The Best Natural and Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergent Brands

Get your clothes fresh-smelling and clean with natural, non-toxic laundry detergent. Conventional laundry detergent contains ingredients that aren’t good for your health or for the planet. We’re sharing 8 brands of natural laundry detergent that are effective at dissolving dirt and stains without harmful chemicals.

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I love putting on fresh, warm clothes straight from the dryer, but I’ve never been a fan of strong, perfume-y scents. With my sensitive nose and my daughter’s sensitive skin, I’ve been super cautious to use gentle laundry detergent since she was a toddler. I’ve been trying out some new to me eco-friendly, non-toxic laundry detergent brands, and thought I’d share my experience.

Did you know companies that make laundry detergents are not required by law to disclose their ingredients?

When clothes are laundered, chemicals from the detergent can remain in the fabric. Those signature scents like Cherry Blossom and Botanical Rain are designed to permeate and stay in the fabric.

Synthetic fragrance contains phthalates to help your clothes smell “fresh and clean” all day and beyond. If you suffer from allergies and asthma, breathing in that fresh scent could exacerbate your symptoms. Hundreds of chemicals can be included in the “fragrance” label on an ingredient list. These chemicals may contain endocrine disruptors, allergens, respiratory irritants and possible neurotoxic chemicals and carcinogens (1).

Want to know why the optical brighteners in conventional detergents make clothes look so white? Optical brighteners have nothing to do with actually getting your clothes cleaner. They work by absorbing ultraviolet light and emitting visible blue light. This blue light tricks your eye by cancelling out any yellow or gray hues (2). Optical brighteners can cause irritation to those with sensitive skin (3).

Laundry detergent gets its cleaning power from surfactants. Surfactants in conventional laundry detergents can include chemicals that are hormone disruptors and some that are possible carcinogens (see below). Natural laundry detergent formulas contain non-toxic ingredients, like coconut oil-based surfactants, for cleaning power.

By purchasing natural laundry detergent that’s free from synthetic fragrance, optical brighteners, artificial colors and surfactants that are harmful to your health (like Nonylphenol ethoxylate and Linear alkyl benzene sultanates (LAS)), you’re making healthier choices for your family and for the environment.

AVOID THESE INGREDIENTS IN CONVENTIONAL LAUNDRY DETERGENT

  • Quaternium-15– Used as a preservative in detergent. It releases formaldehyde, a known carcinogen (4). It’s also an allergen and can cause contact dermatitis, rashes and skin inflammation (5).
  • Diethanolamine  A detergent that can cause irritation to skin and eyes. It’s linked to liver and kidney tumors and developmental and reproductive toxicity in animal studies (6).
  • ER, KSN, OB, OB-1 These are common trade names for optical brighteners. They can cause skin irritation (7). Optical brighteners can cause developmental and reproductive effects in aquatic animals (8).
  • Nonylphenol ethoxylate A detergent and known endocrine disruptor. This chemical interferes with hormone signaling in our bodies (9).
  • Linear alkyl benzene sultanates (LAS) A detergent that can produce toxic fumes during production. This is one of the most commonly used surfactants. One study found that LAS increases the growth rate of colon cancer cells in vivo (10). Benzene, a known carcinogen (11), is produced during the manufacturing process. LAS is also a skin and eye irritant and can be toxic to aquatic life.
  • Petroleum distillates They’re also called naphthas, and are a detergent. This chemical is associated with neurotoxicity (12) and lung damage (13).
  • Artificial (synthetic) fragrances Artificial fragrance is found in laundry detergent (also found in dryer sheets and fabric softener). Artificial fragrances can cause irritation to the skin and eyes. Some artificial fragrances  are suspected carcinogens and may contain phthalates, which help scents last longer. Phthalates mimic hormones, interrupting hormone production (14). A 2018 review found that current human exposure to phthalates may have effects on the male reproductive system (15).
  • 1,4-Dioxane You won’t often find 1,4-dioxane listed on ingredient labels—it’s a contaminant and byproduct from processing other chemicals, like Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Polyethylene glycol, added to laundry detergent. 1,4-dioxane is a known human respiratory toxicant and likely human carcinogen (16, 17).

LAUNDRY DETERGENT AND THE ENVIRONMENT

The chemicals listed above get drained out along with your wastewater. In a USGS survey study, detergent metabolites were detected in 69 percent of streams tested (16).  We can all reduce the strain on our aquatic ecosystem and support a healthier environment by switching to a natural laundry detergent with eco-friendly, non-toxic ingredients.

From liquid to powder to pods to tablets to sheets, look below for 8 of the best natural, non-toxic and eco-friendly laundry detergent brands that get your clothes clean without harmful chemicals.

Natural & Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergent Guide

THE BEST NATURAL LAUNDRY DETERGENT BRANDS

Molly’s Suds Laundry Powder

Kind Laundry Detergent Sheets

  • EWG Rating: Not rated
  • Cost: $16.95 for 4.4 oz, 60 sheets ($0.28 per load)
  • From the Kind Laundry website: No more skin irritation and allergies with our 100% non-toxic laundry strips making it safe for newborn babies and those with skin sensitivities. Our biodegradable laundry strips are hypoallergenic and made from plant-derived ingredients. there is absolutely no plastic waste with our packaging. A 100% biodegradable package makes our laundry strips a much kinder and safer laundry detergent solution for the environment, your skin and your clothes. Pros: saves space, zero mess, travel-friendly, pre cut.
  • Shop: Kind Laundry Detergent Sheets

Attitude Laundry Detergent

  • Cost: $26.95 for 67.6 oz ($0.40 per ounce, $0.34 per load)
  • EWG Rating: A
  • From the Attitude website: Liven up your laundry routine with ATTITUDE Nature + Technology™ Laundry Detergent. ECOLOGO Certified and formulated with only natural and plant-derived ingredients like green tea extract, our laundry detergent will keep your clothes smelling fresh and clean thanks to its advanced deodorizing formula. Plus, it’s biodegradable and sustainable, and contains no irritating enzymes – making it perfect for your family and the environment. Laundry away, worry-free!
  • Scents: Pink Grapefruit, Wildflowers, Citrus Zest, Summer Berries, Mountain Fresh, Lavender, and unscented
  • Shop: Attitude Laundry Detergent, Attitude Baby Laundry Detergent

Grab Green 3in1 Laundry Detergent Pods

  • EWG Rating: A
  • Cost: $0.31 per load, price goes down with larger amount of pods
  • Scents: Fragrance Free, Vetiver, Lavender with Vanilla, Gardenia
  • Highlights from the website: Our product combines deep-cleaning concentrated detergent, stain remover, and brightener, all in one! Outperformed Tide in stain and soil removal in a third party test. Works in all temperatures and HE washing machines.
  • Shop: Grab Green 3in1 Laundry Detergent Pods

Meliora Laundry Powder

  • EWG Score: A
  • Cost: $0.16 per load
  • Scents: Unscented, Lavender, Lemon, Lemon Lavender Clove
  • Highlights from the website: Each item is Vegan, Cruelty-Free, and MADE SAFE Certified. 1% of every sale goes towards environmental causes. Instructions for use: Add Laundry Powder directly to washer with clothes. For HE Washers, use 1/2 scoop (1/2 tablespoon). For Standard Washers, use 1 scoop (1 tablespoon). Single-use plastic, dye, preservatives, palm oil, synthetic fragrances and brighteners. Also animal cruelty free.
  • Shop: Meliora Laundry Powder

Healthynest Laundry Concentrate

  • Cost: $60 for 34 oz ($1.76 per ounce, $0.35 per load) This is a concentrated formula, so only 2-3 pumps is required per load
  • EWG Rating: EWG Verified
  • From the Healthybaby website: This concentrate is 100% plant and mineral-based, which means it’s non-toxic, neurologically safe for Baby, and microbiome-friendly. Easy to use and HE compatible. 34oz concentrate which makes 170 loads of laundry (2-3 pumps from the bottle per load).
  • Shop: Healthynest Laundry Concentrate

Dirty Labs Bio Laundry Detergent with Phytolase

  • Cost: $13 for 32 loads ($0.41 per load)
  • EWG Rating: EWG Verified
  • From the Dirty Labs website: Dirty Labs Bio Laundry Detergent tackles dirty laundry with clean science. Phytolase®, our advanced enzyme cleaning technology precision targets stains and odors at their source while being extra gentle for you, your clothes, and the planet. Consciously formulated with nontoxic, biobased ingredients, our Bio Laundry Detergents are readily biodegradable, safe for sensitive skin, and free of dyes, sulfates, parabens, and all California Prop. 65 chemicals. Our unscented Free & Clear detergent is free of dyes and fragrances and is formulated for the most sensitive skin. Recognized by the National Eczema Association (NEA).  Made proudly in the USA. Septic-Safe.
  • Shop: Dirty Labs Bio Laundry Detergent with Phytolase

Eco-Me Natural Laundry Detergent

  • EWG Rating: A
  • Cost: $0.23 per load
  • Scents: Fragrance-Free, Vanilla Bean, Citrus Berry, Lavender Blossom
  • Highlights from the website: This 2X concentrated natural Laundry Detergent is tough on dirt and stains, yet gentle on sensitive skin. It fights stubborn stains without harmful chemicals. Its clean and safe formula contains powerful natural ingredients and essential botanicals that rinse easily leaving laundry fresh and clean. For front and top load HE and standard machines, perfect for those with sensitive skin, gentle on delicate fabrics, Greywater & Septic Safe. Dyes, colorants, harsh preservatives, sulfates, phosphates, parabens, synthetic fragrance, chlorine & formaldehyde
  • Shop: Eco-Me Natural Laundry Detergent

Blueland Laundry Starter Set

  • Cost: $18 for 40 tablets + storage tin ($0.35 per load)
  • From the Blueland website: Little tablet, big clean. Ditch the traditional plastic-wrapped laundry pods and enjoy a clean you can feel good about. Our dry-form tablet lifts stains and dirt like the miracle worker it is – so you can get a powerful wash without any of the waste. Just drop one tablet directly into the washing machine drum and let it work its magic. For large loads, double the power with two tablets instead of one. Clean Ingredients: Free from dyes, bleach, and harsh chemicals. Effective: Independently tested to perform alongside major brands. Space Saving: 1 steel Forever Tin and 40 laundry tablets (fragrance-free) included in the set.
  • Shop: Blueland Laundry Starter Set

Truly Free Refillable Laundry Detergent

  • EWG Rating: B
  • Cost: $17.96 for 50 Loads ($0.36 per load)
  • From the Truly Free website: This revolutionary non-toxic formula will astonish you with its stain-fighting powers and is unscented, gentle and hypoallergenic. Your clothing touches your skin all day, and your sheets all night, so rest easy knowing that your Laundry Wash gives you the clean you deserve while protecting your family from the harmful toxic chemicals in conventional detergents. Free from all thickeners, dyes, optical brighteners, synthetic fragrances, and other chemicals that you & your family want to avoid.
  • Shop: Truly Free Refillable Laundry Detergent
  • Deal: Truly Free is offering Free laundry detergent for life– it’s true!

Natural & Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergent Brands

SHOP NATURAL LAUNDRY

NATURAL LAUNDRY BOOSTERS & ACCESSORIES

Beyond laundry detergent, you might need extra stain-fighting power or a laundry boost for your whites. Look below for 4 natural and non-toxic laundry stain fighters and laundry boosters without harmful chemicals.

Attitude Laundry Fabric Softener

  • EWG Rating: A
  • Cost: $10.95 for 33.8 oz ($0.03 per ounce or 40 loads)
  • From the Attitude website: Featuring natural ingredients, our gentle and effective fabric softeners are just what your family needs to feel good in their clothes.
  • Shop: Attitude Laundry Fabric Softener

Attitude Baby Laundry Stain Remover

  • EWG Rating: A
  • Cost: $6.95 for 27.1 oz ($0.26 per ounce)
  • From the Attitude website: Sensitive Laundry Stain Remover is specially developed for families with sensitivities to fragrances. This unscented, hypoallergenic and vegan formula is made with plant and mineral-based ingredients and cleansing agents that will effectively remove those stubborn stains these tiny humans leave on their (and your!) clothes. Safe for whites, colors and all colorfast washables, simply spray, leave for a few minutes and toss in the laundry – for clothes that will look as good as new!
  • Shop: Attitude Baby Laundry Stain Remover

Meliora Laundry Stain Stick

  • EWG Rating: A
  • Cost: $11.49 for 1.7 oz ($6.76 per ounce)
  • From the Meliora website: Pre-treat stains with a people- and planet-friendly option. Simply wet the fabric and rub the soap stick onto the stained area, then wash as usual. Free from plastic, dyes, preservatives, palm oil, fragrance. Cruelty free.
  • Shop: Meliora Laundry Stain Stick

Eco-Me Natural Laundry Whitener & Brightener

  • Free From: Harmful chemicals and fragrance
  • EWG Rating: No rating
  • Cost: $0.36 per ounce
  • Highlights from the website: This natural chlorine-free laundry whitening powder safely helps whiten and brighten your whites. Its fragrance free formula contains natural ingredients that are safe for the environment and those with sensitive skin. Natural Cleaning Action, Helps Whiten & Brighten Whites, No Harmful Chemicals, Safe for Sensitive Skin
  • Shop: Eco-Me Natural Laundry Whitener & Brightener

Washing machine with bamboo laundry basket

REFERENCES

  1. Nudelman, J. and Engel, C. Right To Know. Exposing toxic fragrance chemicals in beauty, personal care and cleaning products. Breast Cancer Prevention Partners and Campaign For Safe Cosmetics. Sept. 2018.
    https://d124kohvtzl951.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/26092837/BCPP_Right-To-Know-Report_Secret-Toxic-Fragrance-Ingredients_9_26_2018.pdf
  2. http://www.chemistry-blog.com/2012/08/23/whiter-than-white-how-does-it-work/
  3. Rowe H D. Detergents, clothing and the consumer with sensitive skin. International Journal of Consumer Studies 2006: 30: 369-377.
    https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1470-6431.2006.00514.x
  4. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/formaldehyde.html
  5. Pagano, M. et al. Evaluation of Functionality and Biological Responses of Mytilus galloprovincialis after Exposure to Quaternium-15 (Methenamine 3-Chloroallylochloride). Molecules. 2016 Feb; 21(2): 144.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6273939/
  6. Some Chemicals Present in Industrial and Consumer Products, Food and Drinking-Water. IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans, No. 101, 2013. IARC Working Group on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans. Lyon (FR): International Agency for Research on Cancer.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK373177/
  7. Rowe H D. Detergents, clothing and the consumer with sensitive skin. International Journal of Consumer Studies 2006: 30: 369-377.
    https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1470-6431.2006.00514.x
  8. Salas, H. et al. Respirometric Study of Optical Brighteners in Textile Wastewater. Materials (Basel). 2019 Mar; 12(5): 785.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6427247/
  9. https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-09/documents/rin2070-za09_np-npes_action_plan_final_2010-08-09.pdf
  10. Bradai, M. et al. Effect of linear alkylbenzene sulfonate (LAS) on human intestinal Caco-2 cells at non cytotoxic concentrations. Cytotechnology. 2016 Aug; 68(4): 1267–1275.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4960175/
  11. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/substances/benzene
  12. White, R.F. et al. Neuropsychological effects of exposure to naphtha among automotive workers. Occup Environ Med. 1994 Feb; 51(2): 102–112.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1127914/
  13. https://www.collectioncare.org/MSDS/naphthamsds.pdf
  14. Patisaul, H.B. and Adawele, H.B. Long-Term Effects of Environmental Endocrine Disruptors on Reproductive Physiology and Behavior. Front Behav Neurosci. 2009; 3: 10.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2706654/
  15. Radke, E.G. et al. Phthalate exposure and male reproductive outcomes: A systematic review of the human epidemiological evidence. Environ Int. 2018 Dec;121(Pt 1):764-793.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30336412
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK153666/
  17. https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2014-03/documents/ffrro_factsheet_contaminant_14-dioxane_january2014_final.pdf
  18. French Garment Cleaners
  19. https://toxics.usgs.gov/pubs/FS-027-02/