Best Natural and Non Toxic Laundry Detergents

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.

*Affiliate Disclosure: I do have affiliate links in this blog post. If you purchase something from my link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.  This comes at no cost to you, but is paid by the company.  I do not take becoming an affiliate with any company lightly.  If I am, it’s because I believe in the company and their product. 

Suzi(Gurl Gone Green) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Naturoli Soap Nuts

Best Non Toxic Laundry Detergents

I am narrowing it down to two top picks for a non toxic laundry detergent. First, I would choose NaturOli as 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.

For those looking for more conventional type of laundry detergent, I would pick Molly’s Suds Liquid Laundry Detergent. It’s squeaky clean for ingredients, lightly scented with essential oils/plant essences and actually works at getting even my youngest kiddos clothes clean!

Toxic Ingredients To Avoid In Laundry Detergents

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.

Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS)/ Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)

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)

Synthetic Fragrances 

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!

Related Content: Best Clean & Natural Perfume Brands

1, 4 dioxane

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)

Optical Brighteners

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. 

Chlorine

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.

Related Content: Best Non Toxic Dish Soaps

Best Non Toxic Laundry Detergents

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.

Related Content: Branch Basics Review

Better Non Toxic Laundry Detergents

These laundry detergent didn’t quite make the best list, but they are commonly recommended or have been asked about, so I wanted to test them out and give reviews on them.

Non Toxic Laundry Detergents To Skip

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.

Mrs. Meyers

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. 

Seventh Generation

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.  

Method

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.

Clean People Laundry Detergent Sheets

I was excited to test these out!  Laundry sheets are the new thing when it comes to a natural laundry detergent.  They really take plastic free and being environmentally friendly to a new level.  A full sheet is used for a large load, a half sheet for a regular load and for a small load you just tear off half of a strip.  It makes it easy to see how much to use.  I love the detergent sheets from a practicality standpoint- they’re so easy to use!  No messy liquid involved- just throw them in the washer!

The ingredients are ok.  Not perfect.  They do contain light mineral oil– which I was bummed about.  Mineral oil is another word for petroleum and Cocamidopropyl Betaine which can be an irritant and can cause contact dermatitis.  It also has the ingredient Glyceryl Cocoate which is a PEG and has been treated with ethylene oxide.  The Fresh Scent I got does have fragrance in it.  It isn’t strong but when looking into the ingredients of the fragrance it just says fragrance, which makes me think it’s artificial fragrance. They do offer an unscented version.  I wish that they were a little cleaner. 

While they are better than a lot of detergents they still have some red flags when it comes to ingredients for me.  The performance was good.  I did notice that a couple pieces of clothing didn’t get completely cleaned.  I was just testing it to see if it would remove some stains on my kids clothes without stain remover and it didn’t.  But, I do think this is an ok option if you’re traveling but it wouldn’t be something I use on the regular. 

Puracy Stain Remover, Branch Basics Wool Dryer Balls and Branch Basics Oxygen Boost
Beyond laundry detergent, there are more nontoxic laundry products you want to consider.

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.

Related Content: Best Alternatives to Dryer Sheets

What’s your favorite non toxic laundry detergent? Share below!

If you liked this post, check out these past posts:

Cheers, Suzi

Suzi

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.

46 Comments

  1. Kimberly

    I was wondering if you tested Charlie’s laundry detergent at all? I’ve been thinking of trying that one. Vitacost sells I believe.

    Reply
    • Suzi

      Hi Kimberly,

      I have not, but I have seen it too. I will though! Once I do I’ll be sure to share.

      Reply
      • Dee

        Happi Earth is the best ever! Check them out!

        Reply
        • Suzi

          Oh good to know! I will 🙂

          Reply
    • Krisan Markese

      Thank you so much for this info. I have been more concerned lately about what “they’re” putting in the products we buy. I keep smelling a VERY PUNGENT odor EVERYWHERE. I know it’s in the tide pods I have been using. So I started searching….I still don’t know what that ingredient is, but now I know what I can buy to replace Tide!! Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!!!

      Reply
      • Suzi

        Hi Krisan,

        I’m so glad! Yes, you really have to be informed on what’s in the products- especially these days.

        Reply
  2. Cindi

    You should look into Truly Free laundry Detergent. They have a huge line of toxic free products and use essential oils. I have been using alot of their products for several years. I like everything I have used. It all works well.

    Reply
    • Suzi

      Hi Cindi,

      Oh, thanks for the tip! I’ll check them out.

      Reply
  3. Boni

    Thanks for this review! Wondering your thoughts on Attitude detergent. It seems to work well for my dirty half dozen, but didn’t know if it had the best ingredients. Thanks for all you do!

    Reply
    • Suzi

      Hi Boni,

      Yes, I have heard of it. When I looked into their ingredients it had some I wasn’t excited about!

      Reply
  4. Carla

    Have you tried Earth Breeze?

    Reply
    • Suzi

      Hi Carla,

      I haven’t! I have heard about them but when I looked into their ingredients I wasn’t super impressed.

      Reply
      • Dorian

        I would love to hear more about what Earth Breeze ingredients concerned you! Their ingredient list is: Glycerol, Primary Alcohol Ethoxylate, Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate, Sodium Acetate Trihydrate, Protease, Polyvinyl Alcohol (100% water soluble), Deionized Water, and Starch.

        Is Primary Alcohol Ethoxylate the same thing as C10-C16 Alcohol ethoxylate?

        Reply
        • Suzi

          Hi Dorian,

          It’s an ethoxylated ingredient. Meaning it’s been treated with ethylene oxide- a known carcinogen.

          Reply
  5. Erika L

    Really helpful information. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Suzi

      Hi Erika!

      Thanks for the feedback 🙂

      Reply
    • Veronica Serrano

      Thank you so much I been use drop I am since I start branch base I stick on thank you so much for the tip and I am going to use regular vinegar and base branch I stay you can clean the all of the house thank you Suzi for the tip😉

      Reply
      • Suzi

        Hi Veronica! Thanks so much! 🙂

        Reply
        • Veronica Serrano

          Suzy hello this clean people has toxic chemical please let me know

          Reply
          • Suzi

            Hi Veronica,

            I’ve never used Clean People but I’ll look into it.

          • Jen

            Hi, have u had a chance to look into clean people washer sheets?

          • Becky Langner

            Yes! Suzi just checked those out and you can find them listed under the “skip” section where she explains why she would skip them.

  6. Claudia Arballo

    Hi Suzi!!:) Curious if you have tested Nellie’s powder detergent? Been using for years.

    Reply
    • Suzi

      Hi Claudia,

      I haven’t but I’ll add them to the list to try! 🙂 Thanks for the recommendation.

      Reply
  7. Lulu

    Hi ,
    Wondering if you tested any of the detergent sheets that are out there. I’m so curious if they are actually “clean” and effective. It would be nice to get something that takes up less space and has very minimal packing.
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Suzi

      Hi Lulu,

      I had looked into them but there weren’t any that met my standards.

      Reply
  8. Angela Bello

    Have you tried ZUM laundry soap? It boasts of the plant and all natural ingredients.

    Reply
    • Suzi

      I haven’t but I’ll have to check it out!

      Reply
  9. Kiley M

    Thanks for this article!! I’ve been curious about dirty labs — any insights there?

    Reply
    • Suzi

      Hi Kiley,

      I haven’t checked them out yet.

      Reply
  10. Michelle

    Any luck with Clean People?

    Reply
    • Suzi

      I haven’t tried them!

      Reply
      • Coty

        I am also interested in the Clean People products

        Reply
        • Suzi

          Hi Coty,

          I haven’t looked into them but they’re on my list. 🙂

          Reply
  11. Erin Collins

    Hi Suzi-

    Thanks for the the recommendations! I’m interested in trying those soap nuts!

    My issue with the natural detergents is they don’t seem to be as effective at cleaning as the popular harmful-
    chemical laden brands.

    Wondering if you’ve tried any of the Aspen laundry detergents?

    Reply
    • Suzi

      I haven’t tried any of the Aspen laundry detergents. But I’ll look into them!

      Reply
  12. Coty

    Hi Suzi! New to your blog. Can you enlighten me on which ingredients in the Biokleen Free & Clear formula are of concern

    Reply
    • Suzi

      Hi Coty,

      Thanks for reading! So in the Biokleen Free & Clear Formula there is one ingredient that is ethoxylated- meaning it’s been treated with ethylene oxide(a known carcinogen). As a result, 1,4 dioxane a carcinogen can be found in the final product. The ingredient: C12-16 pareth-7. That’s why I don’t recommend it.

      Reply
  13. Stephanie Brookman

    Have you tried Truly Free laundry detergent? Wondering if they are safe and gentle, but clean?

    Reply
    • Suzi

      Hi Stephanie,

      I have not tried it. But I’ll look into it! Thanks for the rec.

      Reply
  14. Gigi

    Hi Suzi,
    On their website, Ecos lists Phenoxyethanol and Methylisothiazolinone in their Free & Clear detergent. I’ve been looking for a new detergent for this reason. Not sure if this is a new thing, but wanted to comment and let you know!

    Reply
    • Suzi

      Hi Gigi,

      Thanks so much for the update! I haven’t seen that- it must be new. We will be updating!

      Reply
  15. Jody

    Have you checked out Norwex laundry detergent comes in both Liguid and powder

    Reply
    • Suzi

      Hi Jody,

      I haven’t! I’ve used some of their other products but not their laundry detergent- I’ll have to check it out!

      Reply
  16. Abby

    Does the Tyler Diva laundry have synthetic fragrance?

    Reply
    • Becky Langner

      Hi Abby- I am not familiar with this brand. I would reach out to the brand to see what is included in their fragrance if it isn’t clear on their labeling.

      Reply

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