Make a difference for the planet and for yourself by making more of your home environmentally-friendly. Every eco-friendly swap you make helps.
Instead of becoming overwhelmed by all the changes you think you should make for an eco-friendly house, I recommend focusing on one room at a time.
Or start with the smallest room: an eco-friendly laundry room 😉
In fact, you can even make a positive environmental impact by first focusing on just your laundry detergent. Let me help you get started by using a more “green” laundry detergent that is eco-friendly, zero-waste, and non-toxic.
Read on for my list of well-liked and review-approved non-toxic & eco-friendly laundry detergents.
And hit that button below ↓ to grab my FREE Room-by-Room Checklist for more eco-friendly house swaps!
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What Makes a Laundry Detergent Eco-Friendly?
There are two main factors that qualify some laundry detergents as environmentally-friendly:
- Earth friendly detergents should be made of natural non-toxic ingredients and
- They should be packaged in a biodegradable or recyclable material (not plastic).
Eco-Friendly Detergent Factor #1: Natural and Non-Toxic Ingredients
In case you didn’t know…there are actually TOXIC chemicals in laundry detergents! Toxic to you and the environment.
Phosphates and surfactants in these detergents and soaps are flushed away with the water that is used to wash your clothes.
Wastewater treatment plants then process this water, but they are not able to remove certain chemicals like phosphates. Instead, those toxic laundry detergent ingredients inevitably enter the waterways in your surrounding environment like rivers, lakes, and aquifers.
The problem with the build up of these chemicals (most specifically phosphates) in waterways is that they cause eutrophication. Eutrophication is when there are excessive nutrients in the water that feed plant life too much so that it overgrows.
These algae blooms consume oxygen (stealing it from fish and aquatic animals, which kills them). Algae blooms also prevent sunlight from reaching plant life (which kills it as well).
Basically, it’s really bad…
Think of a lake that is completely green with algae (pictured above; notice the baby ducks trying to swim through it). That is what I’m talking about – an unhealthy environment unable to properly function.
Harmful or Toxic Ingredients:
- chlorine bleach
- sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate
- optical brighteners/UV brighteners
- ammonium sulfate
- nonylphenol ethoxylate
- benzyl acetate
- ammonium quaternary sanitizers
^ All of the above toxic detergent ingredients have the potential to be harmful to your body (allergens and irritants) or to the environment (they kill aquatic life). AVOID those ingredients.
SO WHAT LAUNDRY SOAP CAN I USE???
Alright…alright, you get it. Stop using toxic laundry detergents. But what should you use?
Obviously, you’ll want non-toxic ingredients. Look for laundry detergent products that are labeled organic or plant-based or bio–based.
However, keep in mind that choosing natural ingredients is only one of two factors that make up an eco-friendly laundry detergent…
Eco-Friendly Detergent Factor #2: Biodegradable Packaging
The second factor to consider for an eco detergent is its packaging.
According to TruEarth “700,000,000 plastic laundry jugs are dumped into landfills across North America every year.” To choose detergent with eco-friendly packaging look for recycled plastic or cardboard containers. Both of those are considered “zero-waste”.
Nowadays, you can actually get plant-based detergents in several eco-friendly forms:
I put together this list (below) for you so you don’t have to do all your own research. These 5 eco detergents do not harm you or the environment.
^^^Aaand I made sure that all of these are available on Amazon for your convenience!
P.S. I’ve also seen several of these green laundry detergents at CVS, Walgreens, Target, and at some grocery stores.
HERE IT IS: The 5 Best Non-Toxic and Zero-Waste Laundry Detergents
I’ve separated these ideal eco detergents into “liquid” and “sheets” categories.
Liquid laundry detergents:
1. Cleancult: This zero-waste liquid detergent is made of plant-based yet powerful ingredients and set up to reduce waste at every step. You can purchase their shatter-resistant detergent dispenser just one time to put your product in. Then all refills come in recyclable cardboard milk cartons.
2. Seventh Generation: This company uses 100% post-consumer recycled plastic bottles or cardboard with laundry detergent that is USDA certified bio-based. Their Ultra Concentrated EasyDose is so concentrated it requires 50% less water, 60% less [recycled] plastic, and is 75% lighter for less transportation pollution.
Laundry Detergent Sheets:
3. TruEarth: While these laundry strips are not labeled as “bio-based”, they provide an ingredient list that shows that all the ingredients are either “plant-derived” or biodegradable. The product itself comes in a thin recyclable and compostable cardboard sleeve, it is free of phosphates, parabens, chlorine bleach, and dyes, and is certified hypoallergenic. Manufactured in Canada.
Oh and also…
Another really cool thing about laundry strips is that their compact size means that distributing them produces 94% less transportation pollution than heavy and bulky liquid laundry detergents.
4. Earth Breeze: These eco sheets dissolve in hot or cold water within seconds. And they work in HE machines (as well as all other types). If you need to hand wash some clothing, you can use these eco sheets for that as well!
Earth Breeze eco sheets are not necessarily labeled as “bio-based” but they are phosphate-free, phthalate-free, hypoallergenic, paraben-free, and bleach- and dye-free.
Earth Breeze is also a member of 1% For The Planet, meaning they give 1% of their revenue to environmental non-profits.
5. Sheets Laundry Club: These laundry sheets are “natural” which according to the Sheets Laundry Club means the sheets do not contain plastics, harsh chemicals, or toxins.
The ingredients are simply “naturally-derived surfactants from coconut oil, natural essential oil fragrance, and polyvinyl alcohol” [they claim this is a biodegradable binding agent that is all natural and non-toxic to humans, animals, and marine life].
It’s environmentally-friendly packaging is sustainably-sourced and natural because it is plastic-free and biodegradable.
Sheets Laundry Club is partnered with One Tree Planted and also donates their product to areas in need. Their goal in one year is to donate 50,000 loads of laundry to areas in need, plant 10,000 trees, and eliminate 100,000 pounds of plastic.
Can I Make My Own Laundry Detergent?
DIY detergent: You may think that making your own laundry soap saves some plastic or is more natural since you can buy in bulk and stay in control of the included ingredients…
However!…let me save you some time and money right now and tell you that this soap can actually ruin your clothes, your machine, and is not as eco-friendly as you thought (this post explains further). Not only that, but DIY laundry soap has a reputation for not even cleaning as well as pre-made detergents.
You’re welcome. You didn’t want to go through all that effort anyways, right? 😉
So should you DIY?
With eco-friendly laundry detergent sheets now an easy, mainstream, and affordable option, DIY laundry soaps are definitely not worth the extra effort, time, money, and stress. Instead, use one of the non-toxic zero-waste laundry detergent options listed above!
Let me know in the comments if you have other eco-friendly laundry detergent suggestions! Or if you try out any of the suggested eco detergents. I’d love to hear. 🙂
Happy detergent swapping!