In today’s article, I’m sharing the absolute best non toxic laundry detergent brands in the USA. I tested the safest laundry detergent for clothes that are eco-friendly and completely free from toxic ingredients over the last several years. These even work on old coffee stains, AND my clothes come out smelling so good! My favorite natural laundry detergents use effective cleaning agents and won’t irritate your skin or disrupt your hormones.
If you’ve invested in quality organic bedding and clothes, why would you wash them over and over again in harmful ingredients, right? Tide is actually banned in Europe because it contains high levels of 1-4 dioxane. The safest laundry detergent (safe enough for babies) will not include ANY potentially harmful ingredient that could have even a trace of contaminants.
From liquid laundry detergents to pods and powders to soap nuts, there is a natural laundry detergent option for everyone. Read on for how to choose a non-toxic laundry detergent and the best clean laundry soap safe for the whole family.
What to Avoid in Laundry Detergent: Common Toxins
Remember to check the individual ingredients list of the laundry detergent you’re interested in, because there may be one or more questionable ingredients snuck in.
Be sure to look for a non-toxic laundry detergent free from: Harmful Fragrances, Dyes, Contaminants like Formaldehyde & 1,4-Dioxane, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), Optical Brighteners, Synthetic Nonylphenol Ethoxylates, Petrochemicals, Phosphates, Chlorine, Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), Phthalates, Parabens, Methylisothiazolinone and Cocamide DEA. Below, I’ll go into more detail on the ingredients you want to avoid in your laundry detergent:
Bleach: Bleach is also written as “sodium hypochlorite,” “optical brightener,” or “UV brightener.”
Nonylphenol ethoxylate: NPEs are hormones disruptors that are harmful to developing fetus, young children and wildlife. These non-ionic surfactants (detergent-like substances) are now banned in most products but some “natural” detergent companies still use NPE’s.
- Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) and linear alkylbenzene sulfonates (LAS): Common synthetic surfactants that can cause skin irritation, rashes, and eczema.
- Petroleum distillate or naphtha: can increase inflammation in the lungs and can worsen asthma.
- Phenol: can be even more harmful than petroleum distillate or naphtha
- Quaternary ammonium compounds (quats) resist biodegrading and persist in the environment.
Phosphates: Phosphates are naturally occurring minerals from the element phosphate and can be found in a variety of household cleaners Be sure to avoid because they are known respiratory irritants, skin allergens, and known developmental and reproductive toxicants.
Formaldehyde: Formaldehyde is sometimes used as a preservative and antibacterial agent. I think everyone already knows to avoid this ingredient. It can irritate the eyes, lungs, and worsen skin conditions like eczema.
Other ingredients to avoid
- Benzyl acetate
- Dichlorobenzene (P-dichlorobenzene / benzene)
- Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA)
Why I Don’t Recommend Seventh Generation
I don’t recommend Seventh Generation for a couple of reasons. When you search for best non-toxic laundry detergents on the web, you’ll find plenty of articles recommending Seventh Generation. If you look closely at their ingredients, you’ll find that they do include irritants and ethoxylated ingredients. The fact that Seventh Generation is a Unilever brand doesn’t help either.
Best Natural Laundry Detergents
These natural laundry detergents fight stains, odors and build-up without the use of harmful ingredients. You’d be surprised to know that you actually don’t need that much laundry detergent when cleaning your clothes, so don’t overuse them either! For stubborn stains, be sure to pre-treat them BEFORE putting them in the wash.
If you find yourself unsatisfied with the cleaning power of non toxic laundry detergents, I recommend using a non toxic laundry booster like this one. A non toxic laundry scent booster is going to amplify your detergent’s stain-removing power and makes your clothes smell good.
I recently started using the Meliora Laundry Powder Detergent and have been super impressed. I love knowing it’s truly safe because Meliora is Made Safe Certified, and I know the company is worthy of supporting because they’re Certified B Corp with a strong commitment to social and environmental responsibility. Meliora contains a simple blend of natural and organic ingredients: baking soda, washing soda, vegetable soap made with organic coconut oil and organic essential oils (scented options). I only need half a teaspoon for a standard load, and my smelly workout clothes come out fresh and clean and the colors never fade. Plus, their cans are jumbo-sized and give the most number of laundry loads I’ve seen in a product.
Price: $22 for 128 loads
If you’re looking for a heavy duty non-toxic laundry detergent that truly works, Puracy Liquid Laundry Detergent is a top pick for a clean laundry detergent that actually works and is affordable. I found the Puracy detergent to be highly concentrated – it’s actually 10x concentrated – and effective at getting stains off my clothes (I can use the liquid to pre-treat stains beforehand too). 2 pumps usually always does the trick for me even when I have stubborn skincare and makeup stained onto my clothes. Puracy comes in unscented and a fresh linen scent.
The coffee stains on my pillow were gone after pre-treating and putting it in the wash! I like liquid detergents for their versatility. With the natural powder detergents, you want to get a separate product to pre-treat stains.
- 99.4% natural formula (plus hypoallergenic and biodegradable)
- Developed by doctors for people with sensitive skin and allergies
- 10x concentration reduces waste by over 80%
- 64 loads per 16-ounce bottle
- 4 plant-based enzymes safely remove stains and odors, leaving clothes naturally soft and fresh
- Zinc Ricinoleate adds an extra element of odor elimination
- NO sulfates (e.g. SLS, SLES, SCS), perfumes, artificial fragrances, petrochemicals, caustics, phosphates, animal by-products, dyes, chlorine, allergens, or optical brighteners
Price: $19.99 for 64 loads
I’m a big fan of Molly Suds Laundry Powder because it’s made with just five effective ingredients. Also, Mollys Suds was founded by a mom and pediatric nurse and the brand is radically transparent and committed to being safe for children and the family. I love the fresh, crisp peppermint scent – it gives my clothes an extra clean feeling!
Mollys Suds comes in a generous-sized bag and is good for 120 loads. It only contains:
- Sodium Carbonate (sourced from the Green River Basin in Wyoming)
- Sodium Bicarbonate
- Magnesium Sulfate (Heptahydrate)
- Unrefined Sea Salt
- Essential Oil(s) and/or 100% Natural Fragrance
Price: $22.99 for 120 loads
ZUM is simply an amazing brand that I’ve loved and used for many years. Even though this is technically laundry soap instead of detergent, I still find this to work well on the average load that isn’t too dirty. ZUM is made with a simple blend of essential oils, coconut oil, baking soda, and vegetable glycerin that get the job done. If you love aromatherapy, a major plus is ZUM laundry soaps come in a variety of aromatherapeutic scents. The colors of my clothes don’t fade using this and come out smelling amazing.
Price: $21 for 64 fl oz
If you’re looking for a high-tech laundry detergent with several certifications under its belt, Dirty Labs laundry detergent utilizes green chemistry to create an advanced laundry product. This isn’t just an advanced laundry detergent, it’s also extremely concentrated in order to use less packaging. They didn’t skimp on the scent either and have elegant blends that feel like fine fragrance! Dirty Labs has 2 scents ( Magnolia-Bergamot-Cedar and Jasmine-Matcha-Vetiver) along with an unscented, which would be their safest option.
I used the liquid detergent to spot treat some coffee splatters on my white pullover and it came out of the wash completely clean.
Dirty Labs is a little more expensive than the simpler laundry detergent options, but does feel more premium. It features the brand’s proprietary 5-in-1 enzyme-driven cleaning technology called Phytolase®. This does all the things: actively fights stains, brightens clothes and. removes odors at their source. I love how soft and clean my dirty laundry comes out with just a small amount of this liquid.
Price: $16 for 32 loads
If you’re a fan of laundry detergent pods, I would recommend the Grab Green Home Stoneworks laundry pods. The Oak Tree scent is my fall and winter season favorite – it has essential oils of cinnamon, geranium, cedarwood, clove bud, clove leaf and peppermint.
These pods are the most eco-friendly in this list, but they are a little more convenient because you don’t have to measure out any amounts. Plus there’s never any messy spill accidents.
Grab Green contains 7 actual detergent ingredients plus essential oils for the scented options. This has gotten even my dirtiest laundry loads clean with a single pod. The only downside is that these are wrapped in polyvinyl alcohol.
Price: $14 for 50 pods
Blueland laundry detergent tablets are a step higher in terms of sustainability because they’re 100% plastic-free. They come in tablet form with nothing wrapped around them and you get 60 loads in a starter set. I like that they include enzymes in their formula and feel like the tablets do a great job at cleaning dirty laundry loads. For larger loads I make sure to use two tablets. There’s no parabens, phosphates, ammonia, VOCs, chlorine bleach, or phthalates. The only downside to the Blueland laundry tablets is that I have to use a separate product if I want to pre-treat stains.
Price: $30 for 60 loads
I found this brand on Amazon and had to try the lavender and chamomile scented powder because I love chamomile. The ingredients are squeaky clean with just 4 ingredients and 2 essential oils. It’s got Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda), Sodium Carbonate, Epsom Salt, Sea Salt, Lavender Essential Oil, Chamomile Essential Oil. Interestingly enough, this is the only laundry powder I’ve seen contain epsom salt and sea salt. It’s highly affordable for under $20 and 100 loads and my laundry comes out smelling clean every time.
Price: $18 for 100 loads
The Simply Co is now only available at The Package Free Shop but this was one of the first non-toxic laundry detergents I ever used almost a decade ago. It’s THE simplest ingredients list ever with just three ingredients-: Sodium Cocoate, Sodium Bicarbonate, Sodium Carbonate. This worked just fine at cleaning my clothes and I would still use it if I weren’t always trying out new non-toxic laundry detergents.
Price: $24 for 60 loads
Natural Laundry Detergent Alternative: Soap Berries
I’ve tried soap berries in the past, and I can’t bring myself to trust them as much as commercial natural laundry detergent even though they seem to work fine. Soap berries are used by those who want the most eco-friendly and natural alternative to commercial laundry detergents. Soapberries are made from hand-picked wild soap nuts that grow in the mountains. They work as laundry detergent because they’re high in saponins, which are natural surfactants.
I put 4-8 berries depending on the load in a little bag or sock and throw it into the laundry. They can be used up to 4 times which makes soap nuts the most economical laundry detergent option.
Price: $34 for 340 loads
Andrea is a clean beauty expert from Los Angeles, California with 10 years of experience in clean beauty, natural skincare and organic living. She writes for Organic Beauty Lover using her expertise to guide readers in choosing the best clean beauty products. Andrea graduated from the University of Southern California in 2012 and has worked at multiple skincare companies, big and small. Connect with her @organicbeautylover.