When my oldest daughter was a baby I realized that conventional laundry detergents were a problem. Any sort of scented laundry detergent I used would cause the skin on the inner part of her elbows or the backs of her hands to flare with eczema and skin irritation.
Until that point I had no idea that toxic chemicals were lurking in every day cleaning products such as laundry detergent. I went down a rabbit hole of research in order to find out which detergents lacked those harmful chemicals. Finding the best non toxic laundry detergent has not been easy. Not only does the laundry detergent need to include safe ingredients, but it also needs to be affordable.
Let’s take a look at some of the toxins in some of the most popular laundry detergents and learn why we should avoid them in the first place.
Harmful Chemicals in Conventional Laundry Detergents
- Synthetic Fragrances – Artificial fragrances are typically derived from petroleum. They are toxic because they release volatile organic compounds. VOCs pollute indoor air and synthetic fragrances can cause a variety of issues such as aggravating asthma, flaring eczema, and causing allergic reactions.
- 1, 4-Dioxane – A known carcinogen and hazard to human health, this is one of the common ingredients found in detergents and shampoos. It works as a solvent and degreaser. Experimental studies done on rats have shown that exposure to dioxane can cause malignant tumors. Exposure to dioxane occurs in humans through contact with the skin and inhalation.
- Benzene – You’ll commonly find benzene listed as alkylbenzene sulphonates (ABS) and linear alkylbenzene sulphonates (LAS). These are surfactants that work by reducing the surface tension between the liquid and stains on clothing. Many household products have contaminated indoor air with benzenes which can irritate the eyes, nose, and skin.
- Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS) – SLS works as a foaming agent. It’s what gives your detergents and shampoos suds. It is typically derived from petroleum, palm, or coconut oil. It also works as an emulsifying agent allowing water and oil to mix. It is cheap and effective, but can irritate people with sensitive skin.
- Nonylphenol Ethoxylate – This toxic chemical is one of the known endocrine disruptors. It mimics estrogen, which over time can wreak havoc on a person’s hormones. It is also not biodegradable and remains in the soil and water for many years.
- Bleach – Chlorine bleach can go by a few different names in ingredient lists. You may see it listed as sodium hypochlorite, or the catch-all term “optical brighteners.” Bleach makes clothes, especially white clothes, whiter. It is a skin, eye, and lung irritant.
- Phosphates – Phosphates are used because of their effectiveness at reducing calcium and magnesium in water to make it less hard. Phosphates have actually been banned in Europe and many American states because of its harmful effects on the environment. It goes into the water and causes algal blooms which ends up killing aquatic life. An eco-friendly laundry detergent will not contain phosphates.
- Formaldehyde – Formaldehyde is used as a preservative and antibacterial agent. If humans regularly come into contact with formaldehyde it can cause allergic skin reactions. Repeated daily contact in people will produce a toxic effect and has been linked to cancer.
You’ll want to stay away from detergent brands that contain most or all of these ingredients. Some of the worst offenders are:
- Mrs. Meyer
Safest Laundry Detergents
You have a lot of options when it comes to laundry products that are safer for your family. I personally steer clear from using the Environmental Working Group and look at ingredients lists and product labels myself.
I spend a lot of time in my laundry room and do at least two loads of laundry per day, so detergent ingredients that are safe for my family are very important. Here’s a look at some of the highest ranked safe laundry detergents and laundry soap.
- Molly’s Suds – Molly’s Suds only contains four simple ingredients and is gentle on skin. For a normal load, simply add 1 tablespoon of powder detergent to get nice and fresh clean clothes. The only issue with Molly’s suds is if you are used to using cold water to wash your clothes, you may need to switch to warm.
- Dreambly Laundry Sheets – If you’re looking for eco-friendly detergent sheets, Dreambly offers an organic laundry detergent option. It boasts six uses in one little sheet. It claims a “revolutionary 6 in 1 function with detergent, stain remover, fabric softener, whitener, brightener, and anti-static. Save space and reduce waste with compact, plastic free packaging.”
- Seventh Generation – If you’re looking for a non toxic laundry detergent at the drugstore, Seventh Generation is your best bet.
- Biokleen – Biokleen is amazing at lifting stains. It is also ultra-concentrated, which means you’ll use less detergent with each load of laundry. This is a big deal for anyone looking for an eco-friendly detergent!
- Dr. Bronner’s – Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap is extremely versatile and can be used as a laundry soap. It’s a trusted brand that has been around since 1948. I’ve used Dr. Bronner’s in many of my homemade cleaning recipes and also my DIY foaming hand soap.
The Best Non-Toxic Laundry Detergent
I’ve tried various laundry detergents over the years. I even made my own homemade laundry detergent for a while. When I choose a laundry detergent for my family, I need it to not only be safe and gentle on sensitive skin, but I’d also like it to be affordable.
I recently tried Truly Free Laundry Wash, and now I’m hooked! I think it’s definitely one of the best eco-friendly laundry detergents AND it is now my personal favorite laundry detergent!
Let’s dive into everything that is in Truly Free!
Here’s what Truly Free has to say about its laundry wash:
Truly Free Laundry Wash™️ is the less expensive + better-for-you option for everyday laundry! It’s powered by our natural, plant-based Quadrasalt Formula to give you cleaner, softer clothes while being hypoallergenic, safe on all skin types, and easy on the environment. Convenient refill packets get shipped to your door!
Not only does Truly Free wash your clothes well and remove stains, but it is free of harsh chemicals that irritate the skin, contains no dyes, thickeners, or optical brighteners, it uses milled salts and plant based cleansing ingredients, helps your washer clean more efficiently, and is eco-friendly because of the reusable jug.
What does Truly Free offer in the laundry department?
- Laundry Wash – Both scented and unscented
- Softening Rinse – Scented and unscented
- Enzyme Stain Remover
- Dryer Angel (dryer sheet alternative)
- Stain Stick
- Laundry Machine Cleaner
- Wrinkle and Static Releaser
The ingredient list for the unscented laundry wash is simple: Sodium Citrate, Tetrasodium Salt, Sodium Carbonate, Polyacrylic Acid Sodium Salt, Plant-Based Surfactants [Sodium Cocoate], and lots of love!
Truly Free’s laundry products are safe for septic tanks and work well in both high efficiency and regular washing machines!
Another great perk to Truly Free? They are made in the United States in Michigan!
Truly Free Laundry Wash Review
Now, let’s chat about how I used the laundry wash and you’ll also get my full review!
I received the unscented laundry wash, the OxyBoost, and a stain stick remover.
To make my laundry wash, I simply added warm water to the fill line on the reusable jug and poured the laundry wash packet ingredients into the jug. I tightened the cap and shook the jug to mix.
When it was time to do laundry, I washed a regular load in my high efficiency washing machine. I used about an ounce of laundry wash and added the OxyBoost in with the load.
I dried my laundry like normal with no dryer sheet.
All in all, my clothes came out smelling fresh and looking clean! I’m so excited to find an affordable non toxic laundry detergent that works so well!
Let’s chat about the OxyBoost! If you’re wanting whiter whites and vibrant colors in your laundry without the use of bleach, this is your solution.
Here’s a look at the simple ingredients: Sodium Percarbonate (technical grade oxygen booster) Sodium Carbonate (alkalizing salt) and… LOTS OF LOVE!
You can also use OxyBoost in the bathroom in your sinks, tubs, or toilets!
I’m so excited about these products. They are just what I’ve been looking for in terms of safe cleaning products for our home!
Now let’s talk about the Truly Free Stain Stick. My toddler always gets stains all over her clothes, so having some sort of stain remover is pretty important to me. The stain stick has a nice smell and honestly doesn’t really feel overprocessed.
Here’s a look at my toddler’s shirt before using the stain stick.
To use the stain stick, wet the stain and the stain stick. Scrub the stain and then launder as usual.
Here’s a look at the scrubbed shirt.
The stain stick was a bit crumbly, but scrubbed well.
When I removed the shirt from the washing machine it was stain free! I dried the shirt with the rest of the laundry and had nice, fresh, non-toxic clean clothes ready for my family!
More Non Toxic Living Posts
- The Best Non Toxic Food Storage Containers
- The Best Non Stick Non Toxic Fying Pans
- Homemade Carpet Deodorizer
- DIY Linen Spray
Disclaimer: I was given a few Truly Free Laundry products to try, but all opinions are my own, as always!