Making the switch to natural laundry detergent may be good for your health, your clothes, and the environment. The best natural laundry detergent comes in a variety of forms, including powder, liquid, pods, and strips and contains no harmful dyes or chemicals. And don’t think “natural” means these detergents don’t pack a powerful, concentrated punch. They’re an effective, reasonably priced way to banish tough dirt, stains, and odors. Read on to learn how to choose the right product and why the picks below are considered among the best—all worthy additions to your arsenal of natural cleaning products.
- BEST OVERALL: Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Liquid Laundry Detergent
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: ECOS 2X Hypoallergenic Liquid Laundry Detergent
- BEST UNSCENTED: Seventh Generation Laundry Detergent Unscented
- BEST POWDER: Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder, 100 Loads, 1 Pack
- BEST PODS: Grab Green Natural 3 in 1 Laundry Detergent Pods
- BEST FOR SENSITIVE SKIN: Molly’s Suds Original Laundry Detergent Powder
- BEST VEGAN: Nellie’s Non-Toxic Vegan Powdered Laundry Detergent
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Natural Laundry Detergent
When shopping for the best natural laundry detergent, there are a few essential considerations to keep in mind. These include the detergent formula, ingredients, fragrance, stain removal properties, and eco-friendliness.
As with standard laundry detergent, all-natural products are available in liquid, powder, pod, and strip form—each with pros and cons.
- Liquid laundry detergent remains one of the most popular choices for its long-lasting and stain-fighting properties.
- Powder detergents are less popular nowadays, but they’re often the most affordable and environmentally friendly. Powders require less water to produce and are sold in recyclable boxes, offering low environmental impact.
- Laundry pods and strips, a more recent entry to the cleaning stable, are convenient because there’s no measuring required. However, their small and often colorful packaging may intrigue curious children—and even though they’re natural, these pods are dangerous if consumed. This safety risk makes it imperative to keep pods and strips out of reach of young children.
Natural laundry detergents don’t contain the chemicals and dyes that can cause allergies, skin irritation, and respiratory problems—as well as harsh wear and tear on fabrics—that many synthetic versions do. To ensure that a detergent really is natural, read the ingredients list to ensure the product is free of formaldehyde, ammonium sulfate, benzene, phthalates, phosphates, and chlorine. A natural detergent will be made of mineral- and/or plant-derived ingredients such as coconut acid, floral oils, sodium carbonate, protease, and more.
Scented vs. Unscented
Some of the best natural laundry detergents are fragrance-free, effectively cleaning laundry without triggering reactions in those who are sensitive to scented products. If you like a fresh aroma, however, you have options beyond a synthetically fragranced detergent or laundry scent booster—you can opt for a detergent scented with naturally derived ingredients such as floral or essential oils, oleoresins, concretes, or absolutes.
Natural laundry detergents that can tackle tough stains will include such ingredients as sodium carbonate (washing soda), sodium chloride (salt), protease, and amylase (plant enzymes). These minerals and plant-sourced ingredients are known to have stain-fighting properties that clean dirt and grime without leaving chemical residue behind. They are effective at removing blood, grease, food, dirt, grass, and more from fabrics.
In addition to steering clear of chemicals that might irritate the body, eco-conscious folks may also want to use a planet-friendly detergent. To find the right product, check labels for keywords and certifications that shed light on a brand’s environmental impact. Natural laundry detergents that are chlorine-free, biodegradable, vegan, made without optical brighteners, and packaged in non-plastic, recyclable containers are the most eco-friendly.
There are also certifying third parties that rate each laundry detergent based on safety and eco-friendliness. The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Safer Choice stamp indicates that a detergent is free of harmful chemicals. The EcoCert label means the ingredients are natural and organic. Another important certification is from the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a research-based activist organization that rates consumer products for toxicity and environmental impact. For certified animal-friendly laundry detergents, look for the Leaping Bunny certification, a third party that certifies manufacturers for their cruelty-free business practices.
Our Top Picks
The best natural laundry detergents are produced free of harmful chemicals, packaged using sustainable means, and produced by companies that strive for a low environmental impact. This list of natural laundry detergents offers various options for those interested in living a more sustainable lifestyle.
Mrs. Meyer’s liquid laundry detergent is cruelty-free and features a biodegradable formula that is easy on the environment. This two-pack of 64-ounce bottles provides a highly concentrated cleaner that can do 120 loads of laundry.
Its thoughtfully formulated ingredients feature plant-derived sources such as protease, sodium carbonate, and sodium chloride to fight common stains. The detergent has a light lavender scent from essential oils and is both biodegradable and HE (high efficiency) compatible. The bottle is made from recycled plastic materials.
This two-pack of natural laundry detergent from ECOS contains 200 ounces of value, enough for 200 loads of laundry. The formula has been certified by the EPA Safer Choice committee for its natural and cruelty-free ingredients. This detergent is eco-friendly and skin safe while also providing a built-in fabric softener that reduces static.
ECOS hypoallergenic liquid laundry detergent is free of optical brighteners, parabens, phosphates, and phthalates. Its highly concentrated formula containing plant-derived ingredients such as betaine, sodium coco sulfate is strong enough to tackle tough dirt without wearing down fabrics. ECOS is a company that is 100 percent powered by renewable energy.
Seventh Generation’s natural laundry detergent is clear of fragrances, dyes, and artificial brighteners, making it a solid choice for those who suffer from skin or respiratory allergies. This two-pack of 40-ounce bottles is formulated with such stain-fighting plant-derived ingredients as protease enzymes and amylase and without phosphates for chemical-free laundering.
It is USDA certified as a biobased product with 96 percent natural ingredients. Each bottle washes 53 loads of laundry in a standard high-efficiency machine, and the product is Leaping Bunny certified.
People who prefer a natural powder detergent may wish to check out this product from Charlie’s Soap. Its fragrance-free and biodegradable formula is tough on dirt and stains yet gentle on skin, septic systems, and the planet. It has been labeled as a Safer Choice that meets EPA product standards and contains only four all-natural ingredients: sodium carbonate, two plant-based surfactants, and sodium metasilicate (aka washing soda).
Charlie’s Soap can effectively clean difficult stains such blood, grease, grass, and more. The 2.64-pound package comes in a durable bag that uses less plastic than conventional detergent bottles. Each bag can wash 100 loads and requires less than 2/3 tablespoon of powder for a standard load of laundry.
Detergent pods are popular for their ease of use, and these natural options from Grab Green are as natural as they are convenient. The cruelty-free laundry detergent capsules use organic enzymes and minerals that brighten and remove stains without harsh chemicals. This three-in-one formula checks the boxes as a superior detergent, an effective stain remover, and fabric brightener that’s free of phosphates, parabens, dyes, chlorine, and fragrances.
Each bag comes with 60 pods to wash 60 standard loads, using powder detergent that requires less water to produce. Powder pods are considered safer for homes with children because they are more difficult to swallow and less colorful than liquid pods.
Molly’s Suds is a laundry powder designed specifically for those with sensitive skin. It’s an entirely vegan product free of all significant irritants, including fragrances and dyes, formaldehyde, petrochemicals, and phosphates. The formula contains only five earth-derived ingredients: sodium carbonate, sodium bicarbonate, magnesium sulfate, unrefined sea salt, and organic peppermint oil for a light scent.
This package is made with less plastic than a standard laundry bottle and comes with 80 ounces of powder that can effectively wash 120 loads. Add one full scoop using the provided laundry spoon to wash a standard load.
Planet friendly inside and out, Nellie’s Non-Toxic Vegan Powdered Laundry Detergent is an all-natural detergent that comes in a package made of iron and steel—two highly recyclable and easy to repurpose materials, especially compared to plastic. Each metal case includes more than 3 pounds of powder, enough to wash 100 loads, and comes with a measured scoop.
This unscented formula is Leaping Bunny certified and free of animal-tested products and chemical ingredients. The all-natural ingredients include sodium carbonate, linear alcohol ethoxylate, sodium chloride, and sodium metasilicate, known for stain-fighting abilities.
FAQs About Natural Laundry Detergent
If you still want more info about buying and using natural laundry detergent, read on for answers to some common questions about these products.
Q. What is green laundry detergent?
The term “green” can mean many different things, but it often refers to a product produced with sustainable and environmentally friendly practices. In the case of green laundry detergent, it is typically made without harsh chemicals, dyes, or fragrances. It is often formulated to be gentler on the environment and fabrics as well easier for those with allergies and other sensitivities to tolerate.
Q. What ingredients should I look for in natural laundry detergent?
Natural laundry detergents should be free of parabens, phosphates, phthalates, and dyes. Common natural ingredients are plant-derived or mineral-based and include sodium carbonate, sodium chloride, sodium metasilicate, protease, essential oils, and so on.
Q. How many cups of laundry detergent should I use?
All-natural laundry detergents are usually more concentrated than standard laundry detergents, requiring less product per load. A standard load typically calls for about 1 to 2 ounces of detergent, but be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions.