Best Natural Laundry Detergent
You don’t have to be sick, a hippie or have babies to look for safer and cleaner ways of doing your laundry. The shift in awareness has been on the rise as we see more and more individuals come to terms and recognize the harsh affects of chemicals and toxins found in household products and how they affect our health and the environment.
When looking to find a cleaner way to do your laundry, finding a natural detergent is a must. There are a few things to look for besides clean laundry, I expect it to be good for my health, the environment as well as smell and feel soft and fresh.
Not all green laundry detergent or eco friendly laundry detergents are equal. Many are basic laundry soap that will eventually ruin your clothes but, most importantly, they also contain toxins and endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDC), which are not just irritants to the skin and cause allergies, they can directly affect our endocrine system, lead, trigger or enhance autoimmune conditions and all sorts of other health issues.
Traditional powder or liquid laundry detergent must be avoided. While they might clean well and for obvious reasons are bad for our health, they are also very harmful to the environment. They are typically full of phosphates, which are known to build up in our waterways leading to eutrophication and causing large blooms of algae that reduce the oxygen in the water and kill animal life as well as plant life.
What does this all mean? It means that we have to be smart when it comes to the detergent we choose. Opting for a brand that is safe, contains natural ingredients and eco-friendly that will thoroughly clean your clothes should be the way to go. Depending on where you live, some brands may not be available or out of stock as different countries have different restrictions on ingredients, but most are available in the US and Canada, as well as other regions of the world
Suggestions for the Best
Natural Laundry Detergent
While it’s important to know what you are looking for, here are some suggestions to get you started. These are safe, eco-friendly, toxic-free laundry detergents that are tough on stains and odors but easy on our health and the environment.
All products we featured in this article are ranked A+ on EWG.org, one of the largest privately owned organizations providing research on products safety, founded by individuals and grant revenue foundations, who care about consumers health and the environment.
EWG mission is to empower us to take control of the chemicals in our environment, and demand that our health comes first. They have a ranking system from A+ to F and you’d be surprised to find out (or not) that most common products found on the shelf are F rated and impose a huge risk on our health.
Taking it One Step Further…
Not only our entire list of Safe Laundry Detergents is ranked A+, it also features products with limited ingredients, which means, posing the least risk possible, so you can look at it as A+++. Yes, our list is the strictest list on the web.
Make yourself a habit and become familiar with EWG. It offers a huge database which lets you search and find the ranking of products you currently use, and also conduct your own research before purchasing new products.
Keep in mind that sometimes A+ by EWG may still contain questionable ingredients so if you wish to take it one step further and apply stricter standards, keep doing your research until you are happy with the results, or just wait for our next featured article. We are committed to apply and provide you with the highest standards when it comes to the safety of our health.
We have already done the hard work for you with respects to safe laundry detergents and highly suggest sticking to our top five. They are, by far, your best shot at hypoallergenic, allergy free laundry detergents available in the market, posing minimum risk to our health and the environment.
As a rule of thumb, fewer ingredients are always better. Less exposure equals less risk and our goal should always be opting for products with limited ingredients.
Without further ado, let’s jump right in!
#1 Molly’s Suds Laundry Detergent Powder, Unscented
By far the best! Contains only 4 ingredients and even the most sensitive people with allergies have highly rated this product for sensitivity and performance. All ingredients are natural, derived from nature.
This laundry detergent also cleans very well; it has a scented and unscented version. Highly sensitive people should opt for the unscented version as it has fewer ingredients. The scented version is also a safe option, adding one more ingredient to the list in a form of a natural essential oil, so you don’t need to worry about the severe effects of fragrance and other chemicals on our health and on the endocrine system.
Just a quick reminder that “Fragrance” listed in any type of product is a chemical, more specifically, it is an Endocrine Disruptor Chemical that is linked to cancer, reproductive issues, obesity, diabetes, developmental disorders, asthma and many more.
Unfortunately, today there are no regulations or product safety labeling laws to protect consumers and hold manufactures accountable to share more information about the type of chemicals used to create fragrance, as these are considered “trade secretes”.
In other words, manufacturers can create whatever toxic cocktail they like and call it “fragrance” without owing explanations to anyone, which is absurd and an outrage! A simple and innocent word like “fragrance” on the label can be used to hide more than 100 toxic chemicals. Stay away from fragrance and move closer towards products with high quality, organic, natural essential oils, or better yet, unscented.
Other than being Ranked A+ on EWG and containing only four earth-derived ingredients, what makes Molly’s Suds Original Laundry Detergent our #1 one choice is:
It is specifically designed for those who are chemically sensitive or have sensitive skin, allergies, eczema, fragrance sensitivities and for newborn baby clothing and bedding. It is safe for all fibers except silk and leather – including synthetic blends and natural fibers with no risk of fading. Molly’s Suds Unscented Laundry Detergent is also vegan and Certified Cruelty Free.
Molly’s Suds formula gently and effectively cleans even the dirtiest garments while producing minimal suds, so it will not damage or harm High Efficiency (HE) machine sensors. It also doesn’t contain any synthetic foaming chemicals, which means you get a natural, effective, and low-suds clean.
It is highly recommended to pre-treat tough stains before washing. Wet the stained area from the inside out with cool water, make a paste of the Laundry Powder and apply over the stain, gently brushing into the garment, allow setting before rinsing and laundering as usual.
It is our #1 for effectiveness and limited four earth-derived ingredients.
Molly’s Suds Original Laundry Detergent Powder list of ingredients:
Sodium carbonate (sourced from the Green River Basin in WY), sodium bicarbonate, magnesium sulfate (heptahydrate), unrefined sea salt.
#2 Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soap, Baby Unscented
Chances are that you most likely have heard of Dr. Bronner’s castile soap or familiar with the brand. This is a highly concentrated soap, which when diluted can be used for many different options, hence, so called, “18 in 1”.
Most common uses of Dr. Bronner’s soaps are; washing dishes by hand, mopping floors, all-purpose cleaning, washing windows, scrubbing toilets, controlling dust mites, ants and aphids, aromatherapy, bathing such as; making your own shampoo, body wash, face wash, hand wash, shaving, also washing dogs, rinsing fruit and even brushing your teeth according to Dr. Bronner’s website, and of course, how can we forget, it can also be used as a laundry detergent.
We would most likely pass on the rinsing fruit and brushing your teeth parts but everything else offers a relatively safe experience.
Dr. Bronner’s castile soap is made with over 90% organic ingredients and 70% certified fair-trade ingredients.
All ingredients are listed as all-natural, vegan, plant based that pose no threat to the environment, not containing synthetic preservatives, thickeners, or foaming agents, never tested on animals and are cruelty-free.
The package itself is also listed to be 100% post-consumer recycled plastic, diverting discarded plastic from landfills by using & increasing demand for recycled plastic bottles. This eliminates waste and has a positive environmental impact.
As well as our #1 featured laundry detergent, it comes in a scented and unscented version. The scented version contains natural essential oils, and if you are highly sensitive or extra precautious you may as well want to stick to the unscented version.
In addition, all scented versions even in our #1 top ranked laundry detergents, do not disclose information about their essential oils, what brand they use, if they make their own and what sources or process are involved. For that reason, it is probably best to stick to the unscented version and purchase high quality brands essential oils and add them to the mix.
How to use Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap as a laundry detergent in a regular washer?
1/3-1/2 c. (80-120 mL) of Pure-Castile Liquid soap for each large load.
When washing something grubbier, like towels, you may also add in a ½ c. (120 mL) of baking soda.
If you have hard water, you may add 1 cup (240 mL) of vinegar to the rinse water via the fabric softener compartment. HE washing machine can use halve these amounts.
More recipes and dilutions can be found on Dr. Bronner’s website.
Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soaps ingredients are:
Water, organic coconut oil, potassium hydroxide, organic olive oil, organic hemp oil, organic jojoba oil, citric acid, and tocopherol.
We were mainly concerned about the tocopherol, citric acid and potassium hydroxide.
A source of Vitamin E commonly found in supplements and foods, however we don’t know if Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap contains the synthetic form, made in a lab from cheap chemicals or 100% natural, even though Dr. Bronner claims to only use plant- based ingredients.
Same thing as above, it is a common additive found in packaged foods and other packaged products, and acts as a preservative. While found naturally in citrus fruits, it’s not economical to use fruit-derived citric acid as a food additive and definitely not in household products. Most citric acid found in food is a commodity chemical produced by Calcium hydroxide and sulfuric acid.
“We would all love to think that citric acid comes from an orange, but it does not,” says Mary Mulry, PhD, a food scientist and founder of consulting firm FoodWise. “It comes from a chemical process.” Pfizer was the leading producer of citric acid for decades. Today, leaders include Archer Daniels Midland Co. and Cargill.
The tocopherol and citric acid still somewhat pass our strict safety standards but our main concern was actually the potassium hydroxide.
Better known as lye – a base for practically every homemade soap maker. It’s inorganic, harsh and corrosive. Dr. Bronner has addressed this issue by stating that no potassium hydroxide remains after saponifying oils into soap and glycerin.
Dr. Bronner is not making a false claim by stating potassium hydroxide disappears during saponification, which is the process of mixing acid and alkaline that seems to result in just glycerine and potassium/sodium salt.
That doesn’t mean the information above shouldn’t be taken with a grain of salt, no pun intended, as at the end of the day, we haven’t tested anything in a lab. Unfortunately, we don’t have the resources for that yet (maybe one day if we dream big enough) and all the information provided is based on available online data and studies.
Allergy Note: It appears that some individuals are allergic to coconut oil and therefore it is important to note that Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap does contain coconut oil. Coconut oil has more than 85 different names and sometimes they are hard to recognize, so in case you are one of these individuals, make sure to stick with our #1top ranked laundry detergent.
Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap should be a rather safe option as a laundry detergent and most likely even for brushing our teeth when comparing to the highly toxic toothpastes found on the shelves, but that is a completely different article, we would leave that out for now, but don’t worry, it’s definitely in our pipeline, so stay tuned!
#3 Meliora Cleaning Products, Laundry Powder, Unscented,
Rated A+ on EWG, this U.S.A. made clean natural product comes in a concentrated powder form. All it takes is 1/2 tablespoon per high efficiency (HE) load – or 1 tablespoon per standard load – of laundry.
Meliora Unscented Laundry Powder is a top choice product. It is free of dyes, fragrance, and preservatives, hence, gentle on sensitive skin and babies, but also works well enough to get through your everyday dirt and grime.
The product is 100% biodegradable, cruelty- free and does not test on animals. The company is transparent about their ingredients and are committed to sustainability.
Fans of Meliora Laundry Powder rave about the gentleness of the product on clothes. It cleans very well and for additional support with tough stains, try soaking the clothes for 30 minutes or use the Meliora highly rated soap stick. The soap stick also happens to only contain four limited plant based ingredients: (Sodium Cocoate, Glycerine, Organic Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Water)
Meliora Laundry Powder works well with all washing machines and doesn’t leave residue on clothes or in the washing machine. Some folks even dilute the powder and wash intimates by hand using the product. The product also come in a small compact container that is easy to store made of cardboard and steel. 100% zero plastic.
This is an affordable and long-lasting product that is highly concentrated. The allotted scoop size gets the job done but for heavily soiled items as per the instructions, add 2 scoops which are tablespoon sized.
Top rated for safety and effectiveness
Meliora Cleaning Products, Laundry Powder list of ingredients:
Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda), Sodium Carbonate (Washing Soda), Vegetable Soap [Sodium Cocoate, Glycerin, Organic Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Water.
*This product contains Coconut oil for those allergic.
Highly rated on EWG A+ and consumers, this ultra concentrated (4x) color safe liquid laundry detergent is based on 100% plant-derived cleaning agents and scents, which is compatible with HE and standard machines.
Better Life Natural Concentrated Laundry Detergent, Unscented is non-toxic, biodegradable which also hasn’t been tested on animals. It dissolves dirt and stains, leaving laundry fresh, bright, and soft. It is hypoallergenic and gentle on the skin and your overall health as it is free of synthetic fragrance, dyes, and any preservatives.
This laundry detergent is tough on stains and odors but has no phosphates, chlorine, ammonia, or other problematic solvents. Instead, it uses plant-based surfactants to do the work. This has become a popular product amongst new parents and big families as this clean product is affordable, long lasting and cleans to perfection.
Better Life Natural Concentrated Unscented Laundry Detergent is a free & clear product, without scent but your clothes will still smell clean and fresh. You don’t have to give up the smell and felling of fresh clean soft clothes with this product.
Better Life Natural Concentrated Laundry Detergent list of ingredients:
Water, potassium cocoate (plant & mineral derived), decyl glucoside (plant derived), laurl glucoside (plant derived), oleic acid (vegetable), sodium citrate (mineral derived), quillajasaponaria bark (soap bark) extract, glycerin (vegetable), sodium carbonate (mineral derived), citric acid (plant derived).
*This product contains Coconut oil for those allergic.
#5 ATTITUDE Baby Laundry Detergent, Unscented
Top rated by EWG (A+) and consumers. Attitude baby laundry detergent for sensitive skin comes in a liquid form and is free of most harsh chemicals normally found in common laundry detergents. It seems to effectively clean synthetic & natural fabrics and does a great job removing dirt and stains without irritating sensitive skin.
Attitude Baby is free of parabens, dyes, phthalates, 1,4 dioxane, formaldehyde, harmful optical brighteners, phosphates, SLS, SLES. It is considered a hypoallergenic fragrance-free laundry soap and according to Attitude it has been dermatologically-tested as a non-irritant & hypoallergenic.
It contains colloidal oatmeal which is normally used for soothing & hydrating properties; however, some individuals might be allergic and therefore should consider sticking to our #1 choice.
Attitude is also vegan, cruelty-free, PETA approved and was never tested on animals. It is eco-friendly and ECOLOGO Certified, which means; sustainable, biodegradable with low aquatic toxicity.
Many reviewers seem to like this product, we didn’t come across complaints about allergic reactions, if anything, and it seems that allergic babies with eczemas are responding well to this product. It is tested and certified by the National Eczema Association.
However, Attitude contains 9 different ingredients and some are somewhat questionable because it is unknown whether they are plant based derived, however, reviewers do rave about this product as hypoallergenic and safe for babies, and since it is rated A+ on EWG, is still by far, one of the safest options for laundry detergents available in the market.
ATTITUDE Baby Laundry Detergent for Sensitive Skin ingredients are:
Aqua (solvent), Sodium coco sulfate (surfactant), Lauryl glucoside (surfactant), Sodium gluconate (chelating agent), Sodium citrate (chelating agent), Triethyl citrate (antioxidant), Raspberry ketone (skin conditioner), Avena sativa (oat) kernel flour (soothing agent), Allyl caproate (emollient).
*This product contains Coconut oil for those allergic.
Read the Label
Just because a laundry detergent is labeled “Green” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for our health, clothes, or the environment. Look at the package and read the label. You may not always be able to buy a natural detergent, so at least knowing what ingredients to avoid may help you choose a product that poses the least harm.
Stay Away From:
- Phosphates – Phosphates are dangerous to the environment, especially our marine animals and waterways.
- Formaldehyde – This chemical can increase cancer risk and is classified by the EPA as a class B1 probable carcinogen. It can cause acute toxicity if it comes into contact with the skin.
- Dyes – They don’t add any cleaning power to detergents whatsoever. They can aggravate allergies and cause all sorts of skin related issues. In addition, many dyes are classified as endocrine disruptors and must be avoided.
- Chlorine Bleach – A chemical that can irritate the lungs and skin as well as burn the eyes if gotten in them. It also disrupts the natural balance of water and septic systems.
- Optical Brighteners/UV brighteners – These dangerous ingredients can hurt your eyes or skin and are toxic to marine life. They can spontaneously combust and should never be around static electricity.
- Fragrance – If the scent does not come from essential oils, stay away from them as they are endocrine disrupters. You only want natural scents or none at all.
Look for packaging that is labeled organic, plant-based, or bio-based. Read through its product list to make sure none of the above is present. Don’t simply go by a name or claims made by the company itself.
Eco-Friendly Laundry Routine
Choosing to go with a natural laundry detergent means changing your laundry routine to meet the following goals:
Garment care has a substantial impact on the environment. If we launder our clothes in a better way using a good natural laundry detergent, then we can begin to reduce our carbon footprint. Plus, if we take care of what we own, we can buy less and wear our clothes without the damaging impact. Here are some things to do in conjunction with a natural laundry detergent to reduce your environmental laundry impact.
- Reduce the amount of washing: Only wash items when they are dirty, not just because you wore them. Unless you spilled on them or were excessively sweating, there is no need to wash them every time. That is different for your underwear, socks, and workout clothes, but the rest can wait. It is an immense amount of water to waste for an everyday wash of each item worn. Airing clothes out can help with this as well as oxygen helps keep fabric fresh and ready to hang back up.
Note the fabrics you are dealing with as well – synthetic cloth holds onto odor longer and often needs washing more. Other natural fibers, such as wool, cotton, and linen, are naturally antimicrobial and antibacterial.
- Go old school: Hang your clothing on a line or drying rack to dry. Tossing your clothes in a dryer after you wash them means you are going to use 1000s of watts of power. Hanging your wet clothes on a rack means you are saving on electricity, gas, and money. It is also much easier on the clothes themselves. Dryers mean your clothing may shrink, fade and lose fiber strength, making them easier to tear. The other issue is, if you are using a natural detergent that has essential oils for smell, then you will lose that in a tumble dryer, and heat destroys and diminishes their odor.
- Cold is cool: Do your wash in cold water. Most natural detergents work in a cold water wash, and it’s a good way to reduce the energy used since most of the energy used with laundry goes to heating water. It has become well-known that doing laundry in cold water is just as effective as they are in warm or hot.
- Catch the microplastics: While we all can’t change our wardrobes to get rid of all the non-natural clothing, we can help stop the shed of microfibers and microplastics. Synthetic clothing gives off micro plastics when you wash them, and then they enter the waterways. If you are going to wash them then opt for wool dryer balls to catch the culprits before they get into the waterways.
- Stop the dryer sheets: If you are going to go with natural detergent, you need to do the same with your dryer. Opt for all-natural dryer products, or don’t use them at all. Dryer sheets leave a residue both on clothes and in the machine that ruins both over time. In addition, the harsh chemicals and toxins in dryer sheets are equally as harmful to our health and the environment.
If you want to improve how you do your laundry, it has to be a package deal. Moving to a natural laundry detergent is fundamental when it comes to our health, but your change should encompass the whole laundry process, including washing, drying, and ongoing clothing care. While it’s essential for our health and the environment, it also saves time and money. Taking care of clothing means less expense for replacement pieces since they will last longer, and less washing means less work.
We have to be vigilant with the products we allow into our personal space. Whether or not we are currently presenting symptoms or dealing with health issues is irrelevant, our health is always being affected by toxins and chemicals in our surroundings.
Most manufactures of conventional detergent products on the market (If not all) are only interested in profit and low production costs and the idea of being clean and green is just a marketing tool that simply means more green in their pocket. Read the ingredients, reviews, and make sure brands live up to the claims they make. It is a crucial step that should become a habit, especially, when dealing with sensitivities and illnesses that require avoiding harmful chemicals and opting for safer ingredients.
We hope we were able to help with this little project of finding safer laundry detergent products in the market.
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