Last Updated on May 9, 2023 by The Filtery
Why should you switch to non-toxic laundry detergent? It’s kind of ironic: you wash your clothes, sheets, and towels, expecting them to be fresh and clean, but really you just end up coating them with a bunch of synthetic chemicals that could potentially cause problems for you and your loved ones over time.
The most popular laundry detergent brands carry ingredients that have been linked to everything from allergies and dry skin all the way to cancer. Even the baby and “Free & Clear” versions contain chemicals that pose a risk to your health.
There are so many great smelling non-toxic laundry detergent brands that are completely effective, so why NOT choose the safer bet? Below are our researched and recommended brands for the best non-toxic laundry detergent.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if you choose to make a purchase. We only make recommendations that are genuine and meet our ingredient safety standards.
Our Picks at a Glance
Best Overall: Branch Basics
Best Smelling: ATTITUDE
Best Unscented/Fragrance-Free: Grab Green
Best Low-Waste/Plastic-Free: Blueland
Most Affordable/Best Value: Rosey by Thrive Market
Best Certified Organic: Happi Earth
Best Laundry Powder: Meliora
Best Detergent Pods: Dropps
Best Detergent Sheets: EcoRoots
- Sweat, Odors, & Tough Stains: Dirty Labs
- Babies: Healthybaby
- Delicates: Molly’s Suds
- Hard Water: Truly Free
Best at Target: 9 Elements
Best at Walmart: GO By Greenshield Organic
What Are the Harmful Effects of Detergents?
Whether or not your laundry detergent will actually cause issues depends on a lot of different factors, including age, total toxic burden, other health concerns, and more. Those who are extra sensitive or have chronic health concerns may be more likely to react negatively to the ingredients in common laundry detergents compared to those who are healthier and more equipped to process certain toxins and get them out of their bodies.
Common ingredients found in conventional laundry detergents have been linked to issues like:
- Skin irritation and allergies
- Respiratory problems
- Nervous system issues
- Endocrine (hormone) disruption
- Damage to vision
- Organ damage
Even those individuals who don’t have strong or immediate reactions to specific brands of detergents would do well to consider switching to a safer alternative since these chemicals, especially when used in small quantities, tend to show the most damage over long periods of time (both to our bodies and to our ecosystems!).
RELATED: These are the best non-toxic cleaning products for your whole home.
Toxins in Laundry Detergent: Chemicals to Avoid
Before we dive into our recommended brands, let’s review some of the most common ingredients in laundry detergents that have been linked to health problems:
This is a big one when it comes to laundry detergents. Even the brands that are marketed as “clean” or “green” can contain mystery fragrances that can potentially cause problems. In the U.S., companies are legally allowed to hide almost 4,000 different chemicals under the word “fragrance” or “parfum,” without actually disclosing the ingredients to consumers. Some of these chemicals are safe, while others (like phthalates and VOCs) are known toxins. You can learn more about this issue right here.
Phthalates are chemicals that are often used in laundry detergents to make the scents last longer. They may or may not be listed under the ingredients because they can sneak in under the “fragrance” label. Phthalates can be endocrine disruptors, which means they can interfere with hormone functioning and lead to things like infertility and cancer.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) & Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
SLS and SLES were originally developed to degrease garage floors! As foaming agents and dirt removers, these are some of the most commonly used ingredients in laundry detergents as well as shampoos, dishwashing liquid, and other kinds of soaps. SLS and SLES have been found to irritate and inflame the skin, eyes, and lungs.
While SLES is less irritating than SLS, it can be contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane due to the way it’s made. Ethylene oxide is known to cause multiple types of cancer and infertility, and 1,4-dioxane is a carcinogen. Although ethoxylated ingredients are practically impossible to avoid completely, it’s something to consider reducing your exposure to when possible.
Some evidence links phosphates to illnesses such as cardiovascular disease. Not only that, but when they end up in our wastewater systems, phosphates can interfere with the ecosystems necessary for aquatic life health and survival.
Most of us know about formaldehyde because it’s used to preserve dead bodies, but it’s also commonly found in many laundry detergents. According to the EPA, formaldehyde is a class B1 probable carcinogen, which means it can probably cause cancer. (Although formaldehyde occurs naturally in our bodies and environments, its problems arise when included in products at high amounts.)
Most of us know that bleach is toxic, but many don’t know just how dangerous it can be. It’s often found in laundry detergents, especially ones meant for white loads. Chlorine bleach can cause burns, pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs), respiratory failure, and other health conditions.
This has been a known carcinogen since 1988. It can cause skin, eye, and lung inflammation.
Nonylphenol Ethoxylates (NPEs)
The EPA states that NPEs have been linked to hormonal problems, cancer, and infertility, and can also cause severe harm to aquatic life when it reaches waterways.
Brighteners are used to make fabrics look whiter and brighter. They’re also used to treat (read: hide) stains by coating fabric with a substance that reflects light. These brighteners can irritate skin, eyes, and lungs, and can harm aquatic life as well.
Other potentially problematic ingredients to watch out for are:
- Ammonium Laureth Sulfate (ALES)
- Ammonium Quaternary Sanitizers (Quats)
- Benzyl Acetate
- Artificial Colors, Dyes, and Preservatives
What Else To Consider When Shopping for Natural Laundry Detergent
In addition to safe ingredients, you may want to consider other factors, such as:
- Your personal preferences (do you like liquid, powder, tablets, pods, or sheets the best?)
- Other sustainability initiatives (low-waste packaging, give-back programs, refillable options, etc.)
- Your specific needs (Do you want a subscription model? Do you need something with strong stain-fighting capabilities? Do you have anyone in your family with allergies?)
The Safest Non-Toxic & Natural Laundry Detergent Brands (That Actually Work!)
All of that may be overwhelming, but the good news is that there is no shortage of natural, non-toxic, and great-smelling laundry soaps and detergents on the market. So, what is the safest laundry detergent? All of the following brands are free from ingredients that are potentially toxic and safe to use.
Branch Basics (Best Overall)
Price: $65 for Laundry Starter Kit; $22-55 for refills
Carries: Laundry detergent, oxygen booster, wool dryer balls
Certifications: MADE SAFE, EWG Verified (Environmental Working Group), Leaping Bunny
Branch Basics concentrated formula is one of the most popular multi-purpose non-toxic cleaning products. We’ve been using it around the house for years now!
Branch Basics uses safe, plant-based ingredients to make a concentrate, which you can then use to make an all-purpose spray, bathroom cleaner, streak-free spray, and laundry detergent! Even though the bottle of concentrate is a bit on the pricier side, it lasts a really long time (even if you clean a lot…).
They also offer Oxygen Boost powder and wool dryer balls to complement their safe laundry detergent. Everything is biodegradable, fragrance-free, and never tested on animals.
See our full review of Branch Basics here.
You can use the code THEFILTERY for 15% off Starter Kits.
ATTITUDE (Best Smelling Non-Toxic Laundry Detergent)
Carries: Liquid laundry detergent, fabric softener, stain remover, dryer sheets
Certifications: ECOLOGO, PETA
It can be challenging to find a non-toxic laundry detergent that truly smells good, but ATTITUDE has done it!
You can choose between scents like Wildflowers, Citrus Zest, Summer Berries, Moutain Fresh, Lavender, and Pink Grapefruit (and they have Unscented, too, if you’d prefer).
ATTITUDE’s natural laundry detergents are ECOLOGO certified, hypoallergenic, vegan & cruelty-free, and biodegradable. In addition to their liquid laundry detergent bottles and cardboard refill boxes, they also carry fabric softener, dryer sheets, and a baby-specific collection for your little ones.
Truly Free (Best for Hard Water)
Carries: Refillable liquid laundry detergent (both scented and unscented), fabric softener, oxy boost powder, stain remover, dryer sheet alternatives, laundry machine cleaner
Truly Free is a great brand in part because they offer just about every kind of household cleaning product you’d need—including a Softening Rinse for those with hard water!
Their laundry collection includes a non-toxic refillable detergent, fabric softener, enzyme stain remover and stain sticks, dryer sheet alternatives, oxygen boosters, laundry machine cleaner, and static-wrinkle releaser.
This detergent is made with plant-based ingredients, including essential oils for scent. (If you or your little ones are sensitive to essential oils too, they also have an unscented version.)
Truly Free is lighter on our planet, too. The first time you order from them, you’ll get a free container, but then after that, you’ll get refillable pouches delivered to your door.
For other parts of your home, they also offer bathroom cleaners, all-purpose cleaners, dish soaps and detergents, floor cleaners, and more.
Grab Green (Best Fragrance-Free)
Carries: Laundry detergent pods (scented and fragrance-free), bleach alternative pods, dryer sheets, and dryer balls
The team at Grab Green is committed to formulating innovative and high-performing cleaning products that are also completely safe, eco-friendly, and not tested on animals.
Although they do offer some great scents (like lavender with vanilla), their best-selling original laundry detergent is fragrance-free. Their 3-in-1 laundry detergent pods and powder actually combine detergent with a stain remover and non-toxic brightener for an effective clean. (Apparently, they even out-performed Tide in a third-party test for stain and soil removal!).
Dirty Labs (Best Non-Toxic Laundry Detergent For Stains, Sweat, and Odors)
Carries: Liquid laundry detergent, bio booster powder
Certifications: EWG Verified, National Eczema Association
Got muddy kids’ baseball uniforms? Soiled cloth diapers? Spilled coffee for the third time? If you’re looking for a safe laundry detergent that can really get the toughest jobs done, you might want to try out Dirty Labs.
They offer both Free & Clear (fragrance-free) as well as scented formulations. Their key ingredient is called Phytolase®, which is an enzyme that works to effectively break down stains. This is a great option for whites, too!
Dirty Labs is committed to true transparency, even going so far as to share the source of each of their ingredients as well as the CAS (Chemical Abstracts Service) number for each one as well, so you can look it up if you want.
Blueland (Best Low-Waste/Plastic-Free)
Price: $18 for Laundry Essentials Starter Set; $14+ for detergent refills
Carries: Laundry tablets, oxi booster, wool dryer balls
Certifications: EWG Verified, B Corp, Carbon Neutral
Blueland carries EWG-verified non-toxic and eco-friendly laundry detergent, oxi boosts, and dryer balls (along with other products like dishwasher detergent, all-purpose household cleaners, hand soap, and more).
Their refillable, fragrance-free laundry products are free of all the nasties, like petroleum derivatives, dyes and colorants, artificial fragrances, parabens, phthalates, and more. But don’t worry: it still really works—you can even check out their testing process here!
Plus, this brand is super sustainable, too. They carry a whole host of certifications like Cradle to Cradle, Leaping Bunny, Climate Neutral, B Corp, and more. Plus, all of their packaging is plastic-free and compostable.
It doesn’t hurt that their branding is super cute, too!
Rosey by Thrive Market (Most Affordable/Best Value Detergent)
Carries: Scented and unscented laundry detergent (liquid, powder, and pods)
Certifications: B Corp, Leaping Bunny
Thrive Market offers both scented and unscented detergent that comes in liquid bottles ($9.99 for 100 loads), powder ($8.99 for 70 loads), or pods ($11.99 for 45).
You can rest assured that their branded line of laundry products is safe and non-toxic. It’s free of all the potentially harmful ingredients listed above, is vegan, and is biodegradable. It uses naturally-derived enzymes to clean stains.
Thrive Market is so convenient, too—you can get a bunch of your organic and non-toxic pantry essentials, snacks, home goods, and more delivered right to your door.
(P.S. If you’re looking for the regular “Thrive Market brand” detergent, this is the same thing. They just rebranded to the “Rosey” name.)
Happi Earth (Best Organic Laundry Detergent)
Carries: Liquid laundry detergent concentrate
Certifications: Australia Certified Organic, USDA Organic
This Australia-based brand makes natural laundry detergent that’s made out of fair trade and organic ingredients. With very few synthetic ingredients, this is another good choice for those with sensitive skin. You can purchase a starter pack that comes with a sugarcane pump bottle, and then buy their low-waste refill pouches after that.
With 400 washes in one pouch, it goes a LONG way! Plus, they plant a tree with each purchase, too.
Meliora (Best Powder Detergent)
Carries: Laundry detergent powder, oxygen brightener, stain remover stick
Certifications: MADE SAFE, B Corp, Leaping Bunny
Meliora is a super safe laundry detergent brand that offers low-waste and plastic-free laundry detergent powder (both scented and unscented), oxygen brightener, and stain removal sticks.
It’s made and packaged in Chicago Illinois, and they give at least 2% of sales towards nonprofits like the Women’s Voices for the Earth, a non-profit dedicated to eliminating toxic chemicals from products.
Dropps (Best Non-Toxic Laundry Pods)
Carries: Detergent pods, fabric softener, oxi booster, dryer balls
Dropps has become one of our favorite brands in recent years for easy-to-use laundry detergent pods. They offer scented (like Lavender, Crisp & Clean, and Orange Blossom) and unscented varieties, as well as formulations for sensitive skin and babies.
Third-party tested and named EPA Safer Choice Partner of the Year in 2017, Dropps is committed to ingredient transparency and you can read in-depth about each ingredient on their website.
Plus, Dropps detergent is cruelty-free, made in the USA, supports ocean conservation, and comes in compostable packaging.
Healthybaby (Best Detergent for Babies)
Carries: Liquid detergent concentrate, wool dryer balls
Certifications: MADE SAFE, EWG Verified, B Corp
Although most of our recommended natural detergents on this list are safe for babies and kids (since they’re all free from harmful chemicals!), Healthybaby is specially formulated with little ones in mind.
It’s 100% plant and mineral-based, neurologically safe, microbiome-friendly, and even made using food-safe quality standards. Even though a bottle of the concentrated formula is a little expensive, it lasts a long time.
EcoRoots (Best for Non-Toxic Laundry Detergent Sheets)
Carries: Zero waste laundry detergent sheets, wool dryer balls
Laundry detergent sheets & strips are becoming more popular as an eco-friendly alternative to plastic-laden packaging that often comes along with conventional laundry detergent. And while it’s definitely a great sustainable option, many of the laundry sheets on the market contain some sneaky questionable ingredients.
EcoRoots, however, has a safe option for detergent sheets that work! Ultra-concentrated and lightweight, they come in Fresh Breeze or Fragrance-Free and are super easy to use. They’re biodegradable, vegan, cruelty-free, and hypoallergenic.
These are really great for traveling with, too!
Molly’s Suds (Best for Delicates)
Carries: Laundry powder, oxygen booster, wool dryer balls
Molly’s Suds has a great line for all of your laundry needs, but more specifically, they have a couple of special formulations for activewear, swimwear, and other delicates.
In addition to being safe and non-toxic, Molly’s Suds laundry detergent is certified vegan and cruelty-free. Their laundry powder is made from just five ingredients. The peppermint smells amazing, leaving your clothes incredibly fresh.
9 Elements (Best at Target)
Carries: Liquid laundry detergent, fabric softener
Many of the “green” laundry detergent brands that are available at big box stores are not as non-toxic or eco-friendly as they might seem. 9 Elements, however, is a pretty good brand. Available in Lemon and Eucalyptus, it only contains 9 ingredients (hence the name) and is scented with natural scents instead of synthetic fragrances.
The next time you run out of detergent and don’t have time to order anything online, you can feel safe grabbing a bottle of 9 Elements at the store.
You can click here to read our full breakdown of 9 Elements ingredients and here to read our review of their products’ actual effectiveness.
GO By Greenshield Organic (Best at Walmart)
Carries: Liquid laundry detergent, pet stain & odor remover
Certifications: USDA Organic, Leaping Bunny
If you need to pick up some detergent at Walmart, we recommend GO by Greenshield Organic. It’s made almost entirely of certified and plant-based ingredients, in either Free & Clear or Lavender.
What About the Best Detergent for Eczema & Sensitive Skin?
Actually, all of the detergents listed above would be good choices for those with sensitive skin or eczema since their ingredients are free from harsh chemicals, allergens, and skin irritants. That being said, since some individuals react differently to various ingredients (even some natural ones!), you may still have to do some trial and error to figure out what’s best for your or your loved ones’ skin.
Best 100% Chemical-Free Option: Magnetic Laundry System
If you’re looking for an unconventional laundry detergent alternative that’s completely free from all chemicals, you might want to check out the Magnetic Laundry System. You can read more about it and check out our full review here.
Best He Detergents: All of the above!
Unless otherwise indicated, all of the above detergents are compatible with He washing machines, so you can feel good using any of them!
Best Free And Clear Detergent
If you’re looking for a “Free & Clear” detergent, then all of the recommended brands above would fit that category since they’re all safe, free of potentially harmful ingredients, and clear of allergens and toxins.
But what about the Free & Clear versions of more conventional brands of detergent such as Tide, Gain, etc? Unfortunately, most of the time, these brands are guilty of greenwashing (marketing something as eco-friendly/natural/non-toxic when it’s really not), and these “Free & Clear” detergents still don’t make the cut when it comes to toxicity. We recommend steering clear of the conventional brands altogether if possible, and choosing one of the truly non-toxic brands above instead.
More Healthy & Non-Toxic Laundry Detergent Brands
There is truly no shortage of safe and effective laundry detergent brands on the market. Here are even more brands we approve of!
- Common Good
- Public Goods
- hello bello
- Better Life
- Whole Foods Organic
“Just” Okay Brands
These brands are “pretty good,” but they do have a couple of questionable ingredients, so they don’t quite make the cut for us.
- Tru Earth
- Earth Breeze
The Sneaky Brands!
These are the brands that come off as “natural” or “eco-friendly” but in fact contain several different problematic ingredients:
- Mrs. Meyer’s
- Charlie’s Soap
- The Laundress
- Grove Collaborative
- Lazy Coconut
*The brands with asterisks have some products that are better than others. Some of their specific products are safe while others are not.
Other Commonly Asked Questions About “Non-Toxic” Laundry Detergent
Which Laundry Detergents Are Toxic?
Here are the laundry detergents that don’t even come close to making the cut when it comes to ingredient safety. (Notice that many of them have products targeted for babies and children!)
- Arm & Hammer (with the exception of regular baking soda and their Super Washing Soda Detergent Booster & Household Cleaner)
- The Laundress
- Up & Up (Target)
- Great Value (Walmart)
Is Seventh Generation Laundry Detergent Safe?
Seventh Generation, Mrs. Meyer’s, and Method laundry detergent are perhaps the three most popular brands that are marketed as “eco-friendly” or “natural,” but are in fact guilty of greenwashing.
You’ll notice that Mrs. Meyer’s and Method are on our “Sneaky” list above; they don’t even make the cut for the “Just Okay” list. Seventh Generation, however, is a little bit different because while many of their products contain problematic ingredients, they also carry several products that are perfectly safe. So with this brand, it’s good practice to consider the products on a case-by-case basis.
The good thing about these brands is that they’re often widely available at stores like Target and Walmart, so they may be a good option if you need to pick something up at the store. Here are the Seventh Generation products that are generally safe to use (note that the baby detergents are not on this list!):
- Seventh Generation 3-In-1 Oxy Booster Packs, Free & Clear
- Seventh Generation Chlorine-Free Bleach, Free & Clear
- Seventh Generation Ultra Power Plus Laundry Detergent Packs
- Seventh Generation Zero Plastic Tablets, Fragrance Free
- Seventh Generation Laundry Detergent Packs
- Seventh Generation Natural Laundry Detergent Powder, Free & Clear
Should You DIY Laundry Detergent?
Because of the fact that there are so many non-toxic, and affordable options, you don’t necessarily need to make your own. But if you enjoy DYI-ing, there are some great, safe recipes for laundry detergent, like this one on DIY Natural!
What About Non-Toxic Dryer Sheets?
Just like with laundry detergent, dryer sheets can contain a lot of hidden ingredients that can potentially cause harm. Because they’re so concentrated, they can actually be even worse than the detergent itself. Check out this article for more information about non-toxic alternatives to dryer sheets.
With so many safe options, there is no reason you can’t stock your laundry room with clean and fresh-smelling detergents that won’t pose harm to you or your family and can still get rid of stubborn stains!
Image Credits: Karolina Grabowska, Olya Kobruseva, all product photos belong to respective brands
I was on a paid laundry and housekeeping team for a few years. Homeowner very skeptical about anything nontoxic. Using Tide, a fragrance-boosting laundry product, and chlorine bleach. Every day.
With much field-testing, we transitioned the home to GO Laundry Detergent by Green Shield Organic, and liquid peroxide bleach. Plus 365 Stain Remover that works every bit as well as Shout.
Shockingly, all in all, great results. Satisfied homeowner! But I’ll try more products from this post— a journey for sure.
Anyone read the book “Laundry Love”? By Patrick Richardson, official laundry expert who studied textiles and fashion. Promoting the least-toxic methods and ingredients that have worked for him. A must-read for professional laundresses! https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/49247159-laundry-love
Happy to discover this well-researched blog! This post now my go-to for upgrading my laundry products.
Definitely going to check out that book – thanks for the recommendation! 🙂
I use Better Life Fragrance Free, but I still find I must rinse & rinse…and RINSE my underwear or it irritates “intimate sensitive areas.” It’s still much better than Seventh Generation or Kirkland detergent, both of which irritate no matter how much I rinse. I’m allergic to benzoates, including the preservatives methylisothiazolinone and benzylisothiazolinone, as well as fragrances. I definitely need something very hypoallergenic, especially for my “intimates.” Are there any (preferably liquid/He) detergents you would recommend that might not need quite so diligently vigorous rinsing?
Oh, that’s interesting… Better Life’s fragrance free option actually looks like a good choice, so I wonder if you’ve tried just using less detergent and/or using a different setting on the washing machine? Or you could give laundry magnets a try—those don’t use any soap at all. Or you could try Soap Berries?
Would you please comment on Ecover Zero liquid laundry detergent? Thanks – we love your site and appreciate your help on so many different subjects.
So glad to hear it & thanks for the kind words! The ingredients in Ecover Zero look so-so. It seems to be free from endocrine disrupting chemicals and mystery fragrances, however, it does contain multiple preservatives that are known irritants (such as methylisothiazolinone and benzylisothiazolinone) as well as sodium lauryl sulfate, which is also an irritant. So this detergent would not be suitable for someone who struggles with things like eczema, sensitive skin, skin allergies, and things like that.
Hi Andy, for Ecover Zero, I only have experience with their liquid non-chlorine bleach. Works great for laundry whites, at least for cotton bedding and towels. I fillled in as laundress in a wealthy home, so it had to work— and it did!
My kid has sensitive skin so I’m on a journey to find the best non toxic detergent for us but I didn’t know where to start. I’m going to give Branch Basics a try. Thanks for sharing!
What about Hypoallergenic ECOS plant based detergent? I use the Lavender scent.
Also, what can I use to replace Clorox? I was using oxi clean but I see thats on the bad list. I’ve started converting my cleaning products to food grade H2O2. Maybe I can use a diluted amount into my whites?
Thanks for all the great info. 🙏🏻
Unfortunately, it looks like the ECOS Hypoallergenic Lavender has methylisothiazolinone in it, which is a known allergen. We recommend trying to stay away from that ingredient when possible, especially if you’re dealing with someone with skin issues and looking for a truly hypoallergenic product.
Instead of Clorox/OxiClean, you could try hydrogen peroxide and/or baking soda, or one of these products:
How about “All” Free and Clear?
We wouldn’t recommend this one… Although it does not contain dyes or fragrances, it does have a few “not-great” ingredients, including benzisothiazolinone (which can be a potential skin irritant) and a fluorescent brightener. A lot of these “Free & Clear” varieties from more “conventional” brands can be pretty sneaky!
All has just come out with free and clear biobased
Is this any better ?
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look any better. It still contains SLS, methylisothiazolinone, and benzisothiazolinone, which are all skin irritants and sensitizers. https://smartlabel.henkel-northamerica.com/00072613160457/p/page-1
Unfortunately, the Biobased label doesn’t really mean all that much in terms of ingredient safety.
Do the ingredients for lifekind check out as safe?
Ingredients: Vegetable-fiber chelators, soda ash, grapefruit-seed and -pulp extracts, orange-peel extract, surfactants (degreasers & conditioners from coconut), zeolites, sodium percarbonate and citrate, low-pH silicates, and sodium sulfate. 100% all-natural active ingredients with no fillers.
This ingredient list looks OKAY, but the problem is that it’s not really a full ingredient list. Ingredients like “surfactants” and “silicates” are not specific ingredients; they’re categories. I’d like to see some more transparency from this brand and I personally would use something different in the meantime!
What about Nellies.
I’d put Nellie’s in the “okay” category. It doesn’t look like their laundry soda or laundry nuggets contain any extremely problematic ingredients; however, a few of the ingredients (like Laureth-7 and Alcohol Ethoxylate) aren’t GREAT either.
The laundromat next door’s exhaust is making me ill. How can I approach them to use better products? What would be the most economical product for a laundromat? Thanks.
What about Purex Free and Clear laundry detergent? Where would that rank?
Not great, unfortunately. 🙁 It has a few potentially problematic ingredients, including Methylisothiazolinone which is a known irritant.
Where would you rank Dr. Bronner’s 18-1 soap and what are your thoughts on their ingredients?
Dr. Bronner’s soap is a great choice ingredient-wise! I personally haven’t used it for laundry detergent, so I can’t speak to its effectiveness in getting clothes clean. Maybe we’ll try it soon! But in the meantime, here are the instructions from their website:
“Laundry: 1/3-1/2 c. (80-120 mL) soap for a large load in a regular washer. Add 1 c. (240 mL) vinegar to the rinse cycle. Optional: For whitening/deodorizing, add 1/2 c. (120 mL) baking soda to wash cycle. Halve these amounts for HE washers.”
How about clean people? I love the ease of the laundry sheets!
Hi Dene! Yes, laundry sheets can definitely be a great low-waste & plastic-free option that’s just as effective as liquid detergent. We haven’t personally tried Clean People before. The specific ingredients were kind of difficult to find on their website and they’re still lacking some transparency. I’d say they’re not the best but also definitely not the worst.
I’m curious about old-fashioned Ivory Snow detergent? Have you checked it out?
Hi Lisa! I’ve checked out several of Ivory’s products, but not their Ivory Snow. It looks like they don’t actually manufacture that specific kind anymore? Anyway, it the ingredient list doesn’t look good. It looks like all of Ivory’s detergents contain several problematic ingredients, so I wouldn’t recommend it.
I just started my search for a replacement detergent since my child suddenly broke out in hives and his face swelled. The only new thing I have introduced is seventh generation lavender detergent and I have a hunch that it’s the cause. I’m reading different things on different sites so I’m wondering if Dr. Bronners is any good?
Oh no, I’m so sorry to hear that! Seventh Generation can be a sneaky one — some of their products are “clean” and some aren’t. Their lavender laundry detergent is not one I would recommend—it contains several different known irritants, including SLS and methyisothiazolinone. Dr. Bronner’s all purpose castile soap is definitely a good choice when it comes to ingredients. I haven’t actually tried using it as a laundry detergent before, but they say you can so I think it’d be worth a try!
In my experience…
Bronner’s Sal Suds works great in machine-washing— so concentrated you only need a capful. Great degreaser, too, for laundry and surfaces.
Bronner’s Castile Soap— great for laundering delicate items by hand. Seems to work fine!
Where does Norwex and Truly Green fall on your list?
Even though Norwex is better than most conventional detergent brands, it looks like do use several “not great” ingredients, so we’d put them somewhere in the “just okay” column.
I wasn’t able to find a detergent brand called Truly Green though… Do you mean Truly Free, maybe? (trulyfreehome.com) If so, this brand looks pretty good! I actually hadn’t heard of this one before, so we’ll give them a try!
So which one is the safest , but still gets your clothes clean?
Hi Sherry! All of the above brands are recommended for both safety and effectiveness. Since everyone has different preferences, opinions, budget, different water types and washing machines, etc., we aren’t necessarily recommending the ONE best brand. You might want to choose one or two brands that look good to you and then try them so if what you personally like best!
What do you think about the 9 Elements brand?
9 Elements’ products look pretty good. The main concern would be the alcohol ethoxylates, which can potentially be contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4 dioxane, which pose health risks. (Ethoxylated ingredients are pretty common though, to be honest, so it’s pretty hard to avoid them completely.) If you’re out of detergent and in a bind and need to grab a store-bought brand, I would feel okay about getting this one!
Thanks for being on top of sneaky ingredients!
What about branch basics
Branch Basics is great! It’s simple, multi-purpose, and carries the MADE SAFE certification for safe ingredients. We’ll consider adding them to this article.
Its Really Informative content . thanks for sharing
what about Charlie’s soap? Where should that be on the list of better/best or not at all?
Hi Norma! We’d put Charlie’s on the “okay/better” list. It’s free from a lot of the worst offenders, including SLS/SLES and fragrance. However, all of Charlie’s laundry detergent varieties contain ethoxylated ingredients (which can be contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane – both of which are toxic). Their powder versions also include sodium metasilicate, which can be an irritant for some.