Don’t kick yourself for not knowing how many harmful chemicals are in your laundry room. Manufacturers of most laundry detergents have done a solid job of hiding toxins in their cleaning products for decades.
But you don’t have to settle for it anymore. With great awareness comes great respo—wait, no, that’s something else. The point is, more and more laundry brands are eschewing harsh chemicals and opaque ingredient lists in favor of plant-based formulas and transparency.
To help you pick the best one, I spent a week with self-described “non-toxic” detergents to see if they actually are what they say they are. I compared their ingredients, cleaning power, sustainable packaging, price, and brand policies.
Here’s what I found.
The best biodegradable and eco-friendly laundry detergent: Earth Breeze Eco Sheets (4.6/5)
- Completely non-toxic ingredients
- Excellent cleaning power
- Donations to environmental and charitable causes
- Leaping Bunny cruelty-free certification
- Affordable prices
- Unfamiliar product
Earth Breeze easily took the top spot as the best non-toxic laundry detergent, as it’s one of the few options that is actually non-toxic as it only uses plant-based ingredients, and it offers a host of other benefits. It’s so gentle on skin that you can use it as a baby laundry detergent. Babies and people with sensitive skin are unlikely to have irritated skin or allergic reactions from using Earth Breeze.
The plant-based ingredients are certified cruelty-free by Leaping Bunny, giving it much more authenticity than other laundry brands. And the plant-based ingredients are all biodegradable, with nothing proven to harm wildlife, waterways, or soil, such as surfactants, chlorine bleach, or artificial fragrances or dyes.
In fact, the scent in Earth Breeze Eco Sheets comes from all-natural essential oils, but if you’re not a fan of scented laundry detergents, Earth Breeze’s fragrance-free option more than meets the challenge.
Earth Breeze’s cleaning performance also proved to be exceptional, and it did much better than any other laundry detergent I tested. It got rid of all the stains in my test samples, with no fading or damage to my clothes.
With all those benefits, you might be willing to pay a high price for Earth Breeze, but it costs a low $0.20 per wash with the convenient monthly subscription. Almost no other laundry detergent can meet that price while still offering the safe formula and performance that Earth Breeze does.
The positive implications for the environment don’t end with the detergent’s plant-based ingredients. Earth Breeze is a part of 1% for the Planet, donating 1% of its yearly revenue to environmental initiatives. And with each purchase, the company donates 10 laundry sheets to underprivileged communities. Earth Breeze doesn’t just talk the talk.
The only negative I could find is that Earth Breeze isn’t well known. When it comes to cleaning products, consumers don’t often want to be the guinea pig that proves a product is no good—or worse, dangerous. Thankfully, Earth Breeze has already accumulated thousands of positive reviews, even in its short three years on the market.
If you like low price, safe and eco-friendly ingredients, reliable performance, and charitable contributions, Earth Breeze is the non-toxic laundry detergent for you.
Second place medal: Blueland Laundry Tablets
Blueland had to take the second spot for its use of natural and environmentally friendly ingredients that don’t impact the environment. Thanks to Blueland’s natural ingredients, it’s unlikely to cause skin irritation, even when used as a baby laundry detergent.
It’s even Cradle to Cradle certified as “safe, circular, and responsibly made,” giving it much more authenticity than alternatives making the same claims. It also has a Leaping Bunny certification, proving that it’s cruelty-free and never tested on animals.
Often when a laundry detergent comprises a gentle and safe formula, its cleaning performance is lackluster. Not so with Blueland laundry tablets. One tablet was more than enough to clean my test samples.
Blueland seems to take sustainability seriously by providing a “forever tin” with your initial purchase of a “laundry starter set,” and then sending refill tablets in paper packaging. This is a pretty nice feature.
There were two reasons why it couldn’t take the top spot as the best non-toxic laundry detergent. One disappointing issue is Blueland’s lack of environmental and charitable initiatives. Compared to Earth Breeze, this is severely lacking.
Then there’s the price tag. At $0.35 per wash, it’s more expensive than Earth Breeze. With no commitment to charitable causes, you can’t even tell yourself the money will go somewhere besides just the company’s bank account.
If you just want an all-natural laundry detergent and you don’t mind spending a lot for it, Blueland is an acceptable alternative to Earth Breeze. For more info, you can find Blueland’s website here.
Other laundry detergents I tested
Earth Breeze and Blueland both stand out as the best non-toxic laundry detergents on the market, but they’re far from the only options to choose from. I tested a few others to see how they compared.
While a few might be worth picking up, many others should be avoided for various reasons. I’ve divided the rest of the non-toxic detergents into three categories: decent, low performance, and irritants.
Meliora Laundry Powder
Meliora Laundry Powder is a decent alternative to Earth Breeze or Blueland thanks to the natural ingredients it uses. The plastic-free packaging is also a plus.
Meliora’s hypoallergenic ingredients are carefully explained on its website, and the brand is completely transparent. It uses eco-friendly ingredients like baking soda and washing soda, and is Made Safe certified, giving it official backing as a safe laundry detergent.
Like Earth Breeze, Meliora partners with 1% for the Planet program to donate 1% of its revenue to environmental causes.
Coming in at $0.28 per load, Meliora is an affordable laundry detergent, but you can only get free shipping on orders over $49, so it’ll be a little more expensive per wash if you order less than this.
The only reason I couldn’t place this any higher is its cleaning performance. Both Earth Breeze and Blueland outperform Meliora in this department.
Truly Free Laundry Wash
While Truly Free liquid laundry detergent puts a lot of effort into making sure the ingredients in its detergent are safe for the environment and non-toxic, that doesn’t apply to its packaging, since it’s made from plastic.
As the brand’s name implies, the ingredients in this liquid detergent are “truly free” from toxic and harmful chemicals. You won’t find chlorine bleach or any similar ingredients in the laundry detergent.
As appealing as that is, it’s Truly Free’s environmental and charitable efforts that stood out. These activities include supporting orphans, funding a deaf village in Jamaica, and fighting human trafficking through the Blue Heart Campaign. When you buy Truly Free, your money really does some good.
It couldn’t break into my top three for a few reasons, however. The liquid detergent only offers an average cleaning performance, and you could still have some leftover stains after a wash. Plenty of liquid detergents do much better in this department. Truly Free also sends concentrated refills that you have to dilute yourself—and in plastic pouches to boot.
If you can’t get any of the top three, however, this is an appealing option since the formula is “truly” non-toxic. Add in free shipping and a money-back guarantee, and there’s no risk with this liquid laundry detergent.
Molly’s Suds is one of the most transparent detergents on this list, and the company has no problem highlighting the ingredients it uses.
Completely safe for the environment and non-toxic, it’s also Leaping Bunny certified. Like other leading non-toxic detergent brands, Molly’s Suds gives back to the environment and to charity. It’s involved in charitable causes across New York, Nevada, Virginia, and Florida, donating laundry detergent to underprivileged communities in those locations.
During COVID-19, the company also helped heavily affected families by doing laundry for nearly 1,000 families in need.
As appealing as all of this is, there’s a reason I couldn’t place Molly’s any higher on my list. As is often the case with laundry pods, these pods aren’t that effective at cleaning clothes, and I noticed a few grease stains in my test samples after being washed. It also left a strong scent after the wash.
Happi Earth Laundry Liquid
At face value, Happi Earth boasts quite a few benefits. It uses non-toxic and cruelty-free ingredients, making it a safe laundry detergent for the environment and sensitive skin. The affordable price tag—$0.25 per wash—also makes it an economical and eco-friendly laundry detergent to pick up.
Happi Earth claims to plant a mangrove tree with each purchase, but this is small potatoes compared to the top picks.
Despite a hassle-free returns process, free-shipping, and a money-back guarantee, there were a few reasons why this couldn’t make my top five.
While Happi Earth has taken steps to reduce the amount of plastic in its packaging, it still uses plastic that harms the environment both as it’s made and once it’s thrown out. The laundry detergent brand offers to sterilize and refill this, but that’s a time-consuming and inconvenient process that probably uses more energy than it saves. Still, since you can get up to 400 loads per package, you shouldn’t have to do this too often.
The brand’s cleaning performance is also average, and reviews have mentioned that it’s not effective at cleaning work uniforms. Users have also reported that the container, which you’re meant to shake, leaks frequently. Despite that, Happi Earth is a decent option if you want a natural and non-toxic laundry detergent that goes a long way.
Tru Earth Eco-Strips
Tru Earth is a safe laundry detergent to pick, as it contains only non-toxic ingredients. I couldn’t rank it any higher because of its cost, however. Coming in at an extraordinary $0.56 per wash, it’s the most expensive laundry detergent on my list. You’ll get a much better deal with many of the above options, which will perform just as well, if not better.
While Tru Earth claims to be cruelty free and vegan, there’s no certification or anything else to back it up. The company hopes you’ll just take its word for this. Then there’s the fact that the laundry detergent isn’t as effective as I’d like. I needed to use two laundry sheets to get rid of the stains in my test samples, which makes them even more expensive.
If you don’t mind the price, these aren’t awful, but your money would be better spent elsewhere.
Dropps Stain and Odor Detergent Pods
Dropps is incredibly open about their ingredients, which is one of the main reasons I thought to include it here. You can find the ingredient list on its website, and even a cursory glance through this confirms that it’s almost completely non-toxic
It does include a surfactant called “lauramine oxide,” which the Environmental Working Group identifies as having some level of concern as a skin and eye irritant in household cleaning products. In general, though, even this chemical is deemed safe and these pods can be considered non-toxic.
At least, that’s the case for the fragrance-free option. The scented version includes abies sibirica (fir needle) oil and citrus aurantium dulcis (orange) peel oil, both of which cause allergic reactions and can irritate sensitive skin.
As is often the case with pods, Dropps have only adequate cleaning power and didn’t remove tough stains from my test samples or even dissolve properly.
Dropps is also quite pricey compared to a few other options, with one-time purchases coming in at $0.46 per wash.
Grab Green Laundry Detergent Pods
Grab Green laundry pods claim to be completely non-toxic, so I couldn’t ignore it, but that’s far from the only positive it had going.
These detergent pods come in eco-friendly and plastic-free packaging, and it’s obvious the brand spent a lot of time considering the environmental optics when choosing their packaging.
The laundry detergent pods do come with some negatives, though. While other natural detergents give back to the environment through various initiatives, Grab Green fails to do so.
Since these cost a whopping $0.50 per wash, I thought that sky-high price would at least do some good. Grab Green really needs to do better in this department. You’ll get a much more affordable laundry detergent elsewhere and still benefit the planet.
Team low performance
Ethique Flash Laundry Bar
Ethique Flash is on my list because it’s a completely non-toxic laundry soap and I felt I needed to include it, but it can’t really compare to the others for one pretty significant reason.
To be fair to Ethique, this laundry bar isn’t really meant for use in a washing machine. That being said, if you buy this thinking you’ll use it in your laundry room you will be disappointed. Unless you’re going camping or hiking, a detergent sheet like Earth Breeze is a much better choice.
A natural laundry detergent, Pur Home does great on the ingredients side of things. It’s just a shame it didn’t perform well in my washing machine, and it didn’t get rid of any of the stains in my test sample. The delivery time is also abysmal, as it can take up to three weeks. And since this product comes in a plastic container, and plastic is proven to be toxic to people and the environment, I just can’t seriously consider it a truly “non-toxic” laundry detergent, not when brands are out there doing better than plastic.
The Unscented Company
Since The Unscented Company laundry detergent is fragrance-free, you don’t have to worry about harmful synthetic fragrances. If only this was enough to make it non-toxic.
Since the detergent lists sodium lauryl sulfate in its ingredients, it can’t be called a non-toxic laundry detergent. This harms your skin and can cause lung inflammation when breathed in. Stay well away. It also includes something called “sodium caprylyl sulfate,” which according to the Environmental Working Group may have implications for asthma and skin allergies.
Method Concentrated Laundry Detergent
While Method Concentrated Laundry Detergent claims to be non-toxic, it couldn’t be called hypoallergenic. It includes the surfactant c12-16 pareth-7, which is linked to skin allergies and irritation, so you’ll want to keep it well away from your face. Then there’s the fact that it leaves clothes looking—and feeling—dull.
Seventh Generation Laundry Detergent
Seventh Generation Free & Clear laundry detergent shouldn’t call itself a natural laundry detergent, or even “free & clear,” as it includes octylisothiazolinone, sodium lauryl sulfate, synthetic fragrances, and methylisothiazolinone, none of which are good for sensitive skin, and they’ll wreak havoc on the environment. Speaking of environmental consequences, Seventh Generation comes in a big plastic jug. Seventh Generation laundry detergent, self-proclaimed “free & clear” fails in every way I could find.
So, how exactly did I rank the best non-toxic laundry detergents? I naturally needed to have a process to determine how each laundry detergent on the market performed and to see whether or not they actually have harsh chemicals in them or if they can be considered among the safest laundry detergents. For more info about just how toxic traditional laundry detergent is, read my article, 11 Toxins Lurking in Your Laundry Detergent.
Here’s the in-depth and step-by-step process I used to figure that out.
The first step was to make a list of the top-selling and so-called non-toxic laundry detergents. While that led to quite a few detergent brands coming up in my research, subsequent steps let me narrow them down further and further. Each of the options I chose have quite a few sales on major platforms like Amazon, as well as countless reviews.
Next, I spoke with a few environmentally conscious professionals so I could find out specifically which chemicals I needed to be on the lookout for, such as 1,4 dioxane, sodium lauryl sulfate, chlorine bleach, and harmful synthetic fragrances. With that information, I was able to cut quite a few “non-toxic” laundry detergents from my list straightaway.
While I was looking through the ingredients lists, I paid particular attention to plant-based ingredients, as these don’t usually come with any negative effects on the environment. Natural detergents with these ingredients ranked high on my list.
The ingredients themselves weren’t the only area I paid attention to, as the packaging makes almost as much of an impact on the environment. Plastic requires mining and energy to produce and leaches chemicals into soil and aquatic environments as it very slowly biodegrades. Some detergent brands were great with their packaging, others were not, and this was reflected in their reviews.
Then it was time to find out what other people thought of the laundry products. That’s right—time to scour oodles of mind-numbing reviews. As tedious and repetitive as reading product reviews can be, they gave me an introductory idea of how the laundry brands stack up against each other. Amazon and Google in particular were helpful, whereas I was more skeptical of reviews on brands’ own websites.
Reviews told me what I need to know about how each detergent affects people with allergies or sensitive skin or how quickly and reliably customers receive their shipments.
Not all reviews can be taken at face value, though. Some brands lie about their products and pay for positive online reviews, while other detergent brands feel free to pay for negative reviews about their competitors to make themselves look comparatively better. I needed to speak to verified customers about their experiences, and there were more than a few people happy to answer the questions I had.
To make things fair, I also gave each of the laundry detergent brands a chance to answer a few of my questions about its products. As happy as some of them were to do so, not all of them were as forthcoming, and I felt as though these brands had something to hide. My testing later on would help me figure out if they were.
Now that I had all the information I wanted about the laundry products, it was time to see how they actually performed. Do they clean laundry as well as they claim to? There isn’t much of a point in picking up a non-toxic laundry detergent if clothes are still dirty after a wash.
Then there are some problems with a concentrated formula to worry about. Some detergent brands use an overly-concentrated laundry formula that wreaks havoc on clothes. These can cause fading and other issues with particular fabrics, so I needed to figure out if any on my list would do this.
To properly test these laundry detergents, I put together a batch of fabrics for each, making sure that each detergent was used on the same types of fabric. I also took the time to stain them all in the same ways to make sure the tests were as fair as possible.
I used HE washing machines and the manufacturer-recommended amount of detergent, then let each batch air dry, and then thoroughly studied them to find any leftover stains or signs of damage under UV light. I also gave them a sniff test to make sure the clothes smelled nice without being overpowering.
The top two options on my list performed amazingly in this department, but the rest all had some issues.
With the results of my tests in, it was time to compare each of the laundry detergents. I needed some criteria to make sure this was fair. To properly rank them, I had specific criteria in mind:
- Eco-friendly and natural ingredients
- Safe enough for a baby laundry detergent
- Recyclable, zero-waste, and plastic-free packaging
- Cleaning performance
- No skin irritation or asthma triggers
- Eco-friendly production and shipping
- Discounts, delivery charges, and subscriptions
- Cost per wash
- Charitable contributions
- Leaping Bunny certified cruelty free
Each ranking received a different weight, with non-toxic ingredients, cleaning power, and a lack of damage getting a lot of preference. My process helped me identify the safest laundry detergents for your family.
My findings: The best non-toxic laundry detergent that packs a punch
Conventional laundry detergents can be pretty hit-or-miss with toxic chemicals. For every legitimately non-toxic laundry detergent, there are countless more with ingredients like 1,4 dioxane, synthetic fragrances, and other harmful chemicals. These cause skin irritation and wreak havoc on sensitive skin, not to mention the damage to the environment. To make sure you know what to look for, read my ethical guide to laundry detergents.
Earth Breeze Eco Sheets stood head and shoulders above the competition for multiple reasons:
- Natural ingredients don’t include any toxic chemicals
- Cardboard and zero-waste packaging
- Gets rid of all dirt and stains without damaging clothes
- Completely carbon-neutral production and shipping
- Environmental support and advocacy through 1% for the Planet
- 10 laundry sheets are donated to underprivileged communities with each purchase
- One of the most affordable laundry detergents at $0.20 per wash
Despite being one of the newest laundry detergent brands on the market, Earth Breeze boasts a lot of attention as the best laundry detergent for people with sensitive skin and allergies. It’s an affordable and effective addition to any laundry room. For more information about the latest developments in laundry detergent, read my article about the best laundry detergent sheets.
If you want a non-toxic and eco-friendly laundry detergent that tackles tough stains and doesn’t leave your clothes damaged, you’ll be glad you heard about Earth Breeze.
Wrapping it up
You can’t take any more of the toxic chemicals found in conventional laundry detergent. Not only do these irritate your sensitive skin, but you don’t want anything to do with the environmental damage these cleaning products cause.
Finding a natural laundry detergent that tackles tough stains without damaging your clothes is easier than you think. With my guide to non-toxic laundry detergents, you can make a quick and easy decision and know that it’s the perfect choice for you.
Earth Breeze uses a non-toxic, natural formula that still tackles tough stains easily, ships in a compostable, plastic-free package, and at an affordable price, with free shipping and a money-back guarantee. Add in the extensive environmental causes it’s involved in, and no other detergent comes close.
If you’re looking for a non-toxic and eco-friendly laundry detergent that removes stains, doesn’t harm your clothes, and supports the environment, then add Earth Breeze to your laundry routine.