that I found out my organic/natural detergent doesn’t use them either.  Whoo hoo for me!  Totally by accident, but now that I know, I won’t go back to brands that have them.  That said, the test wouldn’t work because both of my t-shirts would have shown the lack of the chemicals – nothing would have been glowing so here’s the photo provided by Seventh Generation showing the difference.

Take a look at our experiment in the photo below. We took two identical organic cotton shirts and washed one in a conventional laundry detergent that contains optical brighteners and the other in Seventh Generation laundry detergent which does not use optical brighteners; we think you´ll see similar results!

So, I can finally use the Seventh Generation supplies they sent me in my laundry. I’m looking forward to trying them against my current brand. Even if you aren’t allergic to this one chemical, leaving them out is great for the environment.  It’s an easy thing to do and Seventh Generation made it even easier with a coupon (click here ) to save $1 on the purchase of any Seventh Generation Laundry Product.

Don’t have Seventh Generation products locally? Shop – I use their Subscribe and Save program for cases of Seventh Generation toilet paper and other products.


Comment Contest – Winner

Prize won: Seventh Generation Giveaway

Comment: DanV says We use more natural cleaners

Win this Seventh Generation Laundry Prize Pack

Want to win your own Seventh Generation Prize Package? Just comment below with what you’ve done to reduce your family’s chemical exposure.  That’s it!

Contest ends 12/27/2010, 11:59 pm PDST.  Regular contest rules apply.  US mailing addresses only.

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Disclosure:  I was provided the prize pack, two t-shirts, and black light to perform my own experiment by Seventh Generation through My Blog Spark