1. Mama Suds 2. Christina Maser 3. Kind 4. Eco-Me 5. Tandi’s Naturals 6. Sonett 7. Meliora
Updated: May 2022
This post contains only my honest assessment of the laundry detergent brands we’ve reviewed. We sometimes receive complimentary products to sample or a commission if you click an affiliate link. Thanks for supporting the brands we love!
While I was never was a big fan of cologne, in my twenties I remember finding men who emitted the scent of Tide to be irresistible.
For the last decade or so, Daylon’s clothes have smelled like Tandi’s Naturals laundry soap—which is to say they smell like essentially nothing, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The smell of Tide gives me a headache.
Read on to learn more about why I made the switch the natural laundry detergents, what to look out for in conventional laundry products, and how to avoid the Sneaky Stuff.
My Top Pick for the Best Natural Laundry Soap
I thought I would never fall in love with a powder laundry soap, until I met Tandi’s. Try it; you’ll see. It has absolutely nothing concerning in the ingredients, and is the most eco-friendly powdered laundry soap, by far.
Toxins in Laundry Detergent
All laundry detergents leave a residue on clothing, which is absorbed by our skin (and inhaled). The ill effects of some of the chemicals in detergents range from skin or eye irritation to possibly much more serious, such as endocrine disruption (some ingredients are even considered potential carcinogens, but I’m not going to suggest that if you don’t give up your Tide you’ll get cancer).
What Are the Ingredients in Tide?
Because of “trade secrets,” manufacturers are not required to disclose what’s in their laundry detergent, so the ingredient list is usually vague and not very helpful. Conventional laundry detergent generally contain the following:
- synthetic detergents, which are often made of petrochemicals.
- phenols (established endocrine disruptors, of which BPA is the most notorious).
- fragrance, which usually contains phthalates.
- optical brighteners, which are often made from benzene, a definite carcinogen.
- bleach, which contains chlorine (an environmental toxin–and possibly a carcinogen and endocrine disruptor).
- phosphates, which break down minerals and render detergent more effective, but with harmful environmental ramifications .
Do You Need a Special Detergent for Baby Clothes?
When I was pregnant and setting up a nursery that would never be used (Felix slept with us), everyone told me to wash all of his clothes in Dreft. After a bit of research I decided against it (see below, under “The Bad Stuff”).
I’m sure there are people who separate baby linens from other household laundry–but if you’re using a nontoxic detergent there is no reason you cannot use it to wash all of the family’s clothing, including your baby’s!
More importantly, if my laundry detergent is an irritant for my babies’ skin (or worse), I don’t want to use it on my clothes! My own health aside, when my boys were infants I spent about 30 percent of my day snuggling their little naked bodies to my clothed one, so I was determined to find a safe, natural laundry detergent.
Best Natural Laundry Soap for Cloth Diapers
If you’re a cloth-diapering mama, then you need to know about Mama Suds.
Who Uses Powder Detergent?
I used to think no one did, but then I tried it and it turns out it works just as well as liquid. The only one I use now is Tandi’s natural laundry soap, since almost every “natural” laundry detergent brand is not natural at all.
Tandi’s contains nothing concerning and works so much better than the Sneaky Stuff we used to use (I remember washing Felix’s bibs in Seventh Generation detergent and then pulling them out of the dryer and seeing food still stuck on the fronts).
I didn’t think I could fall in love with a beef tallow-based powder detergent, but we can all surprise ourselves, right?
Read on for the 23 other laundry detergents that meet our strict criteria for safety, plus other brands that are just okay and a bunch we’d rather see you avoid.
Attitude Laundry Detergent
This laundry liquid’s formula changed since we last updated this guide, and is now safer. The surfactants used have been changed to sodium coco sulfate and lauryl glucoside, both of which are of low concern. If you’ve tried it, let me know how this one works!
Price per ounce: $0.30
This EWG-verified laundry detergent is safe in both liquid and powder formulas. Aspen uses decyl glucoside as its primary cleaning agent, and contains only essential oils for fragrance.
Price per ounce: $0.44
Price per pod: $0.37
Blueland Laundry Tablets
I haven’t tried them, but Blueland’s “naked” laundry tablets are unique because, unlike laundry pods, they contain no polyvinyl alcohol. Blueland’s refills are packaged in compostable paper pouches, and the ingredients are clean.
Price per ounce: from $0.28 to $0.35
Branch Basics Laundry
I love Branch Basics planet-friendly cleaning system, and their Laundry Detergent contains only the surfactants we’ve deemed safe (decyl glucoside and coco-glucoside.
Price per ounce: $0.27
Christina Maser Vegan Concentrated Laundry Soap
This is a natural laundry soap rather than a detergent, and a perfect alternative to Tandi’s for those of you who want a vegan option for your laundry. Start with a glass jar, and then refill with eco-friendly bags.
Price per ounce: $0.78
Dropps Sensitive Skin & Baby Detergent
This is a good eco-friendly laundry detergent option, without dyes, phosphates, phthalates, and optical brighteners. New customers can use code Gimme25 for 25% off and existing customers can use Gimme15 for 15% off.
Price per ounce: from $0.36 – $0.40
Eco-Me Laundry Detergent
This is my favorite liquid natural laundry detergent–it’s got a safe ingredients list, works well, and smells nice.
Price per ounce: $0.40
Esembly Baby Laundry Detergent
This is the best brand for cloth-diapering moms, and also works really well on workout clothes. It’s also made in the USA, and has an almost impossibly short list of clean ingredients.
Discount code: GOODSTUFF*10* for 10% off.
Price per ounce: $0.39
Fit Organic Laundry Detergent
You guys have been asking about this one for years, and I am pleased to say that–after reviewing the ingredients in Fit’s various lines of natural laundry detergents–it is definitely Good Stuff! The surfactant is saponified coconut oil, and Fit laundry detergent doesn’t contain any of the usual gross preservatives. EWG score: A
Price per ounce: $0.16
Grab Green Laundry Detergent
If you love a detergent pod, this one does the job. GrabGreen contains a few mildly concerning ingredients (such as sodium metasilicate, which may have respiratory effects), but only in small concentrations. EWG score: B
PLEASE NOTE: Grab Green recently switched to synthetic fragrance (phthalate-free), so we only recommend the unscented natural laundry detergent. And their dish soap and hand soap should be avoided as they both contain SLES.
Price per ounce: $0.33
GreenShield Laundry Detergent
The main cleaning agent here is saponified organic coconut oil. The unscented variety is great for even those with the most sensitive skin (like babies). EWG score: A
Price per ounce: $0.25
Healthybaby Laundry Detergent Concentrate
This new laundry concentrate is 100% plant and mineral-based, and is safe for a baby and was designed to be neurologically-safe and microbiome-friendly. I also really like how easy healthybaby laundry detergent is to use–you can pump it directly into your washing machine without any spillage (it’s easy for my kids to do their own laundry with this one!).
Price per ounce: $1.76 (but you need very little–this lasts forever!)
Hello Bello Organic Laundry Detergent
Hello Bello is among my favorite of the celebrity-run clean products brands. Their laundry detergent has a legitimately safe list of ingredients, although I haven’t tried it so cannot speak to how it performs.
Price per ounce: $0.22
Healthybaby Laundry Detergent Concentrate
We switched to Kind Laundry sheets a few months ago, and I don’t know that we will ever go back to liquid or powder! With a simple, safe ingredients list, Kind is a completely plastic-free laundry detergent alternative.
Price per sheet: $0.36
Meliora Laundry Powder
Coming in as the most affordable per ounce, Meliora is also a great natural laundry detergent option for those who want to clean their clothes with less of an environmental impact. All scents are free of synthetic fragrances, dyes, and brighteners, and the entire system is 100% plastic-free.
Price per ounce: $0.14
MamaSuds Liquid Laundry
MamaSuds is a deep cleaning, all natural laundry soap that is safe for cloth diapers. This is NOT a detergent, and therefore you will not need a fabric softener when using it. MamaSuds household cleaning products are simple, nontoxic, and eco-friendly. They are also incredibly effective and completely free of the Bad Stuff.
Note: This soap contains borax.
Price per ounce: $0.28
Molly’s Suds line of laundry products are safe, and even include some organic ingredients, such as peppermint oil.
Price per ounce: $0.28
Pur Laundry Detergent
I love this Black-owned brand of cleaner cleaning supplies. Due to supply chain issues they do not currently have this cool cardboard jug, but I hope it’ll be coming back soon!
Price per ounce: $0.23
Sonett Laundry Liquid
This is my favorite natural laundry detergent. It’s made in Germany, smells delish (although it’s also available in an unscented Neutral), and gets our clothes super clean. Of course, it contains none of the questionable ingredients listed above.
Price per ounce: $0.44
Tandi’s concentrated laundry soap is suitable for regular and HE washers. Tandi uses tallow as the basis for this soap, which she blends with natural cleaners like baking soda, plus essential oils for a delicate scent. This soap does not contain borax or SLS/SLES, and is a very effective option.
Price per ounce: from $0.35 – $0.52
Whoa Nelli Laundry Soap
We haven’t tried Whoa Nelli, and therefore cannot speak to how it performs, but we are big fans of its short list of clean ingredients. Whoa Nelli’s line of powders contain just baking soda, washing soda, old fashioned coconut soap, and some essential oils.
Price per ounce: $0.22
Zum Clean Laundry Soap
Almost all of Zum’s formulas are safe, with three primary ingredients: vegetable glycerin, saponified coconut oil, and baking soda. Avoid the Frankincense & Myrrh formula as it contains synthetic fragrance (although it is free of phthalates). EWG score: B-C, depending on formula
Price per ounce: $0.33
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Nellie’s Laundry Soda
We’ve moved Nelly from Sneaky to Okay Stuff, since they removed a few of their most concerning ingredients, and now garner an A from the EWG. We still don’t love alcohol ethoxylates and sodium metasilicate so we can’t quite call this Good Stuff.
Price per ounce: $0.26
Common Good Laundry Detergent
I love when I can move brands out of the Sneaky Stuff category! Common Good got rid of almost all of their problematic ingredients–really all that is left is sodium benzoate, and I’m not so worried about that in this case. Extra points for a the option of a refillable glass bottle!
Price per ounce: $0.56
Planet Laundry Detergent
Planet’s laundry detergent is an okay choice if you can’t find any of the Good Stuff, but I’m not crazy about the fact that it contains laureth-7, which contains a bunch of contamination concerns.
Price per ounce: $0.27
Most big name and generic laundry detergents have the same bad stuff in them; if a bottle doesn’t list its specific ingredients on the label, I wouldn’t use it.
Dreft, as we all know,is marketed as being special for babies and recommended by many pediatricians. Amazingly, nowhere on Dreft.com are ingredients mentioned. The closest they come is under their FAQ:
Q: How is Dreft formulated for my baby’s laundry needs?
A: The Dreft® formula is designed to not only help fight tough baby and toddler stains, but also provide a gentle clean for baby.
With a bit more sleuthing, I was at last able to dig up a list of Dreft ingredients. Fragrance, propylene glycol,ethanolamine, ethanol, sodium hydroxide, diethylene glycol, polyethylene glycol 4000 (which Skin Deep scores as 5-8), and about a dozen other ingredients make up the “gentle” clean of Dreft. EWG score: D-F, depending on formula.
Tide has a section of its website devoted to product ingredients, and a quick scan reveals that it’s made up of lots of stuff that the EWG’s Skin Deep Database scores as moderately to highly hazardous—such as benzisothiazolinone, fragrance, FD&C Yellow 3, and laureth-9. EWG score: D-F, depending on formula.
BabyGanics Loads of Love Laundry Detergent. Contains SLES and undisclosed conditioning agents. I like that they are relatively transparent about all of their ingredients, and while nothing sounds particularly horrid, when I asked for more details on what was meant by “naturally derived plant based cleaning agents,” they admitted: “Our products do not contain SLS however some our products do have SLES in them.” Yuck! I’ve often made my peace with SLS, but definitely not with its more sinister cousin, which is sometimes contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a well-established carcinogen. EWG Score: F.
Caldrea Laundry Detergent. Also contains neurotoxic methylisothiazolinone and sodium laureth sulfate. EWG score: F.
Charlie’s Soap is the perennial favorite on tons of natural living blogs, and having used their powder formula, I can attest to its effectiveness. Like other producers, Charlie’s is unwilling to provide their exact ingredients, and would only say this when I probed them further: “Our formulas are what make us special. They have been fully tested for toxicity (Duke University) and biodegradability (Japan Food Research Labs) and effectiveness (SGS US Testing Labs). They are unique and (following the practices of Coca-Cola) secret. Their formula is secret too, but that doesn’t keep folks from drinking it.” Hmmm, comparing themselves to Coke probably isn’t Charlie’s savviest PR move—The Coca-Cola Company is not exactly exemplary when it comes to concern for the health of its consumers. While Charlie’s denies using SLS or SLES, one of the ingredients they disclosed is sodium metasilicate–which Skin Deeps considers moderately hazardous and which the Journal of Reproduction and Fertility found to show reproductive effects in animals at low doses. EWG Score: D
Citra-Suds has also been moved from Good Stuff to Sneaky Stuff. One of my readers suspected that their laundry detergent contains sodium laureth sulfate and I followed up to discover that it does. When doing the initial review, I had an email exchange with a company representative and I asked twice if their laundry detergent contained SLES. I was told that it did not. I suspect that the woman I talked to was just uniformed, but this is no excuse. In addition, some Citra products (laundry and otherwise) contain limonene, a potential carcinogen and definite respiratory irritant. I was told they used orange oil for fragrance, which is a misleading answer as orange oil is technically a different (and harmless) ingredient. It also contains neurotoxic methylisothiazolinon. EWG Score: C.
Dapple’s various laundry detergents contain tetrasodium iminodisuccinate (which gets a C from EWG), cocamidopropyl betaine (which also gets a C), and benzisothiazolinone, which is a concerning preservative.
Earth Friendly ECOS laundry detergents contain bad surfactants (like cocamidopropyl betaine) and preservatives (neurotoxic methylisothiazolinone).
Melaleuca Mela Power Laundry is going to remain here in Sneaky Stuff until this brand gets back to me with a list of any of the ingredients found in it.
Ecover gets an A from EWG, but because it contains sodium laureth sulfate, which is known to be contaminated with carcinogenic 1,4-dioxane, I consider it to be Sneaky Stuff.
Method laundry products contain a number of concerning ingredients, from synthetic fragrance to PEG chemicals.
Mrs. Meyers Clean Day Laundry Detergent. Contains synthetic fragrance (though phthalate-free), and preservatives such as methylisothiazolinone, a suspected neurotoxin. EWG Score: F.
Ology Laundry Liquid contains a bunch of ingredients that give me pause, from laureth-7 to cocamidopropyl betaine. I don’t know why EWG gives this laundry detergent an A, but I strongly disagree with this assessment.
Puracy laundry detergent contains borax, which doesn’t worry me, but which I know many of my readers would prefer to avoid. Worse, it uses cocamidopropyl betaine as a surfactant.
Seventh Generation Liquid Formulas also contains methylisothiazolinone. The powder formulas are okay, but not quite Good Stuff. EWG Score: D.
Trader Joe’s laundry has removed some problematic ingredients (like optical brighteners and synthetic fragrance), but unfortunately they still use cocamidopropyl betaine as their surfactant.
Tide Free & Gentle contains optical brighteners and 1,4-dioxane, a probable carcinogen. (A recent New York Times blog post discussed Tide Free & Gentle specifically.) EWG Score: F.
Maia, Founder & CEO
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