Why make the switch to non-toxic laundry detergent?

It’s kind of ironic: you put your clothes, bed sheets, and towels through the washing machine, expecting them to come out fresh and clean… but really, you just end up coating them with a bunch of harsh chemicals that could potentially cause health problems for you and your loved ones.

Most conventional laundry detergent brands on the market are made with ingredients that have been linked to everything from allergies and skin irritation all the way to cancer. Even many of the baby detergents and “Free & Clear” versions contain chemicals that could potentially pose a risk to your health.

There are so many great-smelling, clean laundry detergent brands that are completely effective, so why NOT choose the safer bet? Below are my researched and recommended brands for the safest laundry detergent.

I am always trying out new non-toxic laundry detergents, so I update this guide pretty much every year as I try new brands (and also use products for longer periods of time). I’ve used each of these brands for at least a month, so I can tell you that they actually do get your clothes clean. Many of them I’ve used for years now. (Yes, there is a ridiculous number of detergent containers in my laundry closet, hah!)

Anyway, all that said, everyone definitely has their preferences. Some people love that “fresh laundry” scent, while others absolutely have to stick with fragrance-free. Some people like powders, while others prefer liquid or tablets.

So, while I’ve vetted all of these brands, you still might have to try out a few brands until you find the best fit for you and your household! But my hope is that this guide will help save you a lot of time (and potential frustration!).

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Table of Contents

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My Picks for 2023 (at a Glance!)

My favorite overall clean detergent: ATTITUDE

My pick for the best fragrance-free laundry detergent: Branch Basics (discount code: THEFILTERY)

Best smelling non-toxic laundry detergent: ATTITUDE Mountain Fresh

Best non-toxic laundry detergent pods: Blueland

Most affordable non-toxic laundry detergent: Rosey by Thrive Market

Safest option that’s available at Target: 9 Elements

Clean option at Walmart and best certified organic laundry detergent: GO by GreenShield Organic

Certified organic runner-up: Happi Earth

My favorite safe powdered laundry detergent: Meliora

My pick for tough stains & odors: Dirty Labs (Free & Clear)

Best safe laundry detergent for babies: Healthybaby

Best clean laundry detergent brand for delicates: Molly’s Suds

Best healthy laundry detergent for whites: AspenClean

Best toxin-free laundry detergent for hard water: Truly Free + the softening rinse (discount code: THEFILTERY)

My favorite non-toxic stain remover: Meliora Stain Stick

What Are the Harmful Effects of Detergents?

Whether or not your laundry detergent will actually cause issues depends on many different factors, including age, total toxic burden, and pre-existing health issues. Those who have sensitivities or chronic health concerns (which is becoming an increasingly larger portion of the population) may be more likely to react negatively to the ingredients in common laundry detergents compared to others.

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
  • Infertility
  • Damage to vision
  • Cancer
  • Organ damage

Even those individuals who don’t have strong or immediate allergic reactions to laundry detergents would do well to consider switching to a safer alternative since many of these chemicals can cause damage when used over long periods of time. This is especially true when we consider the cumulative effect of all of the different toxicants we’re exposed to on a daily basis.

RELATED: These are the best non-toxic cleaning products for your whole home.

best natural non-toxic safe laundry detergent brands on TheFiltery.com

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:

Mystery Fragrances

This is a big one when it comes to laundry detergents. Even the brands that are marketed as “clean” or “green” can contain hidden harmful chemicals under what’s commonly referred to as the “fragrance loophole.”

In the U.S., companies are legally allowed to hide over 3,500 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) are known toxins. You can learn more about this issue right here.

Phthalates

As I just mentioned, phthalates are chemicals that are often used in laundry detergents to make the scents last longer. (Again, they will not be explicitly listed on the ingredient label because they’re added under the “fragrance” umbrella.) Phthalates are endocrine disruptors, which means they can interfere with hormone functioning and lead to things like infertility and cancer.

Harsh Surfactants

Surfactants like sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) are commonly used in laundry detergents (as well as other cleaning and personal care products) as foaming agents and dirt removers. However, SLS is classified as an irritant and can inflame the skin, eyes, and lungs (especially if you already have sensitive skin, eczema, allergies, etc.).

Toxic Preservatives

Most consumer goods need to come with some sort of preservative in order to prevent mold and bacteria growth (which is really important!). But some preservatives are safer than others.

You may have heard of parabens, which are preservatives that can potentially cause hormone disruption.

You’ll also want to watch out for isothiazolinone preservatives, which include benzisothiazolinone, methylisothiazolinone, and methylchloroisothiazolinone. These are potential allergens and skin sensitizers, so those with allergies, eczema, or other sensitivities will want to be especially careful about avoiding them. They’re common in many of the most popular laundry detergents, even some of the ones marketed as “green.”

Chlorine Bleach

Most of us are at least somewhat aware that bleach can be harmful, but many don’t know just how dangerous it can be. It’s often found in laundry detergents that are meant for white loads. Chlorine bleach can cause burns, pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs), respiratory failure, and other health conditions.

UV/Optical Brighteners

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.

This isn’t necessarily a complete list of potentially harmful chemicals you might find in laundry detergent, but those are some of the most common ones!

Are Laundry Detergent Pods & Sheets Actually Eco-Friendly?

Detergent pods and sheets have become super popular in recent years. Not only are they easy to use, but they are often touted as being a more sustainable option than conventional detergent options because they don’t come in big plastic jugs and they are much lighter weight (so the shipping footprint is smaller).

However, most detergent pods and sheets are actually made from plastic called polyvinyl alcohol, or PVA. Even though this “liquid plastic” dissolves in water, it’s currently unclear whether or not these microscopic plastic pieces actually biodegrade under real-world circumstances (when we wash them down our drains) or whether they’re actually just contributing to our microplastic pollution problem.

Considering all of this, I’ve slowly been transitioning away from PVA detergent pods and sheets when I can. So for this 2023 update, I’ve removed the PVA pods and sheets from my recommendations and switched my recommendation to a PVA-free tablet from Blueland instead.

Again, all of this is very much still “up in the air.” I would say that detergent pods that use clean ingredients are probably not the worst option (at least until we have more information), but I can’t wholeheartedly recommend them either. I think you’d be better off using a refillable bottle of liquid detergent that doesn’t potentially wash millions of nanoplastics down the drain every time you do a load of laundry.

If you DO decide you want to use pods, here are the brands that are otherwise made with non-toxic ingredients:

What’s the Best Clean Laundry Detergent for Cold Water?

I almost always use cold water (or tap cold) when I do my laundry, so I’ve tested all of the safe laundry detergent brands below in cold water.

But I’ve also added notes below indicating whether or not each brand is formulated specifically for use in cold water. I’m still waiting to hear back from some of them, and I will add the rest of the info when I hear back.

So far, Molly’s Suds and Happi Earth are the two eco-friendly laundry detergent brands that have said their detergents work better in warm or hot water (although they say you can still use it in cold water, which is what I do most of the time).

(Washing clothes in cold water conserves energy by avoiding the need to heat water, and it can help preserve fabric quality and color longevity.)

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, or tablets the best? Do you want fragrance-free or something that smells good?)
  • Your shopping habits (Do you like to order online and sign up for an automated subscription? Or do you like to grab your detergent at your local store?)
  • Other sustainability initiatives (Low-waste packaging, give-back programs, refillable options, etc.)
  • Your specific needs (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, eco-friendly laundry detergent brands 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.

Oh, and almost all of these laundry detergent brands are not only non-toxic but also vegan, cruelty-free, biodegradable, septic-safe, and suitable for all washing machine types (including He and front-loaders).


ATTITUDE (My pick for the best overall non-toxic laundry detergent)

best non-toxic laundry detergent from ATTITUDE on TheFiltery.com

Price: $17+
Carries: Liquid laundry detergent, fabric softener, stain remover, and more
Certifications: EWG Verified, ECOLOGO, PETA
Formulated for Cold Water? Yes

One of the reasons ATTITUDE has earned the “best overall for 2023” from me is the fact that they have a variety of options, so you can shop based on your preferences.

For example, they have some non-toxic laundry detergents that smell really good (I’ll tell you my favorite scent in a minute), but they also have fragrance-free options for those who are sensitive to smells and/or just prefer to skip the fragrances altogether. Some of their natural laundry detergent options (the ones in the Home Essentials Collection) are scented with only essential oils.

No matter which option you’re considering, you’ll find all of the ingredients listed clearly on the product page.

They also have refill options, which come in a larger cardboard box with a bag of detergent inside. (Even though it’s called a “refill,” I personally don’t refill my bottle; I just use the detergent straight from the box. I just use an old plastic cap and pour the detergent straight from the spigot on the box. It’s actually much easier because the opening is on the bottom of the container, so you don’t have to worry about turning the bottle upside down to get the last of it out of the container!)

ATTITUDE’s natural laundry detergents are all EWG Verified, which means they have been vetted against the Environmental Working Group’s list of approved and restricted substances. They’re also 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.

[Note that some of ATTITUDE’s packaging contains the word “fragrance,” which is usually a red flag. This is because of EWG’s verification process, as they explain:

“Please note that our products have always contained fragrances of natural origin (except for unscented products). The only thing that has changed is the way we display this information on our packaging. EWG has requested that we add the term *fragrance (parfum) to our list of ingredients because their internal standard now make it mandatory for companies to indicate which ingredients are part of the fragrance.

You can find links to their full list of fragrance ingredients on each product page.]


Branch Basics (My pick for the best fragrance-free non-toxic laundry detergent)

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
Formulated for Cold Water? Yes

One of the reasons I love Branch Basics is because it’s truly an all-purpose product. You buy a bottle of The Concentrate, and then you dilute it into different bottles to make cleaning sprays (like all-purpose, bathroom, and streak-free), as well as laundry detergent. It’s so simple, and you have to buy a lot fewer products overall (which means less researching, shopping around, and reading ingredient labels!).

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. I use their Oxygen Boost a lot, just to give my laundry an extra boost (even if I’m using a different brand of detergent for that load).

Everything is biodegradable, fragrance-free, and never tested on animals.

I have been using Branch Basics for years now! If you’re curious to learn more, you can check out my full review of Branch Basics here.

Other non-toxic laundry detergents that offer fragrance-free options include ATTITUDE, Blueland, Rosey, GreenSheild Organic (available at Walmart), Meliora, Dirty Labs, MamaSuds, Truly Free, AspenClean, and Molly’s Suds.

You can use the code THEFILTERY for 15% off Starter Kits.


ATTITUDE Mountain Fresh (My pick for the best smelling non-toxic laundry detergent)

best smelling non-toxic laundry detergent from ATTITUDE on TheFiltery.com

Price: $17+
Carries: Liquid laundry detergent, fabric softener, stain remover, and more
Certifications: EWG Verified, ECOLOGO, PETA
Formulated for Cold Water? Yes

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, Mountain Fresh, Lavender, and Pink Grapefruit (and of course, they have Unscented too, if you’d prefer).

My personal favorite is the Mountain Fresh. A couple of weeks after I started using this scent, my husband actually said, “Our laundry has been smelling so good lately!” (He is not always happy about the fact that I have significantly reduced the amount of fragrance in our household since we first met, so he likes it when I use fragranced products! 😆)


Blueland (My pick for the best non-toxic laundry detergent pods)

Price: $25 for Laundry Essentials Starter Set; $37+ for detergent refills
Carries: Laundry tablets, oxi booster, wool dryer balls
Certifications: EWG Verified (fragrance-free), B Corp, Carbon Neutral
Formulated for Cold Water? Yes (any temp)

As I mentioned above, I used to recommend a couple of non-toxic laundry detergent pods that are made of PVA. But I’m switching my “best laundry detergent pods” recommendation to Blueland because they’re one of the only brands that offers pods that are not made using PVA plastic.

Their detergent is fragrance-free and EWG verified. The Starter Kit comes with a tin, which you can then refill as many times as you want. The refills come in paper bags which are technically compostable (even though they can only be composted in an industrial facility at this time, which is unfortunate).

I should say these are more like “tablets” than “pods,” but they work the same way—just grab one and throw it in the washer. Some of the tablets do tend to break during shipping, but personally, that doesn’t bother me. When I get to the bottom of my tin, I just throw in the equivalent of a full tablet (I just eyeball it).

They also carry oxi boost laundry powder and dryer balls, along with other products like dishwasher detergent, all-purpose household cleaners, hand soap, body wash, and more. (Note that not all of their products are fragrance-free and/or EWG Verified, so make sure to check the specific product before buying.)

Their refillable, fragrance-free laundry products are free from potential toxins such as petroleum derivatives, dyes and colorants, artificial fragrances, parabens, phthalates, and more. As for the effectiveness, you can check out their testing process here!

They carry a handful of other certifications too, like Cradle to Cradle, Leaping Bunny, Climate Neutral, and B Corp.

If you’re trying Blueland for the first time, there’s very little risk involved because they offer a 100-Day Money Back Guarantee (within the US).

It doesn’t hurt that their branding is super cute, too.

P.S. My one tip for you is to make sure you put the pod into the washing machine before you add your clothes in order to make sure it dissolves properly.


Rosey by Thrive Market (My pick for the most affordable/best value non-toxic laundry detergent)

most affordable non-toxic laundry detergent Rosey by Thrive Market on TheFiltery.com

Price: $8.99+
Carries: Scented and unscented laundry detergent (liquid, powder, and pods)
Certifications: B Corp, Leaping Bunny
Formulated for Cold Water? Yes (although they say the powdered versions work better with warm or hot water)

Thrive Market offers both scented (Lavender and Peppermint) and unscented detergent that comes in liquid bottles ($9.99 for 100 loads), powder ($8.99 for 70 loads), or pods ($12.99 for 45). (But as I mentioned, I don’t necessarily wholeheartedly recommend those since they’re made with PVA.)

This detergent gets the job done, and I like how the Lavender scented one leaves my clothing with just a light (but now overpowering) scent.

They also have other laundry products now too, including Oxygen Brightening Powder, Wrinkle Release Spray, and Chlorine-Free Bleach.

Rosey’s detergent is free of potentially harmful ingredients, is vegan, and is biodegradable. It uses naturally derived enzymes to clean stains.

In my opinion, one of the best parts about buying your detergent from Thrive Market is how convenient it is… You can get a bunch of your organic and non-toxic pantry essentials, snacks, home goods, and more delivered right to your door.

(Oh, and by the way… If you’re looking for the regular “Thrive Market brand” detergent, this is the same thing. They just rebranded to the “Rosey” name.)


9 Elements (The best non-toxic laundry detergent at Target)

9 Elements Laundry Detergent Review on TheFiltery.com

Price: $15.99
Carries: Liquid laundry detergent, fabric softener
Certifications: None
Formulated for Cold Water? Yes

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, Lavender, Eucalyptus, and now Citrus, 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 my full breakdown of 9 Elements ingredients and here to read my review of their products’ actual effectiveness. But to summarize my thoughts on the laundry detergent for you here: it’s nothing amazing, but it gets the job done! I don’t love the smell—it’s “vinegar-y” when you put it into the washing machine—BUT the scent is gone by the time your clothes go through the cycle, so it’s not a huge deal to me.

The other laundry detergent brands at Target that are pretty good are Everspring and Seventh Generation. (These aren’t the best brands since they have a few not-great ingredients, but they’re definitely better than conventional brands, especially if you’re in a bind and just need to grab something quick.)


GO By GreenShield Organic (The best organic laundry detergent at Walmart)

best certified organic laundry detergent from GreenShield Organic on TheFiltery.com

Price: $39+
Carries: Liquid laundry detergent
Certifications: USDA Organic, Leaping Bunny

GO by GreenShield Organic gets my pick for the best natural laundry detergent that you can get at Walmart AND it has also earned my choice for the best certified organic laundry detergent.

In fact, there are very few laundry detergent brands that are certified organic, but GreenSheild is certified by USDA. It uses safe, nourishing, and effective ingredients like organic soapberry, coconut oil, honeysuckle, and more. (It’s almost entirely made of plant-based ingredients.)

It’s available in both Free & Clear (fragrance-free) and Lavender.

So the next time you’re at Walmart and need to grab something quick, I recommend going with GO by GreenShield Organic!


Happi Earth (My “runner-up” pick for the best certified organic laundry detergent)

best organic laundry detergent from Happi Earth on TheFiltery.com

Price: $50+
Carries: Liquid laundry detergent concentrate
Certifications: Australian Certified Organic, USDA Organic
Formulated for Cold Water? No. (They recommend warm or hot water.)

I actually like Happi Earth better than GreenSheild Organic, but the reason it only gets my “runner-up” pick is that it’s based in Australia and, it’s harder for me to justify the shipping and carbon footprint costs since I live in the States.

That said, I really do like this organic detergent! It’s made out of fair trade and organic ingredients, is cruelty-free, and is refillable. You can purchase a starter pack that comes with a pump bottle, and then buy their low-waste refill pouches after that.

With very few synthetic ingredients, this is another good choice for those with sensitive skin.

With 400 washes in one pouch, it goes a LONG way! Plus, they plant a tree with each purchase, too.


Meliora (My pick for the best non-toxic powdered detergent)

Price: $19+
Carries: Laundry detergent powder, oxygen brightener, stain remover stick
Certifications: MADE SAFE, B Corp, Leaping Bunny
Formulated for Cold Water? Yes (any temp)

One of the reasons I really like Meliora in general is that it’s one of the few brands that has managed to be both very low-waste/plastic-free and truly non-toxic.

That’s why it’s my favorite powder option AND one of my favorite low-waste/plastic-free laundry detergents.

Meliora offers Unscented as well as Lavender, Lavender-Lemon, and Lavender-Lemon-Clove. My personal favorite is the Lavender one—it really smells like fresh Lavender, and it doesn’t have that “synthetic” undertone that some other “Lavender” scented products come with. It’s just a light, pleasant smell that isn’t overwhelming.

The first time you buy this eco-friendly laundry detergent, it comes in a tin, but then you can buy refills that either come in a paper bag or a huge bucket!

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.

Meliora also carries oxygen boost powder (for a bleach alternative). They also got my pick for the best stain remover, but I’ll tell you more about that in a minute.


Dirty Labs (Best non-toxic laundry detergent for stains, sweat, and odors)

best non toxic laundry detergent for stains odors dirty labs on TheFiltery.com

Price: $26+
Carries: Liquid laundry detergent, bio booster powder
Certifications: EWG Verified (Free & Clear only), National Eczema Association (Free & Clear only), EPA Safer Choice, USDA Certified BioBased
Formulated for Cold Water? Yes

Got muddy kids’ baseball uniforms? Soiled cloth diapers? Spilled coffee on your shirt? If you’re looking for a safe laundry detergent that can remove tough stains, 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. Even though some of their options do contain fragrances, they list each one right on the product page, so it’s very easy for you to find. None of the fragrances include ingredients that are on the California Prop 65 list or the EU allergen list.

For me, the Free & Clear detergent gets my clothes clean and leaves them smelling like nothing when they come out of the dryer. It’s very concentrated, so a little goes a long way!


Healthybaby (My pick for the best non-toxic laundry detergent for babies)

best non-toxic laundry detergent for babies from Healthynest on TheFiltery.com

Price: $35+
Carries: Liquid detergent concentrate, wool dryer balls
Certifications: MADE SAFE, EWG Verified, B Corp
Formulated for Cold Water? Yes (any temp)

In my opinion, pretty much any of the eco-friendly laundry detergents on this list are safe for babies since they’re all free from things like endocrine-disrupting chemicals and harsh allergens.

But if you want to a great non-toxic laundry detergent that’s formulated specifically for babies, then Healthybaby is a great choice.

It’s 100% plant and mineral-based, suitable for sensitive skin, neurologically safe, microbiome-friendly, and even made using food-safe quality standards.

You can start with their Laundry System, which comes with a glass bottle of detergent (with a pump) and some wool dryer balls. After that, you can sign up for a subscription and get a refill of the glass bottle delivered to your door as often as you need it. Like many of the other brands listed here, it’s a concentrate, so a little goes a long way.

I personally really like the glass bottle with the pump. It’s easier to use than a plastic jug with a cap and it also just looks nicer in the laundry room.


MamaSuds (My runner-up for non-toxic baby laundry detergent)

natural non-toxic laundry detergent from MamaSuds on TheFiltery.com

Price: $12+
Carries: Liquid laundry soap, oxygen powder, laundry stain stick, wool dryer balls
Certifications: None
Formulated for Cold Water? Yes (all temps)

One thing I really like about MamaSuds is that it’s a very small business, and their products are made by everyday people like you and me. (They say it’s “Made by Mamas, FOR Mamas”!).

Their natural laundry detergent is made with very minimal ingredients (literally 3 to 5, plus water). It comes in Unscented, Lavender, and Lemon, and you can get it in a 16 oz bottle or a 64 oz jug (and you can get a pump to go with it for easy dispensing).

They also have a Fine Linen Soap, which is specifically formulated for your delicates, and an Extra Strength Oxygen Powder, which can be used as a bleach alternative or just a general laundry booster.

They also have other cleaning products that I like too, including all-purpose cleaners, body wash, and more.

(P.S. Note that MamaSuds detergent does contain sodium borate, aka borax. I personally don’t have a problem with that, but some people choose to avoid it.)


Molly’s Suds (Best for delicates)

best non-toxic laundry detergent brands Molly's Suds on TheFiltery.com

Price: $15+
Carries: Laundry powders, oxygen booster, wool dryer balls, stain remover
Certifications: Leaping Bunny (Cruelty-Free)
Formulated for Cold Water? They say you can use it in cold water, but it works better in warm/hot.

Honestly, I use any and all of the laundry detergent brands listed above for my delicates… But if you want options that are formulated specifically for different types of clothing, Molly’s Suds is a great option.

In addition to their original laundry detergent, they also have a few different kinds of Activewear Washes (powder and liquid), Delicate Wash, Swimwear Cleaner, Baby Detergent, and Dark Wash.

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 super fresh.

Shop Molly’s Suds on Thrive Market, Grove, Walmart, or MollysSuds.com


AspenClean (Best non-toxic laundry detergent for whites)

best non-toxic laundry detergent for whites from Aspen Clean on TheFiltery.com

Price: $18+
Carries: Laundry detergent, oxygen bleach alternative powder, and lots of other cleaning products
Certifications: EWG Verified, ECOCERT
Formulated for Cold Water? Yes (any temp)

It’s hard for me to choose the best non-toxic laundry detergent for whites because there are a lot of good options that carry oxygen powders that can give the detergent’s cleaning abilities an extra boost (both for whites and colors). But it seems to me like AspenClean’s powder works slightly better than the others, which is why it gets my “best for whites” pick.

I also use AspenClean’s liquid laundry detergent, which comes in Fragrance-Free, Lavender, and Eucalyptus. It’s all free from things like artificial colors, synthetic fragrance, SLS/SLES, and more.

The other brands that carry oxygen boost powders that work well as bleach alternatives are Branch Basics, Meliora, Dirty Labs, Molly’s Suds, and Truly Free. I have used all of these products and I think they’re all good choices!

(If you’ve never used oxygen boost powders before, you should know that they don’t work as well as bleach does when it comes to literally bleaching things. They’re great as stain removers / pre-treatments, and they generally work to give your clothing a better clean. Obviously, they’re a much safer option than conventional bleach, though.)


Truly Free (Best for hard water)

Best non-toxic laundry detergent for hard water Truly Free on TheFiltery.com

Price: $18+
Carries: Refillable liquid laundry detergent (scented and unscented), fabric softener, oxy boost powder, stain remover, dryer sheet alternatives, laundry machine cleaner
Certifications: None
Formulated for Cold Water? Yes (any temp)

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.

Use the code THEFILTERY for 30% off your order.


Meliora Stain Stick (My pick for the best non-toxic stain remover)

Best non toxic stain removers on TheFiltery Meliora

Price: $4.99
Carries: Soap Stick Stain Remover, powdered laundry detergent, oxygen brightener, other home cleaning products
Certifications: MADE SAFE, Leaping Bunny (cruelty-free)

I actually have a whole post where I tested different non-toxic stain removers, and although there were a lot of good options, the one that took the prize was Meliora. I found it to be the most effective with the least amount of “elbow grease.”

Plus, I like that it’s affordable and very low-waste/plastic-free.


What About the Best Detergent for Eczema & Sensitive Skin?

Actually, all of the detergents listed above would be good options 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. In general though, I would recommend that those with eczema, rosacea, or otherwise sensitive skin go with any of the fragrance-free options.

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 & Clear Detergent

In general, “Free & Clear” indicates that a detergent is free from dyes and perfumes. But you have to be careful because there isn’t any real, enforced “standard” when it comes to putting this label on detergents and other products.

Some conventional laundry detergent brands offer Free & Clear versions of their detergents, but some of them are greenwashed and have snuck in fragrance ingredients and/or potential irritants.

Any of the fragrance-free options from the recommended brands above are great options for laundry detergents that are truly “Free & Clear.”


“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 me.

  • BioKleen*
  • Cleancult
  • Tru Earth
  • Brandless
  • Puracy
  • Earth Breeze
  • Ecos*
  • EcoMe*

The Sneaky Brands!

These are the brands that come off as “natural” or “eco-friendly” but in fact contain several different problematic ingredients:

*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!)

  • Ajax
  • All
  • Arm & Hammer (with the exception of regular baking soda and their Super Washing Soda Detergent Booster & Household Cleaner)
  • Cheer
  • Clorox
  • Downy
  • Dreft
  • Dynamo
  • Era
  • Fab
  • Gain
  • Kirkland
  • LA’s
  • OxyClean
  • Persil
  • Resolve
  • Shout
  • Suavitel
  • Sun
  • The Laundress
  • Tide
  • Up & Up (Target)
  • Great Value (Walmart)
  • Xtra

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!

If you found this article helpful and would like to get more of my low-tox lifestyle tips delivered to your inbox once a week, sign up for Filtered Fridays!


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About Abbie

Abbie Davidson is the Creator & Editor of The Filtery. With almost a decade of experience in sustainability, she researches and writes content with the aim of helping people minimize environmental toxins in an in-depth yet accessible way.


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46 Comments

  1. 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.

    1. Not great, unfortunately. 🙁 It has a few potentially problematic ingredients, including Methylisothiazolinone which is a known irritant.

        1. Hi Rebecca,
          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.”

    1. 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.

    1. 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.

  2. 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?

    1. 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!

      1. 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!

    1. Hi Linda,

      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!

    1. 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!

      1. Hi Lisa,

        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!

    1. 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.

    1. 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.