Laundry is an essential chore that is performed on earth between 3 and 9 times a week for most households. The choice of cleaning products, particularly laundry detergents, can greatly affect the environment. Standard laundry detergents often contain harmful chemicals, which can have a significant environmental impact, particularly on aquatic life. To reduce this impact, many people are turning to eco-friendly laundry detergent options.

One popular earth-friendly option is compostable laundry detergent sheets, which are made from plant-based ingredients and can be used between 3 and 7 times before needing to be replaced. These sheets are an excellent alternative to traditional detergents, as they are plastic-free and can help reduce plastic waste that often ends up in landfills. Another option is laundry detergent pods, which are also made with plant-based ingredients and can be used between 1 and 3 times.

Natural laundry detergent is another popular choice, as it is made from plant-based ingredients and is free of artificial fragrances and toxic chemicals. Powder laundry detergent is considered to be an environmentally friendly option due to its longer shelf life, recyclable packaging, and cost-effectiveness. It also works well in high-efficiency washers, which can reduce the amount of water and energy used during the laundry process.

By contrast, liquid laundry detergent, which can be used between 2 and 4 times, tends to have a larger carbon footprint due to its plastic packaging and water content. However, it does offer cleaning power in colder water, which can be more energy-efficient. To reduce the environmental impact of liquid laundry detergent, look for brands that use recycled plastic containers and plant-based ingredients.
When it comes to fabric softeners, choosing a natural or eco-friendly option can help reduce the number of harmful chemicals that are released into the environment during the laundry process. Laundry products that are free of toxic chemicals, artificial fragrances, and other harmful ingredients are a better choice for the environment and can help reduce the number of loads of laundry that contribute to environmental damage.

How bad is laundry detergent for the environment?

Depending on formula, a laundry detergent can have a significant impact on the environment, especially on aquatic life. For example, phosphates can cause large algae blooms when they reach a water source, which ends up reducing the oxygen in the water and suffocate fish. Chemical dyes and fragrances are also harmful to aquatic life, along with some surfactants. Non-biodegradable detergents also reach waterways and can negatively affect plant and aquatic life. To make sure that your laundry doesn’t contribute to these effects, choose an eco-friendly laundry detergent that is specially made with the protection of the environment in mind.

Is washing powder or liquid better for the environment?

The answer is: it depends. For example, powder detergent has a longer shelf life and it’s not diluted with water – instead, it uses the water from the washing machine to clean clothes. It’s also more cost-efficient per load and more often than not comes in easy to recycle cardboard packaging. By contrast, liquid detergent is made with water, comes in plastic packaging that is often new plastic, and it’s harder to dose accurately. However, it also works better in colder water which is more energy-efficient.

What is a good eco-friendly laundry detergent?

A good, eco-friendly laundry detergent should clean efficiently without the addition of harsh chemicals. These detergents should have plant-derived ingredients, organic where possible, and a biodegradable formula. The best environmentally friendly laundry detergents should also be cruelty free, non-toxic, free of synthetic fragrances or dyes, concentrated, and packed in either easily recyclable or recycled materials.

Tangent GC Hypoallergenic Laundry Detergent

For sensitive skin

Made by Swedish brand Tangent GC, the Hypoallergenic Laundry Detergent is the perfect choice for those with sensitive skin. Like other products from this company, the laundry detergent is organic and vegan as well as eco-friendly. The efficient formula combines natural ingredients with surfactants derived from sustainably and ecologically grown plants. This laundry detergent is also fragrance free, making it a great choice for those who prefer unscented products. Finally, a bottle provides enough detergent for 66 hand washes or 33 machine washes.

Buy $24

Clean Mama Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergent Starter Kit

The spray laundry detergent

One of the most ingenious environmentally friendly laundry detergents you can find, this Clean Mama product gives a new twist to laundry washing. Unlike powders, capsules, or thick liquids, this laundry detergent comes in a spray bottle. The ultra-concentrated formula uses powerful bio-action enzymes to clean even the toughest of stains in 5 sprays. Suitable for any fabric, the spray effectively cleans even grass, wine, or chocolate. This kit includes the Clean Mama spray glass bottle with a sprayer, an extra refill bottle, and a laundry detergent refill box. Customers can select between the unscented or the Clean Laundry scented versions. This product is Leaping Bunny certified and it’s made in the USA.

Buy $49

Kind Laundry Eco-Friendly Laundry Strips

The travel friendly

If you’re traveling and need to take an eco-friendly laundry detergent with you, look no further than these laundry strips from Kind Laundry. A convenient alternative to liquid and powder detergents, this product also contains less ingredients and it’s significantly easier to carry in a travel bag. The formula combines plant-derived ingredients that suit even sensitive skin. To minimize waste, the strips come pre-cut and pre-measured, which also makes washing easier. The strips work efficiently in all water temperatures, in both standard and HE washing machines. Plus, this product comes with recyclable and biodegradable packaging that reduces its eco-footprint. Comes in fragrance free or Ocean Breeze versions.

Buy $20

Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds Biodegradable Cleaner

The all-purpose cleaner

Some of the best eco friendly laundry detergents are the ones that do more than one job. And nothing compares to an all-purpose cleaner you can use to clean surfaces in the home as well as laundry. The Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds Biodegradable Cleaner is exactly that. This all-purpose cleaner is concentrated and strong but it also has a gentle formula that doesn’t irritate sensitive skin. Suitable for cold or hot water, this biodegradable cleaner has a plant-based formula that cuts dirt, and removes stains with ease. The list of ingredients also includes natural fir and spruce essential oils that give the cleaner a fresh and mild scent. Cruelty free and Leaping Bunny certified, this product also contains organic ingredients that are fair trade whenever possible.

Buy $34

Dirty Labs Signature Bio Laundry Detergent

For cold water

The best eco-friendly laundry detergents are non-toxic, efficient, natural, and biodegradable as well as safe for aquatic life. The Dirty Labs Signature Bio Laundry Detergent is all of these things and more. Beautifully scented, it features a blend of bergamot, magnolia, and cedar notes. The biobased formula uses Dirty Labs’ Phytolase® advanced enzyme cleaning technology to remove tough stains and odors while caring for sensitive skin, delicate clothes, and the planet. Free of parabens, sulfates, and dyes, this product is also free of all California Prop. 65 chemicals. The hyper-concentrated formula is specially made to work in cold water. This bottle will last for around 75 loads, but you can also find this eco-friendly laundry detergent in a smaller, 32 loads bottle.

Buy $22

Tangent GC Organic Fir Stain Remover

For tougher stains

Even eco-friendly laundry detergents can be tough on stains. Take the Tangent GC Organic Stain Remover, for example. Made with a special formula, the detergent removes stains but doesn’t damage textiles. Vegan and cruelty free, this stain remover is also made with only organic, natural ingredients. A fir scent freshens up clothing and gives fabrics a subtle woody scent. Made in Sweden, this laundry detergent comes in the signature Tangent GC white bottle of 500 ml or 16.9 fl oz. For more delicate fabrics, the company recommends washing the items by hand and check for colorfastness.

Buy $24

Frey Laundry Detergent 2-Pack

For gorgeously scented clothes

Made with a patent-pending formula that uses surfactants derived from coconuts, the Frey Laundry Detergent is gentle on fabrics and on the environment. This concentrated detergent is highly efficient and compatible with HE washing machines. It even suits washing cycles that use cold water. As for the scent, this product impresses with a carefully selected range of essential oils. Apart from our favorite, with Jasmine/Rose/ White Cedar, it also comes in Cedarwood/Amber/ Oakmoss, Sandalwood/Bergamot/Clove, and an unscented version. Like other environmentally friendly laundry detergents from our list, this one is biodegradable, cruelty free, and free of any parabens, synthetic dyes, or sulfates. Plus, for every order, Frey plants one tree and donates parts of the profit through Wash for Wash program.

Buy $40

Tangent GC Oud Denim Wash

For your favorite jeans

If you’re thinking about buying a special detergent just for jeans, you probably love your denim. Which means that you should pick a quality product that cleans gently and efficiently, but without damaging the planet. Good news is that we’ve got you covered – this is one of the best eco friendly laundry detergents you can find. The Tangent GC Oud Denim Wash is organic, vegan and cruelty free. It features natural and carefully chosen ingredients that clean denim without damaging the fabric. This environmentally friendly laundry detergent also has a beautiful scent, with an oud fragrance and woody notes.

Buy $25

The Laundress Darks Detergent

For dark clothes

Whether you’re a goth, Steve Jobs fan or simply love the convenience of timeless black apparel, you know that your clothing needs special care. This is where the Darks Detergent from The Laundress comes in. It has a special formula that cleans fabrics and removes stains but also preserves the color and intensity of dark or vibrant materials. This laundry detergent is highly concentrated and suits everyday laundry and a range of fabrics, from cotton and linen to synthetics. Eco-friendly and kind to the environment, the Darks Detergent features plant-based, natural and biodegradable ingredients. Plus, the Classic scent makes any fabric smell fresh, clean and crisp thanks to a blend of jasmine, sweet musk, lily of the valley and citrus.

Buy $22

The Steamery The White Laundry Detergent

For white clothes

Keeping white clothes white without bleach ingredients is now a breeze thanks to The White Laundry Detergent from The Steamery. Manufactured in Denmark, this product was expressly developed to clean and brighten white materials. Apart from removing a range of stains, it also adds a coating around fibers to protect them from dirt and future staining. The formula doesn’t contain any bleach. Instead, the company uses a combination of enzymes that target stains and dirt, even at low water temperatures of only 20°C. This laundry detergent is suitable for all materials, except silk and wool. The White has a vanilla and jasmine scent and comes in a 100% recycled PET bottle.

Buy $20

Dedcool Dedtergent 05 Spring

The coolest packaging

Made by Dedcool, this eco-friendly laundry detergent is not only efficient and green, but it also comes in a creatively designed metal can. Named Dedtergent 05 Spring, this product is strong enough to clean anything from sheets and sportswear but gentle enough for delicate fabrics and intimates. The 100% biodegradable and environmentally conscious formula is non-toxic and vegan as well as cruelty free. The Dedtergent suits both machine and hand washing. As for the scent, this laundry detergent combines notes of bergamot, star anise and cardamom with incense, lavender, geranium, moss, patchouli, and vetiver. Finally, one can of 32 oz offers enough concentrated detergent for 60 washes.

Buy $35

TangentGC Clover Sportswear Detergent

For synthetics and sportswear

Specially made for synthetics and blended materials, the Clover Sportswear Detergent offers a convenient way to keep gym and workout clothing looking like new. Made in Sweden by Tangent GC, this is one of the best eco-friendly laundry detergents you can find. That’s because it not only removes stains but also neutralizes odors and keeps windproofing treatments intact. Cruelty and fossil fuel free, this detergent is also organic, vegan, and has a subtle fresh clover scent. It comes in a 500 ml or 16.9 fl. oz. bottle that is enough for 50 hand washes or 25 loads in the washing machine.

Buy $24

Grove Collaborative Laundry Powder Packs

For practical and easy laundry days

Designed by Grove Collaborative in a practical pack format, this environmentally friendly laundry detergent is one of the most convenient from our list. You don’t need to measure powders or liquids, but simply throw in a pack with dirty clothes and start the washing machine. This product uses four plant-derived enzymes to clean efficiently without any harsh chemicals. The formula is also free of synthetic fragrances and dyes. Ideal for all fabrics, this laundry detergent can also safely clean all colors without dulling their intensity. This detergent comes in Citrus and Woods, Lavender and Rosemary, or an unscented version. Made in the USA, the Grove Collaborative Laundry Powder Packs come in recyclable pouches.

Buy $18

Public Goods Natural Detergent Pods

The eco-friendly, natural detergent pods

Many laundry detergents nowadays come in convenient pods, but few of them are actually environmentally friendly. This is where the Public Goods Natural Detergent Pods come in. Made with a biodegradable formula, this detergent is fragrance free, graywater friendly, and free of any synthetic brighteners, sulfates, phthalates, harsh chemicals, or parabens. The 24 water-soluble pods contain plant-derived ingredients that can remove even tough stains. Suitable for sensitive skin, the formula is hypoallergenic and dermatologist-tested. These pods work with hot or cold water and suit  both standard and HE washing machines. Made in Illinois, USA.

Buy $10

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