Dirty Labs wants to solve the problem of water-polluting chemicals common in laundry detergents.
When a typical laundry detergent washes down the drain, it carries chemicals such as 1,4-dioxane, a likely carcinogen that can’t be removed by standard water treatment plants and that can end up in drinking water. Other common ingredients, such as the somewhat unpronounceable methylisothiazolinone or benzisothiazolinone, can harm the environment. These chemicals have various purposes; methylisothiazolinone is a preservative, for example. Dioxane isn’t used in detergent intentionally but is a by-product of another process. A biotech startup called Dirty Labs is taking on the challenge of cleaning up such cleaning products.