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What is propylene glycol? Why is it safe for cleaning products?

If you’ve spent any amount of time on social media lately, you’ve probably heard people talk about “propylene glycol.” This incredibly common ingredient can be found in many of the products we use every day, including shampoos, snacks, and laundry detergent! While some of the conversations around this substance seem alarming (perhaps you’ve even heard it compared to anti-freeze), it’s important to get the facts about what it is and how it affects you.

What is Propylene Glycol?

First, propylene glycol is a synthetic liquid that absorbs water, but the “synthetic” part can be misleading. (In truth, it’s a form of mineral oil, an alcohol produced by the very natural process of fermentation of yeast and carbohydrates.) If you’ve ever read an ingredient list and noticed the words “1,2-dihydroxypropane,” “1,2-propanediol,” “methyl glycol,” or “trimethyl glycol,” it’s referring to this same ingredient.

According to the CDC, propylene glycol is used mainly to reduce unwanted moisture in many products and is classified as “generally recognized as safe” for products designed to be ingested by humans. (The World Health Organization agrees.) It’s even used to create the fog at concerts and haunted houses!

Safe and Stable Benefits

But what about your laundry soap? This ingredient works incredibly well to draw out and bind to dirt and stinky particles found in your clothes. It’s a much safer alternative to some of the toxic ingredients of past generations, too!

Remember, this is laundry detergent. We don’t eat or ingest it, so should this ingredient even be a concern? Let’s take a look at the advantages it offers. Did you know that propylene glycol:

• Has a low toxicity to humans and pets?
• Is color and odor-free?
• Is biodegradable?
• Emits very low VOC (volatile organic compound) emissions?
• Has a low freezing point?
• Is not very flammable?
• Does not corrode metals?

In short, it’s the perfect ingredient to include in a product like Dropps, as it is safe to transport, store, and use in even your most expensive washing machine and on your most delicate fibers. This ingredient breaks down completely in water in soil within a week, under most conditions. Years of testing has shown it not to be carcinogenic to mammals, either.

One-Size Doesn’t Fit All

So, what about those memes you see on Facebook insisting that no detergent using propylene glycol is safe? Why are people concerned about an ingredient used in laundry products that aren’t ingested at all, and that rinses out completely from your clothing after a wash? It may simply be because it’s easier to classify an ingredient as “good” or “bad.” Propylene glycol has a variety of applications and strengths, ranging from a highly-concentrated industrial form used in airplane maintenance to the diluted versions used in consumer products. It also has various grades, and only the purest, cleanest forms are put into products used by humans every day. Too much of anything can be bad – especially when ingested in large amounts -- but some have decided to write off common-sense and responsible uses of this ingredient completely.

A Better Laundry Detergent

Now that we know that this ingredient is perfectly safe for use as a laundry detergent (it’s a biodegradable, stable option that has very low toxicity), what should you know about its cleaning abilities? The history of Dropps shares the truth: we wanted a tough-on-dirt cleaning option that is gentle on your garments. Because we know that delicate fabrics can be adversely affected by harsh, toxic cleaning agents, we formulated our product to keep destructive enzymes out of your clothes. In the process, we created a product that wasn’t just safer for your wardrobe – it’s safer for you!


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