As an environmentally conscious person, you’re trying not to create a lot of plastic waste since you know it has the potential to leach dangerous chemicals into soil, air, and aquatic ecosystems around the planet. You’ve started using canvas grocery bags and a reusable water bottle, but what about your laundry detergent?
Many options come in plastic laundry jugs, especially liquid laundry detergent (which also wastes water, by the way), and even the ingredients often contain some plastic derivatives. Because plastic is a substance produced by the petroleum industry, even if you recycle or reuse it, it’s bad for the environment from the beginning. The petrochemical industry is responsible for greenhouse gasses, ozone layer depletion, acid rain, and air pollution. A completely plastic-free laundry detergent looks more and more appealing the more you think about it, but finding something that’s actually plastic free can be complicated.
To make it as easy as possible, I spent time with the top brands claiming to be plastic free to figure out if they can back up their claims. When comparing the 16 most popular options, I also looked at their cleaning power, any harsh chemicals included in their formulas, their environmental contributions, and their prices per load.
Here’s how they performed.
Best plastic-free laundry detergent: Earth Breeze Eco Sheets
- Plastic-free packaging
- Eco-friendly and hypoallergenic ingredients
- Safe for sensitive skin
- Partners with 1% for the Planet and We Are Neutral
- Effective cleaning performance
- Affordable per-load price
- New to the market, so hasn’t developed customer trust
Laundry strips that look like dryer sheets are the newest rage in eco-friendly laundry detergent, and Earth Breeze Eco Sheets are as eco-friendly as they come. Their packaging is compostable cardboard, so it’s zero waste and doesn’t contribute to plastic pollution. The small, lightweight size of the packaging and the product also helps to keep shipping energy usage down. In fact, the packaging has no carbon footprint, thanks to the company’s partnership with We Are Neutral, which works with corporations to ensure their carbon footprints are as small as possible, even zero.
Then there’s the natural and eco-friendly ingredients, which are as safe for sensitive skin as they are for the environment. It’s not going to irritate your skin or cause any allergic reactions.
Earth Breeze doesn’t compromise on cleaning performance, however. It cleans as effectively, if not better than, a traditional laundry detergent. None of the clothes I tested had any leftover stains, they had no fading, and they smelled great. It worked well on both dark clothes and whites.
If you think this quality will cost you a lot, you’re wrong. These detergent sheets come in at a low $0.33 per-load price, but you can bring this down to $0.20 by choosing a monthly subscription.
Despite the low cost, Earth Breeze does its part for the environment by donating 1% of its profits to the 1% for the Planet initiative. Earth Breeze also donates 10 sheets to vulnerable people and communities with each purchase, making it the most philanthropic detergent brand I could find.
The only real negative here is Earth Breeze hasn’t developed much of a presence in the market. Since it’s new, Earth Breeze is still gaining trust and traction among its target market. It shouldn’t have a problem doing this with some more time.
If you want a completely plastic-free and zero-waste laundry detergent that won’t break the bank, check out Earth Breeze today.
Second-place medal: Net Zero Co. Laundry Detergent Strips
- Products are plastic free
- Silicone Takeback Program takes back the company’s used packaging
- Completely vegan and cruelty free
- Compostable packaging
- Cleans effectively
- Natural ingredients
Net Zero Co. has been on a mission to reduce worldwide plastic pollution since its inception. Only 5% of its products are made from plastics and only as a “last resort,” and even then they try to use recycled plastic from the ocean, making it a completely zero-waste laundry detergent. It also only uses natural ingredients to make sure its environmental impact is minimal.
Not even its shipping harms the environment, as it’s carbon neutral. Adding to this is its vegan and cruelty-free nature. The compostable packaging also means you can start making compost for your garden relatively easily with it, further reducing your environmental impact.
Net Zero Co. is also the only brand—except Earth Breeze, of course—I could find that has initiatives to reduce its overall impact, like its Silicone Takeback Program. Simply send them your silicone waste, and they’ll have no problem recycling it for you. Add in the fact it plants a tree with each sale, and the company gets more appealing.
The main negative associated with Net Zero, Co. is the price—$0.56 per load, close to double what Earth Breeze charges. While you can get 10% off, this is for first-time purchases only, and you’ll only get free shipping for orders over $80.
Despite this, Net Zero Co. is my second choice because of its dedication to the environment. You can find out more about the brand here.
Other plastic-free laundry detergents I tested
Earth Breeze and Net Zero Co. were far from the only plastic-free laundry detergents I tested. I went through 14 others to see how they compared. While some boasted of being an eco-friendly and plastic-free laundry detergent, they didn’t measure up to my top two options in various ways.
I’ve split them into teams based on why they’re not as good as Earth Breeze and Net Zero, Co. Here’s how they measured up.
Team “better be good at that price”
This collection of laundry detergent charges too much for what you get out of them, whether that’s eco-friendly ingredients, cleaning power, or planet-friendly brand initiatives.
Tru Earth stands out as one of the better plastic-free laundry detergents because it’s actually committed to using zero plastic in its products. The recyclable and zero-waste packaging is completely sustainable, and the hypoallergenic ingredients won’t harm the environment or irritate sensitive skin.
It doesn’t use any chlorine bleach, surfactants, or other harmful chemicals, instead choosing plant-based and natural ingredients. While Tru Earth also claims to be cruelty free, I couldn’t find any certifications to back this up. Since many laundry detergents lie about this, I’m a bit skeptical.
All of that comes without compromising on cleaning performance, as Tru Earth performs quite well in this. You shouldn’t have a problem getting rid of tough stains. I couldn’t rank the laundry detergent any higher because it’s one of the most expensive detergents on my list.
Costing $0.62 per load, it’s almost twice the price of Earth Breeze. It also doesn’t contribute to the environment or charity nearly as much, not donating any of its revenues to environmental causes.
Clean People Laundry Detergent
Clean People boasts being a plastic-free laundry detergent, but you’ll be paying an awful lot to cut down on your plastic waste. At $1.03 per load, it’s one of the most expensive laundry detergents you could choose. You don’t get many benefits for that, and there are plenty of detergents that clean much better.
Brighton Wool and Honey Co. Laundry Soap
Brighton Wool and Honey Co. has a rather interesting approach to being a plastic-free and eco-friendly laundry detergent. Instead of the plastic bottles laundry detergents normally come in, the company uses reusable glass jars and wooden scoops to make this laundry soap completely plastic free.
Glass can still have a higher carbon footprint than a plastic-free cardboard box, however, because of the size and weight of the jars. There are a few other reasons I couldn’t rank this any higher, most notably its average cleaning performance. It doesn’t clean clothes as much as I would’ve hoped.
Then there’s the cost. While the company claims a $14 jug gets 75 loads, I needed to use twice the manufacturer-recommended amount to clean clothes properly. It cleans fewer loads properly than Brighton Wool and Honey Co. claims.
You can get a much better performance elsewhere, and you shouldn’t have to pay as much per load.
Meliora Laundry Powder
Chlorine bleach free, dye free, fragrance free, and completely plastic free, there’s almost nothing not to like about Meliora laundry powder. It even comes in a steel cylinder that you can refill with sustainable paper pouches.
The plastic-free and cruelty-free claims are also backed up by multiple certifications, so there’s no need to worry about misleading marketing claims. Beyond this, Meliora is one of the few brands that partners with 1% for the Planet, donating 1% of its profits to environmental causes.
The main reason I couldn’t rank this powder detergent any higher is its average cleaning power. While it’ll get out a few stains, it doesn’t work too well on tough ones. It won’t make whites as white as you’d want them when using HE washing machines, and you’ll likely still see a few leftover stains.
The affordable $0.28 price tag looks appealing, but you’ll need to factor in shipping if you’re buying under $49 worth of packaging.
The carbon footprint associated with this powdered laundry detergent is also quite high, thanks to the steel canisters it’s shipped in. While this isn’t as big as the paper pouches refills come in, the laundry powder needs a lot of energy to be shipped. Its size also means fewer of these can be shipped at a time, driving up its carbon footprint.
Ethique Flash Laundry Bar
Ethique Flash is a completely plastic-free and eco-friendly laundry bar that actually does what it says. The zero-waste packaging and environmentally friendly ingredients make it as nice as you’d want in this department, and the company even donates to environmental initiatives.
It also boasts an excellent cleaning power, and even does as great a job as my top picks on this list. The only reason I couldn’t rank this higher is the laundry detergent isn’t suitable for washing machines.
Any households with a lot of dirty laundry to get through every week also wouldn’t get much use out of this. It’s best suited for travel, camping, or handwashing delicates.
You’d be better off getting one of the laundry detergents mentioned above, as they’re easier to use, clean just as well, and are as eco-friendly.
Team “better than nothing”
Dropps Stain & Odor Laundry Detergent Pods
Dropps laundry detergent pods were the first of its kind, with all similar options trying to capitalize on the company’s success. The brand’s popularity is based on much more than simply being laundry detergent pods, however, because they’re eco-friendly laundry detergent pods.
This detergent doesn’t use any harmful ingredients, and clothes will smell fresh after they’ve been washed. The laundry pods don’t offer the best cleaning performance out there, however, and you’ll find better options elsewhere. Tough stains will be tricky to get rid of.
The main reason for this is the laundry pods don’t dissolve as well as they should in the wash, so they can’t fight stains. The laundry detergent is also expensive at $0.46 per load for a one-time purchase, but a subscription discount brings this down to $0.36.
Dropps laundry detergent pods are not exactly worth your money considering Earth Breeze offers a better performance at a lower cost, even with a one-time purchase.
Grab Green Laundry Detergent
Grab Green is a plastic-free and eco-friendly laundry detergent in every way I could find. The pods suffer from performance-related issues, however, since they don’t dissolve properly in water. They could end up leaving residue on your clothes, leaving them feeling sticky and dirty.
The residue could also cause allergic reactions, especially with the scented option. While the fragrance-free option doesn’t set off allergies in the same way, it still suffers from the same poor cleaning performance.
Then there’s the price, with the laundry detergent coming in at $0.50 a load. Earth Breeze offers a much better performance at a much lower price.
Presto! Free & Clear Laundry Detergent Pacs
Presto used to be terrible for the environment, but it’s come leaps and bounds over the past few years. The former formula of this Amazon-owned product used to include almost all the harmful ingredients I could think of, but that’s no longer the case.
That’s resulted in Presto claiming its laundry detergent pacs are hypoallergenic and environmentally friendly. Despite these claims, and the fact it’s recyclable, the packaging isn’t plastic free.
Then there are the performance issues these pacs have. They don’t dissolve properly, and there were still stains left over after the wash was finished. It’s one of the lower quality options in terms of cleaning.
That’s despite the high price of $0.58 per load price. That money doesn’t go anywhere but the company’s pockets, as Presto isn’t involved in any environmental initiatives.
Molly’s Suds Laundry Detergent Powder
Molly’s Suds has put some effort into reducing its plastic waste in that it has recyclable packaging, but it’s far from plastic-free. The main reason I listed this here is the ingredient list, which is safer than many of its competitors for sensitive skin and the environment.
I couldn’t rank it any higher because its cleaning power is poor, and you’ll have to pre-wash any tough stains on your clothes. While you’ll pay $0.19 per load with this, you’re really getting what you’re paying for with it.
The apparently low cost goes up when you factor in shipping. You’re better off spending your money elsewhere, since at the end of the day, this weak detergent isn’t even plastic free.
Kind Laundry Detergent
While Kind Laundry is a plastic-free laundry detergent, that’s one of the few benefits it actually offers. Washing delicates with this damages and fades fabrics as soon as the first wash. At $0.33 per load, it’s also relatively expensive compared to the top picks, and free shipping is only available if you go for a subscription.
Beyond Laundry Detergent Sheets
Beyond is an eco-friendly laundry detergent, so I had to include it on my list. Despite the environmental initiatives it’s involved in, and other positives, the laundry detergent doesn’t clean as well as the top options. Tough stains were still visible by the time I was done cleaning.
Team “better not”
Nellie’s Vegan Laundry Detergent Soda
Nellie’s vegan laundry detergent puts some effort into being sustainable, and comes in recyclable packaging. Despite being a more eco-friendly laundry detergent, it also comes with its negatives, such as the harsh chemicals in its ingredient list. Two of its ingredients are rated quite poorly by the Environmental Working Group. Linear Alcohol Ethoxylate scores a D for “evidence of acute aquatic toxicity.” And sodium metasilicate scores an F for evidence of skin irritation, allergies, and respiratory complications!
Do not use this product.
Well Earth Laundry Detergent
Well Earth laundry strips have been popular for a while, but it’s difficult to see why. It doesn’t have any environmental initiatives, needs to be more sustainable, and costs more than many of its competitors. You’re much better off with an alternative.
Spacewhite Laundry Sheet Strips
Spacewhite cleans clothes relatively effectively, but its ingredients are worrisome. It’s not safe for sensitive skin, and it can set off a few allergies. And it’s only available in Australia.
Plastic jugs pose a large threat to the environment, especially since most of these wind up in landfills and the ocean. Laundry detergents are a significant driver of pollution from plastic bottles. It’s time consumers start thinking about the plastic waste they create in the laundry room.
Thankfully, more and more consumers—like you—are making the switch from traditional detergents to plastic-free options. To find out what the best eco-friendly and plastic-free laundry detergent is and pass that knowledge onto you, I tested the top options to figure out whether they’re worth their salt.
I needed a straightforward method to analyze and compare them. Here’s how I did it.
I had to start my research by finding out what the most popular eco-friendly and plastic-free laundry detergents are. These weren’t difficult to find, and I found them on platforms like Amazon and Wal-Mart’s websites, basing my decision on sales and reviews.
To narrow this down, I limited my options to those with verified customers and reviews, giving me a list of the 16 above brands. I then wanted to get a general idea of how each of these options performed, so I sorted through online reviews to see what customers thought of them.
These reviews proved illuminating, but then I remembered how misleading online reviews can be. They’re easy to fake, so I had to dig a little deeper, getting in touch with verified customers to see what they thought. Interviewing these customers about their experiences was helpful, and I found some had concerns about sensitive skin, allergies, and cleaning performance.
Since being eco-friendly and plastic free is an easy thing to mislead customers about, I also decided to look into each of the companies’ claims. Leaping Bunny and similar organizations provide certification for detergents claiming to be cruelty free, plastic free, and eco-friendly.
I double-checked my list with each of these organizations to see whether they were lying about their claims. Brands that were honest about their claims ranked much higher on my list.
To keep things fair, I reached out to the laundry detergent brands themselves to see what they had to say. A few of these responded positively, including Earth Breeze, while others didn’t even respond to my questions. That made them look even more suspicious to me.
After getting all my information together, it was time to look at how the plastic-free and “plastic-free” laundry detergents performed. I had to get more hands on. I made a test batch of dirty clothes for each of the detergents, making sure they were all soiled in the same way. Oil, sweat, food, and similar stains were all represented.
I also used the same selection of fabrics in each batch, putting a mix of delicate and not-so-delicate clothing, using HE washing machines for each test patch. I also used hot and cold water with each to see whether there was a difference in how the laundry detergents performed.
After cleaning, I let each of the samples dry in direct sunlight, before analyzing them in the same way. When looking through them, I looked at how clean the samples were, as well as whether there was any fading other other damage.
The top two options all performed well in this department, but each of the other laundry detergents were underwhelming in some way.
With my tests completed, it was time to start ranking the detergents. I needed some criteria to measure each of the eco-friendly laundry detergents against to make sure my rankings were as fair as possible. Here they are:
- Zero-waste and plastic-free packaging
- Eco-friendly ingredients
- Cleaning performance
- Effect on allergies and sensitive skin
- Donations to charitable and environmental causes
- Refunds, shipping costs, and subscriptions
The criteria and scoring system let me find the best plastic-free and eco-friendly laundry detergents on the market.
My findings: The best plastic-free laundry detergent that cleans your clothes
With the multiple eco-friendly laundry detergents on the market—not to mention the misleading marketing claims—finding the right one is tricky. Few companies are genuinely transparent. Keeping this in mind, I analyzed 16 of the most popular options to see what’s what.
You could do the same thing, but it’s much faster and easier to simply choose Earth Breeze. It stands tall against its competitors for multiple reasons.
- Earth Breeze uses zero plastic in its packaging.
- The laundry detergent is completely carbon neutral.
- The hypoallergenic and plant-based formula is safe for sensitive skin.
- Earth Breeze donates 10 laundry sheets to charity with each purchase.
- Earth Breeze only uses safe and non-toxic ingredients.
- The detergent sheets clean effectively.
If you’re sick of the impact liquid laundry detergent and other alternatives have on the environment, choosing Earth Breeze makes sense. It’s the best plastic-free laundry detergent on the market.
If you’re interested in detergent sheets as a whole, check out my article on the eight best laundry detergent sheets on the market.
Wrapping it up
I spent time with the 16 most popular laundry detergents claiming to be plastic free. Much more goes into this than simply reading the box, as brands are known to lie about their materials and ingredients. During my analysis, I made sure they were genuinely a plastic-free and eco-friendly laundry detergent.
I also looked into each product’s cleaning performance, ingredients, certifications, and environmental and social initiatives. Each apparently eco-friendly laundry detergent received scores based on these criteria, and Earth Breeze stood head and shoulders above its competition.
Its small size and lightweight, plastic-free packaging doesn’t generate much of a carbon footprint, and the laundry detergent gets rid of even the toughest stains. It works wonders in any washing machine, even HE washers, and it’s gentle on clothes.
The fact that Earth Breeze donates extensively to environmental and social causes makes it even more appealing, as this is something many eco-friendly laundry detergents don’t do. Outside of donating 1% of its revenues to the 1% for the Planet initiative, it also donates 10 laundry sheets to vulnerable communities with every purchase.
If you want a plastic-free laundry detergent that gives back to society, cleans well, and doesn’t cost a lot, Earth Breeze is the choice for you.