Toxic chemicals found in countless products can harm your septic system. Your laundry detergent is one of them.
Laundry detergents can clog pipes, kill beneficial bacteria, and lead to sludge build-up in the septic tank. To keep your septic system healthy, it’s time to replace your conventional detergent with a septic-safe laundry detergent—one with a plant-based, chemical-free, and biodegradable formula.
I spent a week with the best laundry detergents that claim to be safe for septic tanks and work well in washing machines to see how they fared. During my analysis, I looked at more than how they affected a septic system, including how well they clean, how much they cost, and more.
Here’s how it went.
Best laundry detergent for septic systems: Earth Breeze Eco Sheets
- Biodegradable and plant-based formula is great for septic systems
- No harsh chemicals that irritate sensitive skin or allergies
- Exceptional cleaning power
- Gentle ingredients safe for baby clothes
- Economical per-wash price
- Impressive donations to to environmental and societal charities
- Isn’t well-known compared to alternatives
Earth Breeze takes the title of best laundry detergent for septic systems because it won’t harm your septic system or septic tank. The hypoallergenic formula is chlorine free, dye free, and phosphate free, so it doesn’t include any harmful chemicals at all. That also makes it a great option for the environment, and as well as for people with sensitive skin.
Earth Breeze Eco Sheets produce less suds than traditional detergents, which makes it less likely to clog your septic system. Also, because it’s free of sulfates and surfactants, it’s safer for gray water, waterways, and the environment as a whole. It’s a truly septic-safe and biodegradable laundry detergent, and it won’t kill off any beneficial bacteria in the septic tank.
Many laundry detergents that boast being this biodegradable, hypoallergenic, and septic safe tend not to perform well in washing machines, but that isn’t the case here. Earth Breeze’s formula is strong enough to get rid of even the most stubborn stains.
Even though these detergent sheets are strong enough to remove stains, and even make whites whiter, it doesn’t fade bright colors or irritate skin. The formula is also great for baby clothes, so it’s a great option if you have a young family.
Earth Breeze is terribly convenient to use, as well. Just toss a sheet into the drum of your washer with your clothes and voilà! One sheet was more than enough, and you can even cut them in half for light loads.
Earth Breeze Eco Sheets are scented with all-natural essential oils that are completely safe for septic systems. But if you’re not a fan of scented laundry detergents—or if you have a sensitive nose—the fragrance-free option is just as effective as its scented counterpart.
If you’ve had trouble choosing an eco-friendly laundry detergent because of the giant, heavy plastic jugs most popular detergents come in, you’ll love Earth Breeze’s packaging. It’s completely compostable, lightweight, and easy to store. Because of this, Earth Breeze laundry detergent stays carbon neutral, further enhancing the environmental benefits of using this product.
The advantages for the environment and your septic system aren’t the only ones you’ll see with Earth Breeze. The company donates extensively to environmental and charitable causes, including partnering with 1% for the Planet. Through this organization, Earth Breeze gives 1% of its annual revenue to planet restoration efforts. It’s also a We are Neutral partner, committing to completely removing its carbon footprint while engaging in ocean cleanup and tree planting efforts. To top it all off, with each purchase Earth Breeze donates 10 Eco Sheets to a charity of your choice.
Earth Breeze is one of the few laundry detergents that backs up all of the claims it makes. It even has a Leaping Bunny cruelty-free certification, so you know it’s never been tested on animals.
How much would you be willing to pay for a laundry detergent with all these impressive features? How does $0.20 per load sound? While one-time purchases end up costing $0.33 per load, a monthly subscription brings that down to $0.20 per load. Free shipping and a money-back guarantee make this even more attractive.
The main downside to Earth Breeze is that it isn’t well known. While it’s got a loyal following, it isn’t yet popular among the masses. With a bit of time, though, this shouldn’t be a problem. It’s already amassed thousands of positive reviews online.
If you’re worried about your septic tank and what you put in it, the gentle and biodegradable formula in Earth Breeze Eco Sheets will give you peace of mind.
Second place medal: Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder
- Highly biodegradable formula safe for septic systems
- Ingredients are safe for sensitive skin
- Strong enough to remove most stains
- Extremely affordable price
- No environmental or societal contributions
- Packaging is not as eco-friendly as it could be
- No free shipping or refunds
Charlie’s Soap laundry powder takes the second spot because it uses a biodegradable formula with low-sudsing qualities, so it doesn’t harm your septic tank or the environment. You may have heard that powdered detergent is the worst detergent for septic systems, and that’s true—for traditional detergents. All-natural powdered detergents, such as Charlie’s, pose no risk to your septic system. The plant-based formula uses only five ingredients, all of which are great for sensitive skin and water sources, as well as septic systems. This lacks all of the chemicals that usually harm a septic system, such as petroleum, bleach, dyes, chlorine bleach, and phosphates.
The benefits for your septic system and the environment are far from the only reasons the powdered laundry detergent takes second place. It also offers a great cleaning power, so you won’t need to worry about any stains still being there after a wash as you do with some other eco-friendly detergents. My test sample came out clean and bright, and I couldn’t find any fading or other damage. The delicate formula also means it’s great for baby clothes.
Then there’s the price. Depending on what size package you order, the price can go as low as $0.15 per wash, so it’s an affordable laundry detergent that costs much less than its competitors. The lack of free shipping is a negative, however, as is the no-refund policy. With the low price, it’s still worth the risk.
The only other negatives I’ve found were the plastic in its packaging, as well as a lack of environmental and social contributions, especially compared to Earth Breeze.
Charlie’s Soap is a safe option for your septic tank and cleans clothes great, so check out its website today.
Other laundry detergents I tested
Earth Breeze Eco Sheets and Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder are both septic-safe laundry detergents that clean clothes effectively and will leave you feeling guilt free after washing your clothes. I wanted to see how other detergents affect septic systems and whether they’re as effective as the manufacturers claim.
Some were decent, while others weren’t. I’ve identified a few runners-up and others that had questionable ingredients. Here’s how they performed.
These detergents will keep your septic system healthy, but they’re not good enough overall to make it into the top two.
Dropps Stain and Odor Detergent
Dropps Stain and Odor Detergent only uses plant-based ingredients that don’t harm septic systems, the environment, or water sources. If you’re worried about your septic tank, it’s certainly an appealing option.
The septic-safe laundry detergent is made in partnership with CleanGredients, a program run by the EPA that lists environmentally safe and approved ingredients, which also won’t harm your septic tank. Not only do these ingredients fail to create suds in septic systems—which everyone wants to avoid—but they also easily dissolve and biodegrade in water.
Some other nice features of Dropps, in addition to being good for your septic system, are eco-friendly and compostable packaging and environmental initiatives. In fact, Dropps is involved in a Clearloop partnership that helps build solar projects in Jackson, TN. That seems to be the only environmental work it’s involved in, however.
One of the larger issues I found with this septic-safe laundry detergent is the price. Costing $0.46 per wash, it’s one of the more expensive options on the list. While Dropps offers free shipping on orders over $29, as well as subscription discounts, it’s still much more expensive than the top options.
As is common with most laundry detergent pods, Dropps’ pods don’t dissolve perfectly in cold water. I even noticed a post-wash slimy residue. You’ll need to use warm water or wash your clothes twice to get rid of this residue.
If you have allergies or sensitive skin, you might want to avoid Dropps because of the citrus aurantium dulcis (orange) peel oil and abies sibirica (fir needle) oil, both of which can cause allergic reactions.
If you can’t find one of the top two options and you’ve got money to burn, Dropps laundry detergent pods are pretty septic safe, but it’s not perfect.
Puracy Natural Laundry Detergent
Puracy is completely safe for septic systems, but—unlike some other septic-safe laundry detergents—it doesn’t cost an overwhelming amount per load.
The concentrated liquid laundry detergent only uses plant- and mineral-based ingredients, making it safe for waterways, septic systems, and even the environment. These ingredients are biodegradable and break down quickly, so there’s no risk of any harm. The ingredient list even includes the origins of each ingredient.
Coming in at $0.22 per load, the concentrated liquid laundry detergent is one of the more economical options on the market. If you choose the monthly subscription, you even get a 5% discount on the purchase. One drawback is the lack of free shipping under orders of $55, so that might undo any discount you get.
The environmental-friendliness of the detergent also extends to the packaging. Unlike some other options, the concentrated liquid laundry detergent comes in small, recycled bottles. While these still aren’t entirely plastic free, it’s more effort than some alternatives put into their packaging.
One or two of the claims Puracy makes about its liquid detergent is that buyers get 96 loads per 24-oz. bottle. In my experience, you need to use more than the manufacturer-recommended amount for any heavy stains, which brings down the number of loads you get with each bottle.
Overall, Purcacy is a decent septic-safe laundry detergent, but it doesn’t do much for environmental causes, a disappointment compared to Earth Breeze.
Meliora Laundry Powder
Meliora powdered laundry detergent goes above and beyond in almost every possible way—it’s cruelty free, vegan, and Made Safe certified. It doesn’t harm septic systems at all, so you don’t need to worry about how much of it ends up in your septic tank.
Comprising baking soda, washing soda, coconut oil, glycerin, and sodium cocoate, the formula is a completely septic-safe detergent, as well as safe for the environment and sensitive skin.
Meliora also takes a plastic-free approach to its packaging, making it more appealing for any environmentally conscious consumers, and you even get a steel scoop with your first purchase.
The septic-safe laundry detergent comes in three scented versions made with safe and all-natural essential oils. There’s also a fragrance-free alternative that won’t irritate a sensitive nose.
What surprised me most was how much the powdered detergent benefits the environment. Meliora donates 1% of its revenue to 1% for the Planet, as well as a further 1% to Women’s Voices for the Earth, significantly more than any other powdered laundry detergents. The only detergent that outdoes this is Earth Breeze.
As appealing as Meliora’s powdered laundry detergent is for the environment, septic systems, and sensitive skin, it isn’t the best as cleaning clothes. Coming with an average cleaning performance, it lacks in this department and you’ll need to use a decent amount of the detergent to get rid of even light stains. Some users reported it didn’t dissolve well and even clogged their HE washing machines.
Biokleen Eco-Bottle Laundry Liquid
Biokleen is worth a mention, as it uses green packaging and plant-based ingredients, so it doesn’t harm the environment. The lack of dyes, surfactants, chlorine bleach, phosphates, and ammonia also means it’s great for sensitive skin while also making sure it doesn’t damage your septic tank.
The liquid laundry detergent is also cruelty-free and vegan, as well as EPA Safer Choice certified. Consumers shouldn’t need to worry about the liquid detergent harming anything when they use it.
There are two reasons why I couldn’t place this septic-safe detergent any higher. First is the lack of environmental or charitable contributions. It also comes with average cleaning power, so you’ll probably notice stains left after a wash cycle. You might need to use a decent bit more of the detergent to properly get these stains out.
ECOS Laundry Detergent
Liquid detergents can be hit-or-miss with their ingredients, but ECOS is one of the few that actually gets it right. The liquid laundry detergent only uses plant-based ingredients that easily dissolve in a washing machine. The company also has EPA Safer Choice and Leaping Bunny certification, making it one of the least harmful laundry detergents for septic systems, the environment, and your skin.
It shouldn’t harm your septic tank, either, as I couldn’t find anything that leads to damage in a septic system.
ECOS liquid laundry detergent also does its part to do good and was one of the voices that helped pass the Cleaning Product Right to Know Act in California, which requires cleaning products to be transparent about their ingredients. It’s also involved in efforts that protect children from harmful chemicals, among other efforts. There aren’t many liquid laundry detergents that can boast that.
ECOS also fights tough stains well, and there shouldn’t be any leftover once the wash cycle is done, with even stubborn stains being cleaned off. You’ll have to double-up on the amount of the liquid laundry detergent you use, however, which makes this one of the least economical options to pick up.
As much effort as ECOS puts into its charitable and environmental efforts, the liquid laundry detergent comes in plastic jugs. While recyclable, it still isn’t sustainable.
Arm & Hammer Liquid Detergent
Arm & Hammer laundry detergent says it’s eco-friendly and sustainable, but it comes in large plastic jugs. That makes it far from sustainable, so I was immediately skeptical about the rest of the brand’s claims.
Thankfully, the liquid laundry detergent is good for septic systems, as it doesn’t include any phosphates. It’s also one of the more budget-friendly options, which explains why many people love the brand. It’s pretty good at removing stains too.
Just because it’s one of the more septic-safe laundry detergents doesn’t mean it’s safe for sensitive skin or the environment, however. Its ingredient list shows several harsh chemicals, including benzisothiazolinone, synthetic fragrances, methylisothiazolinone, sodium borate, and sodium lauryl sulfate. Despite not damaging your septic tank, these harmful chemicals hurt the environment, and can cause skin and lung problems.
Looking after your septic system isn’t worth the damage this does to you or the environment. You’re better off with Earth Breeze, which is good for septic systems, clothes, the environment, and your wallet.
Clean Cult deserves a mention purely because it’s a septic-safe laundry detergent, but there isn’t much else to make the detergent stand out. It’s an expensive option, especially considering how ineffective it is against tough stains. If you can’t get any of the laundry detergents mentioned above, you could pick it up, but it’s worth using this as a last resort. Make sure to use more than the manufacturer-recommended amount in your wash cycle.
These options may not be as safe for your septic tank as advertised, or they may have other seriously questionable ingredients, and you may want to steer clear of them.
Ecover Laundry Detergent
Ecover doesn’t harm septic tanks or the rest of the septic system, so it could be worth considering, thanks to its plant-based ingredients and natural surfactants, all of which are biodegradable. As septic safe as these are, the detergent also includes benzisothiazolinone and methylisothiazolinone, harsh chemicals that cause lung and skin irritation.
It’s not an effective option for people with sensitive skin or allergies, and is best kept well away from children. Then there’s the high-density polyethylene plastic bottles this septic system-safe laundry detergent comes in. Not exactly a good thing for the environment, no matter what it does to your septic tank.
The septic-safe laundry detergent also doesn’t clean as well as I hoped it would, and it couldn’t get rid of the tough stains in my test samples. It also isn’t involved in any environmental efforts like my top two choices. The main reason I’ve listed it here is that it’s technically safe for septic systems. If it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t have given it a consideration.
Mrs. Meyer’s Laundry Detergent
While Mrs. Meyer’s laundry detergent cleans well, it isn’t safe for your septic system. Its ingredient list includes methylisothiazolinone and methylchloroisothiazolinone, both of which can wreak havoc on a septic tank. Consumers who want to take care of their septic systems would do well to avoid this and choose one of the top picks.
Method Concentrated Laundry Detergent
Method Concentrated Laundry Detergent is septic safe, so it deserved a mention. It’s not hypoallergenic, however, and I found that the liquid laundry detergent caused serious eye irritation in some consumers. It’s best left avoided, especially if you have young children in the house.
Persil Free & Sensitive Laundry Detergent
Persil is one of the most well-known laundry detergents on the market, so I had to give it a look. Once I did, I didn’t see why so many people buy it. It contains surfactants and other harmful chemicals, so it’s not exactly a septic-safe laundry detergent. The company also claims to be “natural,” but I doubt this because of Persil’s previous history of stretching the truth.
To test and compare the best laundry detergents for septic systems, I needed to have a process in place that kept everything as fair as possible. I spent some time with each of the detergents and went through a specific process to find out how each of the septic-safe laundry detergents performed and compared against each other.
Here’s that process.
I needed a foundation to build from, so I started by listing all of the laundry detergents that claim to be great for a septic system while also boasting a great cleaning performance and other benefits. Platforms like Amazon and Wal-Mart’s websites were a great starting point for this, and let me develop an extensive list of detergents that claim not to affect septic tanks.
I chose some options that said they didn’t harm a septic system and skipped those that didn’t make any mention of this. Online reviews were a great way to narrow these down, covering a range of aspects related to the product. Outside of how they affected a septic system, I went through how each laundry detergent performed, if they damaged clothes, and what kind of ingredients they included.
Online reviews can be easy to fake, however, so I couldn’t take all of them at face value. I decided to talk to customers who I could verify actually used each laundry detergent, to get information I knew was accurate. Gradually, I was getting a clearer and clearer picture of how each “septic-safe” laundry detergent performed.
I then decided to reach out to each detergent manufacturer themselves to see what they had to say for themselves. Some were great in answering my questions and speaking about whether or not their ingredients would harm a septic system, while others didn’t respond at all. They seemed like they had something to hide.
Once I had all of this information, it was time to get to testing, but I needed criteria to measure each of the laundry detergents against. It wasn’t enough to simply find out if they damaged a septic system.
I developed a scoring system based on several criteria to do this.
- Plant-based ingredients and formulas that don’t affect a septic system
- No ingredients that irritate sensitive skin or allergies
- No harsh chemicals like optical brighteners and chlorine bleach
- Cleaning performance on clothes and a lack of visible damage
- Performance in HE washing machines
- Eco-friendly packaging
- Cost per load
- Subscriptions, bundle offers, and free shipping
With my criteria in place, it was time to start testing. It was time to see whether each laundry detergent would affect my septic system while seeing how well they cleaned my test samples. Each laundry detergent had a sample including multiple fabrics and stains, and I made sure all of these were as identical as possible.
Once cleaned in HE washing machines, I air dried each test sample and analyzed them under UV light. That let me see what kind of cleaning performance each laundry detergent offered. I also went out of my way to check my septic system after each wash to see what kind of impact the detergents had, though the ingredient lists gave me a general idea of what this would be.
Earth Breeze and Charlie’s Soap performed exceptionally well in all departments. They cleaned my samples well, and there wasn’t any fading or other damage. I also couldn’t find any damage to my septic system, including foaming, clogging, or sludge.
Many of the other detergents didn’t perform as well, though. They either harmed my septic system, failed to clean my fabrics, or included ingredients that no modern, conscientious person would want to wash their family’s clothes with. These all received points based on my criteria, with the best laundry detergents growing increasingly obvious.
My findings: The best laundry detergent for septic systems that actually cleans clothes
Customers find it difficult to figure out which laundry detergents will affect their septic system. The harmful ingredients in many options might not be listed on the packaging, and buyers may forget to actually check their septic system regularly. This can lead to expensive repairs. I went through a comprehensive list of detergents to find out which detergent a homeowner can trust with their septic system
I didn’t only look at how each laundry detergent affected my septic system, but also whether they properly cleaned clothes without damaging them. Earth Breeze takes the top spot as the best laundry detergent for a septic system for multiple reasons.
- No ingredients known to harm a septic system
- Gentle formula and plant-based ingredients
- One of the more economical options at $0.20 per wash
- Extensive donations to charity
- Carbon neutral
- Excellent cleaning performance
- Hands-on approach to giving back to charity
While it’s still a relatively unknown laundry detergent, Earth Breeze is picking up a head of steam. It’s great for a septic system, the environment, sensitive skin, and your clothes. My tests back that up. For more information about laundry detergent sheets, read my review of the eight best laundry detergent sheets on the market.
Wrapping it up
The laundry detergent industry is changing with the times. Read my guide to ethical detergents to learn just how. To find the best detergent for septic tanks, I tested 13 laundry detergents claiming to be great for a septic system, with Earth Breeze coming out on top for multiple reasons.
I based my rankings on multiple factors, from what it does to septic systems, to cleaning performance and plant-based ingredients, and more.
Earth Breeze outperforms competitors in each of these areas and is a septic-safe laundry detergent that tackles tough stains without costing a lot. It doesn’t include harmful materials like plastic in its packaging, and it has a completely nontoxic formula.
Combined with its environmental contributions, you’ll also be helping the environment with your purchase.
If you want a septic-safe laundry detergent that removes tough stains, benefits the environment, and doesn’t cost you a lot, get Earth Breeze.