Can laundry detergents damage our health and planet? Is there any eco-friendly option? Learn everything about eco-friendly laundry detergents in this blog.
Can conventional laundry detergents damage our health and planet? Is there an eco-friendly option?
When we think about making our laundry room more eco-friendly, our minds often jump to the latest washing machines and dryers. True, energy-efficient appliances can significantly reduce our carbon footprint. But there's more to consider in keeping our clothes clean.
Today, I want to focus on using eco-friendly laundry detergents to lessen our environmental impact. I'll guide you through why it's crucial, what to look for on packaging and ingredient lists, and share a list of top products.
You naturally want a laundry detergent that cleans effectively. But it's equally important to choose one that doesn't expose your family or the environment to potentially harmful chemicals.
To aid in this, GreenCitizen recently examined ten eco-friendly laundry detergents, representing a diverse market range.
We also tested two conventional detergents: Tide Original and Arm and Hammer Plus OxiClean.
Here's the good news: None of the five products we tested showed concerning levels of harmful chemicals. We specifically looked for 1,4-dioxane, a suspected carcinogen, and heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium, and lead. We also checked for phthalates and phosphorus. These substances are linked to various health issues and environmental problems, including toxic algae growth in waterways.
Another positive finding is label transparency.
Both eco-friendly and conventional products listed all ingredients clearly. This is crucial, especially for those with allergies who need to avoid certain substances. No hiding behind vague terms like “fragrances.”
So, I’ve tested 10 best eco-friendly of all laundry detergents for this review session. And, Blueland was by far my favorite option.
Blueland's unique tablet form sets it apart. Designed for a full washing load, these tablets are especially effective at warm temperatures and come with eco-friendly packaging, including a reusable metal tin.
Blueland focuses on reducing waste with a recyclable pouch for refills and minimal initial packaging.
Blueland's tablet form is unique compared to traditional detergents and even other eco-friendly sheets, offering a distinct approach to pre-measured detergent use.
Your first order will be a bit more expensive, but when you see the results and the convenient storage container, it’s well worth the investment.
Why Do I Like It?
The tablet form is innovative, reducing the likelihood of using excess detergent.
Unlike all other traditional laundry products, these come in small laundry detergent sheets that you simply add to your washing machine.
Tru Earth stands out in the eco-friendly detergent market with its innovative laundry sheets. These sheets, weighing a mere 0.1 ounces each, pack the cleaning power of 1.4 ounces of traditional detergents. They are a standout for their complete dissolution in both hot and cold water, ensuring no residue on clothes or in your machine.
Tru Earth significantly reduces carbon emissions during transportation due to the product's lightweight nature. The packaging is also eco-conscious, featuring a plastic-free cardboard box that's fully recyclable or compostable.
Tru Earth's sheet format is more innovative and convenient than traditional powders and liquids, and it's lighter than pods, reducing transport emissions.
Why Do I Like It?
These sheets make laundry simple and eco-friendly, offering precise detergent use without waste.
Earth Breeze brings an eco-centric approach with its fully biodegradable packaging. These sheets are effective on tough stains and dissolve completely in the wash, offering a cruelty-free, vegan-friendly laundry solution.
Earth Breeze is commendable for its biodegradable packaging, a step further in eco-friendliness compared to recyclable materials. I’ve tried cutting it up and adding it to my compost, and I can confirm there’s nothing left.
Earth Breeze goes beyond most in environmental commitment with its fully biodegradable packaging, setting it apart from others like Tru Earth and Blueland.
I just wish that they had even a slight natural lemon fragrance, which is nice to get when you take dry clothes off the line.
Why Do I Like It?
Its vegan-friendly and cruelty-free aspects are a big plus, especially for ethical consumers.
A liquid detergent alternative, Seventh Generation is USDA biobased certified with 96% plant-based ingredients. It's highly effective on stains and suitable for sensitive skin, but the measuring cup's accuracy can be improved.
This detergent is fully biobased, which is a significant plus for eco-conscious users.
Seventh Generation stands out for its high percentage of plant-based ingredients and USDA certification, offering a more traditional liquid detergent form as opposed to sheets or pods.
The one thing I don't like about this product is the measuring cup. These tend to be inaccurate, and you easily end up wasting and spilling some of the liquid laundry detergents.
Why Do I Like It?
Its hypoallergenic nature makes it perfect for those with sensitive skin and allergies.
Dropps offers convenient pods that start working immediately upon dissolving. They stand out for their plant-based ingredients and absence of harmful chemicals.
Dropps scores high with plastic-free, recyclable packaging and a formula that's both vegan-friendly and cruelty-free.
These pods provide a more traditional form factor compared to sheets but with the added
One of my vegan friends suggested me the product.
He pointed out that this detergent wasn’t tested on animals and didn't contain any of the toxic chemicals you’ll find in most other detergents.
I also have to add that the natural fragrance and cleaning power are impressive, considering it only contains plant-based ingredients.
Why Do I Like It?
The pods offer a powerful clean using only natural, harmless ingredients.
One type of powder detergent I still had to buy occasionally was a whitener for some kids' clothes. But I eventually found Molly’s Suds, a natural bleach alternative that is also chlorine-free.
Molly’s Suds is an excellent natural bleach alternative, effective for brightening whites. It combines simple, biodegradable ingredients like sodium percarbonate and lemon essential oil.
The packaging is a resealable plastic pouch, minimizing waste compared to traditional containers.
Molly's Suds focuses on whitening, a specific niche that isn't directly addressed by other products on this list, making it a unique offering.
Why Do I Like It?
It offers a chlorine-free whitening solution especially effective for white laundry.
These eco-friendly laundry detergents from Eco Roots are another great zero-waste option.
All the packaging is fully recyclable, and the sheets fully dissolve without leaving microplastics or harsh chemicals behind.
The plastic-free laundry detergent is also available in a fresh linen scent version that is subtle on your clean clothes. And you can order multiple large boxes with a significant discount to make a big difference in your laundry budget.
ECO ROOTS stands out with its scented options, a feature not commonly found in other eco-friendly detergent sheets like Earth Breeze or Tru Earth.
I just found that they were not as effective as other products when it came to tougher stains at lower temperatures.
Why Do I Like It?
The natural scent option adds a refreshing touch to clean laundry.
Ecos laundry detergent is another one with plant-based ingredients. It’s also not tested on animals, which makes it a certified vegan and cruelty-free option as well.
But what I like about this liquid detergent the most is the way the company has approached manufacturing processes. The product has achieved a TRUE Platinum Zero Waste status. That means it’s carbon neutral, water neutral, and made with 100% renewable energy.
That is a rare approach and not something that many other companies have managed to successfully implement.
Each bottle contains enough laundry liquid to wash 100 loads, and I love the subtle lily smell as well.
ECOS's TRUE Platinum Zero Waste certification sets it apart from others like Seventh Generation, with a stronger focus on manufacturing sustainability.
The only downside is that it comes in plastic packaging, but it is recyclable. It would be great if the company switched to compostable bottles instead.
Why Do I Like It?
Its carbon-neutral, water-neutral manufacturing process, using renewable energy, is highly commendable.
Tide is one of the industry leaders for laundry powder, but they have also introduced some eco-friendly detergents. This particular one comes in a cardboard box, and it contains a recyclable plastic pouch with a convenient nozzle.
The result is 50% less plastic use compared to the same amount of washes from plastic bottles.
But Tide has also decided to change its manufacturing processes for this particular detergent, and the result is a process that uses 100% renewable energy.
The ingredients have also been selected to be entirely plant-based, with EPA approval for the formula.
The production is carbon-neutral and uses renewable energy. That means less impact on the environment, both from a manufacturing perspective and environmental waste.
Tide Purclean bridges the gap between traditional and eco-friendly detergents, making it a familiar choice for those transitioning to greener options, unlike more niche products like Molly's Suds or Charlie’s Soap.
Overall, it works very well for most types of washes, but you might need to buy a separate stain-removal soap to work on tougher dirt.
Why Do I Like It?
The use of renewable energy and plant-based ingredients in a mainstream brand is a significant step towards sustainability.
This non-toxic laundry detergent from Charlie’s Soap Store is another great option if you prefer having more control over the amount of powder you use. I keep a bag of this specifically for kids’ clothes as it seems to be more powerful on grass and grease than eco-friendly detergents.
It’s also a great product for bed sheets as the hypoallergenic formula won’t cause itchy skin or a tingling nose at night.
Just be prepared to pay a bit extra for this one compared to other detergents, but you get what you pay for.
The product is non-toxic and comes in large pouches, reducing packaging waste.
Charlie's Soap is notable for its efficiency on tough stains, a feature that may outperform other eco-friendly options, especially in powder form.
Why Do I Like It?
It's a robust choice for challenging stains, providing value despite its higher price.
You may already be thinking about the environmental impact of your washing machine. But there's more to it.
Choosing eco-friendly laundry detergents is equally vital.
When examining detergent labels, look beyond misleading ads. Often, you'll find ingredients harmful to both the environment and your skin.
First, check for phosphates; these aren’t found in biodegradable detergents. Chlorine bleach and brighteners should also be absent, as they introduce harmful chemicals into ecosystems.
These problematic ingredients often end up in our waterways. Unfortunately, many water treatment plants don't filter them out effectively.
Another aspect is choosing concentrated or powder detergents. These options have a smaller carbon footprint due to their lower weight-to-dosage ratio.
Consequently, less carbon is associated with their transportation.
Let's talk about packaging.
If liquid detergents are your preference, opt for plastic-free, compostable bottles. These eco-friendlier options are increasingly available. Alternatively, ensure that the plastic bottles are fully recyclable to avoid landfill contribution.
For powder detergents, plastic-free packaging is key. It should be fully recyclable or compostable, avoiding landfill waste.
In essence, avoid products where packaging parts might end up in landfills or don't use recycled materials.
Greenwashing is an increasingly prevalent issue.
Many companies make misleading eco-friendly claims. Some products are labeled 'eco-friendly' for having minor recycled content. However, their detergents may still contain harmful chemicals.
Furthermore, the 'recycled' packaging might not be recyclable.
I’ll recommend eco-friendly laundry detergents shortly. But the first thing you should do is check your existing stock of powder and liquid detergents.
And I’ve gathered a list of some ingredients that are very common in a traditional detergent. Unfortunately, common also means harmful to the environment, and these are things that you don’t want to find on an eco laundry detergent label.
First of all, this difficult to pronounce chemical compound can be harmful to the skin and is often the main reason people with sensitive skin have reactions to certain laundry detergents. But did you also know that it’s a common organic herbicide?
So, when your laundry detergent ends up in nature it can actually kill off vegetation.
Phosphates are very common in laundry detergent products, and they generally don't get filtered out in water treatment plants. When they enter natural waterways, they cause eutrophication which is a form of poisoning that kills marine animals.
These are generally quite irritating and not just to people with sensitive skin. There’s a reason detergents with these ingredients say that you have to keep it away from your eyes. But those optical brighteners also have a direct toxic impact on marine life.
Chlorine is toxic even in small amounts. And you just have to spend some time in a chlorinated swimming pool without goggles to understand this effect. But that bleaching effect can also impact marine vegetation.
Synthetic fragrances are another common reason for allergic reactions, even in people who don’t have sensitive skin. There’s a lack of studies on their effect in nature, but if it irritates human skin, then it’s not really meant for exposure to living things.
Start by looking for a hypoallergenic laundry detergent to reduce this impact.
This has become less commonly used in detergents, but other cleaning products still have small amounts. It’s a known carcinogen to humans and really has no place in a laundry detergent.
And the final chemical to avoid is another one that has a highly toxic effect on marine life and is almost impossible to remove once it has made it into water. While it’s not that common anymore in most laundry detergents, you still need to look out for it.
Here are five laundry tips that will make washing clothes a lot more eco-friendly. And they are so simple to follow.
If you keep track of how often you load up the washer, then you’ll probably find that you have four loads per person each week. That is so much energy, water, and laundry detergent use.
In reality, most clothes that you put in the wash are likely not dirty or smelly. Yes, your underwear and socks should go in after one wear, but most other things can easily be worn 3 or 4 times.
There’s nothing unhygienic about it, and in many ways, we’ve probably become too cautious about micro dirt and germs. So, keeping track of your clothes and wash frequency can really save up a lot of laundry detergent.
This is probably one of the biggest wastes of energy for any household. Even with the most energy-efficient models out there, you’ll end up using tons of energy.
In the summer months, it’s easy to hang out clothes and let them naturally dry within a few hours. But even dry and windy days in winter could take care of most of the drying.
And when you do have a load of washing that you need to dry quickly, then ditch those dryer and laundry detergent sheets.
One thing you should do is have your water tested to see how much lime it contains. The more lime, the harder the water and the less effective it will be at mixing with powdered laundry detergent.
But even if you look at the label on a liquid detergent, you’ll see that in hard water, you need to add a lot more laundry detergent.
Not only will a central water softener mean that you use less detergent, but it will make your appliances last a lot longer. And it’s much better for sensitive skin when you shower and wash your hair.
Most modern washing machines will have cool wash functions that will be suitable for the majority of your clothes. Unless you regularly fill the machine with heavily stained and dirty clothes, a cool wash at about 85 degrees will give you enough cleaning power.
Many eco-friendly laundry detergent products often work better at lower temperatures, and that will significantly lower the carbon footprint of your laundry routine.
And finally, even when you use an eco-friendly laundry detergent, you could end up flushing plastic fibers down the drain. This is very common with synthetic fabrics like nylon, acrylic, and polyester.
Yes, these are cheap, but regular washing will release some of the fibers. And it shouldn’t be a surprise what plastic accumulation is doing to wildlife.
Reducing the carbon footprint of your laundry room is just one part of the puzzle to make your home more environmentally friendly. But with the best eco-friendly laundry detergents listed above, you can make another huge impact on nature.
Not only do they avoid the use of toxic chemicals, but there are even options there that are completely plastic-free. That makes them almost zero waste products, and that will make a huge difference in animal and plant life.
Out of all these products that I have tried, I keep going back to the Blueland Laundry Kit. They are so easy to use and have the lowest possible footprint. Order yours today and see how much of a difference they will make.