Test of chemicals in liquid detergents for colour washing

27. sep 2021

Detergents may contain problematic substances that may be allergenic or may harm fertility. Find a good chemical choice in the test.



Foto: Forbrugerrådet Tænk

Allergenic substances found in 4 detergents

The Danish Consumer Council THINK has tested 17 liquid detergents for coloured washing for problematic chemicals. 4 out of 17 products in the test contain problematic chemicals.

They all contain allergenic preservatives. For example, the highly allergenic substance methylisothiazolinone also called MI.

Allergenic preservatives must appear on the label. See the tested products at the bottom of the page.

See the tested products in the test with product pictures and assessments (link to page in Danish)

2 detergents contain substances that may harm fertility

2 of the products in the test also contain boric acid and sodium borate, which are suspected of harming fertility.

These substances do not have to appear in the list of ingredients, but the full list of ingredients must be available for download on a website.

See all test from The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals

Cocktail effect: Overall exposure is problematic

The individual detergent is probably not in itself harmful.

However, a detergent can contribute to your overall exposure to problematic chemicals.

Therefore, it is a good idea to choose a detergent free of unwanted chemicals.

The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals’ test methods

Select the Swan Label and allergy label

When you buy detergents, go for the eco-label swan, which set a number of environmental and health requirements on what ingredients may be used.

However, eco-labelled products may be perfumed.

Therefore, you can choose products labeled with Asthma Allergy Denmark The Blue Label or Allergy Certified. Then the product is, among other things, without perfume.

Behind the test

How we tested

17 liquid detergents are included in the test. We have obtained the full ingredient lists online and confirmed by contact with the company.

We have reviewed the lists of ingredients to see if the products contain problematic substances. The test is a declaration test. Therefore, no chemical analyses have been carried out and the test does not take into account concentrations.

The test is part of the Danish Consumer Council THINK’s joint collaboration with Sweden and Finland called "Nordqual", where both the effectiveness of detergents and the content of problematic chemicals have been looked at. The EU Consumer Program funds the project.

What we found

How the products are distributed in the test:

  • Rating A: 12 products that are without a number of problematic chemicals.
  • Rating B: 1 product containing perfume.
  • Rating C: 4 products containing problematic chemicals, which among other things is allergenic preservation.

We have found these problematic substances:

  • Isothiazolinons, allergenic, are found in 4 products - (methylisothiazolinone, octylisothiazolinone, benzisothiazolinone).
  • Borates, which can damage fertility and are on the EU list of particularly problematic substances, have been found in 2 products (Boric acid, Sodium borate)
  • Butylphenyl Methylpropional, a perfumer suspected of being endocrine disruptor, to damage fertility and can cause allergies, has been found in 1 product.
  • LAS, which can be problematic for the environment, is found in 4 products - (Sodium Dodecyl Benzenesulfonate, TEA-Dodecyl Benzenesulfonate, Sodium C10-13 Alkyl Benzene Sulphonate)


What the companies say

Salling Group, which is behind Netto and Savin:
"At Salling Group, we are very aware of and work intensively to phase out questionable substances in our Private Label products. This also applies to Savin, where we are working to make it produced without, for example, benzisothiazolinone and Butylphenyl methylpropional.

Lidl, who is behind Formil Colour:
"At Lidl, we constantly work to expand our product range in a more sustainable direction. This also applies to detergents such as Formil, where we already offer a Swan labelled product in the series. We keep up to date with any problematic substances and follow the ongoing debate closely - and will of course always comply with the applicable legislation."