The Best Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergents of 2022

Get ready to clean your clothes without harsh chemicals using these eco-friendly laundry detergents in both naturally scented and fragrance-free options.

By Jenn Ryan | Published Jan 27, 2022 10:14 AM

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The Best Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergents Option

Photo: amazon.com

Everyone needs laundry detergent, but with so many different options on the market, it can be difficult to know what the best choice is for your clothes and linens. Like many people, you might be searching for eco-friendly options to avoid the harsh chemicals in conventional detergents, like dyes and synthetic fragrances, that can cause allergic reactions.

Finding a high-quality laundry detergent isn’t just important for removing stains and keeping clothes clean. Natural yet effective detergents can also create a healthier lifestyle for you and your family. By choosing the best eco-friendly laundry detergent, you can reduce your environmental impact while still enjoying all your favorite clothes, freshly cleaned, time and again.

  1. BEST OVERALL: ECOS 2x Hypoallergenic Liquid Laundry Detergent
  2. BEST BLEACH ALTERNATIVE: Grab Green Bleach Alternative Pods
  3. BEST POWDER: Molly’s Suds Laundry Detergent Powder
  4. BEST PODS: Dropps Stain & Odor Laundry Detergent Pods
  5. BEST FOR BABY: Babyganics 3X Baby Laundry Detergent
  6. BEST CONCENTRATED: Biokleen Natural Laundry Detergent Liquid
  7. BEST FOR HAND-WASH: Ethique Eco-Friendly Laundry Bar & Stain Stick
  8. BEST FOR SENSITIVE SKIN: Seventh Generation Concentrated Laundry Detergent
  9. BEST HYPOALLERGENIC: Puracy Natural Liquid Laundry Detergent
  10. MOST SUSTAINABLE OPTION: Sheets Laundry Club Laundry Detergent Sheets
The Best Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergents Option

Photo: amazon.com

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergent

There are a few key things to think about when choosing the best laundry detergent. Consider the following factors: ingredients to seek out, ingredients to avoid, different forms of detergent, and the packaging material.

Eco-Friendly Ingredients

Although there’s no official definition for “eco-friendly,” these ingredients include those considered to be less harmful to both human health and the environment. Plus, eco-friendly products tend to have plant-based ingredients instead of synthetic or animal-based formulas. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a voluntary designation called Safer Choice for cleaning products with ingredients that are safer for the environment and human health.

Some ingredients to consider in the best natural laundry detergent include plant-derived cleaners such as sodium coco-sulfate, lauramine oxide, and sodium salt, plus enzymes like amylase for stain-fighting power. Vegetable glycerin is also a common ingredient in these detergents and can help soften laundry.

Ingredients to Avoid

Ingredients to stay away from include synthetic fragrance, which is what creates the strong smell of many conventional laundry detergents. Often simply called “fragrance” or “parfum” on a label, synthetic fragrance is an umbrella term for thousands of different chemicals, some of which are known to cause health issues.

Other ingredients to watch out for are artificial dyes and chlorine bleach. Artificial dyes have the potential to cause skin rashes in both children and adults, while chlorine bleach can impact both human health and the environment.

Bio or Non-Bio

Some laundry detergents are called “biological,” meaning they contain natural enzymes—such as amylase, protease, and lipase—that can help improve stain-fighting power. However, biological agents like these might not be right for all skin types, and those who have sensitive skin or skin allergies might be more vulnerable to these ingredients.

Which detergent is best really depends on who’s using it and what they’re using it for. However, for laundering clothing with a lot of stains, biological agents may be a beneficial addition to other laundry-cleaning products.

Packaging

The packaging that detergent comes in can determine how best to store the product, as well as how the package materials may harm the environment. Some of the best nontoxic laundry detergents come in minimal packaging, such as laundry strips that act like a single detergent pod without the plastic covering.

Other materials may come in recycled plastic bottles or even powders, which can store in cardboard, a material that is generally friendlier to the environment than plastic. When choosing a laundry detergent with a plastic container, check to make sure it is recyclable and be sure to recycle it appropriately at the end of its life, or refill and reuse it if possible.

Liquid, Powder, or Pod

Some consumers prefer liquid laundry detergent, while others prefer a powder or even a pod. The good news is that many of the best eco-friendly laundry detergents come in different forms to choose from.

Each form of laundry detergent can be concentrated. While powder is generally cheaper, it can be difficult to use in cold water, as it doesn’t dissolve as well. Liquids generally come in plastic packaging but tend to remove stains better than powders. Pods are convenient and make it easy to use the right amount of detergent but tend to be pricey. They also tend to have plastic coating, and most of that covering enters the environment. So, if choosing pods, be sure that the pod coating or binder also is eco-friendly.

There are even laundry bars, strips and sheets, which can reduce waste and make for easy travel companions.

Our Top Picks

Our top picks cover a range of concerns, such as washing delicates, friendliness to sensitive skin, and overall quality. If you’re searching for the best natural laundry detergent, you’ve come to the right place.

Best Overall

The Best Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergents Option: ECOS 2x Hypoallergenic Liquid Laundry Detergent
Photo: amazon.com

The ECOS 2x Hypoallergenic Liquid Laundry Detergent meets the EPA’s Safer Choice standard for household products, which means it uses fewer harmful ingredients. The product has just seven ingredients and can double as a light stain treatment if applied to a stained item before putting it into the wash.

Naturally scented with lavender oil, this detergent is gentle, effective, and concentrated. ECOS detergent can be used in both high-efficiency and conventional washing machines. A high-efficiency load requires just 1 ounce and a conventional machine uses 2 ounces per load. This size product can clean up to 100 loads of laundry.

Like many of the best natural laundry detergents, this product is not tested on animals and does not use any animal-derived ingredients. It’s also hypoallergenic and is unlikely to cause skin problems or allergic reactions.It’s a great pick for those looking for the best liquid laundry detergent in an eco-friendly formula.

Product Specs

  • Scented: Yes
  • Ingredient quality: Good
  • Safe for sensitive skin: Yes

Pros

  • Minimal ingredients
  • Can be used as a stain treatment
  • Concentrated

Cons

  • Packaging is not made from recycled materials
  • Doesn’t contain stain-fighting enzymes

Get ECOS 2x Hypoallergenic Liquid Laundry Detergent on Amazon and at Walmart.

Best Bleach Alternative

The Best Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergents Option: Grab Green Bleach Alternative Pods
Photo: amazon.com

Instead of using chlorine bleach, these bleach-alternative pods from Grab Green contain just three ingredients to help whiten clothes. The pods are filled with powder, not liquid, and can be used for both whites and colors when washing clothes. This bleach alternative also helps remove odors, although the detergent in the pods is not scented.

To brighten clothes and remove stains, use one pod for medium loads and two pods for larger loads. These pods should also be safe for those with sensitive skin. The pod is formed of polyvinyl alcohol, which is biodegradable and doesn’t leave behind a residue in the wash. The product comes with 60 pods per bag and is designed to be an addition to your laundry detergent.

Product Specs

  • Scented: No
  • Ingredient quality: Excellent
  • Safe for sensitive skin: Yes

Pros

  • Can use on colors and whites
  • Use with any temperature wash
  • Fragrance-free for sensitive individuals

Cons

  • Comes in a plastic bag

Get the Grab Green Bleach Alternative Pods on Amazon, at Walmart, and at Kroger.

Best Powder

The Best Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergents Option: Molly’s Suds Laundry Detergent Powder
Photo: amazon.com

The ultra-concentrated laundry powder of Molly’s Suds Laundry Detergent Powder requires just 1 tablespoon per load. However, when washing particularly large or stained loads, add another ½ tablespoon and wash with warm water.

This pick for the best powder laundry detergent comes in a resealable bag and can clean up to 120 loads of laundry. The powder is safe for colors, whites, and darks, and while it can remove some stains, it’s not designed for use as a pretreatment agent. Although the product is scented with organic peppermint essential oil, many users find that it’s just as safe for sensitive skin as fragrance-free natural laundry detergents.

Product Specs

  • Scented: Yes
  • Ingredient quality: Excellent
  • Safe for sensitive skin: Yes

Pros

  • Concentrated
  • Better cost per load than other detergents
  • Lasts longer than many liquid detergents

Cons

  • Comes in plastic packaging
  • Natural scent does not stay on washed clothes
  • Might need warm water to dissolve powder completely

Get Molly’s Suds Laundry Detergent Powder on Amazon, at Target, or at Molly’s Suds.

Best Pods

The Best Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergents Option: Dropps Stain & Odor Laundry Detergent Pods
Photo: amazon.com

These laundry pods from Dropps are designed to remove both odors and stains from laundry, even stubborn ones. They can be used in all types of washing machines, including high-efficiency, conventional, top-loading, and front-loading units. Dropps pods provide a deeper clean in an eco-friendly pod format, making them a worthy consideration for the best laundry pods.

With completely recyclable packaging and a biodegradable (polyvinyl alcohol) pod cover, this product can reduce waste in a household. It also contains enzymes to fight stains and brighten clothes. The product comes with 140 pods, which are naturally scented.

Product Specs

  • Scented: Yes
  • Ingredient quality: Good
  • Safe for sensitive skin: No

Pros

  • Eco-friendly packaging for less waste
  • Can remove tough stains with enzymes
  • Doesn’t damage clothes while getting them clean

Cons

  • Scent can be too strong for some people
  • The pod may not dissolve in cold water

Get Dropps Stain & Odor Laundry Detergent Pods on Amazon or at Dropps.

Best for Baby

The Best Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergents Option: Babyganics 3X Baby Laundry Detergent
Photo: amazon.com

Fragrance-free, great for stains, and designed for standard and high-efficiency washing machines, this Babyganics laundry detergent reduces the chances of skin rashes and allergic reactions for the little members of your household or those with sensitive skin. Wash up to 60 loads of laundry with this eco-friendly detergent for babies.

The product is triple concentrated, requiring just ½ capful to wash a regular load and ¾ capful of detergent for a larger load. The detergent is colorless, scent-free, and can get the entire family’s clothes clean without overpowering scents or harsh chemicals.

Product Specs

  • Scented: No
  • Ingredient quality: Fair
  • Safe for sensitive skin: Yes

Pros

  • 3X concentrated
  • Can use on diapers
  • Can pretreat stains

Cons

  • Plastic packaging

Get Babyganics 3X Baby Laundry Detergent on Amazon, at Target, or at RiteAid.

Best Concentrated

The Best Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergents Option: Biokleen Natural Laundry Detergent Liquid
Photo: amazon.com

This 1.2-gallon product from Biokleen can wash up to 300 loads of laundry thanks to its ultra- concentrated formula. The triple concentration of the formula removes stains and lingering odors, especially when stains have been pretreated. It works in both conventional and high-efficiency washers and has a natural citrus scent.

This detergent also meets the EPA’s Safer Choice standards and is effective for people with sensitive skin since it contains no enzymes. Although it comes in a plastic bottle, it’s very budget-friendly, meaning fewer purchases required and, of course, the option to recycle.

Product Specs

  • Scented: Yes
  • Ingredient quality: Good
  • Safe for sensitive skin: Yes

Pros

  • Highly concentrated
  • Helps remove stains
  • Lasts a long time

Cons

  • Comes in plastic packaging

Get Biokleen Natural Laundry Detergent Liquid on Amazon and at Walmart.

Best for Hand-Wash

The Best Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergents Option: Ethique Eco-Friendly Laundry Bar & Stain Stick
Photo: amazon.com

When hand-washing delicate clothes, this laundry bar from Ethique prevents the mess of liquids and the harshness of powders. Use the eco-friendly bar on wool, silk, cotton, and synthetic fabrics without damaging them. Made with 100 percent biodegradable ingredients, this bar also comes in zero-waste packaging, with cardboard that can be recycled or composted.

Simply rub the bar on clothes to create a lather, then wash and rinse. For stained clothing items, create a lather and leave the item overnight, washing the next day. The bar’s size is great to take on trips for use in hotels or while camping. It also lasts a long time and comes in several scents, all of which are natural.

Product Specs

  • Scented: Yes
  • Ingredient quality: Good
  • Safe for sensitive skin: Yes

Pros

  • Easy to take along while traveling
  • Lasts a long time
  • Can be used to pretreat stains
  • Comes in zero-waste packaging

Cons

  • Does not contain enzymes to help remove stubborn stains

Get the Ethique Eco-Friendly Laundry Bar on Amazon or at Walmart

Best for Sensitive Skin

The Best Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergents Option: Seventh Generation Concentrated Laundry Detergent
Photo: amazon.com

One of the most common reasons people switch to an eco-friendly laundry detergent is because fragrances, dyes, and other harsh chemicals from conventional detergents can cause skin problems. This detergent from Seventh Generation is a strong alternative option as it has no fragrance or dyes.

The product does contain enzymes that can help fight stains, and it’s one of the only detergents we evaluated to feature these stain-fighting enzymes yet is still safe for sensitive skin. It also comes in a recycled plastic bottle and can help pretreat stains before washing. Both fragrance-free and effective on stains, Seventh Generation’s Concentrated Laundry Detergent can safely clean laundry used by children and pets.

Product Specs

  • Scented: No
  • Ingredient quality: Fair
  • Safe for sensitive skin: Yes

Pros

  • Comes in post-consumer recycled packaging
  • Contains enzymes to fight stains
  • Completely scentless

Cons

  • Small bottle size

Get Seventh Generation Concentrated Laundry Detergent on Amazon.

Best Hypoallergenic

The Best Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergents Option: Puracy Natural Liquid Laundry Detergent
Photo: amazon.com

Although the word “hypoallergenic” doesn’t yet have a legal definition, Puracy’s Natural Liquid Laundry Detergent is our pick for the best hypoallergenic because it doesn’t contain synthetic preservatives. In fact, each of its ingredients is plant or mineral based.

This product doesn’t contain any type of fragrance or natural scents, which makes it a worthy consideration for those sensitive to smells or who simply want to remain scent-free. It does, however, contain four enzymes to help fight stains.

One 24-ounce bottle can wash up to 96 loads, and it comes with a helpful pump dispenser that makes it easy to put the liquid into the washer. Simply use one to four pumps, depending on the load size and whether the washing machine is a conventional or high-efficiency model.

Product Specs

  • Scented: No
  • Ingredient quality: Good
  • Safe for sensitive skin: Yes

Pros

  • Contains enzymes to fight stains
  • Comes in a convenient pump bottle
  • No synthetic preservatives

Cons

  • Comes in a plastic container
  • Smaller bottle

Get Puracy Natural Liquid Laundry Detergent on Amazon.

Best Sustainable Option

The Best Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergents Option: Sheets Laundry Club Laundry Detergent Sheets
Photo: amazon.com

Instead of measuring liquids or powders, simply throw a laundry sheet from Sheets Laundry Club into the washer and enjoy clean clothes. These biodegradable laundry sheets work in both hot and cold water and can work in all types of washing machines.

The box is also recyclable, which makes this product zero-waste. The laundry sheets dissolve and the product lasts long on the shelf. This highly sustainable pick leaves nothing left over except clean clothes. Wash up to 100 loads with just one package (using half a sheet for smaller loads). The product also contains enzymes to help remove stains.

Product Specs

  • Scented: No
  • Ingredient quality: Good
  • Safe for sensitive skin: Yes

Pros

  • Zero-waste packaging
  • No measuring laundry detergent liquids or powders
  • Contains enzymes to help remove stains

Cons

  • May not dissolve well in all washers

Get Sheets Laundry Club Laundry Detergent Sheets on Amazon.

Our Verdict

Our top picks for the best nontoxic laundry detergent included our Best Overall, ECOS, and the Best Concentrated, Biokleen Liquid Laundry Detergent. Each option has its pros and cons, but finding the best natural laundry detergent really depends on your preferences.

How We Chose the Best Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergents

We made our picks for the best eco-friendly laundry detergents based on their ingredients, including whether they contained scents and if those scents were exclusively naturally derived. We also picked them based on consumer reviews of which products were the most effective without irritating the skin or containing strong scents. Many of these eco-friendly laundry detergents are fragrance-free as well, for those who need to avoid fragrances of any kind. All the detergents we reviewed were also cruelty-free, meaning the products were not tested on animals.

Eco-Friendly Laundry Tips

The best laundry soap won’t be the same for every consumer, since people use different machine types, have varying preferences for warm or cold water, and might need more or less stain-fighting power. Our eco-friendly laundry tips should help get the most out of a new laundry detergent, whether using it individually, for family, or for pets.

  • Always follow the directions for use and note if a product is better for a high-efficiency machine.
  • For those who have hard water, it may be best to follow up with the manufacturer to make sure the product you’re considering is the best laundry detergent for hard water. Washing clothes in hard water may require using a different product.
  • Know whether having a detergent with enzymes is important for removing stains.

FAQs

Here we answer some of the most common questions about the best nontoxic laundry detergent.

Q. How does laundry detergent affect the environment?

Water that you use in your laundry gets drained into your septic or municipal wastewater facility, which can affect the ground and surrounding waterways when using harsh or environmentally harmful chemicals.

Q. What makes laundry detergent eco-friendly?

Minimal ingredients, lack of dyes and synthetic fragrance, and zero-waste or recycled packaging comprise the eco-friendliness of these products, along with no animal testing for ingredients and concentrated formulas that minimize waste.

Q. What is the most environmentally friendly way to wash clothes?

Use cold water in a high-efficiency washer, wash clothes less often, and only wash clothes when you can fill the washer about two-thirds of the way full.

Q. Which is better for washing: liquid or powder?

It depends on your preferences and your washer. Liquid can be better for cold washes or when using hard water, while powder can work great for hot or warm washes. However, powder tends to cost less and generates less waste.

Q. Is eco-friendly laundry detergent safe?

Most eco-friendly laundry detergents are considered to be safe even for washing baby clothing and diapers.