Detox the Box

Toxic chemicals don't belong in menstrual care products. Period.

The Problem

Feminine care. Feminine hygiene. Menstrual products. Personal cleansing products. Intimate care.
No matter what you call them, these consumer products are marketed almost exclusively to women. The $3 billion “feminine care” industry often advertises these products to help women “feel fresh,” “be clean,” “increase confidence,” and even enhance sex appeal.

Our Chem Fatale report finds toxic chemicals commonly used in period products like pads and tampons — and there’s nothing sexy or fresh about toxic chemicals linked to cancer, reproductive harm, hormone disruption, and allergic reactions in products that come into close contact with one of the most sensitive parts of the body. Vaginal wipes, for example, can contain preservatives that release toxic formaldehyde. And test results show dioxins, furans and pesticide residues in tampons, which have been linked to cancer, reproductive harm, and hormone disruption.

Toxic chemicals have no place in products that come into contact with some of the most sensitive and absorptive skin on the body. The real kicker? Many of these chemicals are not required to be listed on the label, so people have no idea what they are being exposed to. We deserve better.

Here’s why this is a serious problem:

  • WVE’s test results show secret toxic chemicals in Always pads.
  • Othering testing results show dioxins, furans and pesticide residues in tampons, which have been linked to cancer, reproductive harm, and hormone disruption.
  • Studies link menstrual pad use to vulvar allergic rash in some women. Both adhesive chemicals like methyldibromo glutaronitrile and fragrances used in pads have been identified as causes of these allergic rashes.
  • Fragrance is commonly used in pads and tampons, and all fragrance ingredients are kept secret.
  • The harmful chemicals in these products come into contact with some of the most absorptive skin on our bodies!

Toxic chemicals don’t belong in menstrual care products. Period.

Avoid Toxic Chemicals

  • Bookmark our Chemicals of Concern fact sheet so you can reference it when shopping for period and personal care products.
  • Reduce your use of intimate care products, especially those that are medically unnecessary for a healthy vagina.
  • Choose unscented products where available, especially in tampons and pads.
  • Choose chlorine-free bleach or unbleached tampons and pads.
  • If you are having allergic symptoms, switch brands, and then tell the company why you did by calling the 800 number on the label.
  • Report any symptoms possibly resulting from these products to the FDA by calling 1-800-332-1088 or filling out a consumer report form.

Watch and share our hilarious spoof music video with a serious message: Detox the Box!

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Update: Two of the world’s largest period products manufacturers — Procter and Gamble and Kimberly Clark — are starting to disclose ingredients in pads and tampons. This victory is the direct result of women taking action and demanding ingredient transparency! Read more.

It’s not over! Period and personal care products manufacturers need to disclose ALL the ingredients used in these products. When it is perfectly legal to use harmful chemicals in menstrual products, full ingredient transparency—including fragrance ingredients—is critical. Especially since toxic chemicals are coming into contact with some of the most sensitive and absorptive skin on our bodies.

Keep the pressure on by calling on the makers of Playtex and Stayfree to Detox the Box!

Take Action!

Tell Playtex and Stayfree that hidden toxic chemicals don't belong in menstrual products. Period.

What’s in Your Tampon

In April 2018, we sent six popular brands of U.S. tampons to a lab to see what we could find out. We tested for volatile organic compounds – a suite of over 100 toxic air pollutants that can be tested for simultaneously. We discovered that for some brands – there appears to be more complexity (and chemical emissions) than others. Learn more.

Nanosilver in Period Underwear & Pads

Nanosilver (minute silver particles) is commonly incorporated into athletic clothing to make it “antibacterial” in an effort to reduce odor. In recent years, it has also been unnecessarily incorporated into certain period products including menstrual underwear, and some menstrual pads. Unfortunately, there are concerns about the effects of this antibacterial agent has on vaginal and vulvar tissue. Learn more.

cropped feminine wipes inforgraphic

Infographic: The Rub With Feminine Wipes
Infographic: Español

Many feminine wipes contain chemicals of concern linked to cancer, hormone disruption and fertility problems (see list of chemicals in wipes below). The long term health risks of exposure to these chemicals from using wipes have never been studied and are largely unknown but concerning.Learn more.

are lubricants safe

Slippery Slope: Potential Hazards of Lubricants for Women

Over 65% of women in the United States report using some form of vaginal lubricant in the previous month. While they can be very effective at reducing discomfort at the time they are used, researchers are becoming increasingly concerned about the potential longer term health effects of exposure to these products.

Always pads

Always Test Results

The 2014 testing results indicate that both scented and unscented Always pads emit toxic chemicals, including chemicals identified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Toxicology Program, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, and the State of California Environmental Protection Agency as carcinogens, and reproductive and developmental toxins.

Chem Fatale Report

Chem Fatale report / Informe en en español

Potential Health Effects of Toxic Chemicals in Feminine Care Products

Pads tampons

Avoid Toxic Chemicals in Pads & Tampons

Learn about chemicals of concern found in tampons, pads, feminine washes, vaginal douches, feminine wipes and more.


Detox the Box Advisory Committee

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