Looking to make the switch to a non toxic laundry detergent?
I used to use soap nuts and whilst I know many people swear by them, they personally drove me a bit, well ‘nutty’. Whilst soap nuts contain saponin, a natural detergent, I seemed to spend half my life tracking them down when they went awol in the washing machine.
So I started looking for other non toxic alternatives.
Making your own homemade laundry detergent is always an option, as it gives you total control over the ingredients. But if DIY doesn’t feel do-able, or just isn’t up your street, there’s now a much better range of green and eco friendly laundry detergents to choose from.
EWG Rated Detergents
Below you’ll find 5 options, which, at the time of writing, all received an ‘A’ rating from the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a body that indexes and ‘scores’ products based on their ingredients.
An EWG ‘A’ rating indicates a product deemed of ‘lowest concern’, specifically:
‘Few/no known or suspected hazards to health or the environment. Good ingredient disclosure.’
This, of course, doesn’t necessarily mean a product is totally free of anything of concern, but it does offer consumers a much more informed way of buying a cleaning, or personal care product, in terms of what’s in it.
Here’s a brief video from EWG, which explains a bit more…
5 Non Toxic Laundry Detergents
OK, so here are the 5 laundry detergents that seriously cut down on many of the harsh chemicals often present in laundry detergents. In terms of what I use, it’s been Ecover for ages, but I’m about to make the switch to Dr Bronner’s Sal Suds, as they’re so versatile.
Ecover Zero laundry liquid is a fragrance free version of the popular Ecover laundry liquid. The ingredients are all plant and mineral based. It’s good for sensitive skin and has been approved by Allergy UK. I’ve used this for years and think it works really well.
EWG Rating: A
I’m looking to make the switch to these, as you can use the suds for general cleaning as well. It’s also concentrated, so you don’t need much. Some people add a 1/4 cup Baking Soda to the wash alongside the suds for extra cleaning performance.
EWG Rating: A
Formulated with only limited natural ingredients, Molly’s Suds laundry powder (at time of writing) contains sodium carbonate, sourced from the Green River Basin in Wyoming, sodium bicarbonate, magnesium sulfate (heptahydrate) and unrefined sea salt. There’s also a scented version containing peppermint oil.
A popular non-toxic laundry detergent that gets consistently good reviews for performance, Molly’s is another good option to consider for sensitive skin.
EWG Rating: A
Sun & Earth have been creating non toxic cleaning products since 1988, with and emphasis on natural products that don’t compromise on performance. Their unscented Sun & Earth laundry detergent is phosphate, dye and perfume free and cleans well. Whilst the unscented version scores an A on the EWG database, keep in mind it does contain sodium laureth sulfate if this is of concern to you.
EWG Rating: A
5 – Soap Nuts
I know, I said I didn’t I really get on with soap nuts didn’t I? But they are one of the few completely natural and sustainable non toxic laundry detergents out there. Soap nuts contain saponin, which is a natural detergent, plus they’re a great ‘zero waste’ option, as soap nuts can be composted.
Do they work? Well, the jury’s out a little on that one. Some people love them; others claim you may as well just use water. Personally, I think they do work…to some extent. But whatever your stance, I wouldn’t recommend them for heavily soiled items, such as nappies or muddy sports kits. Some sources also claim these little nutty balls (which are actually berries) release more saponin in hot water.
Note: Please keep in mind manufacturers often make changes to their products in terms of ingredients, formulas and labelling, so always double check labels/ingredients or the EWP database when making a purchase, to be sure of the latest information.
DIY Non-Toxic Laundry Detergent
Think you might want to try the homemade laundry detergent route?
It’s certainly a good way to eliminate many of the man-made chemicals in a lot of detergents, plus it may save you money, long term, if you make it in bulk.
Keep in mind, though, how well DIY detergents work is a debated topic. Many green living folk swear by homemade laundry detergents, whilst others argue they’re not truly a detergent (because the soap used in most DIY recipes is not a surfactant – the ingredient that essential enables the real cleaning ‘bit’ to happen.)
If you do decide you want to try hand at making your own DIY laundry detergent, here are 3 tutorials I like, from popular ‘green and natural health’ bloggers:
3 Homemade Laundry Detergent Tutorials
- a natural, borax free, natural laundry detergent (from Mommypotamus.com)
- a liquid natural alternative (from Mommypotamus.com)
- homemade natural laundry detergent powder (From Brendid.com).
Non-Toxic Laundry Detergents – A Final Word
Investing a greener, natural laundry detergent is a positive step towards reducing the chemical load on our bodies and in our homes.
Many laundry detergents contain harsh chemicals that can dry and irritate our skin and for people with sensitive skin (me!) it can also lead to itching.
Some of the common chemicals in many laundry detergents include sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)/sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), 1,4-dioxane, NPE (nonylphenol ethoxylate) and phosphates. These chemicals have all been linked with possible health concerns.
So opting for a homemade or shop bought greener alternative is almost certainly a healthier option.