Whether you have sensitive skin, are concerned about the environmental impact, or want to avoid certain chemicals, here’s my top list for the best natural and non-toxic laundry detergents, from store-bought brands to easy homemade options.
Do you have a favorite laundry detergent? Add to my list in the comment section below this article.
Laundry Detergent Ingredients to Avoid
This list comes from Molly’s Suds, a long-time natural laundry soap company.
Not everyone agrees on what is considered “natural” or “toxic.” These words get tossed around a lot and there’s research on both sides, both for the use of an ingredient and against it. But this list is a great place to start when doing your own research.
- Synthetic Fragrances
- Artificial Dyes
- Optical Brighteners
- Synthetic Nonylphenol Ethoxylates
- Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
How to Easily Find The Best Detergent Options
According to EPA.gov, “Unlike food products, manufacturers of chemical products are not required to list ingredients on their containers or make them public.”
A cleaning product doesn’t need to list all ingredients. And most include only active ingredients on the bottle. For this reason, it can be challenging to navigate cleaning products. Just going by the word “natural” on an ingredient list doesn’t mean anything, as no qualifications make a product “natural.”
Two easy ways to find great brands and research products:
- Laundry detergents and other cleaning products may contain certifications easily identified on the label. These certifications range from the Green Seal to the Leaping Bunny Seal. Learn about each certification and what to look for.
- You can also research cleaners and cleaning ingredients using the Environmental Working Group’s website.
Best Natural Laundry Detergents (Store-Bought)
- What Made My List & Why? After many years of testing and research, here are the laundry detergent options that work the best. I’ve only recommended laundry products that meet my strict cleaning requirements: clean clothes, don’t leave behind residue, work in all washers (including high-efficiency washing machines), and don’t leave clothes with an awkward scent.
- Transparency is Important: These options perform just as well as conventional laundry detergents, like Tide or Gain. However, they take pride in their ingredients, using biodegradable ingredients, plant-derived ingredients, and natural scents (like essential oils). The companies also willingly list all the ingredients (not just active ones) so you can research and determine if the ingredients align with what you need/desire. They may not all be “perfect,” but I think they’re better than traditional laundry detergent.
- Where to Buy? Some detergent brands on this list may be found at a local grocery store (depending on your area), and others may be ordered online (Thrive Market, Amazon, and other online retailers).
1. Branch Basics
Branch Basics is an OG in natural cleaning products and an great eco-friendly liquid laundry detergent. Branch Basics uses one plant-derived cleaning concentrate, which you mix with water (using different water-to-concentrate ratios) to make laundry soap, all-purpose cleaner, glass cleaner, etc. For brighter whites and deodorizing, you can also use their Oxygen Boost.
Cost: Premium Starter Kit (includes all bottles to make your cleaners, cleaning concentrate, and Oxygen boost) $89, Laundry Starter Kit (includes laundry bottle, cleaning concentrate, and Oxygen Boost) $69
Where to Buy: BranchBasics.com
My Thoughts: The downside of Branch Basics is that you can only purchase it online, which is expensive. The concentrate is super effective at cleaning. It fights stains and odors and removes dirt easily. The other perk is that after purchasing the concentrate for laundry, you can use that same concentrate to make other cleaning products.
Ecos makes one of the best performing and most affordable liquid laundry detergents on the market. This brand is easy to find in most grocery stores, including Costco. Ecos bans over 500 ingredients, so they go above and beyond regarding safety. The base ingredient is coconut, used to clean, freshen, and lift mild stains from clothes.
Cost: $13 for liquid laundry soap (100 loads)
Where to Buy: Grocery stores, Target, Costco, BJ’s Wholesale, Amazon and other online retailers
My Thoughts: Like Seventh Generation, I love that it’s easy to find this brand in most stores! And I love the price. I’m all about saving money at the grocery store without compromising quality, and this brand hits a home run by making laundry detergent affordable and safe.
If you love powdered laundry soap, this is a great option. The ingredients are Made Safe Certified, and fully disclosed, including the scent ingredients. The powder is safe to use in an HE machine.
Cost: $19 for laundry soap powder (64 loads)
Where to Buy: Amazon, online retailers
My Thoughts: This is an excellent option if you like laundry powder. The scents are lovely, and they are fully transparent about their ingredients. The only con is you can only find this soap online, which can be a barrier like many of the online-only products on this list. I also find that most powder soaps require hot water.
Biokeeln uses plant-based surfactants with citrus and grapefruit seed extracts to make its liquid laundry detergent. It’s even safe to use on delicate clothing items.
Cost: $18 for concentrated liquid laundry soap (128 loads)
Where to Buy: Vitacost, Amazon, some health food stores
My Thoughts: BioKleen makes many different laundry detergent options, ranging from cold water liquid detergents to powders. I like BioKleen and find all the laundry products to work very well. My only issue is this brand can be challenging to find. Some health food stores carry this brand, but it’s easiest to find online via Vitacost and Amazon.
This liquid laundry soap uses naturally sourced surfactants to clean and freshen clothes and is 100% transparent about all its ingredients. The ingredients are Environmental Working Group verified (a watchdog group for safer cleaning and body products). Phosphate-free, dye-free, phthalate-free, and formaldehyde-free.
Cost: $14 for liquid laundry soap (36 loads)
Where to Buy: Amazon, Walmart online
My Thoughts: If you have a large family, this isn’t a great option as the containers are small and expensive for the size. Other than Amazon and online retailers like Walmart, it’s also challenging to find. I prefer a soap that’s easy to find in the grocery store. The good news is this soap works incredibly well, and the ingredients are verified to be safe by the Environmental Working Group.
6. Grab Green
Grab Green sells laundry pods (powder soap packaged up in pods). The formula is plant-based and mineral-derived and uses no optical brighteners, chlorine, or dyes. The pods are a 3-in-1 laundry product: deep-cleaning concentrated detergent, stain remover, and brightener.
Cost: $17 for 60 laundry pods
Where to Buy: Grabgreen.com, Amazon
My Thoughts: If you love powder laundry soap but hate the mess of scooping powder, this is a great option. Unfortunately, they do not offer any liquid laundry options. Pods are generally more expensive than traditional powder or liquid laundry detergents. From a budget perspective, I avoid these options.
7. Seventh Generation
Seventh Generation is the easiest, less-toxic cleaning brand on the market. The laundry soap options range from pods to liquid laundry soap. Not a perfect brand, but for the cost and transparency, I like this brand and use the products in my home!
Cost: $20 for liquid laundry soap (90 loads)
Where to Buy: Most grocery stores, Target, Walmart, Amazon and other online retailers
My Thoughts: I can easily find Seventh Generation in almost any grocery store! It’s also inexpensive and goes on sale often. Seventh Generation does a great job disclosing what’s in their products, unlike other commercial detergents.
8. Grove Collaborative
Grove has become a popular brand for household cleaners. The ultra-concentrated liquid detergent uses no synthetic dyes, fragrances, or brighteners. It also has a lovely scent that is naturally derived.
Cost: $10 for ultra-concentrated liquid laundry soap (33 loads)
Where to Buy: Govecollaborative.com, Amazon, Target
My Thoughts: This is an expensive option and not worth the price. I’ve tried many Grove Collaborative products over the years and find that while they are beautiful (great marketing and packaging), the cost isn’t worth their performance.
9. Molly’s Suds
Molly’s Suds uses plant-derived ingredients and is free from chemicals such as 1,4 dioxane, optical brighteners, and artificial fragrances. Natural enzymes remove soil, dirt, oil, and stains. Available in powder laundry, detergent pods, and liquid concentrated soap.
Where to Buy: Health food stores (like Whole Foods, Sprouts, etc.), Mollyssuds.com, Target, and Amazon.
My Thoughts: I’ve tried just about every natural laundry powder out there, and Molly’s Suds works the best. I haven’t tried the liquid laundry detergent yet, as that’s a new product. Molly’s Suds offers a variety of laundry options, including whitening powder, dryer balls, and stain remover spray.
10. Public Goods
Public Goods is a bulk online cleaning, food, and personal care product retailer. Their laundry soap formula uses no harsh chemicals, synthetic dyes, or brighteners.
Cost: $9.95 for 24 laundry pods
Where to Buy: Publicgoods.com
My Thoughts: We use Public Goods in our Live Simply Cottage Airbnb. I love the price and convenience of ordering bulk goods and then being able to refill our bottles with the products. And all the products smell fantastic! You need a yearly membership to purchase Public Goods, which costs $79/year. This membership is worth it if you regularly order products like shampoo, conditioner, laundry soap, dish soap, etc. And you can set up the auto-ship so you don’t need to worry about running out of products.
11. Castile Soap or Sal Suds
Castile soap is one of the best household cleaners. It’s natural, budget-friendly, and traditional (history of castile soap). And there are over 24 castile soap uses. Sal Suds is a more concentrated detergent that is even tougher on stubborn dirt and stains.
How to Use: For castile soap, use 1/3 cup of liquid soap per load of laundry. For Sal Suds, use 2 tablespoons per load of laundry. For a high-efficiency washer, use half these amounts. Learn how to use castile soap and sal suds for laundry in this video.
Where to Buy: Most grocery stores (including Target and Walmart) sell castile soap in the body department, along with Amazon and other online retailers. Sal Suds can be trickier, as it’s only available online (via Amazon), Whole Foods, and other health food stores.
My Thoughts: I always have a bottle of Castile soap and Sal Suds around the house for making DIY cleaners. So when I run out of my favorite laundry soap (usually Seventh Generation or Ecos, since it’s the easiest to find), this is my backup solution for laundry.
Best Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipes
One of the easiest ways to avoid potentially harmful chemicals (source) is to make your laundry detergent. Here are my top 3 DIY laundry detergent recipes.
12. Liquid Laundry Detergent
This popular recipe combines washing soda, liquid castile soap, and borax to create a powerful liquid laundry soap that lifts dirt, removes fresh stains, and brightens clothes. It’s easy to make, taking just 15 minutes from start to finish.
Cost to Make: $6-8
13. Laundry Detergent Powder
If you love powder laundry soap, this is a great recipe. It works best with hot water, as this is the case with most powder laundry soaps. The ingredients are similar to liquid laundry soap, made with castile soap (bar form), washing soda, and borax.
Cost to Make: $8
14. Borax-Free Laundry Soap Powder
Some folks don’t care for borax. If that’s you and you want to make DIY laundry soap without borax, this powder soap is the best formula.
Cost to Make: $8
More Natural Laundry Products
- Stain Remover: Combining the power of castile soap, lemon essential oil, and hydrogen peroxide. This stain remover is great for pre-treating laundry and tackles just about any stain!
- Fabric Softener: Made with epsom salt and essential oils.
- Wool Dryer Balls: Make your own dryer balls as an alternative to dryer sheets. Or, purchase pre-made dryer balls. I also show you how to make your own dryer sheets in my cleaning course.
- Bleach Alternative: Brighten whites with this simple 3-ingredient formula.