Best Natural Laundry Detergents


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We have all heard the dangers of harsh cleaning chemicals and the risks they pose to the earth and to our health. Most of the leading store brands contain known carcinogens in the ingredient list. Many of us do our best to choose cleaning products that are free from the common irritants that build up on our fabrics leaving behind residues that wreak havoc on our skin and respiratory system. It can be overwhelming sifting through all of the information out there and then taking that information to the store and scanning the ingredient lists.


This guide will give you an overview of the top five safe and natural laundry detergents based on product descriptions and reviews. You are sure to find the most eco-friendly laundry soap to keep your clothes and linens fresh and safe!

BEST

OVERALL

Charlie’s Soap Fragrance Free Powdered Laundry Detergent

Charlie’s Soap Fragrance Free Laundry Detergent

Editor Rating   ★★★★★


This hypoallergenic, cruelty-free, fragrance-free laundry soap is a favorite of natural-minded folks. It is 100% biodegradable and hypo-allergenic. It can be used on all fabrics including silk, cotton, and polyester. Yes, you read that right; you can use Charlie’s on silk. It’s extremely unusual for a laundry soap to be safe and gentle enough to use on silk fabrics, so this is an area where Charlie’s really shines.


Charlie Sutherland Sr., the founder of Charlie’s soap, was tasked by his father to invent a cleaner that could be used for the textile machines in the factory he owned. However, there was a catch; the cleaner had to be effective enough to clean the oils from the textile machines but gentle enough that it wouldn’t be harmful to the elderly cleaning ladies. There would also be large amounts of the cleaner going into the local wastewater treatment plant, so it had to be acceptable to city officials. And so, Charlie’s soap was born, first as a cleaner for the machines, and later as a cleaner for the textiles themselves.


Traditional detergent can’t be used with cloth diapers. Its residue repels liquid from the absorbent diaper cloth and renders them useless. Charlie’s laundry soap, on the other hand, is a favorite for cloth diapering mamas because it doesn’t leave any residue.

PROS

  • Comes in powder and liquid forms
  • Biodegradable
  • Cruelty free (No animal testing)
  • Free of perfumes and fillers
  • Safe for septic tanks
  • Works with HE washers

CONS

  • The thin consistency of the liquid soap is too runny for some users
  • The powdered soap does not come with a measuring scoop
  • Does not come with any scent options

GREAT

VALUE

 Allen’s Naturally Laundry Powder

Allen’s Naturally Laundry Powder

Editor Rating   ★★★★★


The 5 lb bulk bag of Allen’s Naturally Laundry Powder will wash up to 300 loads of laundry, making this an excellent choice if you’re looking for value. Since 1979, Allen’s has been a trusted brand of laundry soap and has had consistently high customer satisfaction rates.


Allen’s was initially marketed as a detergent for cloth diapers, but parents everywhere began to realize it was equally excellent for cleaning all their family’s clothing. It does an especially good job keeping whites bright and stain-free.


Using Allen’s is helpful to the environment in several ways. First, it is biodegradable and free from harmful chemicals. Also, because it is 4x concentrated, fewer materials are needed to create packaging. Imagine how much plastic would be wasted if you bought 300 loads worth of traditional liquid laundry detergent. You would end up with several large plastic bottles to discard. With Allen’s, you get 300 loads of deep cleaning power in a relatively small bag, creating minimal waste.

PROS

  • Biodegradable
  • Works in standard and HE washing machines
  • Won’t leave behind residue
  • Good choice for washing cloth diapers
  • 4x concentration means you only need a small amount
  • Great for sensitive skin
  • Liquid and powder options

CONS

  • No scented products are available
Biokleen Laundry Detergent

Biokleen Laundry Detergent

Editor Rating   ★★★★


Biokleen has been a family-owned and operated company since its inception in 1989, and all products are manufactured in the USA. BioKleen offsets 100% of its carbon emissions by purchasing blocks of wind power. BioKleen uses green manufacturing practices: no products other than BioKleen are produced in the same facility. This means there is no potential for chemicals from other hazardous products to cross-contaminate BioKleen’s products, so you can be confident in their safety and purity.


BioKleen is safe for grey-water systems and fully biodegradable. Its active cleaning ingredients are all plant-based.


Many customers appreciate the light, citrus scent, especially since so many natural laundry soaps are unscented. However, be aware that this scent is unlikely to stay on your clothes after washing. (Because natural laundry soaps don’t leave any residue behind, scents don’t stick, either. This is why true natural laundry soaps are mostly unscented).

PROS

  • Plant-based surfactants
  • Manufactured in the USA with green practices by a second-generation family-owned company
  • 3x concentration means less packaging and longer-lasting product
  • Naturally scented
  • Free from artificial dyes
  • Works in HE and standard machines

CONS

  • More expensive than other laundry soaps on this list
  • Contains Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), an ingredient some people try to avoid
  • Not tough enough to remove difficult stains on its own; you’ll need to pretreat stains with a different product

PREMIUM

CHOICE

Puracy Liquid Laundry Detergent

Puracy Liquid Laundry Detergent

Editor Rating   ★★★★


Puracy has only been in business for six years, making them the youngest company on our list. The commonality they share with other natural laundry detergent manufacturers is that they are family-owned. They are also completely US-based: operations and manufacturing take place in Austin, Texas.


In their six years of business, Puracy has developed a devoted customer base, and their products consistently receive excellent reviews. Puracy’s laundry soap is 10x concentrated, which is the highest concentration on this list, and the highest concentration generally available.


Think about the traditional laundry detergent bottle. It’s a wasteful design. Soap gets lost by adhering to the pouring cap and the inside of the bottle. You can never truly use all the product from a traditional laundry soap bottle. Consumers love Puracy’s product design because it eliminates all the issues a traditional laundry soap bottle has. Puracy’s laundry soap is dispensed through a pump, which means there is no product waste at all, and measuring is perfectly accurate every single time.

PROS

  • SLS free
  • Safe for greywater and septic systems
  • Good for tough stains
  • Works for cloth diapers
  • 10x concentration makes for 80% less packaging
  • Simple pump dispensing system eliminates wasted product
  • Made in the USA
  • Sensitive skin tested and approved
  • Excellent customer service
  • Four enzyme formula makes this soap extremely tough on stains

CONS

  • Company does not currently offer a refill-sized product
  • Some customers wish the product came in a scented version
Eco Nuts Laundry Soap

Eco Nuts Laundry Soap

Editor Rating   ★★★★


Soap nuts are an inventive laundry solution and can also multitask around the house. Here’s how they work, in a nutshell: “Soap nuts” are actually a berry, so you can still use these even if you have nut allergies. The berry is the fruit of the Sapindus Mukorossi tree, which grows wild in India. The “soap nut” berries contain naturally occurring saponins, which act as a cleaning agent. Eco Nuts are the most natural laundry soap on this list. There’s nothing added; the single ingredient is the “soap nut” berry.


To use soap nuts, place several into the cloth bag included with your purchase. Then, just toss this into the washing machine and proceed as normal. Soap nuts will last through about 10 washes. When they’re ready to be discarded and swapped out for fresh soap nuts, they’ll be almost completely decomposed. You can toss the remaining shell into your compost bin, making soap nuts truly zero-waste.


One of my favorite advantages of soap nuts is that they work equally well for handwashing and machine washing. If you want to hand-wash your clothes with soap nuts, just let them sit in a bowl of warm water for 5-10 minutes before washing your delicates. Soaking the soap nuts first makes sure the saponins are released.

PROS

  • Almost zero post-consumer waste
  • Hypoallergenic (Great for people with allergies and sensitive skin)
  • Certified organic
  • Works for cloth diapers
  • Biodegradable and compostable
  • Works in washing machines & for hand-washing

CONS

  • Not good for removing stains or cleaning heavily soiled fabrics
  • Contains saponins, which are all-natural, but cause sensitivities for some consumers
  • Do not brighten whites

Buying Guide

Each of the five natural laundry soaps provided on this list has an ‘A’ score from EWG, the most highly trusted environmental watch group. Since all these products have an equal EWG score, you can be assured they’re all safe. But if they’re all equal in safety, how do you pick the best product for your family? Read on to find out how to pick the perfect natural laundry detergent for your needs.


Benefits of Natural/Eco-Friendly Laundry Soaps


  1. Eco-friendly
    Natural laundry soaps are often highly concentrated, some up to 10x. This reduces the amount of packaging needed for the product, thus reducing the environmental impact. Almost all natural laundry soaps are cruelty free and do not undergo animal testing. Additionally, many companies are conscious of their environmental impact and offset carbon emissions created through their production processes. Some companies go a step further and employ green manufacturing processes, which means their products are made in an environment that is completely free of dangerous and hazardous chemicals.
  2. Ethical
    Many natural laundry soap companies are family owned, some for several generations. They also frequently operate and manufacture their products in the United States, so jobs are staying local, and employees are well-treated. Natural laundry soap companies are also ethical in their treatment of animals; Eco Nuts, for example, tests their soap nuts on wool cut from happy free-pasture sheep in New Zealand.
  3. Healthier
    Perfumes and chemicals in traditional laundry detergents are not only potentially carcinogenic, but they are also common irritants for many people. If your skin is afflicted by unexplained redness and itching, your laundry detergent could well be the cause. Many people find that switching to a natural laundry detergent gets rid of rashes and other persistent skin issues.
  4. Safe for babies
    Families often switch to natural laundry detergents because babies and young children have extremely sensitive and delicate skin. If you use cloth diapers, natural detergent is a must. Traditional detergents leave behind residue that renders cloth diapers unabsorbent and, therefore, useless. Natural laundry soaps leave no residue behind, so they’re the best choice for washing cloth diapers.
  5. Extends the life of your clothing and linens
    The harsh chemicals in traditional laundry detergents can wear down and strip away the color from your clothing over time. Because natural laundry soaps are gentler and free of abrasive cleaners and chemical additives, you may find that your clothing looks better and lasts longer, which is another bonus for both the environment and your wallet.
Natural Laundry Detergents Buying Guide

Things to consider when selecting a laundry soap


  1. Types of natural laundry soap
    Natural laundry soaps can come in three forms: liquid, powder, or soap nuts. Choosing between these options is mostly a matter of personal preference. Some people prefer liquid soap because it can also be applied directly to clothing or linens to pretreat stains before washing. Powder soaps can use less packaging, especially when they come in a cardboard box that can easily be recycled. Soap nuts are great for the extremely eco-conscious as they create almost zero post-consumer waste: spent soap nut shells go directly into your yard or compost bin.
  2. Concentration
    How concentrated a product determines how quickly you’ll use it and is thus important for calculating the cost of natural laundry soap. The most concentrated laundry soap on this list has an impressive 10x concentration. A concentration of 4x is more typical. Concentration is another way natural laundry soaps are eco-friendly; higher concentrations mean less packaging and reduced waste.
  3. Scent
    An advantage of natural laundry soaps is that they don’t leave residues behind on your clothes or washing machine. However, this does create a disadvantage when it comes to scent. Most natural laundry soaps are unscented because any scent that could be added would be washed away since they are residue-free. Some consumers add natural essential oils to laundry in their washer or dryer to compensate for the unscented laundry detergent.
  4. Allergens
    It is possible to be allergic to natural and organic ingredients. Even though saponins are naturally occurring, some people are still allergic to them. This is why you must test natural laundry soaps just like you would if you were testing traditional products. There is much less chance of allergies with natural products, but it is still important to see how your skin reacts to new products you’d like to introduce to your household.
  5. Effectiveness
    Harsh chemical cleaning agents are effective against stains and heavily soiled clothing in traditional laundry detergent. However, it is possible to get the same stain-removal power in natural laundry soap. How soiled does your family’s clothing get? If you have a teenage son who plays baseball, you’re probably frequently fighting against grass stains. Your best option would be a laundry soap like Puracy, which is known for its stain removal abilities. If you work in an office and don’t have any pets at home, soap nuts would be more than effective enough for the soil level of your clothing. 


Final verdict

Making the switch to eco-friendly, natural laundry detergents has many positive impacts. It’s great for the environment. Natural laundry soaps are manufactured without hazardous chemicals, and their production facilities often implement green manufacturing practices. They’re also great for your home environment; you can use natural laundry soaps with grey-water and septic systems. They’re free of dangerous chemicals and fully biodegradable, so you don’t have to worry about contaminated water runoff being consumed by chickens or other animals on your property.


Natural laundry soaps are also healthier for your family. If you use cloth diapers for your babies, natural laundry soaps are a must because they don’t leave behind residue. If a member of your family has sensitive skin and is prone to rashes or eczema, natural laundry detergents may solve these problems.


Natural laundry detergents come at a variety of price points, so no matter what your motivation or your family’s needs, you can find the perfect eco-friendly laundry soap.