The Best Non-Toxic Laundry Detergent (40+ Products Analyzed)

14 min reading time

Today we’ll be looking at:

  • The reasons to avoid conventional laundry detergent.
  • The effects of detergent on our health.
  • Ingredients to avoid in laundry detergent.
  • The problem with synthetic fragrances.
  • How to choose the right laundry detergent.
  • Ratings for 40+ of the most popular laundry detergents.

Did you know that most conventional laundry detergents are made with harsh chemicals that are not only harmful to the environment, but also hazardous to your health?

These toxicants can remain in the air in the form of harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These VOCs can cause respiratory issues and headaches, and are linked to other health complications. The other chemicals in laundry detergents—like fragrance, dyes, optical brighteners, and more—can linger on clothing, irritating skin and lungs as well.

Fortunately, there is an easy way to reduce exposure to these unwanted pollutants—by using non-toxic laundry detergent. With so many exceptional products available nowadays containing safer, natural ingredients instead of potentially harmful chemicals, like surfactants and optical brighteners, it’s never been easier for everyone, whether you’re a busy mom or simply a concerned consumer, to choose a healthier option when doing their laundry.

Our Methodology

We looked at social media, popular online stores like Credo, Sephora, and iHerb, and reviews across the internet to find 30+ of the most popular clean laundry detergents.

All of these products are advertised as being clean, safer alternatives. We found that while many of the products we looked at were good in terms of ingredients, some had ingredients either unsafe for us, or our environment.

We reviewed 30+ of the most popular non-toxic laundry detergents on the market and rated them as follows:

Best – These products are the best of the best. They contain all-clean ingredients, are non-toxic and are often the best choice for our environment.

Good – These products are typically quite good, but don’t go above and beyond like our best choices.

Iffy – These products are typically okay, but have some issues that make us unable to give them a “Good” rating. Often times they contain ingredients that are questionable.

Bad – These products typically have toxic ingredients or issues that make them dangerous or unsuitable to use. These products should typically be avoided.

Non-Toxic Laundry Detergents Rated: Best

These laundry detergents earned our top ratings. Any of these are a safe choice for you and your family, with all-natural and safe ingredients.

The detergents that received our best rating include:

Molly's Suds

Citrus Grove Laundry Powder
Price: $22.99 ($0.29 per oz)

Molly’s Suds laundry detergent powder is an excellent option for those who seek a non-toxic and eco-friendly laundry solution. Its simple list of only five ingredients includes sodium carbonate, sodium bicarbonate, and organic peppermint oil, among others. This powder is free of harsh chemicals, such as SLS, SLES, and phosphates, making it a safer and more environmentally-friendly option for you and your family.

Moreover, the essential oil blend used in this detergent provides a natural and refreshing scent that’s free from any artificial fragrances or dyes. And with an impressive 120 loads per bag, you can save time and money by not having to constantly restock on laundry detergent.

In summary, if you’re looking for a high-quality laundry detergent that’s both effective and environmentally conscious, Molly’s Suds is an excellent choice.

Ingredients

  • Sodium Carbonate,
  • Sodium Bicarbonate,
  • Magnesium Sulfate,
  • Unrefined Sea Salt,
  • Essential Oil Blend*

Branch Basics

The Concentrate
Price: $55 ($1.63 per oz)

The Concentrate by Branch Basics is a versatile concentrated cleaning product that’s not specifically made for laundry, but works well for it. The concentrated formula must be be diluted to create different cleaning solutions—a bottle will get about 64 loads of laundry.

The brand is transparent with its ingredients—all of them are listed on the website, and the formula uses all-natural and clean ingredients. For this reason, we recommend this product for your laundry room.

Ingredients

  • Water,
  • Decyl Glucoside,
  • Organic Chamomile Extract,
  • Coco-Glucoside,
  • Sodium Citrate,
  • Sodium Bicarbonate,
  • Sodium Phytate

Thrive Market

Free & Clear Laundry Detergent Powder
Price: $13.39 ($0.32 per oz)

Thrive Market’s Free & Clear Laundry Detergent Powder has an excellent clean list of ingredients with full transparency. The specific variant we analyzed is the fragrance-free version, although the fragranced versions have good ingredients as well. You’ll find linalool—an essential oil derivative—in the lavender scent, for example.

A single bag will net you 70 loads, but some may wish that the product didn’t come in a plastic bag. All in all, this is a good laundry detergent powder that we can recommend.

Ingredients

  • Sodium Carbonate,
  • Sodium Sulfate,
  • Sodium Chloride,
  • Sodium Carbonate Peroxide,
  • Sodium Citrate,
  • Protease

Meliora Cleaning Products

Unscented Laundry Powder

This laundry detergent product features a concise list of natural ingredients, including sodium bicarbonate, sodium carbonate, sodium cocoate, glycerin, and organic coconut oil. These ingredients are known to be safe and gentle on clothing, making it an ideal option for those with sensitive skin or allergies.

Furthermore, this detergent is designed to effectively remove dirt and stains from clothes while remaining environmentally friendly. Each container provides up to 64 loads of laundry, making it an economical choice for those who want to reduce their environmental impact.

Overall, this natural laundry detergent is a great option for those who prioritize safety, effectiveness, and sustainability in their household products. Its natural ingredients and gentle formula make it a smart choice for families and individuals alike.

Ingredients

  • Sodium Bicarbonate,
  • Sodium Carbonate,
  • Sodium Cocoate,
  • Glycerin,
  • Organic Coconut Oil (Cocos Nucifera),
  • Water

Better Life

Unscented Natural Concentrated Laundry Detergent

Better Life laundry detergent features a unique blend of natural ingredients, creating a powerful cleaning formula that is gentle on your clothes and the environment. The soapbark wood extract and enzyme blend help to remove tough stains and odors, while the vegetable glycerin and oleic acid provide a moisturizing effect to keep your clothes soft and fresh.

Additionally, this laundry detergent is free of harsh chemicals and synthetic fragrances, making it a safe and healthy choice for you and your family.

Ingredients

  • Water,
  • Potassium Cocoate,
  • Decyl Glucoside,
  • Lauryl Glucoside,
  • Oleic Acid,
  • Sodium Citrate,
  • Soapbark Wood Extract (Quillaja Saponaria Wood Extract),
  • Vegetable Glycerin,
  • Sodium Carbonate,
  • Enzyme Blend,
  • Citric Acid

Eco Me

Fragrance-Free Plant Based Concentrated Laundry Detergent

Eco Me laundry detergent features a blend of natural and eco-friendly ingredients.

One of the main advantages of this detergent is that it effectively cleans clothes without leaving any residue behind. Additionally, a little goes a long way due to its super-concentrated formula, making it an economical choice. It is also eco-friendly, safe for sensitive skin, and does not have an obnoxious or overpowering scent. This is particularly appealing for those who prefer fragrance-free or mild-scented products.

However, the small bottle size and messy cap design can make dispensing the detergent challenging. Furthermore, the formula may not be effective in removing tough stains or smells, and there have been reports of inconsistency in the formula.

Ingredients

  • Water,
  • Coco-Glucoside,
  • Decyl Glucoside,
  • Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside,
  • Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate,
  • Xanthan Gum,
  • Essential Oil Blend*,
  • Glyceryl Caprylate,
  • Potassium Sorbate

Potential irritants: 1*

Molly's Suds

Original Peppermint Laundry Detergent Powder

Molly’s Suds laundry detergent powder is a fantastic choice for anyone seeking an effective and eco-friendly laundry detergent. Its refreshingly concise ingredient list features only four natural and safe components: sodium carbonate, sodium bicarbonate, magnesium sulfate, unrefined sea salt, and organic wild mint oil.

Combining these natural ingredients effectively cleans clothes and removes stains without leaving any harsh chemicals behind. Adding organic wild mint oil provides a subtle and refreshing scent that is not overwhelming, making it an ideal option for those sensitivities to strong fragrances.

Overall, we recommend this laundry detergent powder as a clean and non-toxic option for your laundry room.

Ingredients

  • Sodium Carbonate,
  • Sodium Bicarbonate,
  • Magnesium Sulfate,
  • Unrefined Sea Salt,
  • Organic Wild Mint Oil (Mentha Arvensis Oil)

Non-Toxic Laundry Detergents Rated: Good

Four of the laundry detergents we looked at received a rating of Good. While these don’t make our top grade, any of them should be a safe choice to bring into your laundry room.

Dirty Labs

Bio Laundry Detergent
Price: $14 ($1.63 per oz)

The brand advertises 32 loads per bottle of detergent, although there is a larger 80-load bottle available as well. While the brand does use fragrance, they are 100% transparent about the ingredients used. However, since the fragrance isn’t all 100% natural, we can’t give the product our best rating.

Other than the fragrance, this detergent has a good list of ingredients and the bottle is made of recyclable aluminum. The product is also made in the USA.

Ingredients

  • Water,
  • Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside,
  • Lauryl Glucoside,
  • Coconut Fatty Acid,
  • Capryloyl/Caproyl Methyl Glucamide,
  • Propanediol,
  • Sodium Citrate,
  • Glycerin,
  • Potassium Hydroxide,
  • Protease,
  • Mannanase,
  • Amylase,
  • Pectate Lyase,
  • Cellulase,
  • Fragrance

Dirty Labs

Murasaki Bio Enzyme Laundry Detergent
Price: $14 ($1.63 per oz)

Dirty Labs laundry detergent has a couple of ingredients technically on our iffy list, but the risk is minimal when they’re used in a laundry detergent. It also contains fragrance, but the list of fragrance ingredients is listed directly on the website. You’ll get an advertised 32 loads of laundry from a single package of this detergent, and overall it is a safe and effective choice.

Ingredients

  • Water,
  • Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside,
  • Lauryl Glucoside,
  • Coconut Fatty Acid,
  • Capryloyl/Caproyl Methyl Glucamide,
  • Propanediol,
  • Sodium Citrate,
  • Glycerin,
  • Potassium Hydroxide,
  • Protease,
  • Mannanase,
  • Amylase,
  • Pectate Lyase,
  • Cellulase,
  • Fragrance

ATTITUDE

Citrus Zest Nature+ Laundry Detergent
Price: $19.95 ($0.3 per oz)

This laundry detergent from Attitude has a great list of clean ingredients and is fragranced with essential oils. A bottle of this detergent is rated at 40 loads, and it comes in seven different scents.

Sodium benzoate—a preservative—is the only ingredient on our iffy list, but it’s not considered an ingredient of concern in products that are washed away.

Ingredients

  • Sodium Coco-Sulfate,
  • Lauryl Glucoside,
  • Caprylyl Glucoside,
  • Myristyl Glucoside,
  • Water,
  • Sodium Chloride,
  • Citric Acid,
  • Sodium Gluconate,
  • Sodium Benzoate*,
  • Glycerin,
  • Green or White Tea Leaf Extract (Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract),
  • Triethyl Citrate,
  • Terpineol Acetate*,
  • Terpineol (Citrus),
  • Tetrahydrolinalool*

Puracy

Natural Liquid Laundry Detergent

While Puracy laundry detergent is marketed as a safe and eco-friendly option, we cannot recommend it due to the presence of C10-C16 Alcohol Ethoxylate and borate in its ingredients.

C10-C16 Alcohol Ethoxylate is an ethoxylated ingredient that can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane and ethylene oxide, known carcinogens, and can cause various health concerns. On the other hand, borate is a chemical that can cause skin irritation and has been linked to developmental and reproductive toxicity.

Given these concerns, we cannot recommend Puracy laundry detergent as a safe and healthy option. While it is marketed as a natural and effective cleaning solution, it’s essential to thoroughly review the ingredients list to ensure that the product aligns with your values and health goals.

Ingredients

  • C10-C16 Alcohol Ethoxylate,
  • Water,
  • Decyl Glucoside,
  • Lauryl/Myristyl Glucoside,
  • Vegetable Glycerin,
  • Protease,
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine*,
  • Propanediol,
  • Amylase,
  • Sodium Gluconate,
  • Sodium Borate,
  • Lauramine Oxide,
  • Lipase,
  • Coco-Glucoside,
  • Glyceryl Oleate,
  • Sodium Citrate,
  • Benzisothiazolinone,
  • Carboxy Inulin,
  • Mannanase,
  • Citric Acid,
  • Zinc Ricinoleate,
  • Calcium Chloride

Potential irritants: 1*

Non-Toxic Laundry Detergents Rated: Iffy

A total of eight of the laundry detergents we analyzed received a rating of Iffy. These detergents contain ingredients that some experts believe may be unsafe, so they cannot be recommended.

Better Life

Lavender Grapefruit Laundry Detergent
Price: $14.99 ($0.23 per oz)

This detergent contains several ingredients we recommend avoiding, including methylisothiazolinone. For this reason, we can’t recommend it.

Ingredients

  • Water,
  • Decyl Glucoside,
  • Potassium Cocoate,
  • Lauryl Glucoside,
  • Oleic Acid,
  • Sodium Carbonate,
  • Alkyl Polyglucoside,
  • Soapbark Wood Extract (Quillaja Saponaria Wood Extract),
  • Citric Acid,
  • Sodium Gluconate,
  • Calcium Chloride,
  • Protease,
  • Amylase,
  • Methylisothiazolinone,
  • Benzisothiazolinone,
  • Grapefruit Peel OIl (Citrus Grandis Peel Oil),
  • Lavender Flower Extract (Lavandula Angustifolia Flower Extract),
  • Bergamot Orange Peel Oil (Citrus Bergamia Peel Oil Expressed)*

Charlie's Soap

Liquid Laundry Detergent
Price: $17.99 ($0.24 per oz)

This detergent from Charlie’s Soap unfortunately contains C10-14 Alcohol Ethoxylated. We don’t recommend products with this ingredient, because it can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane and ethylene oxide, a known carcinogen and suspected carcinogen respectively.

Ingredients

  • Water,
  • C12-16 Pareth-9,
  • C10-14 Alcohol Ethoxylated,
  • Sodium Carbonate

The Honest Company

Hypoallergenic Baby Laundry Detergent
Price: $16.99 ($0.24 per oz)

This baby laundry detergent from The Honest Company contains laureth-7, which can potentially be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane and ethylene oxide. For this reason, we can’t recommend it.

Ingredients

  • Water,
  • Lauryl Glucoside,
  • Laureth-7,
  • Glycerin,
  • Hydroxyacetophenone,
  • Citric Acid,
  • Propanediol,
  • Gluconolactone,
  • Xanthan Gum,
  • Potassium Sorbate,
  • Propylene Glycol*,
  • Sodium Benzoate*,
  • Sorbitol,
  • Calcium Chloride,
  • Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate,
  • Protease,
  • Sodium Formate,
  • Amylase,
  • Lipase,
  • Pectate Lyase,
  • Mannanase

Blueland

Laundry Tablets Starter Set

The unfortunate inclusion of an ethoxylated ingredient makes us unable to recommend this detergent.

Ingredients

  • Sodium Carbonate,
  • Citric Acid,
  • Microcrystalline Cellulose,
  • Subtilisin,
  • C12-14 Alcohols Ethoxylated,
  • Sodium Citrate,
  • Sodium Carboxymethyl Starch,
  • Amylase,
  • Mannanase,
  • Pectate Lyase,
  • Hydrated Silica,
  • Cellulase

Dr. Bronner

Sal Suds Biodegradable Cleaner

Sal’s Suds from Dr. Bronner is a popular cleaning product that has gained a loyal following over the years. However, upon reviewing the ingredients, we do not recommend this product due to the presence of SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate).

SLS is a harsh chemical that can irritate the skin and eyes and has been linked to various health concerns. While some argue that the concentration of SLS in Sal’s Suds is low enough to be safe, it is still a chemical that we believe should be avoided if possible.

Ingredients

  • Water,
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate*,
  • Coco-Betaine*,
  • Decyl Glucoside,
  • Siberian Fir Oil (Abies Sibirica Needle Oil),
  • Spruce Leaf Oil (Picea Glauca Leaf Oil),
  • Citric Acid,
  • Sodium Sulfate,
  • Sodium Chloride,
  • Potassium Hydroxide

Potential irritants: 1*

J.R. Watkins

Laundry Powder Detergent

The detergent contains Sodium Alkyl Aryl Sulfonate and Primary Linear Alcohol Ethoxylate, both ethoxylated ingredients that can be contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane, known carcinogens.

While the concentration of these chemicals may be low, we still believe that we should inform consumers of the potential risks associated with using products containing these ingredients.

Ingredients

  • Sodium Sulfate,
  • Sodium Carbonate,
  • Sodium Percarbonate,
  • Sodium Alkyl Aryl Sulfonate,
  • Primary Linear Alcohol Ethoxylate

Grab Green

Natural 3-in-1 Laundry Detergent Powder

Despite marketing itself as a clean and non-toxic option, this detergent contains several ingredients that we recommend avoiding. Due to this concern, we are unable to recommend it as a safe and healthy choice.

Ingredients

  • Sodium Carbonate,
  • Sodium Carbonate Peroxide,
  • Sodium Citrate,
  • Sodium Silicate,
  • Sodium C10-16 Alkylbenzenesulfonate,
  • C10-16 Alkyl Benzenesulfonic Acid Sodium Salt,
  • Hydrated Silica,
  • C9-11 Pareth-6,
  • C10-16 Pareth-1,
  • Subtilisin,
  • Amylase,
  • Sodium Sulfate,
  • Diamyl Sodium Sulfosuccinate

Seventh Generation

Free & Clear Liquid Laundry Detergent
Price: $10.39 ($0.23 per oz)

This detergent contains SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate), a harsh chemical that can irritate the skin and eyes and has been linked to a range of health concerns. Additionally, it contains Laureth-6, another ingredient that can be irritating to the skin and eyes.

Furthermore, the detergent contains Methylisothiazolinone (MI), a widely used preservative in various consumer products, including laundry detergent. However, MI has been associated with a range of concerns, including allergic reactions, neurotoxicity, and cytotoxicity.

Ingredients

  • Water,
  • Laureth-6,
  • Sodium Citrate,
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate*,
  • Sodium Chloride,
  • Sodium Oleate,
  • Calcium Chloride,
  • Protease,
  • Amylase,
  • Mannanase,
  • Citric Acid,
  • Benzisothiazolinone,
  • Methylisothiazolinone

Method

Free & Clear Laundry Detergent

We were disappointed to find that Method’s Free & Clear detergent contains Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), a harsh chemical that can irritate the skin and eyes and has been linked to a range of health concerns.

Furthermore, the detergent contains Methylisothiazolinone (MI), a widely used preservative in various consumer products, including laundry detergent. However, MI has been associated with a range of concerns, including allergic reactions, neurotoxicity, and cytotoxicity.

For these reasons, we can’t recommend it.

Ingredients

  • Water,
  • C12-16 Pareth-7*,
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate*,
  • Glycerin,
  • Ethanol,
  • Sodium Chloride,
  • Coconut Fatty Acid,
  • Trisodium Salt of Methylglycinediacetic Acid,
  • Polyester,
  • Carboxymethylinulin,
  • Calcium Chloride,
  • Protease,
  • Sodium Hydroxide*,
  • Disodium Distyrylbiphenyl Disulfonate,
  • Pectinase,
  • Amylase, Alpha -,
  • Benzylisothiazolinone,
  • Phenoxyethanol*,
  • Methylisothiazolinone,
  • Mannanase,
  • Denatonium Benzoate

Potential irritants: 2*

Non-Toxic Laundry Detergents Rated: Avoid

Nine of the laundry detergents we looked at deserved a rating of Bad. These detergents contain one or more ingredients on our list of banned ingredients, and we strongly recommend avoiding them.

Mrs. Meyer's

Laundry Detergent
Price: $17.99 ($0.28 per oz)

We can’t recommend Mrs. Meyers’ laundry detergent because it contains methylisothiazolinone. Read our guide above for the full reason why we recommend avoiding this ingredient.

Ingredients

  • Water,
  • Lauryl Glucoside,
  • Laureth-7,
  • Sodium Methyl 2-Sulfolaurate,
  • Coconut Acid,
  • Fragrance,
  • Sodium Citrate,
  • Subtilisin,
  • Basil Oil (Ocimum Basilicum Oil),
  • Parsley Seed Oil (Carum Petroselinum Seed Oil),
  • Black Pepper Oil (Piper Nigrum Oil),
  • Amylase,
  • Mannanase,
  • Lipase,
  • Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate,
  • Sodium Sulfate,
  • Sodium Chloride,
  • Potassium Hydroxide,
  • Methylisothiazolinone

BioKleen

Citrus Laundry Liquid
Price: $17.99 ($0.28 per oz)

This laundry detergent contains a number of chemicals we recommend avoiding, including Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and C12-16 Pareth-7. For this reason, we can’t recommend this product.

Ingredients

  • Water,
  • C12-16 Pareth-7*,
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate*,
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine*,
  • Lauramine Oxide,
  • Sodium Citrate,
  • Limonene*,
  • Glycerin,
  • Sodium Carboxymethyl Inulin,
  • Sodium Chloride,
  • Phenoxyethanol*

ECOS

Free & Clear Hypoallergenic Laundry Detergent
Price: $14.99 ($0.15 per oz)

This laundry detergent from ECOS unfortunately contains methylisothiazolinone, an ingredient on our banned list. Because of this, we can’t recommend it.

Ingredients

  • Water,
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine*,
  • Sodium Coco-Sulfate,
  • Cocamidopropylamine Oxide,
  • Phenoxyethanol*,
  • Methylisothiazolinone

ECOS

Hypoallergenic Lavender Liquid Laundry Detergent

Because this detergent contains methylisothiazolinone we can’t recommend it. Read our full description above on why we recommend avoiding this ingredient.

Ingredients

  • Water,
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine*,
  • Sodium Coco-Sulfate,
  • Cocamidopropylamine Oxide,
  • Phenoxyethanol*,
  • Methylisothiazolinone,
  • Lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia Oil)

Potential irritants: 2*

Everspring

Free & Clear Liquid Laundry Detergent

Everspring laundry detergent, a Target brand, is marketed as an eco-friendly and natural cleaning option. However, upon reviewing its ingredients, we have some concerns.

The detergent contains Sodium Alkyl Aryl Sulfonate and Primary Linear Alcohol Ethoxylate, both ethoxylated ingredients that can be contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane, known carcinogens.

While the concentration of these chemicals may be low, we still believe that we should inform consumers of the potential risks associated with using products containing these ingredients.

Ingredients

  • Water,
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate*,
  • Laureth-6,
  • Sodium Oleate,
  • Propanediol,
  • Sodium Gluconate,
  • Phenoxyethanol*,
  • Amylase,
  • Cellulase,
  • Lipase,
  • Mannanase,
  • Pectinase,
  • Protease,
  • Citric Acid,
  • Sodium Chloride,
  • Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate,
  • Fragrance

Potential irritants: 1*

Love Home and Planet

Lavender & Argan Oil Concentrated Laundry Detergent

Watch out for this greenwashing brand—although it’s called Love Home and Planet, the formulation is full of ingredients on our banned list. From laureth-6 to Watch out for this greenwashing brand—although it’s called Love Home and Planet, the formulation is full of ingredients on our banned list. Methylisothiazolinone stands out in particular—click here to read why we recommend avoiding it.

Ingredients

  • Water,
  • Laureth-6,
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate*,
  • Sodium Citrate,
  • Glycerin,
  • Oleic Acid,
  • Fragrance,
  • Sodium Hydroxide*,
  • Sodium Chloride,
  • Calcium Chloride,
  • Protease,
  • Amylase,
  • Mannanase,
  • Benzisothiazolinone,
  • Methylisothiazolinone,
  • Lavender Flower Extract (Lavandula Angustifolia Flower Extract),
  • Argan Oil (Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil),
  • Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone*,
  • Citronellol*,
  • Coumarin*,
  • Limonene*,
  • Linalool*

Potential irritants: 5*

Gain

White Tea & Lavender Plant Based Laundry Detergent

Upon reviewing its ingredients, we have concerns about Gain Botanicals laundry detergent, which is marketed as a plant-based and eco-friendly option for those seeking a natural cleaning solution. One of the main issues with this detergent is that it contains SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate), a harsh chemical that can irritate the skin and eyes and has been linked to a range of health concerns. Additionally, the product contains fragrance, which can be a mix of various chemicals that are not disclosed on the label.

Sensitive individuals have reported that fragrances in cleaning products can cause skin irritation, headaches, and other adverse reactions. Unfortunately, the exact composition of fragrances is not required to be disclosed on labels, making it difficult to determine what specific chemicals are used in Gain Botanicals’ fragrance.

Ingredients

  • Water,
  • Propylene Glycol*,
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate*,
  • C12-16 Pareth,
  • Sodium Citrate,
  • Sodium Salts Of C12-18 Fatty Acids,
  • C10-16 Alkyldimethylamine Oxide,
  • Polyethyleneimine Alkoxylated,
  • Fragrance,
  • Sodium Borate,
  • Sodium Formate,
  • Alcohol,
  • Amylase

Potential irritants: 1*

All

Free & Clear Liquid Detergent for Sensitive Skin

This laundry detergent may advertise itself as “Free & Clear” but it’s anything but—it’s full of ingredients we recommend avoiding. For this reason, this product is not recommended.

Ingredients

  • Water,
  • C12-15 Pareth-7,
  • Sodium Citrate,
  • Sodium Laureth-12 Sulfate,
  • C10-16 Alkyl Benzenesulfonic Acid Sodium Salt,
  • Triethanolamine*,
  • Alcohol,
  • Sodium Cocoate,
  • Sodium Polyacrylate,
  • Tetrasodium Iminodisuccinate,
  • Disodium Distyrylbiphenyl Disulfonate,
  • Sodium Sulfate,
  • Calcium Chloride,
  • Subtilisin,
  • Methylisothiazolinone,
  • Methylchloroisothiazolinone,
  • Mannanase

Potential irritants: 1*

Solimo (Amazon)

Free & Clear Concentrated Liquid Laundry Detergent

Amazon’s in-house brand Solimo leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to ingredient safety. This laundry detergent is full of ingredients we recommend avoiding, and for this reason, we strongly recommend avoiding this detergent.

Ingredients

  • C12-15 Alcohols Ethoxylated,
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate,
  • Sodium Citrate,
  • Benzenesulfonic Acid, C10-16-Alkyl Derivs.,
  • Alcohol,
  • Sodium C10-16 Alkylbenzenesulfonate,
  • Sodium Cocoate,
  • Tetrasodium Iminodisuccinate,
  • Disodium Distyrylbiphenyl Disulfonate,
  • 2-Propenoic Acid, Telomer with Sodiumsulfite,
  • Benzene, C10-13 Alkyl Derivatives,
  • Calcium Chloride,
  • Protease,
  • 2-Bromo-2 Nitropropane-1,3-Diol,
  • Methylisothiazolinone,
  • Methylchloroisothiazolinone

Reasons To Avoid Conventional Laundry Detergent (And Use Non-Toxic Instead)

Non-toxic laundry detergents are free from harsh chemicals and artificial fragrances typically found in traditional detergents, making them more eco-friendly and safe. Here are four reasons why you should consider buying non-toxic laundry detergent:

1. They’re better for sensitive skin. If you have sensitive skin prone to irritation, you’ll want to steer clear of conventional laundry detergents. Many of the ingredients used in regular detergents you’ll find at stores include several ingredients that can be irritating to sensitive skin. If this sounds like you, many people have found relief by switching to a non-toxic laundry detergent that skips the harsh ingredients.

A 2018 study found a link between laundry detergent residues and adverse effects in those with asthma, through disruption of bronchial epithelial cell stability. Another 2022 study found that exposure to laundry detergent caused skin inflammation and possible development of allergies in lab rat studies.

2. They’re better for those with allergies. Conventional laundry detergents can contain a variety of chemicals that can trigger allergic responses and respiratory issues. Non-toxic laundry detergents, on the other hand, are made with natural and non-harmful ingredients that are less likely to cause these types of reactions.

3. They’re better for young children. Babies have sensitive skin and lungs, and all those potent cleaning agents and fragrances can irritate them. If you have a little one in your home, switching to a gentler, non-toxic laundry detergent would be a great idea.

4. They’re better for the environment. Those harsh cleaning chemicals, optical brighteners, and fragrances are terrible for our aquatic life. When you use conventional laundry detergents, these ingredients get washed down the drain and into waterways, where they can cause significant harm. By switching to a non-toxic option, you can help keep our water safe for aquatic life.

5. They’ll make your clothes last longer. The lack of harsh chemicals in non-toxic laundry detergents also helps keep your clothes looking their best for longer. Traditional detergents can break down the fibers in your clothing, causing them to fade and wear out more quickly. Non-toxic options are gentler on fabrics and will help keep them looking good longer.

How to Choose the Right Non-Toxic Laundry Detergent

With the growing awareness of the potential adverse health and environmental effects caused  by conventional laundry detergents, more and more people are turning to non-toxic options. However, with so many options available on the market, choosing the right non-toxic laundry detergent can be a bit overwhelming.

Here are some key factors to consider when selecting a non-toxic laundry detergent:

  • Ingredients: Look for detergents made with natural and organic ingredients, such as plant-based surfactants, essential oils, and enzymes. Avoid detergents that contain harmful chemicals like phosphates, chlorine bleach, and synthetic fragrances.
  • Skin sensitivity: If you have sensitive skin prone to irritation, choose a product free from harsh chemicals and fragrances. Our list contains several fragrance-free options to choose from.
  • Price: Non-toxic laundry detergents can be more expensive than conventional options, but the cost is worth it for the health and environmental benefits. Consider the cost per load and look for more concentrated detergents, which can help offset the higher cost. You can also compare the price per load of different non-toxic laundry detergents to find one that fits your budget.
  • Animal welfare: If you are concerned about animal welfare, look for non-toxic laundry detergents that are cruelty-free and don’t test on animals. A good resource for finding cruelty-free brands is Cruelty-Free Kitty.

The Effect of Detergents on Our Health

The chemicals found in conventional laundry detergent have been linked to a range of potential health effects. The exact effect these ingredients may have depends on a variety of factors, including age, pre-existing health conditions, and how many chemicals overall we’re exposed to in our daily lives.

Here are some of the ways that regular laundry detergents can mess with our health:

  • Irritated skin
  • Development of allergies
  • Eye irritation
  • Hormone disruption causing fertility problems

Even if you’ve used conventional laundry detergent for a while and haven’t experienced any negative health effects, it’s always a good idea to switch to a safer option to prevent future health problems. Chemicals can add up over time in our bodies and the environment, so making the change can make a big difference over time.

Ingredients to Avoid In Laundry Detergent

When choosing a non-toxic laundry detergent, it’s important to be aware of the ingredients to avoid. Some of the most common ingredients to look out for include the following:

Optical Brighteners. These chemicals make clothes appear brighter and, therefore, cleaner. They work by absorbing ultraviolet light and re-emitting it as visible light, making whites and other light colors appear brighter and more vibrant.

Optical brighteners come in three categories:

  • Fluorescent brightening agents (FBAs)
  • Fluorescent whitening agents (FWAs)
  • Optical brightening agents (OBAs)

Optical brighteners are often listed on ingredient labels by their chemical names, the most commonly used are anionic diamino stilbene or distyryl biphenyl with abbreviations DAS and DSB, or as the categories listed above.

They may also be listed as “brighteners,” “whiteners,” or “fluorescent agents.” Typically, brighteners are not included in detergents for colored fabrics

You should avoid optical brighteners for three main reasons:

  • They’re toxic to aquatic life.
  • They’re toxic to us.
  • They can irritate sensitive skin.

Certain optical brighteners can bioaccumulate in our tissues and aquatic life, causing unknown health effects. It has also been found that these chemicals remain and travel in the environment for long periods of time, which could result in continued (or repeated) exposure to wildlife and humans. .

Finally, these ingredients can be irritating to those with sensitive skin in certain cases. This is because the brighteners need to cling to the clothing fabric to have the intended effect, where they can potentially irritate the skin.

Phosphates. These are becoming less common in laundry detergents but have been used previously to help remove dirt and stains,  and have been shown to harm aquatic life when released into waterways.

When phosphates enter the water, they act as a nutrient fertilizer for algae. This causes an increase in algal growth that kills aquatic animals, and can taint drinking water. For this reason, phosphates are often listed as a pollutant on labels.

In 2010, seventeen states banned the use of phosphates in dishwasher detergent. 

Chlorine Bleach. This is another common ingredient found in many conventional laundry detergents for whitening and brightening fabrics. Unfortunately, chlorine bleach is a highly toxic chemical that can damage our health and the environment.

SLS / SLES (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate). These are chemicals often used in cleaning products, including laundry detergents. They are surfactants, which means that they help to remove dirt and oils from surfaces and create the foaming action you’re familiar with.

However, SLS and SLES can irritate the skin and eyes if the amount in the laundry detergent is too high.

SLES is formed from SLS, and is less irritating than SLS, but it carries the risk of being contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane, both potential carcinogens. For this reason, we recommend avoiding any that have SLS or SLES.

Dyes. Many laundry detergents contain synthetic dyes, which are added to make the product more visually appealing. Unfortunately, these dyes can irritate sensitive skin and may contain chemicals linked to cancer and other severe health conditions. What’s worse is that they do nothing to improve the effectiveness of the detergent.

Methylisothiazolinone. This ingredient (MI) is a widely used preservative in various consumer products, including laundry detergent. However, it has been associated with a range of health effects, including allergic reactions, hormone disruption, cytotoxicity, and potentially neurotoxicity. MI has been known to cause skin irritation and allergic contact dermatitis, particularly in those with sensitive skin. Lab studies on the brain cells of mammals suggest that MI may be developmentally neurotoxic (cause effects on infant and child neurodevelopment).

The Problem With Synthetic Fragrances

The topic of fragrance in laundry products is so important that it deserves its own section.

Synthetic fragrances are commonly used in laundry detergents and other personal care products to give them a pleasant scent. However, at Better Goods, we recommend avoiding products—especially laundry detergents—that use chemical fragrance.

It’s common to see the terms “fragrance” or “parfum” on ingredient lists without disclosing the chemicals that make up the fragrance. This is because fragrances are considered trade secrets under US law, and companies are not required to disclose the specific ingredients that make up the scent.

The problem is that many ingredients used in fragrance can be potentially harmful to human health, and since there is no disclosure of the ingredients used, we have no idea what might be lurking behind that pleasant scent.

For these reasons, avoiding laundry detergents and other personal care products containing synthetic fragrances is best.

A Disturbing Study on Laundry Product Fragrance

The effect of fragranced laundry products has been analyzed in lab settings.

A 2018 study looked at the impact of using fragranced laundry products (like detergent, fabric softener, and dryer sheets) on household air quality.

The study found that these fragranced products released volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air, which are believed to be harmful to human health and the environment.

They focused on a specific chemical called D-limonene, which has been linked to skin and eye irritation, and breathing difficulties. D-limonene is actually produced, naturally, by citrus fruits (orange, lemon, grapefruit) so its addition may primarily affect those sensitive to citrus or with pre-existing health conditions. 

The study found that using fragranced laundry products significantly increased the levels of D-limonene in the air coming from using a clothes dryer in the home, compared to using fragrance-free products.

However, when households switched from using fragranced products to fragrance-free products, the levels of D-limonene in the air coming from the dryer vents were reduced by up to 99.7%. Using fragrance-free laundry products can help reduce the risk of exposure to harmful VOCs and improve home air quality.

This is only one example of a specific fragrance, but there are many others used in laundry detergent so in order to stay safe, we strongly recommend avoiding laundry detergent with synthetic fragrances.

Other Things To Know About Natural Laundry Detergents

There are a few other key points to know about natural laundry detergents:

  • Non-toxic laundry detergents may not be as effective at stain removal: While non-toxic laundry detergents are generally effective at cleaning clothes, they may not be as effective at removing tough stains as conventional detergents. This is because they don’t contain the chemicals that—while harsh—are very effective at breaking down stains. However, there are natural stain removers available that can be used in conjunction with non-toxic laundry detergents.
  • Non-toxic laundry detergents are more expensive: Non-toxic laundry detergents can be more expensive than conventional options, due to the higher cost of production and absence of preservatives . However, the cost is worth it—prioritizing our health and the environment is always the right choice. Additionally, some non-toxic laundry detergents are more concentrated, so you can use less per load, helping to offset the higher cost.
  • You may need to adjust the amount of detergent you use when switching to a natural brand. Since many natural detergents are concentrated, it’s important to follow the instructions on the label to avoid using too much.
  • Safety should still be exercised with natural laundry detergents. While natural laundry detergents are generally considered safer and more eco-friendly than conventional ones, it’s still important to handle them with care and keep them out of reach of children and pets. Natural ingredients, such as essential oils, can be toxic if ingested in large quantities.
  • Some non-toxic laundry detergents may come in different forms, such as powder or liquid. It’s important to follow the instructions on the label to ensure that you are using the correct amount for your washing machine and the level of dirt and stains on your clothing.

In Conclusion

Switching to a non-toxic laundry detergent can have a significant impact on both your health and the environment. By avoiding harmful chemicals such as synthetic fragrances, SLES and SLS, ethoxylated ingredients, phosphates, chlorine bleach, optical brighteners, and enzymes, you can reduce your exposure to toxic substances and minimize the negative impact on the environment.

Even after analyzing all of the detergents that advertise themselves as clean, many of them contained ingredients we recommend avoiding. Much like other product categories, it’s so important to always look at ingredients lists to ensure safety.

For quick recommendations for all clean laundry detergents we rated Best:

 
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