What's the Big Deal With Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

These are The Brothers. They are about a year apart in age.


The thing about raising boys is that it's a lot like raising puppies.  One minute they are walking along nice as can be and then the next they are

or this.

more puppies.

wrestling and biting each others ears.

The other thing about raising boys...you never ask "Why?" Anytime the boys do something (let's say, after picking up the dog poo in the backyard they decide to underhand fling the bags of poo onto the roof of the house, for example) my daughter, Rosie will ask me, "Why did they do that?" and I'll say, "Darling, we don't ask ask that question." Because really, the answer is always, "I don't know." And I really don't think they do.

So, these puppies cannot be paired together for chores. They just can't. They might start out doing the task as diligently as they are capable but within minutes they are a pile of giggling, snarling goofballs on the floor.  One day a couple of months ago, I had paired them to clean the family room. After the 50th time of yelling, "BOYS!" I look down the hall just as Max sprays Oliver in the face with cleaner. I mean, basically right in his eye.

I race down the hall as Oliver starts his dramatic, "OWWWW!" picturing the hour of rinsing his eye in the sink and more hours of the whining, "It still burns, Mommy,"  and the possibility of having to go to the Urgent Care clinic, but by the time I get there he stops, surprised, and says, "Oh." And then tackles Max and begins shoving his wet rag in his brother's face."

No burning. No hours washing out the eye. No Urgent Care.  He was assaulted with all-purpose cleaner. If that had been another cleaner, it would have been a whole different story with the ugly ending. That's what the big deal is about Sodium Lauryl Sulfate.

Why am I telling you this little story? Well, I started doing some research on SLS and was going to write this in depth, informative article about it, but then I saw that Danika Carter already had done a much better job over at GreenWala, and I am not one to reinvent the wheel. (You should really go read that article. It's short, concise, and outlines the safety concerns very well.) So, instead of writing that article, I decided to write about a real-life example of why I only use SLS free Better Life products with my family.

Many green cleaners use SLS because of it's biodegradability. But, there are better and equally effective options that don't pose the same risks and dangers. Just looking at the International Chemical Safety Card posted by the CDC shows many problems with putting it in a green cleaner. From the exposure dangers to people and pets, to the explicit warnings "Do NOT let this chemical enter the environment" and "Toxic to aquatic life."  It just doesn't fit the Better Life model of GREEN.

So when I asked Kevin, our chemist, why we didn't use SLS when so many other "green"cleaning companies did, it basically came down to the two things Better Life is all about.

SAFE tilt

Safe for People and Pets. Safe for the Earth.

Back to blog


Who and where to arrange this summer on festival, slice your information.


You know, I never once stopped to think about whteher baking soda was a renewable resource. I just dumped it in my sink with abandon (it clears drains when mixed with vinegar!), and of course, it’s essential for a lot of baked goods. I’m not sure where to go from here. Castille soap? More scrubbing, less baking soda? Ack! Why does everything have a cost?


Great real-life, every day reason to avoid SLS. Thanks for linking to my article and I’m glad you found it useful :) Your boys are adorable!

Danika @ Your Organic Life

My boys used to do the same thing with almost anything that could be sprayed. Unfortunately in those days we didn’t know better and used chemicals for cleaning. It’s so great that we can now keep cleaners in the house and not worry about children – or grandchildren – or pets – being harmed. Love your posts!!


Ah, yes. I have fond memories of using SDS (same thing, lauryl sounds nicer than dodecyl somehow) in lab to denature proteins.


Dave Lloyd

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