Detoxing my laundry room was a must when I was first switching over to a cleaner lifestyle years ago. The fragrance in laundry products alone was enough to make me want to find something better. But, that isn't the only toxic ingredient lurking in your traditional laundry detergents. So, I am sharing a variety of non toxic laundry detergents in the hopes you can find one that works for you and your family.
Finding a non toxic laundry detergent that actually works isn’t an easy job. And it can vary for each household based on their needs, what kind of water they have and even what washing machine they have. I have tried many natural laundry detergents and I am sharing which I continue to use and which I would skip.
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If I had to pick just one, I would choose NaturOli as the best non-toxic laundry detergent. It hits all the marks I am looking for – free of harsh chemicals, effective, budget friendly and eco-friendly. Such a great option and addition to any laundry routine.
Honestly, there are a lot of different toxic chemicals found in conventional laundry detergents. I am going to start by sharing some (certainly not ALL) ingredients you should be aware of on your search for a detergent with more natural ingredients.
A surfactant that is used as an emulsifying agent in detergents and products including shampoos and toothpastes. It is made by
‘reacting lauryl alcohol from a petroleum or plant source with sulfur trioxide to produce hydrogen lauryl sulfate, which is then neutralized with sodium carbonate to produce SLS.” (source)
Yep, that definitely said petroleum. Yikes! That is something I don’t want in my laundry room. Especially when I am trying to avoid clothes made of synthetic, petroleum based materials.
It is important to note that SLS is a known skin irritant. In one study 42% of participants exhibited an ‘irritant reaction.’ (source) While they did patch testing for this study, and obviously your detergent is rinsed off your clothing, for the most sensitive of people (and babies!) it’s an ingredient you definitely want to be aware of.
SLES is made from SLS through ethoxylation. While this process creates a less harsh chemical, it can also create a by-product know as 1,4 dioxane – a known carcinogen. (source)
Fragrance can be a blanket term for tens to hundreds of ingredients and many of them are toxic! But due to ‘trade secrets’ you don’t always know exactly what each brand puts in their fragrance.
And these ingredients can be associated with cancer, reproductive toxicity, allergies and sensitivities. (source)
This is a MUST avoid for me. I can be on a walk and smell when another household is doing laundry because the fragrance is so potent. I certainly don’t want myself or my kids to be smelling that all day, everyday!
This won’t be listed on ingredient lists as it is a byproduct of the manufacturing process- ingredients like SLS and PEG’s (source), for example. When the process of ethoxylation is conducted to get wanted ingredients you also can end up with the by-product 1, 4 dioxane.
Unfortunately, this ingredient has been found to be carcinogenic. (source)
Polyethylene Glycols (PEG’s)
Produced through ethoxylation, so can be contaminated with either ethylene oxide (associated with multiple types of cancers) or 1,4 dioxane (carcinogenic). (source)
These are ‘fluorescent whitening agents’ and will bring out the white or bright of your white fabrics. (source) This is an ingredient that won’t rinse off as it is designed to stay on. That being said it has been correlated with reproductive toxicity concerns and skin irritation-though not commonly (source). Plus, it is not biodegradable.
Used as a disinfectant. Also used as it can clean and whiten laundry. Low level exposure can result in nose, throat and eye irritation. Higher levelers of exposure can change your breathing rate, coughing and damage lungs. (source)
Benziothiazolinone / Methylisothiazolinone
This is a preservative that helps to inhibit microbial growth in a product. It has been linked to lung toxicity, allergic reactions, and possible neurotoxicity. (source)
And honestly the list of ingredients that you may want to avoid goes on and on. So, the best recommendation I can make is to look at a brand’s ingredient list and if you aren’t familiar with an ingredient, you may want to do a little research on it. Below you will find some brands I have vetted and if there are questionable ingredients, I will let you know.
I not only tried the nontoxic laundry detergents but I also had my V.A. try out most of the brands as well. I wanted to give you two opinions. Also, water can be different depending on where you live so keep that in mind.
***Best For Baby, Sensitive Skin & Stains***
Branch Basics has a plant based concentrate that can be used for so many purposes, including a natural detergent. It uses decyl glucoside as a gentle cleanser and sodium citrate softens water to enhance cleaning power. They also have their Oxygen Boost that helps to whiten, brighten and deodorize more soiled laundry. And their wool dryer balls are a must too!
You can start by purchasing one of their two different laundry kits. Both kits come with one bottle of concentrate (=up to 192 loads of laundry), one oxygen boost and either a BPA free plastic bottle or a lead free glass bottle.
Laundry Kit: $69
Glass Laundry Kit: $85
Concentrate (refill): $55
Oxygen Boost: $22
Where To Buy
Branch Basics website only.
Suzi: I had used Branch Basics for a while as a cleaning product, but hadn’t tried using their concentrate as laundry detergent until this last year. You fill a container they give you to a certain line with concentrate and then you add the rest with water. Then you have a small cap they give you to pour the laundry detergent in for each load. I love this laundry detergent for those who have sensitive skin or for baby clothes, since there is no added fragrance and it uses so few ingredients. My clothes feel clean and fresh after using, but don’t have any strong scent which I love.
Becky: I only recently tried out Branch Basics as a cleaner and have been so happy with it. So, I was excited to mix up a jug of detergent (it takes quite a bit of the concentrate!) and try that out as well. It definitely got my clothes clean and can attest to it doing a great job, I just don’t think I would lean towards this brand as much as some others. I would rather use the concentrate for my cleaners and hand soaps as it takes a fair amount of concentrate to make the laundry soap.
Use code gurlgonegreen to save 15% off all Starter Kits (excludes the Trial Kit)
Naturoli uses soap nuts instead of traditional laundry detergent. Soap nuts are dried shells from the soapberry nut (which is actually a berry). When this comes into contact with warm water the Saponin in the shell creates a soap like effect. The best part is these soap nuts they are a truly eco-friendly laundry detergent as they can be composted after use as well. (source)
4 oz – $13.90
8 oz – $17.90
16 oz – $26.90
For an idea of how far this will get you, NaturOli states that the 16 oz bag will wash up to 240 loads of laundry! They also have larger bulk bags available too.
Where To Buy
Suzi: My friend Steph had recommended these to me years and years ago and when she recommends something I listen. I’ve tried a couple other soap nut brands over the years, but these by far were the best ones I have used. They really do work! I know it looks different than a traditional laundry detergent but I’m telling you, they will not only clean your clothes but get them smelling fresh too! These are also a great budget friendly option too and really one of the most natural ways to wash your clothes since they are literally using dried fruit shells.
Becky: I definitely was hesitant about these soap nuts. I had heard about others using them years ago and it was definitely strange to me;) BUT, they have turned out to be one of my favorite laundry ‘detergents’ we used. Got even the most dirty of our clothes clean and equally as imports they smelled clean too!
Thieves Laundry Detergent is made by the essential oil company Young Living. They use plant based cleansers, natural enzymes and essential oils in their formula.
$43.75 for 32 oz. (which you can split into 3 jugs by adding in a small amount of Thieves Household cleaner + essential oils of your choosing). Each 32 oz. jug can clean up to 64 loads of laundry.
Where To Buy
Young Living website
Suzi: This is a liquid laundry detergent. I love how it smells! If you’re not familiar with Thieves products from Young Living, they all smell like cinnamon and cloves, which I love. This detergent really cleans my clothes. It’s actually very budget friendly as well. You can split the Thieves Laundry Detergent into three 32 ounces jugs, add two capfuls of Thieves Household Cleaner and any essential oils you like(around 40 drops) and then fill the rest with water. This can last a long time as you only need around ½ capful to 1 capful per load of laundry.
The ECOS brand bans over 500+ toxic ingredients in their products. While their laundry detergent isn’t perfect as far as ingredients go, it is a safer options for those that are on a budget. They harness the power of the coconut to create a gentle detergent that is effective at getting clothing cleans.
$11.48 for 110 fl.oz – this will wash up to 120 loads
Where To Buy
Suzi: I love that I can find this laundry detergent at Costco and a lot of other grocery stores. Makes it easy when making the swap to a nontoxic laundry detergent. It feels like a traditional laundry detergent – also comes in a large plastic jug, where you use the cap for measuring the detergent. It gets my clothes smelling fresh and feeling clean. It’s also a great budget friendly option and free of the most common harmful laundry ingredients.
It does have Cocamidopropyl Betaine, which can cause irritation in some, however it’s been listed as safe for most. However, it can be a potential environmental toxin, being toxic to aquatic life (Source). They also have phenoxyethanol on the ingredient list which can also be contaminated with 1.4 dioxane if they aren’t using a clean source and can be a skin irritant to some. (source) I reached out to ECOS to check on this and this is the response I received:
“We have been provided with written confirmation from our supplier regarding the phenoxyethanol we use as being free from 1,4-dioxane. Technically speaking, in order for 1,4-dioxane to be created in the process of production of phenoxyethanol, there would need to be two moles of ethylene oxide (EO) applied. The material we use contains just one mole of EO and as such cannot contain 1,4-dioxane.”
While for me this isn’t as big of deal as having it in an ingredient of my skincare, I still wanted to mention it. Something to keep in mind for sure.
Becky: This is actually the detergent I have used for years. The convenience of being able to pick it up at Costco or Walmart is priceless. And, it really does work. I choose to use the Free & Clear as I can be sensitive to some fragrance – even if it isn’t artificial fragrances. Something I just choose to stay away from for the most part.
Meliora Laundry Powder is made with the simplest ingredients: baking soda, washing soda and vegetable soap made with coconut oil. Their scented versions use essential oils. Also, packaging is plastic free!
$18.99 for 35 oz. – this will wash up to 128 HE laundry loads and 64 standard
Where To Buy
Suzi: This was one powder detergent that I actually liked! It really does clean clothes well and there’s no plastic at all in the packaging. It comes in a cardboard tube and they give you a metal tablespoon measuring spoon with it. I do love that about the brand as well as their simple ingredients too. I tested out their unscented version, but they also have several detergents that are scented with essential oils too. Their their stain removing stick I tried out years and years ago first and really loved it, so no surprise their laundry detergent worked too!
These laundry detergent didn’t quite make the best list, but they still have pretty good ingredients so I wanted to test them out and give reviews on them.
Puracy Laundry Detergent
Why Is It Not On The Best List?
It does contain the ingredient Cocamidopropyl Betaine which can cause irritation in some, however it’s been listed as safe for most. However, it can be a potential environmental toxin, being toxic to aquatic life (Source). The biggest ingredient though that makes me put it on the good list is C10-C16 Alcohol ethoxylate. This ingredient can be contaminated with 1,4 dioxane. I do think it’s better than having it in a skincare product as you’re not lathering this on your body, and the likelihood of it really getting on you from your clothes is very small. However, I do think it’s worth mentioning.
$19.99 for 16 oz. – this will wash up to 64 loads
Where To Buy
Suzi: I really loved this laundry detergent! You can get a scented version or an unscented version. I prefer getting unscented, but they also have a Fresh Linen scent as well. The Fresh Linen scent they state on their website is a combination of naturally-derived essential oils, floral extracts, and other plant-based ingredients. The pump top is great too. I can easily pump one pump into the laundry and it cleans the clothes so well. You can also buy refill packs as well, so you’re not purchasing a new plastic pump bottle each time. It cleans my clothes so well! They feel clean and smell clean.
Becky: I have used the Puracy stain remover in the past so was excited to try out their laundry detergent. As I expected, I was very happy with it. It got my clothes clean and I love the convenience of the pump bottle. Even better, when my daughter managed to get strawberries all over her white shirt, I was able to use the tiniest amount of the detergent on the stain to get it out. I just hand scrubbed under running water – which didn’t get it out completely. The best part was we were leaving for the weekend so I didn’t even wash it for a few days and it STILL got the stain out 100%!
Unfortunately Grab Green just didn’t perform as well as the other natural detergents that we tested out.
$19.50 for 60 detergent pods – this will wash up to 60 loads
Where To Buy
Grab Green website
Suzi: This laundry detergent is in powder form and comes in small plastic pods. As I mentioned earlier, not a huge fan of laundry powder. My clothes never feel as clean to me. I also felt like they weren’t as fresh, I had to use two pods most of the time and then it felt like I was using so much product. The plastic bothered me as well. I don’t love the idea of a laundry detergent being covered in plastic and then releasing microplastics into my clothes each time.
Becky: I like that these are easy to use detergent pods. This is something I have never used before. I will say that they did their job and got our clothes clean. Just not a favorite for me.
Unfortunately Molly’s Suds just didn’t perform as well as the other natural detergents that we tested out.
$22.99 for 80.25 oz – this will wash up to 120 loads
Where To Buy
Molly’s Suds website
Suzi: I had tried Molly’s Suds in the past and hadn’t told my V.A. what I thought and so when I read her review it only confirmed my experience as well. I don’t tend to lean towards powdered laundry detergents. They just don’t get my clothes as clean as liquid detergents I’ve found.
Molly’s Suds comes in a powder form. They do offer liquids but I tried the powder form, which seems to be the most popular. My clothes didn’t feel as clean and it didn’t get the stench out of workout clothes for sure. My hubs even said something to me about the laundry smelling still. I’ve also read others experience their clothes needing to be stripped after using Molly’s Suds for a while. They claim their clothes start to get a build up. I didn’t experience this first hand, however, I can see that happening since my clothes didn’t seem that fresh smelling. I wouldn’t use these again.
Becky: I wasn’t so sure about a powder detergent. And, my first load of laundry that I washed with it I felt didn’t get completely clean- mostly it didn’t smell fresh. So I read the back of the package and it said for clothes that were more soiled or larger loads to do an extra scoop of detergent. I did a total of 1.5 scoops and that seemed to make all the difference. I probably wouldn’t choose this detergent for more soiled clothes. But, I still thought it did a pretty good job.
Unfortunately Rebel Green just didn’t perform as well as the other natural detergents that we tested out. The condition of the product after shipping was also an issue for us and based on reviews others had these issues as well. The brand did send us a new product when we reached out that was in perfect condition.
$32.90 for 64 oz – this will wash up to 64 loads
Where To Buy
Rebel Green website
Suzi: This feels like a more traditional liquid laundry detergent. It comes in a large plastic jug, you pour it into the cap, and then into the washer. I love the ingredients in this. I got the unscented version, however, they do have some with a scent if you prefer that. It was a good laundry detergent overall. My clothes were clean. I didn’t think there was a fresh smell to them, like other detergents. The one drawback I will mention is getting the product, at least from Amazon. We had some issues with the cap being dirty and reading other reviews they had issues with it getting shipped to their house empty- something to keep in mind.
Becky: I thought this detergent was just ok. It got my clothes clean for the most part. However, I didn’t think they smelled as fresh as other detergents. I probably wouldn’t choose this one over other choices.
With all the greenwashing there is, I wanted to mention some popular brands that claim to be natural but you should skip if you are looking for a laundry detergent that doesn’t have toxic chemicals in it.
I see this one touted as nontoxic a lot of places but it’s not. It does contain laureth-7 which is an ethoxylated ingredient, meaning it can contain 1,4 dioxane which is a known carcinogen. They also contain benziothiazolinone and methylisothiazolinone, preservatives that have high contact allergies. It also contains linalool, geraniol, and coumarin which are fragrances that can cause contact allergies as well as have a risk of being immunotoxins.
I did use this years ago, however after digging into the ingredients some more it does have some ingredients I’m not a fan of. Laureth-6, which can be contaminated with carcinogens from 1,4 dioxane. Also, benziothiazolinone and methylisothiazolinone. Both of these can be high contact allergens. It also has the ingredient sodium lauryl sulfate which is another contact allergen as well. My clothes did feel clean using this and fresh- they have an unscented and scented version, I always used the unscented version.
Dropps Detergent Pods
These are a liquid laundry detergent that comes in a plastic pod. I don’t love that they come in plastic, or the ingredients in the liquid. They contain some harmful ingredients like BHT(butylated hydroxytoluene) which is used as a preservative and is a toluene based ingredient. It also has ethoxylated ingredients which can contain the ingredient 1,4 dioxane which is a carcinogen. They also list fragrance, but don’t share what’s in the fragrance. I did get sent this initially, however, the scent just from opening the box was too much for me. I could tell it was more than just an essential oil.
This is one of the worst offenders as far as greenwashing. It contains ethoxylated ingredients as well as which can be contaminated with 1,4 dioxane a known carcinogen, as well as fragrance, methylisothiazolinone– which I mentioned earlier, propylene glycol– also contaminated with 1,4 dioxane, as well as plastic colorants such as polymeric blue. Nothing nontoxic about this laundry detergent.
Other Non Toxic Laundry Products I Use
Wool Dryer Balls (Branch Basics)– These are great at helping to avoid static instead of dryer sheets. You can even add some essential oils to the wool dryer balls for added scent if you wanted your clothes to have a natural scent. Get them here.
Branch Basics Oxygen Booster for extra cleaning power, to brighten whites and for tough stains. Get it here.
Puracy Stain Remover– I really can’t imagine doing laundry without this stain remover- it works SO well. It even removes breastfed poop! However, it does contain C10-C16 Alcohol ethoxylate, just like the Puracy Laundry Detergent and methylisothiazolinone which can cause skin irritation in some. I’m personally ok with using it, since it washes off. To me it’s worth not having stained clothes. I have four kids though and don’t have time to be scrubbing kids clothes for hours. It’s totally your call on if you want to use it or not! Get it here.
Meliora Stain Remover– As I mentioned earlier when talking about the Meliora Laundry Detergent, this is great at removing stains it just requires a little more elbow grease overall since it is a stick. Not as easy as spraying Puracy. Meliora is squeaky clean though, so might be a better option for some. It really does work so well too! Get it here.
Suzi is a wife, and mama who is passionate about sharing her natural lifestyle with those around her. She created Gurl Gone Green to show how our everyday decisions, from what we use on our face, home and the food we eat affect us more than we know. She loves holding space where people can weed through the marketing clutter to find truth, and ultimately make the best decision for their families.
Hi! I’m so glad you’re here! I’m a wife, and mom who is passionate about all things natural living. Grab your favorite drink and let’s get to know each other!