Non-Toxic and Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergents: Ultimate Guide to Baby Safe Laundry Detergents in 2021

If you’ve experienced rashes and allergic reactions after wearing a newly-washed piece of clothing, you’re not alone. It’s a common issue we deal with. Most laundry detergents include a mix of chemicals such as surfactants and other dangerous ingredients, which can cause long-term health problems. The best non-toxic laundry detergents can save your health and protect the environment. An eco-friendly laundry detergent is made of natural ingredients, which remove the toughest stains.

Read on to find out the secrets behind the best organic laundry detergent formulas, what ingredients to avoid, and the top products available depending on your chosen application.

What Are The Ingredients In Laundry Detergent And How Do They Work?

The four main ingredients, which make up the formulation of laundry detergents include surfactants, builders, enzymes, and bleaches.

Surfactants

Surfactants break up strong stains, dispersing dirt which isn’t disolvable. They suspend the dirt in water and prevent it from redepositing on the cloths. For example, they remove soil, which doesn’t dissolve in water and make it dispersible. Surfactants come in three types including alkyl sulfates, alkyl ethoxylate sulfates, and ethers of fatty alcohol.

Builders

Builders help surfactants by removing Magnesium (Mg), Calcium (Ca), and a variety of dissolved matter to improve the performance of surfactants. Builders soften the water and hold free water ions. They prevent Ca and Mg from reacting with the other detergent ingredients, which would reduce their effectiveness. They also prevent Ca build-up and extend the life of your washing machine.

The main function of detergent builders is to prevent and upgrade the surfactants’ cleaning performance. They soften, buffer, and emulsify. Builders also have a high alkaline level, which improves the cleaning effectiveness.

Bleach & Enzymes

Enzymes and bleach break down stains. Most detergents include hydrogen peroxide bleach, which removes strong natural stains such as caused by blueberries or coffee. Because of bleach we mostly use hot-water to wash clothes as only temperatures of over 60 degrees Celsius activate hydrogen peroxide.

Other stains including protein (milk or eggs), grease and starch or other vegetable stains are removed with enzymes. Because stains contain a variety of molecules, detergents include different enzymes to remove them. Proteases break down the proteins, amalyses remove starches, and lipases remove grease or fats. Some laundry detergents include one type of enzyme, while others comprise a blend of two or three.

Non-toxic eco-friendly laundry detergent

What To Look For In An Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergent

Standard laundry detergents are made up of chemicals and have greener alternatives, which don’t contain harsh chemicals. Traditional detergents comprise strong fragrances and harful chemicals. Some of the dangerous ingredients include 1,4-Dioxane, artificial colors, dyes, and fragrances, chlorine bleach, and Quaternary ammonium compounds.

An eco-friendly laundry detergent is a hypoallergenic laundry detergent. So, how can you tell if a detergent is non-toxic, safe for the environment and protects your health? The best non-toxic laundry detergents are phosphate free and include a biodegradable formula. Also, they comprise natural fragrances or they’re simply unscented.

Organic laundry detergents don’t include chlorine bleach, NPEs, optical brightners or artificial colours. Look for mentions of no animal testing and double-check that the product is septic sage. Also, choose a concentrated formula in a recyclable packaging.

When you’re choosing your preferred eco-friendly laundry detergent, look out for plastic-free packaging and select a recyclable cardboard box. Although not all products are listed on EWG, check for a brand rating of A or B. Also, if you’re a mother of teenage boys, you’ll appreciate the “sport” version of detergents.

Ingredients to Avoid

Laundry detergents commonly include a wide range of harmful chemicals which affect the environment and our health. Toxic chemicals are flushed into waters and damage nature’s balance. Other detergent chemicals are made to remain on our clothes long-term to offer a brighter glow and pleasant fragrance. But we inhale these chemicals and our skin absorbs them, which causes irritation and skin rashes.

Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) and Nonylphenols (NP)

Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) and Nonylphenols (NP) are surfactants, which get rinsed during every wash of your laundry. Because water treatment plants can’t filter these surfactants out, they damage  marine life. NPEs and NPs affect the endocrine and reproductive systems of shellfish and fish. Today, NPEs and NPs are rarely found in laundry detergents in the EU, USA, Canada and China. But in developing countrues they remain a standard.

Phosphates

Phosphates are particularly dangerous and they’re builders in laundry detergents, which dissolve the stain molecules in the landry water. They’re highly dangerous for the environment and promote the development of algae. During the 1980’s, the European Commission imposed a ban on these chemicals and manufacturers replaced them with Zeolite A, which is much safer as a builder.

Dioxane

1.4 Dioxane is another dangerous ingredient, which affects drinking water. It’s not added as an ingredient on detergent labels as it’s the result of the production process. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers it a possible human carcinogen, which causes drowsiness, vertigo, irritation of the nose, throat, lungs and eyes. The State of New York is the only state in the USA, which has imposed a ban on 1.4 Dioxane.

Phthalates

Phthalates are commonly not included on the ingredients labels as they’re hidden under the “fragrance” category. Producers aren’t obliged to show the fragraces used in their detergents as they’re “trade secrets.” Phthalates extend the scent of fresh laundry but affect the reproductive and hormone systems. Other dangerous ingredients such as p-dichorobenzene, galaxolide, styrene oxide, and benzyl alcohol can cause severe irritation and they’re carcinogenic.

Optical Brightners & Silver Nanoparticles (Ag NPs)

Optical brightners make your clothes seem brighter by coating them with blue light emitting UV-reflective particles. Mostly, they’re made of benzene, which is a carcinogen. They cause skin rashes, eye irritations, and very slowly decompose in nature.

Silver nanoparticles (Ag NPs) eliminate bacteria, which cause odour. These chemicals enter the ecosystem and damage marine life. For example, rodents used in experiments with Ag NPs showed damages to their respiratory, circulatory, and central nervous systems, according to the National Center for Biotechnology in the United States.

Should You DIY Your Detergent?

Passionate environment lovers and eco-conscious people choose to make DIY detergents, which include natural formulations. They comprise Borax, a bar of soap, and washing soda, which are eco-friendly but sometimes lack the performance of usual laundry detergents. Alternatives to standard laundry cleaning products are the best non-toxic laundry detergents, which remove dirt from your clothes without harming your health or the environment.

My Experience with Laundry Detergents

I’ve had my fair share of using DIY detergents but my clothes became oily over time. The oil build-up from the detergents I made trapped dirt onto textiles, which made them dingy. In the end, I had to throw those clothes away and opted for eco-friendly laundry detergents, which protect both the environment and my family’s health.

Best non-toxic eco-friendly laundry detergent

Best Non-Toxic and Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergents

Biokleen free and clear laundry powder Product Image

Powder laundry detergents are more concentrated and efficient than liquid products. The Biokleen free and clear laundry powder is 3-times concentrated and every box of 10 pounds includes enough powder for 150 laundry loads.

It’s great for sensitive skin as the ingredients are natural, unscented, and plant-based. You’ll also find a citrus scented alternative and another Biokleen detergent, which includes oxygen bleach. Biokleen promises it doesn’t use dangerous chemicals such as chlorine, phosphates, ammonia, and artificial fragrances is any of their detergents.

What I love about it:

  • Biokleen produces safe and organic detergents, which won’t harm your or your family’s health;
  • The Biokleen free and clear laundry powder is 3-times concentrated;
  • It’s free from dangerous chemicals;
  • The packaging contains enough product for 150 loads.

Something to keep in mind:

  • The product may be more expensive than traditional detergents.

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Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Lavender Laundry Detergent Product Image

Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Lavender Laundry Detergent is one of the best non-toxic laundry detergents available. It’s a concentrated formula, which contains plant-based surfactants and enzymes and does a perfect job of eliminating strong stains and odours from textiles. The product is free from phthalates and parabens. The biodegradable formula is suitable for regular and high efficiency washing machines.

The detergent isn’t tested on animals and it’s eco-friendly. The packaging can be recycled although it’s not biodegradable.

What I love about it:

  • The liquid formula is highly concentrated;
  • The product is free from dangerous ingredients such as parabens and phalates;
  • It removes strong stains and odours from your clothes;
  • Its’ made for use with standard and high-efficiency washing machines.

Something to keep in mind:

  • The detergent may come at a higher price than regular liquid laundry detergents.

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Method 4x Concentrated Laundry Detergent Product Image

The Method 4x Concentrated Laundry Detergent is a high performance and efficient product, which is difficult to beat. The Cradle-to-Cradle Institute certified this detergent as green, safe and responsibly manufactured. The product comprises plant-based ingredients, which are biodegradable and hypo-allergenic. It’s also powerful against dirt and stains.

The product is available in different options such as Free & Clear, Nectarine Blossom, Fresh Air, and Spring Garden. Each bottle contains enough product for 66 loads. And it’s suitable for use with high-efficiency and standard washing machines.

What I love about it:

  • The product is efficient and powerful in removing stains and dirt from textiles.
  • It’s certified by the Cradle-to-Cradle Institute.
  • It’s safe for your and your family’s health.
  • The product contains plant-based ingredients.

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Product Image

EWG Rating: A

The Grab Green Natural 3-in-1 Laundry Detergent Pods is a non-toxic, non-harming and safe option to standard detergents. It doesn’t cause irritation and won’t affect your health. It’s an organic product, which contains natural ingredients such as plant based enzymes which remove fats, starches, proteins and other stains. The detergent doesn’t contain chlorine, parabens, phosphates, or dyes. The detergent is as effective as it is gentle.

What I love about it:

  • The product is non-toxic and safe for you and your family.
  • It’s one of the best non-toxic laundry detergents made with natural ingredients;
  • The product is gentle but strong against dirt and stains;
  • It’s free from phthalates and parabens.

Something to keep in mind:

  • The product may be more expensive than standard detergents.

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Seventh Generation Natural 4X Concentrated Laundry Detergent Product Image

The Seventh Generation Natural 4X Concentrated Laundry Detergent is famous for being super efficient at removing stains from textiles and for being exceptionally safe for your family. The plant-based and mineral-based formula also protects the environment. It contains about 96% plant-based elements and it’s dermathologically tested.

The packaging of the product is recyclable. Also, the product contains enough formula for up to 53 loads.

What I love about it:

  • The product is perfect for removing stubborn stains from clothes without harming the environment.
  • The detergent contains natural mineral and plant-based ingredients;
  • It’s safe for your family;
  • It doesn’t contain toxic ingredients and it’s dermatologically tested.

Something to keep in mind:

  • The packaging only contains enough product for 53 loads.

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Indigo Wild Zum Clean Laundry Soap Frankincense Myrrh Product Image

The Indigo Wild Zum Clean Laundry Soap Frankincense Myrrh is a brilliant plant-based liquid soap designed to freshen textiles such as sheets, clothes, and towels. The Lavender ingredients relax your body and mind. It’s made of essential oils, baking soda, coconut oil, and vegetable glycerin. It comes with the Indigo Wild Gratification Guarantee.

What I love about it:

  • The product is efficient at removing strong stains and dirt from clothes, sheets, and towels.
  • It’s a highly concentrated formula;
  • The product is safe for your family and the environment;
  • A small quantity of product is required for one laundry load.

Something to keep in mind:

  • The lavender scent can seem weak.

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Attitude Baby Laundry Detergent  Product Image

The Attitude Baby Laundry Detergent, Fragrance Free is especially designed for the sensitive skin of your baby. It’s free of any contaminants and toxic chemicals, which your baby’s skin may absorb. The product cleans baby textiles effectively. It’s also perfect for cleaning baby diapers, rompers, onesies, and blankets.

The product contains an antibacterial and natural agent, which increases its effectiveness. This safe detergent is hypoallergenic, doesn’t harm your baby’s health, and contains non-toxic ingredients. Also, it’s ECOLOGO certified.

What I love about it:

  • The product is non-toxic and safe for your baby’s skin;
  • It’s efficient in removing stains from baby clothing, blankets, and diapers.
  • The product contains natural ingredients.

Something to keep in mind:

  • The product may be more expensive than other non-toxic laundry detergents.

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Charlie's Soap Fragrance Free Laundry Powder Product Image

The Charlie’s Soap Fragrance Free Laundry Powder is a powerful and concentrated powder formula suitable for delicates and high-tech textiles. The product washes stubborn stains, removes odors, and any residues from other detergents. It’s hypoallergenic and contains non-toxic washing soda and natural ingredients. The product is fragrance-free and cloth diaper-friendly.

What I love about it:

  • The product is efficient and contains natural ingredients;
  • It removes stubborn odors and any residues from other laundry detergents;
  • It’s hypoallergenic and contains non-toxic ingredients;
  • It’s EPA Safer Choice certified and septic safe.

Something to keep in mind:

  • The product may affect the pipes of your washing machine.

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Planet 2X Ultra Laundry Detergent  Product Image

The Planet 2X ultra laundry detergent is made for use with standard and HE (High-efficiency) washing machines. It’s hypoallergenic and safe to use for people with sensitive skin and babies. The product comprises a clear and free formula with no added dyes, fragrances or synthetic preservatives. It’s completely biodegradable and contains plant-based ingredients.

What I love about it:

  • The product is fragrance free and unscented;
  • It’s hypoallergenic and safe to use for sensitive skin and babies
  • The product is certified by the SCS Global Services as 100% biodegradable.
  • The formula is free of phosphates and safe for the septic system;
  • On bottle is enough for 32 standard wash loads

Something to keep in mind:

  • The product is expensive compared to other non-toxic laundry washing products on the market.

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Molly's Suds Laundry Powder Product Image

Molly’s Suds Laundry Powder is a powerful and concentrated laundry washing powder made to be safe for people and the environment. It’s specifically engineered for people with allergies, sensitive skin, and eczemas. Except for leather and silk, the product is safe to use with blends, synthetic fabrics, and natural fibers.

Before washing, you can pretreat any stains by wetting the area with cool water and making a paste of the powder and applying it to the stain. Gently brush the paste into the fabric, allowing is to set before rinsing and laundering. The product is suitable for use with HE washing machines. The product is Cruelty Free Certified, Vegan Certified, and A rated by the EWG.

What I love about it:

  • The product is high-performance and strong;
  • It’s safe for the environment and for people with severe skin sensitivity and allergies;
  • The product contains natural and non-toxic ingredients;
  • It’s perfect for use with high efficiency washing machines.

Something to keep in mind:

  • The powder may not completely dissolve in the water.

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Better Life Naturally Dirt Demolishing Laundry Detergent Product Image

The Better Life Naturally Dirt Demolishing Laundry Detergent is a non toxic product, which includes ingredients such as Potassium, Decyl Glucoside, Oleic Acid, Sodium Citrate, and Citric Acid. It keeps laundry clean and fresh, although it’s unscented. The product doesn’t contain synthetic fragrances, bleaches, brighteners, or sulfates.

What I love about it:

  • The product contains natural plant-based ingredients such as cleaning agents derived from corn, coconut, and carbonate;
  • It’s high-performance and efficient
  • It’s not tested on animals
  • It’s safe for sensitive skin

Something to keep in mind:

  • The product comes at a steep price.

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Meliora Cleaning Products Laundry Powder Product Image

EWG Rating: A

The Meliora Cleaning Products Laundry Powder is a concentrated and high-performance detergent made for HE and standard washing machines. The powder is free from dyes, preservatives, brighteners, and fragrances. It’s gentle but removes even the most stubborn stains. The product is MADE SAFE Certified, cruelty-free and was granted an A rating from the EWG.

What I love about it:

  • The product is efficient and suitable for use with standard and HE washing machines.
  • The detergent doesn’t contain dyes, brighteners, preservatives, or fragrances;
  • The product is gentle but strong in removing stains;
  • It received an A rating from the EWG.

Something to keep in mind:

  • It’s not hypoallergenic.

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Cleancult Natural Liquid Laundry Detergent Product Image

The Cleancult Natural Liquid Laundry Detergent delivers super clean clothes. The saponified coconut oil and citric acid lift tough odors and remove stains without leaving any residues behind. The plant-derived ingredients are infused with oils and he scent of Juniper Sandalwood. The packaging is eco-friendly and you can refill it or recycle it.

The product is dermatologically tested and cruelty free. It’s non-toxic and vegan based. The packaging is sustainable and environmentally safe.

What I love about it:

  • The product comprises natural ingredients and is free from dangerous chemicals;
  • It’s not made for people with very sensitive skin;
  • It has an attractive smell;
  • It’s efficient and strong in removing stubborn stains and dirt.

Something to keep in mind:

  • It’s not hypoallergenic.

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Presto Laundry detergent packs fragrance free Product Image

Presto Laundry detergent packs fragrance free is a dermathologically-tested and hypoallergenic laundry detergent. The product is free from dyes and it’s gentle on skin. The laundry detergent is user-friendly and dissolves in water at any temperature. The highly efficient detergent is made for use with both standard and HE washing machines.

What I love about it:

  • The product is safe for people with sensitive skin;
  • It’s hypoallergenic;
  • It’s dermatologically-tested;
  • It contains natural ingredients and it’s free from dyes.

Something to keep in mind:

  • The plastic case of the pod may not melt easily.

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Best Multi-purpose Laundry detergent + Soap:

15. Dr. Bonner’s Baby Unscented Pure-Castile Soap

Dr. Bonner’s Baby Unscented Pure-Castile Soap Product Image

Dr. Bonner’s Baby Unscented Pure-Castile Soap comprises natural ingredients, of which 70% are certified as fair trade. The product is safe for people and the environment as it’s biodegradable and comprises natural and vegan ingredients. The detergent doesn’t contain foaming agents, synthetic preservatives or thickeners. It’s a highly concentrated product made for use for laundry cleaning, hand-washing dishes, or mopping.

What I love about it:

  • The product is eco-friendly and safe for people with sensitive skin;
  • It’s recyclable;
  • It’s concentrated and versatile as it delivers a variety of applications;
  • It contains pure natural ingredients and it’s free from foaming agents and synthetic preservatives.

Something to keep in mind:

  • The product can come at a higher price compared to other non-toxic laundry detergents.

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Best Laundry Soda:

16. Nellie’s Laundry Soda

Nellie’s Laundry Soda Product Image

Nellie’s Laundry Soda makes your clothes clean, soft, and fresh without leaving any harsh chemicals or other residues behind. The product doesn’t contain phosphates, gluten, SLS, SLES, chlorine or fragrances. Only a small amount of product is needed to wash a standard load of laundry. It’s efficient in removing tough stains and powerful odors.

What I love about it:

  • The laundry detergent contains natural ingredients, which are safe for you and the environment;
  • The product is free from dangerous chemicals such as phosphates, SLS, SLES, or chlorine;
  • It’s fragrance-free and you only require a small quantity for a regular laundry load;
  • It removes the toughest stains and the strongest odors.

Something to keep in mind:

  • The product may not work as well in hard water areas.

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FAQs

  • Is Laundry Detergent Toxic?

    Yes, standard laundry detergents are toxic. Traditional laundry detergents contain a variety of harmful chemicals such as surfactants, phosphates, phthalates, brightners, or silver nanoparticles. These chemicals break down dirt and removes it from your clothes.

  • Can Laundry Detergent Cause Cancer?

    Yes, because of the toxic ingredients they contain, traditional detergents can cause cancer. The US, EU, China, and Canada have banned a series of toxic chemicals from being used in detergents. But developing countries still use these chemicals in their detergents.

  • Is Natural Laundry Detergent Better?

    Yes, natural laundry detergents are better for the environment and for your family’s health.

  • What Is the Best Cheap Laundry Detergent?

    The best cheap and safe laundry detergent among our picks is the Amazon Presto.

  • Can Vinegar Replace Laundry Detergent?

    Vinegar is a great alternative to commercial detergents. You can use distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar. It loosens zinc salts and aluminum chloride, which prevent dirt from sticking to textiles. Also it has strong antibacterial properties.


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The Bottom Line

The best non-toxic laundry detergents are safe for your family and the environment. During recent years, non-toxic and biodegradable laundry detergents have become mainstream. They’re free from harmful chemicals and use safe builders, surfactants and other non-toxic ingredients.

Choose fragrance-free detergents to prevent allergies or skin breakouts. You can pour a couple of drops of essential oil into the drawer of your washing machine if you’re looking for a fresh smell. To make the right decision in terms of deciding which non-toxic laundry detergent to use, search the EPA’s Safer Choice Standard database and look for the “Safer Choice” label.

Whether it is a co-sleeper crib, mattress, play mat or any other baby product you’re considering, make sure it is made of non-toxic materials that are safe for your child and the well-being of your family.


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