If you’re concerned about finding the right laundry detergent I totally feel you. From miscellaneous chemicals and fragrances to sensitivity issues and other health concerns, there is a lot to consider. But, stubborn stains, stinky smells and shifty ingredients are no match for these powerful natural laundry detergent brands.
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Why choose non-toxic laundry detergent
Similar to clean beauty and blue beauty products (or any of the many concoctions we rely on every day), finding non-toxic laundry detergent boils down to making the right choice for our health and for the environment.
Human health concerns
And just like everything else, conventional detergents tend to feature harmful chemicals like you wouldn’t believe. Things like fragrances (and their undisclosed chemical contents), synthetic dyes, surfactants, bleach, phosphates and even harmful bi-products like 1, 4-Dioxane.
Though we know these ingredients to be harmful to humans, they are somehow okay in products that come into contact with our skin and our ecosystems and remain on the shelves at our local supermarkets.
Take a surfactant like petroleum distillate for example, also referred to as naphthas. They’ve been found to damage the mucous membranes and lungs, and cause inflammation, asthma, and maybe even cancer. But you wouldn’t know it considering they are still widely used in conventional laundry detergents.
Some of these harmful chemicals do not even need to be disclosed. Take 1, 4-Dioxane. Since it is not an ingredient but the chemical bi-product of a process used during the manufacturing process (ethoxylation: inexpensive shortcut companies use to produce softer, sudsier detergent), manufacturers are not required to list it on product labels. Even though it is likely to be carcinogenic and the outcome of decision making on the part of conventional brands.
The hundreds of chemicals in the fragrances designed to perfume our fresh laundry do not have to be disclosed either, where they are treated as trade secrets.
The slew of chemicals in conventional detergents also poses a threat to aquatic life when they enter our waterways. Phosphate, which is commonly found in laundry detergents, can lead to eutrophication in excess; completely destabilizing aquatic ecosystems, and in some cases rendering them lifeless and putrid.
Conventional detergents can also come with a hefty footprint during the manufacturing process, where their production is done unsustainably. Powered by fossil fuels, from petroleum-derived chemicals to plastic packaging, and the fossil fuel-based energy sources used to power operations; conventional products leave a lot to desire. Not to mention the inefficient and irresponsible use of precious resources like water.
Choosing brands that produce and offer ethical products is therefore our best bet on several fronts.
From all-natural bleach alternatives and zero waste cleaning to eco-friendly refillable cleaning products and plant-based laundry detergent; better products are now way more accessible. And you’ll see just what I mean when you get into some of the best natural laundry detergent brands featured in this article.
How we choose the best organic laundry detergent
Before we get into some of my favourite brands for better laundry detergent, let’s look at what I consider when choosing these brands; all of which you can keep in mind to make informed choices of your own.
Here too we must be mindful to avoid brands who are greenwashing their products and doing nothing to make our lives any greener at all.
So when searching for laundry detergent, look for phosphate-free, dye-free, biodegradable detergents, made of all-natural or naturally-derived ingredients. We want to make sure we avoid the laundry list of harmful chemicals found in conventional products.
I make sure to choose formulas that work in cold water too because using cold water helps to reduce the energy consumption and carbon footprint associated with using washing machines; just by switching to cold water when we wash our clothes. Concentrated formulas are also best since they require less packaging.
Avoiding plastic packaging and reaching for biodegradable options instead is best too. Shopping with your own reusable container at your local natural food store remains ideal though. They are very likely to carry some of the best natural non-toxic detergents, including a fragrance-free option.
It’s also best to shop brands who manufacture their products as near to us as possible. Since I am in Canada I favour products made in Canada.
I always try to reach for cruelty-free products that are vegan-friendly and made of organic ingredients too.
Palm oil is a big no-no because of sourcing issues; where responsible sourcing is a priority all around. So brands that avoid using palm oil and make sure to source their ingredients and other materials as best as possible are also highly favoured.
Helpful certifications to look out for here include ECOCERT which verifies social and environmental claims; and the EWG (Environmental Working Group) certification which focuses on avoiding harmful chemicals.
Top picks for best natural laundry detergent
This list of trusted brands are sure to make your search for better detergent a whole lot easier. Some of the products featured do use recyclable plastic containers which is not ideal; however, they are more widely available and help more people access better detergent.
Inspired by his mother and her commitment to honesty, simplicity and green cleaning far before it was cool; James Roberts created Nellie’s and its line of all eco-friendly, hypoallergenic and highly effective laundering products in her honour.
I especially love their Laundry Soda Tin. While it might be a little bit pricier than other detergents, clothes are left perfectly clean and odour-free; with just one tablespoon of this concentrated formula fit for hot or cold water.
Their formula is also biodegradable, vegan, hypoallergenic, with no SLS, phosphates, fragrance, bleach or other harmful ingredients to worry about either. With no fragrance, Nellie’s Laundry Soda Tin makes for one of the best natural detergents for sensitive skin.
My review: I've used Nellie's for years and love their products, hands down its one of my favourite natural detergents and if you have allergies this is a great option for you and your clothes. You also don't have to use as much, a full scoop was not needed for me on a full load, it was trail and error so see how you go. For tough stains take a look at Nellie's Laundry Booster.
AspenClean is a line of green cleaning products, on a mission to keep us and our families safe from the harmful chemicals commonly found in conventional cleaning products.
All of their offerings, ingredients and manufacturing processes are certified as sustainable by ECOCERT; certified vegan and cruelty-free by Leaping Bunny, and rated as safe by EWG.
For laundering, their hypoallergenic, natural laundry detergent is made from plant-derived ingredients; perfect for anyone with allergies or sensitivities, and for babies too.
For scent, AspenClean uses organic essential oils like eucalyptus & rosemary or lavender & lemongrass. No artificial fragrances in sight. They also make sure to offer an unscented option.
Suitable for all water temperatures and all washing machines, you can rest assured that AspenClean’s EWG laundry detergent will be free of irritants, carcinogens, or any other dangerous chemicals; while remaining effective.
My review: This detergent will hold up against any conventional one you have used. The scented version smells absolutely wondefrul, its delicate and not over powering. I've never had an issue with any of Aspen's cleaning products and in fact its the one I probably recommend the most to people who are looking to try natural for the first time. Thumbs up all round.
Dropps prides itself on being the very first laundry detergent pods. With roots in the textile manufacturing industry, their detergent pods are designed to be tough on stains, but gentle on clothes; using only the safest ingredients and no animal testing.
Manufactured in the United States, their selection of eco-friendly laundry detergent pods are available in several scents, with an unscented option too.
Best of all, their pods are shipped in recyclable, compostable, and repulpable boxes so no pesky plastic bottles or pouches here.
With a commitment to offering eco-responsible products, they also partner with Clearloop to fund the construction of new solar projects in Jackson, TN, in an effort to reclaim 100% of the carbon emissions associated with the shipping of their products, and the energy usage of all of their employees working from home in 2021.
A BIPOC owned brand, PUR Home is dedicated to creating simple and sustainable products for anyone to use. Favouring plant-based, biodegradable, sulfate-free and non-toxic ingredients, their selection of products make for some of the best eco laundry detergents.
Their 50 oz liquid option was voted the Best Liquid Laundry Detergent in 2021 by Parents Magazine and comes in a biodegradable and compostable bottle.
It is also effective and compatible with all washing machines, water temperatures, using hard or soft water. No SLS, synthetic perfume, enzymes, dyes, 1, 4 -Dioxane, optical brighteners or any other ingredients known to harm humans here either.
Nature Clean is a Canadian brand offering safe and mindfully crafted household products, with the planet in mind.
Though you will find some plastics here, their naturally-derived, hypoallergenic and biodegradable household products include some of the best non-toxic laundry detergent to choose from.
Their selection of liquid detergents stink bombs, oxy stain remover powder, and dryer balls also include laundry detergent sheets featuring absolutely no plastics. These detergent sheets are also allergy tested, dermatologist tested and safe for sensitive skin. Plus, all of their products are manufactured and packaged in Canada.
My review: I was skeptical about laundry strips but was pleasantly surprised at how well these work. Laundry was fresh and clean, I've made the switch to using these in my home, no more plastic bottles which I love. Zero waste laundry products are becoming more popular and they have certainly changes the way I do my laundry.
A family-owned company based in Laval (Quebec), Biovert has made it its mission to develop low environmental impact household products, for a clean home free of any allergens and carcinogens.
For laundry, their detergents and fabric softeners are biodegradable and made using all-natural ingredients; while remaining extremely effective in both warm and cold water.
Compatible with all washers, you will find options available in several scents, including fresh cotton and morning dew, or with no fragrance at all. No synthetic fragrances or other harmful chemicals either, for one of the best eco laundry detergents.
My review: Like AspenClean this is an excel detergent and will feel and preform in the same way as the one you might used to using. I especially love this brand for my towels and dish cloths.
Using plant-derived ingredients and essential oils, Mrs. Meyer’s works to make cleaning a little more pleasant by offering thoughtfully formulated products that smell great and remain tough on dirt and grime.
Their earth-friendly household cleaners include some of the best chemical-free laundry detergent, available in a variety of intriguing scents like lavender, lemon verbena, rainwater, honeysuckle, basil and more. They also offer a Baby Blossom Laundry Detergent which is effective on stains, with aromas of spring wildflowers, apple & mint.
Packaged in recyclable plastics or paper, you will also find laundry sets including detergent, fabric softener and their biodegradable dryer sheets.
Simply Clean offers a family of safe and effective products, made using no phosphates, halogenated or volatile organic solvents, enzymes, dyes, fragrances, NTA, EDTA, APEO, or NPE.
Their Washing Soda is a great natural solution for laundering; made of sodium carbonate derived from the solution mining of natural, trona mineral deposits.
Different from sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), sodium carbonate is composed of sodium and acid and causes no harm to the environment when used to launder our clothing.
It works well on dirt and stains in hard water, and can also be used as a descaler for coffee machines, bathroom tiles, faucets and more. Washing Soda is very hard to find, I am so happy well.ca carries it. If you love to make your own laundery deterget you will want to give this a go. You can mix this with your laundry detergent, its AMAZING for stain, simply place the clothes and 1/2 a cup in a bucket of water, let them sit then launder.
ATTITUDE is a Canada-based company offering personal care and household products using natural, hypoallergenic and EWG VERIFIED™ ingredients. They are also vegan, cruelty-free, PETA certified, and ECOLOGO certified.
To do their part to create a healthier and more sustainable world, ATTITUDE is mindful of their plastic use and offers biodegradable packaging and bulk sizes.
Their detergent is no different. Though plastic is involved, ATTITUDE uses only plant-derived ingredients to formulate a biodegradable yet effective cleaner. They also offer fabric softener, however only the laundry detergents are available in bulk (Eco-Refills).
You can even help remove some carbon from the atmosphere and have some trees planted on your behalf when you purchase a product with ATTITUDE. In partnership with Reforestation Projects and One Tree Planted, ATTITUDE commits to planting one tree for each product sold online or in a participating store.
My review: I was gifted a bunch on their products and boy do they work. The scent is very mild, but makes our clothes seem more fresh once they are laundered. The laundry detergent is also very effective; we use it in combination with the spray stain remover where needed. I love the fact that they offer this in refill too, this saves you money and reduces waste. Attitude is one of the most affordable natural laundry brands.
A certified B Corporation, Grove is an online brand and retailer working to bridge the gap between effective products, and healthier more sustainable ones. They believe we should never have to choose between a clean home and a clean planet. And we couldn’t agree more.
For laundry, reach for their plant-based laundry detergents. They offer a gentle yet effective clean in several variations including powder packs, detergent sheets, and liquid detergent; from their brand and others.
Though they do use some plastics, Grove is working to be 100% plastic-free by 2025. They also ensure that every order placed is plastic neutral and that every shipment is carbon neutral too.
The Honest Company is a baby and beauty store founded by actress Jessica Alba. With a commitment to offering mindfully made products that are safer for us and for the planet, you might find their Free & Clear Honest Laundry Detergent to be just what you need.
It is hypoallergenic, biodegradable, pH balanced and leaves textiles clean, softer and brighter. Free of SLS, synthetic perfume, dyes, phosphates, 1,4-Dioxane, and all of that other stuff, it is one of the best natural detergents for babies and for those with sensitive skin.
Based in Toronto, Canada, Milk & Honey Soapery strives to be an eco-friendly and waste-free shop. All of their soaps are made using natural ingredients like coconut, olive and sunflower; scented using essential oils.
Products are also packaged in paper bags made of 100% post-consumer recycled content, filled with paper shred, so no plastics here.
Their selection of mostly vegan-friendly soaps includes the Lift Stain Soap, a perfect addition to an earth-friendly laundry kit. Also free of preservatives, parabens, phthalate and gluten; and handmade using a coconut oil base; it works incredibly well at removing all kinds of tough stains.
Final thoughts on The Best Natural Laundry Detergent 2021
I hope this list has shown you that there is no absence of ethical products to choose from for healthier laundering. And that we don’t have to settle for the generic and unethical conventional products that still stock our shelves; with their toxic chemicals and irresponsible manufacturing practices.
If you are particularly interested in finding the best natural laundry detergent sheets, check out our top picks for zero waste laundry detergent. For other cleaning products, there are also some great Canadian natural cleaning products for that too.
When transitioning to any safer products, finishing leftovers if they have not expired is perfectly fine; unless you are very concerned and deem it best not to. Just make sure to figure out how to dispose of them safely and responsibly.
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