Best Natural Laundry Detergent: Our Top Picks for You to Choose From
Regardless of what you use to wash your clothes, you have probably heard the reports about toxic chemicals that are typically in laundry detergents. Not to mention the environmental impacts that the pods have. It is true that regular detergents have a lot of chemicals that provide you with the "clean" you want in the laundry. However, a lot of those chemicals do not just wash away. In fact, most of them stick around on your clothes and seep into your skin and then into your body, causing who knows what. Luckily, there is an easy fix for this, and that is called natural laundry detergent. Now the question becomes what is the best natural laundry detergent out there and how do you go about finding it? Well, that is what I am here for, to explain all you need to know.
Here is the Best Natural Laundry Detergent to choose from.
In the chart below, you will find our top 10 rated Best Natural Laundry Detergents. For a more in-depth review of each model, please click on "Read Review."
Charlie’s Soap – Fragrance Free Powdered Laundry Detergent
4.4 out of 5
Biokleen Laundry Liquid, Citrus Essence
4.4 out of 5
Nellie's All-Natural Powdered Laundry Detergent
4.5 out of 5
Molly's Suds Original Laundry Powder
4.5 out of 5
Grab Green Natural 3-in-1 Laundry Detergent Powder
4.3 out of 5
Rockin' Green Natural HE Powder Laundry Detergent
4.3 out of 5
Sport Suds Laundry Detergent
4.6 out of 5
Method Laundry Detergent Packs
4.4 out of 5
Seventh Generation Natural Liquid Laundry Detergent
4.1 out of 5
Indigo Wild Zum Clean Laundry Soap Frankincense Myrrh
4.4 out of 5
Top 10 Best Natural Laundry Detergents of 2018
- Charlie’s Soap – Fragrance Free Powdered Laundry Detergent
- Biokleen Laundry Liquid, Citrus Essence
- Nellie's All-Natural Powdered Laundry Detergent
- Molly's Suds Original Laundry Powder
- Grab Green Natural 3-in-1 Laundry Detergent Powder
- Rockin' Green Natural HE Powder Laundry Detergent
- Sport Suds Laundry Detergent
- Method Laundry Detergent Packs
- Seventh Generation Natural Liquid Laundry Detergent
- Indigo Wild Zum Clean Laundry Soap Frankincense Myrrh
What Is Natural Laundry Detergent?
While organic foods and other products are made without the use of artificial additives or chemicals, organic laundry detergent is basically the same. Organic laundry detergent does not use any chlorine, phosphates, or other artificial additives that are potentially dangerous to your health. In addition, they are also free of any and all synthetic dyes and fragrances, both of which have the potential to cause allergic reactions as well as skin outbreaks.
So what exactly is it about these detergents that make them so bad? Well, the chemicals found in commercial detergents can emit fumes that are constantly inhaled throughout the day. Breathing in these fumes, even at small amounts, can have very damaging consequences on various parts of your health including endocrinological and neurological. One of these chemicals in specific, Phosphate, has been a common chemical ingredient that has been added to regular laundry detergents over the years. In the past 40 years, phosphate has greatly damaged the environment. The use of this ingredient has been heavily scrutinized, most in response to their effect on the environment and the impact it has on water pollution.
In direct response to many of these complaints and studies that have been conducted over the years, many manufacturers have started attempting to "go green". An effort to reduce the environmental impact their products have and to satisfy their customers. In addition, many laundry detergents are also being sold in smaller, more concentrated forms, which some say can reduce waste. While all of this is all well and good, the best choice is still to choose products that do not contain any chemical additives whatsoever. Not only are these products better for the environment, they may very well be even better for your clothes and your bodies than the commercial ones you are currently using.
Laundry Detergent Ingredients to Avoid
When it comes to regular laundry detergents, you are going to find a lot of chemicals that make up those products. These chemicals and other artificial ingredients can lead to a whole lot of bad stuff including respiratory problems, eye irritation, cancer, and disruptions of the endocrine system, and whole lot more. For this reason, finding the best natural laundry detergent is probably a good idea. However, there are a lot of brands that will claim to be "All-natural" but really are still filled with these chemicals. So, a good way of knowing which is truly natural and which are just marketing schemes is to look at the ingredients. The 4 worst offenders that you can find in detergents are Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), 1,4-dioxane, NPE (nonylphenol ethoxylate), and Phosphates. Not only are these chemicals potentially damaging to your health, but they are also contaminating waterways and harming the environment. According to an article in the Journal of Oleo Science, a laundry detergent concentration of only 2 ppm can cause fish to absorb double the amount of chemicals they normally would. The build up of these chemicals in the environment through waterways has a terrible impact on the aquatic wildlife. So, let me explain why you should care about these ingredients.
Okay, so SLS is not the only one you have to worry about. There are a handful of these chemicals that are called sulfates. They are used as a surfactant, detergents, and emulsifier in thousands of industrial cleaners and cosmetic products. Nearly every commercial shampoo and other hair products have these sulfates as an ingredient. I am not going to go over the scientific makeup of this chemical, but I will tell you all of the different variations and why you should stay away.
The three main sulfates that you will find are sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), and ammonium laurel sulfate (ALS). However, there are other variations that you should look out for as well.
- Sodium dodecyl sulfate
- Sulfuric acid, monododecyl ester, sodium salt (and any combination of those)
- Akyposal SDS
- Aquarex ME
- Aquarex methyl
These sulfates can cause a lot of serious health issues, regardless of whether or not they are FDA approved. In fact, there are over 16,000 studies that document the hazards of SLS. Some of the health risks include irritation of the skin and eyes, organ toxicity, developmental and reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption, ecotoxicology, biochemical or cellular changes, and possible mutations and cancer. The EWG website lists all of the potential health risks that SLS has.
During an effort by David Steinman and the Organic Consumers Association, it was found that 1,4 Dioxane is present in two thirds of laundry detergents. In case you do not know, 1,4 Dioxane which is also just called dioxane, is a by-product of SLS. This means that it is not added intentionally, which is a good thing because dioxane is actually a known carcinogen, considered so by the State of California. It has also been found to be potentially toxic to your brain and central nervous system, kidneys, liver, and respiratory system, according to the CDC. During the study conducted by the OCA and Steinman, this is what they found out about 1,4 Dioxane.
- The cumulative effects of dioxane, even at low levels, resulted in laboratory animals developing cancer.
- It is readily absorbed through the lungs, skin, and gastrointestinal tract of mammals.
- The US federal regulation systems consider dioxane's potency to be the equal to or even greater than many pesticides considered dangerous to humans.
- Cosmetics, and detergents, contaminated with dioxane may also have traces of other contaminants, including formaldehyde, nitrosamines, and phthalates.
- There are many inexpensive and effective alternatives to ethoxylation in the manufacturing of your personal care and cleaning products.
Dioxane can be contained in many different ingredients. While it is hard to determine exactly which ones, there is a way to tell which ingredients you really want to avoid. Ingredients that have the following suffixes are ones you want to steer clear of. Myreth, oleth, laureth, ceteareth, or any other eth, PEG, polyethylene, polyethelene glycol, polyexyethylene, or oxynol, and of course the sulfates as well.
This chemical is a known disruptor of the endocrine system and an estrogen mimicker that can potentially cause hormonal problems, or even cancer. It is often used in laundry detergents and other personal care products, like SLS and the like. Organisms exposed to NPE show kidney and liver damage, decreased testicular growth and sperm count, disrupted growth and metabolism, and increased mortality. NPE has actually been banned in Canada and Europe, and even Walmart has listed NPEs as one of 3 chemicals they're asking suppliers to phase out. This chemical affects the wildlife the same as it does humans. And unfortunately, even the best water treatment plants are unable to remove NPEs and their metabolites from the water.
These chemicals are more damaging to the environment, than they are to humans. However, that does not mean that they are harmless to humans. In fact, some of the health issues that can arise because of phosphates include nausea, diarrhea, and skin irritations. But the biggest concern with phosphates are the environmental impacts the chemical has. These are extremely difficult to remove from wastewater and often end up in rivers and lakes, where they encourage algae growth. This is because phosphates act as a fertilizer in waterways, and when the overabundant algae die, they release toxins that deplete the waterways of oxygen. As a result, many of the fish that live in that region end up suffocating.
Types of Laundry Detergent
When looking for the best natural laundry detergent, you will likely find a few different kinds to choose from. All of these have their good and bad, and it will come to you to choose which is best for you. Now of course, these will all be natural variations of their regular counterparts, which mean that they will be free of toxic chemicals and hopefully free of any environmental impacts as well.
The three major types of the best natural laundry detergent are liquid detergent, powder detergent, and detergent pods. Liquid detergent is the most common type that you will find. These work great with water, especially in cold water. Not to mention you can also use these to pre-treat stains on clothing. However, the limitation with liquid detergents is that they can be easily overused, not to mention that their packaging creates more waste.
The second type is powder detergents. These are not as popular as liquid, even though they were the original detergent method. This is because they do not really dissolve well into the liquid and can leave deposits on your clothes. However, they do have a longer shelf life than liquids, which makes it easy to buy in bulk. Not to mention they are a lot cheaper.
Lastly, you have the laundry detergent pods. While the regular laundry pods have come under fire for their environmental impact, typically the best natural laundry detergent pods are more green and biodegradable. The greatest thing about these pods is that they are the most convenient option and very easy to use. Just toss them in with your laundry and you are good to go. However, the only thing you have to worry about is, like I said, the environmental impact of the pods. Oh, and don't be an idiot and eat them.
Things to Consider When Looking for the Best Natural Laundry Detergent
While trying to find the best natural laundry detergent can be a daunting task, there are things that you can keep an eye out for that can make your job a whole lot easier. You do not need to know the names of every single toxic chemical or what they do, just be sure to avoid the main ones in particular and look for ingredients that are beneficial instead. Here are some things to keep in mind when you are out looking for the best natural laundry detergent for you.
Read the Labels
Reading is the best way to determine which detergents are truly natural and which are just a marketing scheme. Labels like "All Natural" are usually a load of bull because it can mean just about anything, not to mention there is not a lot of regulation around that phrase. Look for words and seals like the USDA Certified Organic, or "Made with 100% Natural Ingredients". Better yet, turn it over and take a look at the back label, which will tell you exactly what is used to make that detergent up. If you spot any of the chemicals that we listed here, it is not a natural product and therefore, not worth your time.
With the 3 different types of detergent, choosing which one you want is an important step in choosing the best natural laundry detergent. Each has their ups and downs, which may make them perfect for you, or not so much. Also if you have a certain brand in mind, do some research on what kind of ingredients they use, especially if they are a pod design, look into if the pods are more biodegradable.
Know Your Ingredients
Knowing which ingredients are good and which are bad is crazy important. While we already went over the ingredients to avoid, there are a lot that you want to look for because of their benefits. Ingredients like essential oils, coconut oils, and other various plant based ingredients, are great because they have properties that make them highly efficient and beneficial not just for your clothes, but for your body as well.
Benefits of Natural Laundry Detergent
First off, organic laundry detergents contain zero harsh chemicals in the ingredients. Even after your clothes are rinsed and are dry, there is often still some detergent left on your clothes. This means that you are basically wearing the chemicals that are in that detergent. When your skin comes into contact with these chemicals, it can cause skin allergies, and sometimes more serious issues like asthma. But organic laundry detergent does not contain any chemicals of any kind, eliminating any chance of that happening.
Not only is organic laundry detergent better for your body, it is also much safer for the environment. Like I stated before, phosphates have has serious impacts on the environment in the past 40 years. Plus, where do you think that detergent goes after it is rinsed off of your clothes? Down the drain and into the sewer, which usually means into a body of water, unfortunately. This can have devastating effects on the quality of the water as well as the marine life.
In addition to the best natural laundry detergent being better for your body and environment, it is also better for your clothes! Many of the chemicals in regular detergents can actually deteriorate your clothing. Whereas natrual detergents only contain natural ingredients, which end up simply washing your clothes, without any adverse effects.
Essential oils can help your body in more ways than what you are used to. Using them in organic laundry detergent means that you get the same effect just by wearing your clothes. Some great soothing oils that are great for use in detergents are lavender, myrrh, and frankincense. If you are looking for a more exciting scent, check out orange essential oil. For a relaxing aroma on your clothes, try eucalyptus-citrus blends.
Lastly, organic laundry detergents essentially acts like a fabric softener and cleaner all in one. Detergents that contain coconut oil are perfect at keeping your clothes as soft as you like. Not to mention the oil also adds a great and natural fragrance to your clothes as well.
There are a lot of products to choose from, when trying to find the best natural laundry detergent. But with this guide, hopefully it will help you narrow down your search a bit. But, to give you someplace to start, be sure to check out our individual reviews for our top 10 best natural laundry detergents. For more information on how to stay happy, healthy, and green, check out the rest of Green and Growing.