Green Cleaning, Green Home, Washing Issues

Environmentally Friendly Laundry Detergent – 4 Green Choices for Your Home

Many people are on the hunt for environmentally friendly laundry detergent. They may be hoping to reduce chemicals used or find a healthier choice for their family. There are lots of options out there–some good, some not so good, some with a high price tag, some more moderately priced…

Below are some eco-friendly laundry detergents I would recommend that work well for regular laundry as well as cloth diapers. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list–rather, I am only suggesting green/natural detergents that I would personally use myself.

There is a whole world of different products out there, and these detergents were chosen because of their healthy brand reputation, affordability, accessibility, and good reputation in the cloth diapering world.

A Perfectly Green Detergent

Not all of these detergents are “perfect.” When you get into the world of natural and eco-friendly cleaning, there is some debate. For example, one of my recommendations you will read below is Seventh Generation. Some people hate that detergent. We all have different standards for defining what is safe and healthy. These all meet mine. Maybe you won’t agree, but that’s okay. 🙂

I believe that we should be aware of what is in our cleaners and detergents and aim for what is the least harsh, but still able to get the job done. There are some things I do in my home to clean with no harsh cleaning chemicals (like use microfiber cloths or my Force of Nature) because I don’t feel harsh chemicals are necessary for every day, regular cleaning.

But when it comes to laundry detergent, I am coming from a cloth diaper perspective. That means I am washing human waste off of diapers in my washing machine, and I know it is important that my diapers get CLEAN.

That means that sometimes I opt for detergents that have more chemicals in them, and sometimes I recommend mainstream detergents to other cloth diapering families trying to find a good one.

If people are concerned about the chemicals in a mainstream detergent going against their baby’s skin, I recommend avoiding synthetic fragrances or doing an extra rinse (if your water is soft enough) to make sure as much residue as possible is washed out. Other loads of laundry that don’t get as soiled are a little more forgiving, and it’s okay to experiment with more natural or homemade detergents with those loads.

In my reviews of the following laundry detergents, I will include the EWG (Environmental Working Group) rating because I know many people care about that. The EWG is a nonprofit group dedicated to helping people live healthier lives in a healthier environment.

I find their ratings helpful when I start my research on the health concerns and environmental impacts of various products, but they are not the “end all be all.” Many of their recommendations are controversial, and their rating system is inconsistent. It is difficult to find many options for cloth diaper-friendly laundry detergents that also receive A grades from the EWG, though it isn’t impossible.

Diaper laundry is soiled with human waste–you need a detergent that works, and that can mean some chemicals. You will need to decide for yourself how important the EWG rating is for you, and ultimately, you will need to decide what is most important to you in laundry detergent, and choose one that meets your needs.

Even if you do not cloth diaper, these detergents are excellent choices. I mean, if they clean diapers well while still being environmentally friendly, then they will be an excellent choice for regular laundry!

Biokleen

Laundry Liquid

Biokleen Laundry Liquid is a very popular choice for families looking for natural laundry detergent, not only for their regular loads of laundry but also for their cloth diapers. I used this detergent successfully for many months until we moved.

This is one of the very few plant-based detergents that will work for cloth diapers that the EWG also gives an A rating to. Biokleen Laundry Liquid is worth taking a look at! Note: This likely won’t work well in a HE washer. Biokleen suds a lot, which means you need to use less detergent in a HE machine. For regular laundry that’s fine–for soiled laundry, it is not ideal.

BrandFeaturesOK for CDs?EWG Letter GradePrice
$ - $$$$
Overall Recommendation
Biokleen Laundry Liquid-Plant Based
-3X Concentrated
-No artificial fragrances or colors
-No preservatives
-Not tested on animals
Yes - non HE machineASSGood choice for diapers and regular clothes

 

Click here to order Biokleen laundry liquid.

Premium Plus

 Biokleen Premium Plus Laundry Powder is a great choice. It has a little more “oomph” than the laundry liquid, and many people believe this to be a better choice.

It still may not be a great choice for HE due to Biokleen’s tendency to sud a lot, requiring less detergent be used.

Try it out, but be aware you may need to try a different kind (like Seventh Generation).

BrandFeaturesOK for CDS?EWG Letter GradePrice $ - $$$$Overall Recommendation
Biokleen Premium Plus Laundry Powder-Color-safe oxygen bleach
-Contains enzymes
-Free from metasilicates, borax, & caustics
-Biodegradable
-Plant-based
-Free of artificial fragrances
-No Preservatives
YesUnknown$$Great option for clean diapers

Click here to order Biokleen Premium Plus.

Seventh Generation Detergent

Seventh Generation detergent is one of the most frequently used and best-rated plant-based detergents for diaper laundry. If you cloth diaper and want to find a plant-based detergent to use for all your laundry, Seventh Generation is a great choice.

Seventh Generation has several varieties of laundry detergent, and not all of them would be suitable for diapers. Stay away from their “Free and Clear” option for diapers.

The EWG gives this detergent a C grade. Again, you will have to decide how you feel about that rating.

There are many scents to choose from, and most people that use this detergent are very happy with it.

If you would like a detergent with enzymes (considered to be better at cleaning diapers, though not everyone feels they are necessary), get the Seventh Generation Ultra Power Plus.

BrandFeaturesOk for CDs?EWG Letter GradePrice
$ - $$$$
Overall Recommendation
Seventh Generation (Regular)-Plant Based (96%)
-Triple-Enzyme Formula
-Scented with essential oils and botanical extracts
-No artificial fragrances, dyes, or brighteners
-Not tested on animals
-Ultra Concentrated
YesCSSGood choice for diapers or regular clothes.

Click here to order Seventh Generation laundry detergent.

Method Laundry Detergent

Method laundry detergent is another plant-based laundry detergent that has proven to do well for cloth diapers. The EWG scores this detergent along the same lines as Seventh Generation (a C grade). Again, you will have to decide how you feel about this score and what is most important to you in laundry detergent.

This detergent would be a solid choice if you are looking for a laundry detergent that you could use on cloth diapers and the rest of your laundry.

Method laundry detergent comes in a wide variety of scents, and all the ones I have tried have been pleasant. Method also receives excellent reviews and makes its packaging from recycled materials.

BrandFeaturesOK for CDs?EWG Letter GradePrice
$ - $$$$
Overall Recommendation
Method-Plant Based
-Ultra Concentrated
-Packaging made from recycled materials
-Hypoallergenic
-No artificial fragrances or dyes
-Not tested on animals
YesCSSGood choice for diapers and regular clothes

 

Click here to order Method laundry detergent.

Planet 2x Concentrated Laundry Detergent

Planet 2x Concentrated is another excelled laundry detergent choice. It is a little pricier than the other options, but it is a high-quality detergent that works on both regular laundry and cloth diapers.

Make sure you get the 2x concentrated version–the regular Planet detergent is not very strong, and may not be as effective for diapers. It would probably be fine for regular laundry. This is another one of the very few cloth diaper-friendly detergents that receive an A-rating from the EWG.

BrandFeaturesOK for CDs?EWG Letter GradePrice
$ - $$$$
Overall Recommendation
Planet 2X Ultra Laundry Liquid-Plant Based
-Certified 100% Biodegradable
-Unscented, uncolored
-Hypoallergenic
-No preservatives
-Not tested on animals
YesA$SSGood choice for diapers and regular clothes

Click here to order Planet 2x Concentrated laundry detergent.

Natural Detergents to Avoid

You may have heard a lot about Charlie’s Soap, especially from various cloth diapering websites, as this is a popular detergent choice. However, I would recommend you stay away from it. Why? Simply because the accusations against them are quite serious (chemical burns), and there are hundreds of other products you could consider instead. Oddly enough, despite the accusations of chemical burns, the EWG rates them quite high, which leaves me scratching my head, but alas, this is one reason why I said the EWG wasn’t the end-all-be-all.

Charlie’s Soap claims you only need one tablespoon of detergent to clean a load. That is extremely unlikely to be effective for most people. Their instructions for cloth diapers also require you do multiple cycles. They say their product rinses residue-free, but recommend TWO rinses after the last wash cycle that only uses a tablespoon of soap….

None of this makes any logical sense, thus I recommend you don’t bother with it. I will say this detergent is economical (however, it’s only economical because they say 1 load is 1 tbsp so that drastically drives down the price per load) and does have a high rating from the EWG and Amazon, so there are some good points. However, the possibility of chemical burns combined with the high amount of water needed to properly rinse the detergent out just isn’t worth it to me.

Which Will You Choose?

All of these detergents are highly rated with great reviews, pass the “cloth diaper test,” and are an eco-friendly choice for your home. I have chosen these detergents for this list because they are ones I would personally use myself based on my research.

If none of these detergents sound preferable to you, and you would prefer another natural detergent with fewer chemicals (or homemade detergent), here is a compromise I propose for the sake of your cloth diapers: Use whatever natural laundry detergent (or homemade detergent) you prefer for your regular clothes (which are more forgiving), but a more traditional detergent approved for cloth diapers for all diaper laundry. Diapers are soiled laundry and you just really need a heavy-duty detergent for those. You can do an extra rinse whenever you use the more traditional detergent to try to reduce any residue you’re concerned about that might get left behind.

Which one would you pick? Have you used one of these kinds before? Let me know in the comments!

environmentally-friendly-laundry-detergent

Holly Lee

I'm Holly and I'm the mom of two awesome young boys with a girl due summer 2020. We have been cloth diapering for 6 years. My family and I live in Minnesota with our dog, Ruby, and cat, Gherkin. Outside of Rocking the Cloth, I am also a middle school teacher. Thank you for visiting Rocking the Cloth--feel free to email me at holly@rockingthecloth.com if you have any questions or concerns. I'd love to help!

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12 Comments

  1. Clay Westfall says:

    Hello, Holly… I have been looking for environmentally sound laundry detergent for a while now.  There are always those who claim to be what I am looking for, but when you get them under the microscope, you always fine that they are misleading you in one place of another.  

    Thank you for pulling the covers back and showing the real side of laundry detergent!   I think I have finally found what I am looking for.   Clay

    1. Holly Lee says:

      Glad you found it helpful, Clay!

  2. KerryAnn says:

    Thank you for this information.

    I don’t have children but have the issue of soiled clothes when hubby gets out and starts playing with the motor vehicles.  Oil and grease everywhere.  I guess soiling comes in a variety of ways.

    I will definitely check out your recommendations as I like to try and live a life with minimal chemical influence so that I can attempt to live a long and healthy life.

    Environmentally friendly is always a good option, as this usually means it is less harmful to humans as well.  Everything we put on our skin can affect our health.  I think you have a great tip when you mention rinsing twice.  This certainly would help in removing any remaining residue from clothing.

    All the best. Keep up the great work. 

    1. Holly Lee says:

      Thanks Kerry Ann! I’m glad you found it helpful. 🙂

  3. pmbaluka2016 says:

    This is truly a very informative article on detergents. I would equally term it very timely because two weeks ago we got a baby boy and we have a hard time washing the soiled diapers. 

    We currently use the traditional detergents around us and the results are not good at all. They require a lot of effort to make white diapers clean so I think this article was purposely written for me. 

    Both the seventh generation and Method laundry detergents seem like a good choice for me and I’m set to try them both. Thank you so much for such an information. I will bookmark this article for future reference as well as sharing with my friends and family.

    Paul. 

    1. Holly Lee says:

      Glad you found it helpful! Outside of “natural” detergents, you may also consider looking into Tide or Gain. They also rate very high for cleaning cloth diapers well. If your primary motivation is finding a more natural detergent, then the Seventh Gen. and Method are awesome choice!

  4. Dany says:

    I’m a ‘health freak’ as my friends are calling me, always in search for healthy products. I like your suggestions even if I never tried any. Is any of the products presenting risks for allergies? 

    I heard about “Attitude” products. Do you have information about the products? 

    Thank you for an informative article.

    1. Holly Lee says:

      Hi Dany! All of these detergents pose a low risk for allergies, but some of them may have higher concern than others. I would recommend Planet 2x Ultra if someone is very concerned about potential allergies.

      I have heard of Attitude products and have heard great things! I know they are thought to work well with cloth diapers, too. I left it off the list because they can be a little hard to find sometimes, and pricing-wise they tend to be a little more on the higher end (though not too terrible). If someone has the budget to spend a little more on laundry detergent, Attitude products are a fabulous choice!

  5. Laura says:

    Although I’m doing potty training with my 2-year old, as he’ll be going to school somewhere next year, I still need a good detergent to clean out his diapers. Thanks for taking the time to research all these products!

    I didn’t know about the accusations against Charlie’s Soap; that’s kinda worrying! I’ll take your advice and stay away from it, as you give enought great alternatives to try out.

    1. Holly Lee says:

      Glad it helped, Laura! Lots of people love Charlie’s Soap, so for those that haven’t had any issues, more power to them! But I just know for my family, I tend to avoid anything that has potential hazards when I have another available option that doesn’t. If there were no other options, that’s one thing…but since there are, I just stay away from it!

  6. Terri says:

    Hi Holly,

    Thank you for writing this, I’m glad you’ve listed some hypoallergenic options to choose from. I no longer need to wash cloth diapers, but I am still looking for something that can get out tough stains. Out of the Method and Planet 2x, which would be the gentlest on skin as my daughters skin gets irritated easily.

    Thanks,

    Terri

    1. Holly Lee says:

      Hi Terri! Out of Method and Planet 2x, I would probably recommend the Planet 2x. It has no fragrance of any kind, which I know can be irritating to some people. It also scores much better in the “skin irritation” category on the EWG website. I think this would be the most gentle option!

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