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Top 5 Eco-Friendly Detergents for Sustainable Laundry (That Work)


Detergents clean our clothes and sheets, but they are rarely “clean” themselves.

In fact, 70 percent of laundry detergents are a “high concern” for our health and the environment, according to The Environmental Working Group (EWG) that provides information on cleaning products. That’s a shockingly high number of potentially harmful stuff that we are in contact with every second of our lives!

Luckily, greener and friendlier alternatives are on the rise and we’ve been out to find them. So - here are five eco-friendly detergents that will leave your skin intact, plastics out of the oceans, your conscience at ease and your clothes clean & fresh.

ECOVER

sustainable laundry

What is it

Ecover is a Belgium company, founded in 1979 when it launched one of the first phosphate-free washing powders. Since then, Ecover has branched to all kinds of products and, at one point, became the world’s largest green cleaning products company by sales. They manufacture everything for dishwashing, personal care and, of course, laundry products.

How does it work

Ecover offers a complete range of eco-friendly detergents: liquid or powdered, a stain remover and laundry bleach. The company says they always use clean, biodegradable and plant-derived ingredients.

Just recently, they've launched a new range of "Zero" products that don't contain any fragrances or colouring, making them suitable for people with sensitive skin.

What makes it good & green

Well, their detergent is pretty good. Folks at the ranking website goodhousekeeping.com found that Ecover “Bio Concentrated Detergent” offered an “above-average stain removal”. Other reviews, including our own experience here at PlanetCare, are also largely positive: Ecover cleans as well as your regular chemical detergent or perhaps even better. 

Ecover Zero Laundry Liquid Concentrate also ranks very high on the EWG ranking. It has earned an “A” which means that it contains few or no hazards to health or the environment.

It's nice to hear that Belgians are big on recycling. Their jugs are all made of recycled plastic (the cap is half recycled). And not just any kind of recycled plastic – new bottles are made mostly made of renewable sugarcane and not petroleum. Some time ago, they even launched a limited of bottles partially made of waste, washed up and collected from the beaches.

Another great thing about Ecover is their refill stations. Unfortunately, the network is currently only available in the U.K. - check the map to find where refills are possible.

How much does it cost

Ecover’s “Non-bio Laundry Liquid” costs anything from 9 to 12 pounds, depending on the retailer and the product.

Where can I get it

Ecover detergents are widely available in the U.K., Europe and the U.S. In the UK, they also sell products directly to the end customer or you can order Ecover products online.

ETHIQUE

Eco-Friendly Detergents

What is it

Ethique started in 2012 in New Zealand. They first sold solid shampoo bars and later ventured into skincare and household products, including laundry. The business took off – the company says they are the “highest-rated, fastest-selling shampoo & conditioner brand on Amazon”.

How does it work

Ethique’s laundry product is called Flash! It is sold as a solid bar which makes it especially practical for hand washing delicate pieces like silk or wool - or travelling and camping. The laundry bar is all made with biodegradable ingredients, essential oils and white kaolin clay that absorbs oil and dirt. The ingredients are also cruelty-free, vegan and ethically sourced.

If you’re using the bar as a stain remover, gently swipe the bar over stained areas and rinse it out before the clothing goes into the washing machine. Flash! also works well with dirty dishes. Just make sure to keep it dry and it will last long.

People at Ethique, however, will let you know that Flash! is not the best option for washing machines since it doesn’t contain any anti-corrosion ingredients (substances that help protect the machine).

What makes it good & green

We just love that Ethique placed the fight against plastics at its centre – their packaging is minimal, zero-waste and without any plastics, including no wrapping. Orders placed from their online store are also shipped plastic-free, in a cardboard box, sealed with paper tape. You can read more about their no-plastic policy here.

Ethique’s goals are ambitions. They plan to plant 250,000 trees by the end of 2021 and save half a billion plastic bottles from being manufactured by 2030. We can get behind that!

How much does it cost?

If you buy Flash! directly from their online store, you’ll pay six dollars for a bar.

Where can I get it?

Ethique’s laundry bar is currently available in over 2500 retailers in sixteen countries across the world, including Japan, Australia and the U.S. Just recently, Ethique set up a distribution centre in the U.K. and will start shipping to the EU “soon”. We can’t wait to try it out!

TRU EARTH

Eco-Friendly Detergents

What is it

Tru Earth is a young Canadian company, founded in 2019. They produce laundry detergent that comes in eco-strips but have also expanded into wool dryers’ balls and other stuff such as steel straws and reusable bags. According to their website, more than 60,000 people in 40 countries have used their products in merly 12 months after the launch.

How does it work

Tru Earth Eco-Strips are not your typical liquid-in-a-pod detergent. They are thin, ultra-concentrated foam sheets made of polyvinyl alcohol which means they completely dissolve in water – similarly to the Dropps pods.

They are also easy-breezy to use. Top-loader owners simply toss the strip inside the drum and the people with the front-loader place it in a detergent dispenser - you could also tear the strip into smaller pieces if necessary. One strip should be enough for a medium-sized load of laundry.

What makes it good & green

Does Tru Earth work? Reviewed.com says they do. The researchers found that the strips are “as good as” the best eco-friendly laundry detergents they’ve tested.

Of course, the ingredients are biodegradable, and the packaging is zero-waste and compostable. The size also matters. The entire package that contains 32 strips is small enough to fit in a mailbox and is around 30 times lighter than your typical jug. That means Tru Earth’s strips greatly reduce transportation costs and produce fewer carbon emissions from logistics.

How much does it cost

They are on the pricey side; the small packaging (enough for 32 loads) will cost you 17,99 euro. If you subscribe to deliveries each couple of months, you’ll save up to 32 percent, plus shipping is free.

Where can I get it

Tru Earth products are sold in retails across Canada, in the U.S., in the U.K. and in a handful of other countries. You can also get in online and get it shipped anywhere in the world.

FAITH IN NATURE

Eco-Friendly Detergents

What is it            

Faith in Nature was born in Edinburgh in 1974. They are considered one of the leading U.K. natural beauty brands with products ranging from shampoos, conditioners and hand soaps and laundry detergents. All made in Britain.

How does it work

Faith in Nature currently sells a five litres Laundry Liquid detergent. It is a super-concentrated bulk buy that “offers a more sustainable way of reducing waste when washing your clothes”. Ingredients are biodegradable and derived from plants, including aloe vera and rosemary oil. 

What makes it good & green

Faith in Nature’s products are certified as natural, vegan, cruelty-free and ethical. You won’t find any synthetic colouring or fragrances, no SLS or parabens, artificial preservatives or BPA plastic.

We like that the refill bottles are recyclable and because they only come in larger sizes you help save on packaging. Once you’ve used all the juice, you can send the empty bottles back for reuse.

If you live in the UK, you can also refill your detergent in dozens of independent shops. Check here for a complete list.

How much does it cost?

A five-litre bottle of this eco-friendly detergents will cost you 25.99 pounds if you buy it through Faith in Nature’s online store. That should be enough for around 150 washes.

Where can I get it?

Faith in Nature products are shipped in the United Kingdom and European Union. You can purchase directly from their website or from various stockists across the UK.   

BLUELAND

What is it

Sarah Paiji Yoo founded Blueland in 2011. She just became a new mother and has been »horrified by the amount of microplastics in daily-use water«. She then embarked on a business adventure, driven by a believe that we shouldn’t have to sacrifice a clean home for a clean planet.

Blueland develops green products in reusable packaging that are »convenient, effective and affordable«. Their collection includes soaps, cleaning sprays and eco-friendly laundry detergents but with a twist: they come in a shape of a water dissolvable tablets.

How it works

The laundry tablets don’t contain any triclosan, parabens, petroleum, artificial dyes or fragrances (at the moment, they only offer unscented version). You simply toss one tablet in the drum of the washing machine or two for bigger loads. They are supposed to work in both warm and cold water.           

The company says that the tablets are formulated to clean a range of common stains including grass stains, egg, rice starch, blood, ice cream or makeup. Keep in mind, that the product is not appropriate for delicate fabrics such as wool and silk.

What makes it good & green

First thing first: Blueland eco-friendly detergents are formulated without water which means they are much lighter and smaller than your regular detergent – which also means less carbon footprint generated from transport.  

There is no single-use plastic packaging involved. All of the packaging is also recyclable, and their tablet pouches are compostable and biodegradable. If you’re not able to recycle any of the stuff, Blueland will issue a return label to ship the empty packaging back to them – a great perk! If your order your starter kit, you get your tablets with a tin box where you can store the tablets.

But do they work? Reviewers at reducereport.com say they “worked very well, our laundry came out very clean and smelling fresh”. The company itself claims they underwent third-party tests which shows the tablets effectively clean common stains.

How much does it cost

Blueland tablets are more on the expensive end of the laundry detergent spectrum. You’ll pay 14 dollars for one pack with 40 tablets which will take care of around 40 loads. It gets cheaper if you buy more (24 dollars for two packs and 32 dollars for three). Free shipping is available for orders over 35 dollars.

Where can I get it

You can shop Blueland products at Blueland.com. At the moment, the company only serves the U.S. market.

sustainable laundry ideas

Special mention: zero-waste deliveries by Loop

Not an eco-friendly detergent brand itself, but Loop is a good place to get one. It’s in fact a platform where you’ll find dozens of everyday products – shampoos, toothpaste, dog food and, of course, detergents - all delivered in reusable (and zero-waste) packaging. Laundry selection is a bit limited at the moment; you can check it here.

How does the whole thing work? Orders are first delivered in a reusable tote. When you use all the stuff, the container goes back in the tote, you schedule a pickup and the packaging is returned for reuse. Loop is currently available in the U.S., U.K., France and Canada, with plans to expand to Japan, Germany and Australia. 

As a special, special mention: consumer goods giants Henkel is also testing liquid detergent refill stations with the drug store chain Rossmann in Central Europe. According to their report, customers can refill liquid detergents, fabric softeners, dishwashing liquids or shampoos and shower gels in selected stores. Henkel says that it designed the “gas station” system to be user-friendly. Nice to see the “big guys” on board as well.

What are your favourite eco-friendly detergents? Let us know!

So there they are - our top five eco-friendly detergents. Now, it’s your turn – what liquids, powders, strips, bars or anything in between do you use? Let us know in the comments or write to us on Instagram. There are no wrong answers! If you want to dive deeper into sustainable laundry, you may also want to check our complete guide.

Blazej Kupec
Blazej Kupec
Blazej writes about inspiring ideas and fascinating people who make our world a greener place. A journalist by profession, Blazej can be found in Berlin, most likely in coworking places or anywhere with Neapolitan pizza. When he is not writing, he’ll read history books or collect old maps.

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2 comments on “Top 5 Eco-Friendly Detergents for Sustainable Laundry (That Work)”

  1. I live in the UK and have been using eco-friendly products since the mid eighties starting with Save Our Planet laundry liquid which I came across in Safeway. I then used Ecover but now prefer Method which is also owned by Johnson & Johnson. Its much better on stain removal and a large bottle does 39 washes. Costs between £6-9 depending on supermarkets discounts which are fairly frequent. It's not refillable in UK but all packaging is recyclable here. You also didn't mention Bio-D which is refillable and Smog which is a dissolvable pouch via a mail service and seems fairly affordable.

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