The Best Laundry Detergent Sheets (15+ Products Ranked By Ingredients)
Over the past 2 weeks, we researched 15+ of the most popular laundry detergent sheets to find the best choice for your laundry room.
Today we’ll be looking at:
- What are laundry detergent sheets?
- Why do people love them?
- The problem with conventional laundry detergent.
- Do laundry detergent sheets actually clean clothes?
- Are laundry sheets better for the environment?
- The PVA (polyvinyl alcohol) controversy.
- The best laundry detergent sheets (rated by ingredients).
If you’ve been scrolling through social media lately, you’ve probably noticed that laundry detergent sheets have become quite the trend.
With more and more people looking for healthier and more sustainable lifestyles, it’s no surprise that these innovative laundry products are gaining popularity. But what exactly are non-toxic laundry sheets, and why should you consider using them in your home?
Although laundry detergent sheets are a relatively new form of laundry detergent often advertised as eco-friendly, not all are made with safe ingredients. Much like conventional laundry detergent, some very iffy chemicals can be found in laundry detergent sheets.
This guide will look closely at non-toxic laundry sheets, including what they are, how they work, and their benefits. We’ll also explore some of the top non-toxic laundry sheet brands on the market and provide tips on choosing the best product for your needs.
Want to jump straight to our list of recommended natural foundations? Click here.
What Exactly Are Laundry Detergent Sheets?
Laundry detergent sheets are thin, flat, and flexible pieces of paper-like material that dissolve in water. They’re formulated to contain an exact amount of detergent, making them convenient to use without the risk of spills or messes.
Laundry sheets are meant to replace traditional laundry detergent completely, and they do the trick perfectly for many people.
Why Do People Love Laundry Detergent Sheets?
Laundry detergent sheets are becoming increasingly popular as a convenient and eco-friendly alternative to traditional liquid or powder laundry detergents.
The benefits of laundry detergent sheets include:
- Convenience: Laundry detergent sheets are easy to use and convenient. You simply toss a sheet into the washing machine along with your clothes, and the sheet dissolves and releases the detergent.
- Easy to store: Laundry detergent sheets are compact and lightweight, making them easy to store in small spaces.
- Travel-friendly: Laundry detergent sheets are ideal for travel since they take up less space and are lightweight compared to liquid or powder detergents.
- Environmentally friendly: Laundry detergent sheets—unlike conventional detergents, which come in plastic bottles—are usually contained in recyclable paper packaging. This reduces waste and your personal impact on the environment.
- No spills or mess: Since laundry detergent sheets are pre-measured and solid, there is no risk of spills or messes like liquid or powder detergents.
- Better for sensitive skin: Compared to conventional laundry detergents, which can contain harsh chemicals, non-toxic laundry sheets are often gentler on the skin. This makes them a great option for those with sensitive skin or allergies.
Overall, laundry detergent sheets offer a convenient, environmentally friendly, and efficient way to clean your clothes without the hassle of measuring or spills. However, as chemical formulations differ, paying attention to the ingredients is important.
The Problem With Conventional Laundry Detergent
Laundry detergent has been around for over 100 years, and in that time, we’ve come to accept the harsh chemicals found in most products.
There are several reasons to avoid conventional detergents, including:
- Environmental impact: Many conventional laundry detergents contain ingredients that can harm the environment. These ingredients may not break down easily in water and can contribute to water pollution. Additionally, some detergents may contain phosphates, which can cause harmful algae blooms in bodies of water.
- Health concerns: Conventional laundry detergents may contain ingredients that can irritate the skin, eyes, and respiratory system. These ingredients may include fragrances, dyes, and other chemicals. Some studies have also suggested that certain ingredients in laundry detergents may be linked to health issues such as cancer.
- Animal testing: Some conventional laundry detergents are either tested on animals or contain ingredients that are tested on animals.
- Packaging waste: Many conventional laundry detergents come in large plastic bottles or containers, which can contribute to plastic waste.
- Overdosing: It’s very easy to add much more liquid detergent than you need, but detergent sheets will eliminate accidentally overdosing your laundry loads.
While there are also non-toxic liquid (and powder) detergents on the market, laundry sheets are a great alternative that many people find super convenient to use.
Do Laundry Detergent Sheets Actually Clean Clothes?
You might be skeptical about how well laundry detergent sheets work compared to conventional detergent, and that’s a fair concern.
The truth of the matter is: it depends on the brand. The effectiveness varies from brand to brand, and you may need to try a few different brands before you find one that works for you.
Because conventional brands like Tide use harsh stripping chemicals, you may find that laundry sheets don’t remove stains as well as the brands you’re used to. This comes with the territory of avoiding potentially toxic chemicals, but always ensure you are using the accurate number of laundry sheets according to your laundry load size.
Do Laundry Detergent Sheets Work In All Washing Machines?
Laundry sheets should work in all types of washing machines, including top-loading and front-loading machines, as well as high-efficiency (HE) models.
However, it’s always best to check the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure the product suits your specific washing machine. Some non-toxic laundry sheets may not be recommended for use in certain types of machines, so it’s important to read the label carefully before purchasing and using the product.
Do You Need To Wash Your Clothes in Hot Water With Laundry Sheets?
No worries—you don’t have to exclusively wash your clothes in hot water when using laundry sheets. Most non-toxic laundry sheets are designed to work well in any water temperature, so you can choose warm, hot, or cold water, depending on your preference and the care instructions for your clothing.
Hot water can certainly be more effective if you’re trying to tackle tough stains and dirt. But for most everyday laundry loads, using any water temperature should do the trick with laundry sheets.
The Flip Side: Unpacking the Potential Drawbacks of Laundry Sheets
We need to touch on the drawbacks of laundry sheets. While they have a lot of great benefits, it’s not all perfect.
- Cost: Laundry sheets are much more expensive per load than traditional laundry detergent in liquid or powder form. However, if we account for accidental detergent overdosing, detergent sheets could save in the long run
- Sometimes less effective: Conventional laundry detergent is filled with strong chemicals to strip smells and stains, so you may find that laundry sheets don’t work quite as well.
- Hard water may be a problem: If your home has hard water, this may also affect how well the laundry sheets dissolve and clean your clothes.
- Availability: Even though they are becoming more popular, laundry sheets can still be more challenging to find than traditional liquids or powders. Depending on your location, you may only be able to find them online.
Are Laundry Detergent Sheets Better For The Environment?
It’s true that, for the most part, laundry sheets are better for the environment. Some of the reasons are obvious: no bulky plastic bottle (likely) ends up in the landfill. Instead, most laundry sheets come in compact cardboard packaging that you can recycle.
Large bottles of conventional detergent are often heavy, requiring far more resources to ship. The compact size and weight of laundry detergent sheets reduce transportation emissions compared to traditional laundry detergents, often shipped in heavy and bulky packaging.
There is a trade-off with laundry sheets, however. Most are made with PVA (polyvinyl alcohol)—a water-soluble plastic—which is used to help the sheets dissolve quickly and evenly in water.
PVA is a controversial substance. Some claim it is safe for the environment because it’s biodegradable, while others argue that PVA can cause ecotoxicological problems.
Let’s take a closer look at the PVA controversy.
The PVA Controversy
Polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) is a water-soluble plastic commonly used in laundry detergent sheets. It functions as a binding agent, helping the detergent ingredients adhere to the sheet and dissolve evenly in water during washing.
PVA has become a popular choice for laundry detergent sheets due to its quick-dissolving nature and its potential for reduced environmental impact compared to traditional laundry detergent packaging.
So, What’s Wrong With PVA?
Despite its widespread use, PVA has become a topic of debate and controversy due to conflicting claims about its environmental impact. The main points of contention are as follows:
Proponents of PVA argue that it is biodegradable, which means microbes or other living organisms can break it down in the environment over time.
Studies have shown that PVA can be degraded (or decomposed) by microorganisms in water and soil, ultimately breaking down into carbon dioxide and water. One study found that some PVA materials can degrade up to 60% within 32 days, which starkly contrasts the 20-500 years it takes for the typical laundry detergent container to decompose.
However, the biodegradation process for PVA can be slow and may depend on factors such as temperature, pH levels, and the presence of specific microorganisms. In some cases, PVA may take months or even years to degrade fully, which could contribute to the accumulation of plastic waste in the environment. In better news, one bacterial species, Bacillus cereus RA23 could fully degrade PVA in just 5 days.
One study concluded that wastewater treatment facilities in the US could not adequately remove PVA from the water. However, it’s important to note that this study was funded by a company with a vested interest in getting PVA off the market.
Another concern related to PVA is the potential release of microplastics during degradation. As PVA breaks down, it can fragment into tiny particles of plastic, which can then enter waterways and the food chain. Microplastics have been found in various aquatic environments and ecosystems, potentially harming marine life and ecosystems.
The implications of microplastics on human health are still not fully understood, but it has been found that many chemicals and pollutants stick strongly to the surface of these particles so the microplastic can act as a chemical magnet. This is a major concern for the potential human health and environmental impacts since these microplastics could act as “carriers” for potentially toxic chemicals into water sources.
So, are Laundry Sheets Better Or Worse Than Plastic Bottles?
Conventional laundry detergents often come in large plastic bottles or containers, contributing to plastic waste and the consumption of fossil fuels during production and transportation.
In contrast, laundry detergent sheets are lightweight, compact, and typically packaged in recyclable paper or cardboard, reducing plastic waste and transportation emissions.
We’ll leave the decision up to you, but at Better Goods, we believe that if the choice is between laundry sheets and conventional laundry detergent that comes in a big plastic jug, laundry sheets are the better option. Especially when we consider that just in 2021, approximately 40 million tons of plastic waste was generated in the U.S. alone.
Tips for Using Non-Toxic Laundry Sheets
Using non-toxic laundry sheets can be an effective and eco-friendly way to clean your clothes. To ensure the best results and minimize any potential issues, consider the following tips when using non-toxic laundry sheets:
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions: Always read and follow the instructions provided. It’s essential to use the proper number of sheets per load, specific washing machine requirements, and other crucial guidelines for optimal performance.
- Use the proper number of sheets: Adjust the number of laundry sheets used based on the size of your laundry load. For small or medium loads, one sheet may be sufficient, while larger or heavily soiled loads may require two or more sheets. You may even need just half a sheet for a very small load. Again, check the directions for your specific laundry sheets.
- Pre-treat stains: Non-toxic laundry sheets may not be as effective at removing tough stains as conventional laundry detergents. If your clothes are steained, try pre-treating them with a non-toxic stain remover or a paste made from non-toxic laundry detergent and water before washing.
- Use the proper water temperature: Most non-toxic laundry sheets are designed to work well in any water temperature. However, some may require warm or hot water.
- Avoid overloading the washing machine: Overloading the washing machine can prevent the laundry sheet from dissolving and distributing evenly, leading to less effective cleaning. Ensure there’s enough space in the washer for clothes to move freely during the wash cycle.
- Be mindful of hard water: The laundry sheet may not dissolve and clean as effectively if your home has hard water.
- Store laundry sheets properly: Keep laundry sheets in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and moisture. Exposure to heat or humidity can cause the sheets to stick together or become less effective.
- Try different brands: The effectiveness of non-toxic laundry sheets can vary from brand to brand. If you are not satisfied with the cleaning performance of one brand, try another to find the best fit for your needs.
By following these tips, you can maximize the effectiveness of non-toxic laundry sheets and enjoy a more sustainable and convenient laundry routine.
Understanding the Harmful Chemicals in Laundry Detergent Sheets
Even if you purchase a package of laundry detergent sheets, it doesn’t mean it will be free of dicey chemicals. Here are some of the ones to avoid that we found when we analyzed the ingredients in popular laundry sheets.
Synthetic fragrances: You’ll find synthetic fragrances in every product category under the sun, including laundry detergent sheets. We strongly recommend avoiding any products that contain synthetic fragrances, as they are a significant source of indoor air pollution and have been linked to numerous health concerns.
Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS): These are commonly used surfactants in cleaning products, including laundry detergent sheets. While they effectively remove dirt and oil and create a foaming action, they can also irritate the skin, eyes, and respiratory system. Although SLES is less irritating than SLS, it may contain potentially harmful contaminants such as ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane, both of which are potential carcinogens. As a result, it is advisable to avoid using any laundry detergents that contain SLS or SLES to minimize health risks.
Ethoxylated ingredients: Ethoxylated ingredients have been treated with ethylene oxide, a chemical used to produce surfactants and detergents. Some concerns have been raised about the safety of ethoxylated ingredients, particularly in the presence of residual ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane.
Additionally, some ethoxylated ingredients can be contaminated with nitrosamines, which are also carcinogenic. It’s important to note that not all ethoxylated ingredients are dangerous or harmful, and the safety of these ingredients can depend on the specific manufacturing processes used and the specific ingredient in question. However, it’s impossible to tell if these ingredients are contaminated in any particular product, so we always recommend avoiding them at Better Goods.
PEGs (Polyethylene Glycol): Like ethoxylated ingredients, there have been concerns that PEGs can be contaminated with toxic impurities such as ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane, those potential carcinogens discussed earlier. Manufacturers have been urged to ensure that their PEG-derived ingredients are free from these impurities, but there is still debate over whether the risk is significant.
Phosphates: Commonly added to laundry detergents to remove dirt and stains. However, they can pose a threat to aquatic life if they make their way into waterways. The presence of phosphates in water acts as a fertilizer for algae, leading to an overgrowth that can deplete the oxygen levels, thereby causing killing aquatic plants and animals. Consequently, phosphates are often labeled as pollutants.
Optical Brighteners: These synthetic chemicals give the appearance of whiter, brighter clothes by reflecting UV light. They don’t actually remove stains or improve the cleanliness of your clothes. Some optical brighteners can irritate the skin and eyes, and they don’t readily biodegrade, potentially harming to aquatic life. Examples include disodium distyryl biphenyl disulfonate, stilbene-based derivatives, and benzoxazole derivatives.
Cocamidopropyl Betaine: This synthetic surfactant known to cause skin irritation or allergic reactions in some individuals. Although CAPB is generally considered safe for most users, those with a history of skin sensitivities or allergies may want to exercise caution and consider alternative products without CAPB in their formulation.
The bottom line is that it’s important to read the labels on any laundry detergent sheets before buying, just as you would with liquid and powder detergents. That way, you can ensure that you’re making an informed decision and avoiding potentially harmful ingredients.
How We Picked These Laundry Detergent Sheets
To find our list of laundry detergent sheets to analyze, we looked across social media, online stores like Amazon, and blogs. We chose only popular and trending brands to analyze, and only laundry sheets that explicitly stated they were “clean,” “natural,” or “green.”
The Best Laundry Detergent Sheets: Ranked By Ingredients
After selecting the products, we examined each laundry sheet brand’s ingredients and cross-referenced them with scientific studies and databases.
Products are ranked from best to worst, with the best having the fewest harmful ingredients and the worst containing many ingredients on our “avoid” list.
Below is our list of laundry sheet ratings. They’re rated on this scale:
– These products are the best of the best. They contain great ingredients, are non-toxic, and are often the best choice for our environment.
– These products are typically quite good but don’t go above and beyond like our best choices.
– These products are typically okay but have some issues that make us unable to give them a “Good” rating. Often they contain ingredients or materials that are questionable.
– These products typically have toxic ingredients or issues that make them dangerous or unsuitable. These products should typically be avoided.
Laundry Detergent Sheets Rated: Best
Out of the 14 laundry detergent sheet brands we analyzed 5 of them deserved our Best rating. Any of these should be a great choice for an eco-friendly laundry sheet. Do note that if you have sensitive skin, you may wish to avoid those that have cocamidopropyl betaine, as this can cause allergic reactions in some people.
All laundry detergent sheets that got a Best rating:
Although these sheets have a long list of ingredients, they all pass our analysis as safe to include. Each carton of Norwex sheets contains a total of 36 sheets, and are fragranced with essential oils. All things considered, these are one of the better laundry sheets we analyzed.
These laundry sheets from EcoRoots contain a good list of ingredients that gets a passing grade during our analysis. You’ll get an estimated 64 loads from a single box, and it comes in two versions: fragrance-free and “fresh breeze” scent.
It’s unclear why the list of ingredients in the fragrance-free version (listed below) contains several essential oil derived ingredients, including limonene and linalool. If you have sensitive skin, you may wish to go with a laundry sheet brand that doesn’t contain these ingredients.
These non-toxic laundry detergent sheets from Spacewhite deserve our Best rating for their good list of ingredients. Each pack has 32 sheets, and come fragrance-free. An alternative Fresh Scent variant is also available for those who prefer a subtle fragrance in their laundry.
However, it is important to note that these laundry sheets contain cocamidopropyl betaine (CAPB), a synthetic surfactant known to cause skin irritation or allergic reactions in some individuals. Although CAPB is generally considered safe for most users, those with a history of skin sensitivities or allergies may want to exercise caution and consider alternative products without CAPB in their formulation.
All things considered, these are a good choice for a non-toxic laundry sheet.
If you have sensitive skin, it’s important to be aware of the presence of Cocamidopropyl Betaine in these sheets. Read our explanation above for more information.
However, other than that, these have a fairly good list of ingredients. Glycerol cocoate is the only other “iffy” ingredient in the list, but in general, it should be safe for use in laundry detergents.
You’ll get a total of 32 sheets in a pack, and they come fragrance free but are also available in scented variations for those that prefer fragranced laundry.
These sheets from Clean People receive a Good rating after our analysis. You’ll get a total of 96 sheets in a package, and this detergent is fragrance free. It does come in a scented variant, too.
Mineral oil and Cocamidopropyl Betaine (CAPB) are the only ingredients that stood our during our analysis. Mineral oil can be an ingredient of concern in some products (and is derived from petroleum, making it decidedly not eco-friendly) but isn’t considered concerning in laundry detergent from a health perspective.
CAPB is a known skin contact allergen to be aware of if you have sensitive skin or are susceptible to allergies, but isn’t outright dangerous.
All things considered, this is one of the better laundry sheet products we analyzed.
These laundry sheets from GoodHands have a surprisingly small list of only four ingredients. As such, they’re completely fragrance-free, and you can expect an estimated 80 loads per box of sheets.
With such a great list of ingredients, its easy to give these sheets our top grade.
Laundry Detergent Sheets Rated: Iffy
After our analysis, this 9 laundry detergent sheets didn’t meet our standards for safety. We recommend avoiding these, and instead opting for one in our best category above.
ECOS laundry sheets unfortunately contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. Read our full guide above for an explanation on why we don’t recommend cleaning products with SLS.
These laundry detergent sheets contain both Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and an ethoxylated ingredient, both of which we recommend avoiding. For this reason, we can’t recommend this product.
This product unfortunately contains PEG-20 Glyceryl Cocoate and Cocamidopropyl Betaine (CAPB). We recommend avoiding products with PEG ingredients and CAPB can be irritating to sensitive skin. Read our description above for a full explanation.
We were surprised to analyze the ingredients in Grove’s laundry detergent sheets, because they contain PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate. While this ingredient is always a concern, there is a risk of unsafe impurities in PEG ingredients. Read our ingredients guide above to find out more.
This product contains PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate, which can have potentially unsafe contaminants. Read our ingredients guide above for more information.
This particular detergent comes in a box containing 60 fragrance-free sheets, though an “ocean breeze” scented variant is available as well. The specific ingredient referred to as “Fatty Alcohol Ether Sulfates (FAES)” remains ambiguous; it could be Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), which is considered a questionable component.
It’s worth mentioning that these laundry sheets include cocamidopropyl betaine (CAPB), a synthetic surfactant that may cause skin irritation or allergic reactions for some users. While CAPB is generally considered safe for the majority of people, those with a history of skin sensitivities or allergies should exercise caution and consider alternative products that do not contain CAPB in their formulation.
For these reasons, we recommend other laundry sheets over these.
Sheets Laundry Club
These laundry sheets contain sodium lauryl sulfate. Read the description above for why we don’t recommend this ingredient. Because it includes SLS, we do not recommend these laundry sheets.
These laundry sheets from Good Juju unfortunately contain a questionable ingredient.
Sodium Fatty Acid Methanesulfonate is known in the EU to be highly toxic to aquatic life, making it a decidedly non eco-friendly ingredient. For this reason, we can’t recommend it.
We can’t recommend these laundry sheets because they contain an ethoxylated ingredient: Primary Alcohol Ethoxylate. Please read our description above for why we recommend avoiding this ingredient.
Noon-toxic laundry detergent sheets offer a convenient and eco-friendly alternative to traditional laundry detergents. They provide an efficient way to clean your clothes without the hassle of measuring or spills and are often gentler on the skin. However, it’s essential to research the ingredients and choose a reputable brand to ensure the best results and minimal environmental impact.
Despite the controversy surrounding PVA, laundry detergent sheets still seem to be a better option than conventional detergent in plastic bottles, both in terms of reducing plastic waste and transportation emissions.
All laundry detergent sheets that got a Best rating:
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