My Picks for 2024 (at a Glance!)

  • Blueland (best laundry detergent pods)
  • Truly Free + softening rinse (best for hard water)

+ see below for even more recommendations (plus discount codes!)

Why make the switch to non-toxic laundry detergent?

It’s kind of ironic: you put your clothes, bed sheets, and towels through the washing machine, expecting them to come out fresh and clean… but really, you just end up coating them with a bunch of harsh chemicals that could potentially cause health problems for you and your loved ones.

Most conventional laundry detergent brands on the market are made with ingredients that have been linked to everything from allergies and skin irritation all the way to cancer. Even many of the baby detergents and “Free & Clear” versions contain chemicals that could potentially pose a risk to your health.

There are so many great-smelling, clean laundry detergent brands that are completely effective, so why NOT choose the safer bet? Below are my researched and recommended brands for the safest laundry detergent.

I am always trying out new non-toxic laundry detergents, so I update this guide pretty much every year as I try new brands (and also use products for longer periods of time). I’ve used each of these brands for at least a month, so I can tell you that they actually do get your clothes clean. Many of them I’ve used for years now. (Yes, there is a ridiculous number of detergent containers in my laundry closet, hah!)

Anyway, all that said, everyone definitely has their preferences. Some people love that “fresh laundry” scent, while others absolutely have to stick with fragrance-free. Some people like powders, while others prefer liquid or tablets.

So, while I’ve vetted all of these brands, you still might have to try out a few brands until you find the best fit for you and your household! But my hope is that this guide will help save you a lot of time (and potential frustration!).

Related Articles:

Table of Contents

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What Are the Harmful Effects of Detergents?

Whether or not your laundry detergent will actually cause issues depends on many different factors, including age, total toxic burden, and pre-existing health issues. Those who have sensitivities or chronic health concerns (which is becoming an increasingly larger portion of the population) may be more likely to react negatively to the ingredients in common laundry detergents compared to others.

Common ingredients found in conventional laundry detergents have been linked to issues like:

  • Skin irritation and allergies
  • Respiratory problems
  • Nervous system issues
  • Endocrine (hormone) disruption
  • Infertility
  • Damage to vision
  • Cancer
  • Organ damage

Even those individuals who don’t have strong or immediate allergic reactions to laundry detergents would do well to consider switching to a safer alternative since many of these chemicals can cause damage when used over long periods of time. This is especially true when we consider the cumulative effect of all of the different toxicants we’re exposed to on a daily basis.

RELATED: These are the best non-toxic cleaning products for your whole home.

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Toxins in Laundry Detergent: Chemicals to Avoid

Before we dive into our recommended brands, let’s review some of the most common ingredients in laundry detergents that have been linked to health problems:

Mystery Fragrances

This is a big one when it comes to laundry detergents. Even the brands that are marketed as “clean” or “green” can contain hidden harmful chemicals under what’s commonly referred to as the “fragrance loophole.”

In the U.S., companies are legally allowed to hide over 3,500 different chemicals under the word “fragrance” or “parfum,” without actually disclosing the ingredients to consumers. Some of these chemicals are safe, while others (like phthalates) are known toxins. You can learn more about this issue right here.


As I just mentioned, phthalates are chemicals that are often used in laundry detergents to make the scents last longer. (Again, they will not be explicitly listed on the ingredient label because they’re added under the “fragrance” umbrella.) Phthalates are endocrine disruptors, which means they can interfere with hormone functioning and lead to things like infertility and cancer.

Harsh Surfactants

Surfactants like sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) are commonly used in laundry detergents (as well as other cleaning and personal care products) as foaming agents and dirt removers. However, SLS is classified as an irritant and can inflame the skin, eyes, and lungs (especially if you already have sensitive skin, eczema, allergies, etc.).

Toxic Preservatives

Most consumer goods need to come with some sort of preservative in order to prevent mold and bacteria growth (which is really important!). But some preservatives are safer than others.

You may have heard of parabens, which are preservatives that can potentially cause hormone disruption.

You’ll also want to watch out for isothiazolinone preservatives, which include benzisothiazolinone, methylisothiazolinone, and methylchloroisothiazolinone. These are potential allergens and skin sensitizers, so those with allergies, eczema, or other sensitivities will want to be especially careful about avoiding them. They’re common in many of the most popular laundry detergents, even some of the ones marketed as “green.”

Chlorine Bleach

Most of us are at least somewhat aware that bleach can be harmful, but many don’t know just how dangerous it can be. It’s often found in laundry detergents that are meant for white loads. Chlorine bleach can cause burns, pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs), respiratory failure, and other health conditions.

UV/Optical Brighteners

Brighteners are used to make fabrics look whiter and brighter. They’re also used to treat (read: hide) stains by coating fabric with a substance that reflects light. These brighteners can irritate skin, eyes, and lungs, and can harm aquatic life as well.

This isn’t necessarily a complete list of potentially harmful chemicals you might find in laundry detergent, but those are some of the most common ones!

Are Laundry Detergent Pods & Sheets Actually Eco-Friendly?

Detergent pods and sheets have become super popular in recent years. Not only are they easy to use, but they are often touted as being a more sustainable option than conventional detergent options because they don’t come in big plastic jugs and they are much lighter weight (so the shipping footprint is smaller).

However, most detergent pods and sheets are actually made from plastic called polyvinyl alcohol, or PVA. Even though this “liquid plastic” dissolves in water, it’s currently unclear whether or not these microscopic plastic pieces actually biodegrade under real-world circumstances (when we wash them down our drains) or whether they’re actually just contributing to our microplastic pollution problem.

Considering all of this, I’ve slowly been transitioning away from PVA detergent pods and sheets when I can. So for this 2023 update, I’ve removed the PVA pods and sheets from my recommendations and switched my recommendation to a PVA-free tablet from Blueland instead.

Again, all of this is very much still “up in the air.” I would say that detergent pods that use clean ingredients are probably not the worst option (at least until we have more information), but I can’t wholeheartedly recommend them either. I think you’d be better off using a refillable bottle of liquid detergent that doesn’t potentially wash millions of nanoplastics down the drain every time you do a load of laundry.

If you DO decide you want to use pods, here are the brands that are otherwise made with non-toxic ingredients:

What’s the Best Clean Laundry Detergent for Cold Water?

I almost always use cold water (or tap cold) when I do my laundry, so I’ve tested all of the safe laundry detergent brands below in cold water.

But I’ve also added notes below indicating whether or not each brand is formulated specifically for use in cold water. I’m still waiting to hear back from some of them, and I will add the rest of the info when I hear back.

So far, Molly’s Suds and Happi Earth are the two eco-friendly laundry detergent brands that have said their detergents work better in warm or hot water (although they say you can still use it in cold water, which is what I do most of the time).

(Washing clothes in cold water conserves energy by avoiding the need to heat water, and it can help preserve fabric quality and color longevity.)

What Else To Consider When Shopping for Natural Laundry Detergent

In addition to safe ingredients, you may want to consider other factors, such as:

  • Your personal preferences (Do you like liquid, powder, or tablets the best? Do you want fragrance-free or something that smells good?)
  • Your shopping habits (Do you like to order online and sign up for an automated subscription? Or do you like to grab your detergent at your local store?)
  • Other sustainability initiatives (Low-waste packaging, give-back programs, refillable options, etc.)
  • Your specific needs (Do you need something with strong stain-fighting capabilities? Do you have anyone in your family with allergies?)

The Safest Non-Toxic & Natural Laundry Detergent Brands (That Actually Work!)

All of that may be overwhelming, but the good news is that there is no shortage of natural, eco-friendly laundry detergent brands on the market. So, what is the safest laundry detergent? All of the following brands are free from ingredients that are potentially toxic and safe to use.

Oh, and almost all of these laundry detergent brands are not only non-toxic but also vegan, cruelty-free, biodegradable, septic-safe, and suitable for all washing machine types (including He and front-loaders).

ATTITUDE (My pick for the best overall non-toxic laundry detergent)

best non-toxic laundry detergent from ATTITUDE on

Price: $17+
Carries: Liquid laundry detergent, fabric softener, stain remover, and more
Certifications: EWG Verified, ECOLOGO, PETA
Formulated for Cold Water? Yes

One of the reasons ATTITUDE has earned the “best overall for 2023” from me is the fact that they have a variety of options, so you can shop based on your preferences.

For example, they have some non-toxic laundry detergents that smell really good (I’ll tell you my favorite scent in a minute), but they also have fragrance-free options for those who are sensitive to smells and/or just prefer to skip the fragrances altogether. Some of their natural laundry detergent options (the ones in the Home Essentials Collection) are scented with only essential oils.

No matter which option you’re considering, you’ll find all of the ingredients listed clearly on the product page.

They also have refill options, which come in a larger cardboard box with a bag of detergent inside. (Even though it’s called a “refill,” I personally don’t refill my bottle; I just use the detergent straight from the box. I just use an old plastic cap and pour the detergent straight from the spigot on the box. It’s actually much easier because the opening is on the bottom of the container, so you don’t have to worry about turning the bottle upside down to get the last of it out of the container!)

ATTITUDE’s natural laundry detergents are all EWG Verified, which means they have been vetted against the Environmental Working Group’s list of approved and restricted substances. They’re also ECOLOGO certified, hypoallergenic, vegan & cruelty-free, and biodegradable.

In addition to their liquid laundry detergent bottles and cardboard refill boxes, they also carry fabric softener, dryer sheets, and a baby-specific collection for your little ones.

[Note that some of ATTITUDE’s packaging contains the word “fragrance,” which is usually a red flag. This is because of EWG’s verification process, as they explain:

“Please note that our products have always contained fragrances of natural origin (except for unscented products). The only thing that has changed is the way we display this information on our packaging. EWG has requested that we add the term *fragrance (parfum) to our list of ingredients because their internal standard now make it mandatory for companies to indicate which ingredients are part of the fragrance.

You can find links to their full list of fragrance ingredients on each product page.]

Branch Basics (My pick for the best fragrance-free non-toxic laundry detergent)

Price: $65 for Laundry Starter Kit; $22-55 for refills
Carries: Laundry detergent, oxygen booster, wool dryer balls
Certifications: MADE SAFE, EWG Verified (Environmental Working Group), Leaping Bunny
Formulated for Cold Water? Yes

One of the reasons I love Branch Basics is because it’s truly an all-purpose product. You buy a bottle of The Concentrate, and then you dilute it into different bottles to make cleaning sprays (like all-purpose, bathroom, and streak-free), as well as laundry detergent. It’s so simple, and you have to buy a lot fewer products overall (which means less researching, shopping around, and reading ingredient labels!).

Even though the bottle of Concentrate is a bit on the pricier side, it lasts a really long time (even if you clean a lot…).

They also offer Oxygen Boost powder and wool dryer balls to complement their safe laundry detergent. I use their Oxygen Boost a lot, just to give my laundry an extra boost (even if I’m using a different brand of detergent for that load).

Everything is biodegradable, fragrance-free, and never tested on animals.

I have been using Branch Basics for years now! If you’re curious to learn more, you can check out my full review of Branch Basics here.

Other non-toxic laundry detergents that offer fragrance-free options include ATTITUDE, Blueland, Rosey, GreenSheild Organic (available at Walmart), Meliora, Dirty Labs, MamaSuds, Truly Free, AspenClean, and Molly’s Suds.

You can use the code THEFILTERY for 15% off Starter Kits.

ATTITUDE Mountain Fresh (My pick for the best smelling non-toxic laundry detergent)

best smelling non-toxic laundry detergent from ATTITUDE on

Price: $17+
Carries: Liquid laundry detergent, fabric softener, stain remover, and more
Certifications: EWG Verified, ECOLOGO, PETA
Formulated for Cold Water? Yes

It can be challenging to find a non-toxic laundry detergent that truly smells good, but ATTITUDE has done it!

You can choose between scents like Wildflowers, Citrus Zest, Summer Berries, Mountain Fresh, Lavender, and Pink Grapefruit (and of course, they have Unscented too, if you’d prefer).

My personal favorite is the Mountain Fresh. A couple of weeks after I started using this scent, my husband actually said, “Our laundry has been smelling so good lately!” (He is not always happy about the fact that I have significantly reduced the amount of fragrance in our household since we first met, so he likes it when I use fragranced products! 😆)

Blueland (My pick for the best non-toxic laundry detergent pods)

Price: $25 for Laundry Essentials Starter Set; $37+ for detergent refills
Carries: Laundry tablets, oxi booster, wool dryer balls
Certifications: EWG Verified (fragrance-free), B Corp, Carbon Neutral
Formulated for Cold Water? Yes (any temp)

As I mentioned above, I used to recommend a couple of non-toxic laundry detergent pods that are made of PVA. But I’m switching my “best laundry detergent pods” recommendation to Blueland because they’re one of the only brands that offers pods that are not made using PVA plastic.

Their detergent is fragrance-free and EWG verified. The Starter Kit comes with a tin, which you can then refill as many times as you want. The refills come in paper bags which are technically compostable (even though they can only be composted in an industrial facility at this time, which is unfortunate).

I should say these are more like “tablets” than “pods,” but they work the same way—just grab one and throw it in the washer. Some of the tablets do tend to break during shipping, but personally, that doesn’t bother me. When I get to the bottom of my tin, I just throw in the equivalent of a full tablet (I just eyeball it).

They also carry oxi boost laundry powder and dryer balls, along with other products like dishwasher detergent, all-purpose household cleaners, hand soap, body wash, and more. (Note that not all of their products are fragrance-free and/or EWG Verified, so make sure to check the specific product before buying.)

Their refillable, fragrance-free laundry products are free from potential toxins such as petroleum derivatives, dyes and colorants, artificial fragrances, parabens, phthalates, and more. As for the effectiveness, you can check out their testing process here!

They carry a handful of other certifications too, like Cradle to Cradle, Leaping Bunny, Climate Neutral, and B Corp.

It doesn’t hurt that their branding is super cute, too.

P.S. My one tip for you is to make sure you put the pod into the washing machine before you add your clothes in order to make sure it dissolves properly.

Rosey by Thrive Market (My pick for the most affordable/best value non-toxic laundry detergent)

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Price: $8.99+
Carries: Scented and unscented laundry detergent (liquid, powder, and pods)
Certifications: B Corp, Leaping Bunny
Formulated for Cold Water? Yes (although they say the powdered versions work better with warm or hot water)

Thrive Market offers both scented (Lavender and Peppermint) and unscented detergent that comes in liquid bottles ($9.99 for 100 loads), powder ($8.99 for 70 loads), or pods ($12.99 for 45). (But as I mentioned, I don’t necessarily wholeheartedly recommend those since they’re made with PVA.)

This detergent gets the job done, and I like how the Lavender scented one leaves my clothing with just a light (but now overpowering) scent.

They also have other laundry products now too, including Oxygen Brightening Powder, Wrinkle Release Spray, and Chlorine-Free Bleach.

Rosey’s detergent is free of potentially harmful ingredients, is vegan, and is biodegradable. It uses naturally derived enzymes to clean stains.

In my opinion, one of the best parts about buying your detergent from Thrive Market is how convenient it is… You can get a bunch of your organic and non-toxic pantry essentials, snacks, home goods, and more delivered right to your door.

(Oh, and by the way… If you’re looking for the regular “Thrive Market brand” detergent, this is the same thing. They just rebranded to the “Rosey” name.)

9 Elements (The best non-toxic laundry detergent at Target)

9 Elements Laundry Detergent Review on

Price: $15.99
Carries: Liquid laundry detergent, fabric softener
Certifications: None
Formulated for Cold Water? Yes

Many of the “green” laundry detergent brands that are available at big box stores are not as non-toxic or eco-friendly as they might seem. 9 Elements, however, is a pretty good brand. Available in Lemon, Lavender, Eucalyptus, and now Citrus, it only contains 9 ingredients (hence the name) and is scented with natural scents instead of synthetic fragrances.

The next time you run out of detergent and don’t have time to order anything online, you can feel safe grabbing a bottle of 9 Elements at the store.

You can click here to read my full breakdown of 9 Elements ingredients and here to read my review of their products’ actual effectiveness. But to summarize my thoughts on the laundry detergent for you here: it’s nothing amazing, but it gets the job done! I don’t love the smell—it’s “vinegar-y” when you put it into the washing machine—BUT the scent is gone by the time your clothes go through the cycle, so it’s not a huge deal to me.

The other laundry detergent brands at Target that are pretty good are Everspring and Seventh Generation. (These aren’t the best brands since they have a few not-great ingredients, but they’re definitely better than conventional brands, especially if you’re in a bind and just need to grab something quick.)

GO By GreenShield Organic (The best organic laundry detergent at Walmart)

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Price: $39+
Carries: Liquid laundry detergent
Certifications: USDA Organic, Leaping Bunny

GO by GreenShield Organic gets my pick for the best natural laundry detergent that you can get at Walmart AND it has also earned my choice for the best certified organic laundry detergent.

In fact, there are very few laundry detergent brands that are certified organic, but GreenSheild is certified by USDA. It uses safe, nourishing, and effective ingredients like organic soapberry, coconut oil, honeysuckle, and more. (It’s almost entirely made of plant-based ingredients.)

It’s available in both Free & Clear (fragrance-free) and Lavender.

So the next time you’re at Walmart and need to grab something quick, I recommend going with GO by GreenShield Organic!

Happi Earth (My “runner-up” pick for the best certified organic laundry detergent)

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Price: $50+
Carries: Liquid laundry detergent concentrate
Certifications: Australian Certified Organic, USDA Organic
Formulated for Cold Water? No. (They recommend warm or hot water.)

I actually like Happi Earth better than GreenSheild Organic, but the reason it only gets my “runner-up” pick is that it’s based in Australia and, it’s harder for me to justify the shipping and carbon footprint costs since I live in the States.

That said, I really do like this organic detergent! It’s made out of fair trade and organic ingredients, is cruelty-free, and is refillable. You can purchase a starter pack that comes with a pump bottle, and then buy their low-waste refill pouches after that.

With very few synthetic ingredients, this is another good choice for those with sensitive skin.

With 400 washes in one pouch, it goes a LONG way! Plus, they plant a tree with each purchase, too.

Meliora (My pick for the best non-toxic powdered detergent)

Price: $19+
Carries: Laundry detergent powder, oxygen brightener, stain remover stick
Certifications: MADE SAFE, B Corp, Leaping Bunny
Formulated for Cold Water? Yes (any temp)

One of the reasons I really like Meliora in general is that it’s one of the few brands that has managed to be both very low-waste/plastic-free and truly non-toxic.

That’s why it’s my favorite powder option AND one of my favorite low-waste/plastic-free laundry detergents.

Meliora offers Unscented as well as Lavender, Lavender-Lemon, and Lavender-Lemon-Clove. My personal favorite is the Lavender one—it really smells like fresh Lavender, and it doesn’t have that “synthetic” undertone that some other “Lavender” scented products come with. It’s just a light, pleasant smell that isn’t overwhelming.

The first time you buy this eco-friendly laundry detergent, it comes in a tin, but then you can buy refills that either come in a paper bag or a huge bucket!

It’s made and packaged in Chicago Illinois, and they give at least 2% of sales towards nonprofits like the Women’s Voices for the Earth, a non-profit dedicated to eliminating toxic chemicals from products.

Meliora also carries oxygen boost powder (for a bleach alternative). They also got my pick for the best stain remover, but I’ll tell you more about that in a minute.

Here’s our in-depth breakdown on Meliora!

Use code THEFILTERY10 for 10% off.

Dirty Labs (Best non-toxic laundry detergent for stains, sweat, and odors)

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Price: $26+
Carries: Liquid laundry detergent, bio booster powder
Certifications: EWG Verified (Free & Clear only), National Eczema Association (Free & Clear only), EPA Safer Choice, USDA Certified BioBased
Formulated for Cold Water? Yes

Got muddy kids’ baseball uniforms? Soiled cloth diapers? Spilled coffee on your shirt? If you’re looking for a safe laundry detergent that can remove tough stains, you might want to try out Dirty Labs.

They offer both Free & Clear (fragrance-free) as well as scented formulations. Their key ingredient is called Phytolase®, which is an enzyme that works to effectively break down stains. This is a great option for whites, too!

Dirty Labs is committed to true transparency, even going so far as to share the source of each of their ingredients as well as the CAS (Chemical Abstracts Service) number for each one as well, so you can look it up if you want. Even though some of their options do contain fragrances, they list each one right on the product page, so it’s very easy for you to find. None of the fragrances include ingredients that are on the California Prop 65 list or the EU allergen list.

For me, the Free & Clear detergent gets my clothes clean and leaves them smelling like nothing when they come out of the dryer. It’s very concentrated, so a little goes a long way!

Healthybaby (My pick for the best non-toxic laundry detergent for babies)

best non-toxic laundry detergent for babies from Healthynest on

Price: $35+
Carries: Liquid detergent concentrate, wool dryer balls
Certifications: MADE SAFE, EWG Verified, B Corp
Formulated for Cold Water? Yes (any temp)

In my opinion, pretty much any of the eco-friendly laundry detergents on this list are safe for babies since they’re all free from things like endocrine-disrupting chemicals and harsh allergens.

But if you want to a great non-toxic laundry detergent that’s formulated specifically for babies, then Healthybaby is a great choice.

It’s 100% plant and mineral-based, suitable for sensitive skin, neurologically safe, microbiome-friendly, and even made using food-safe quality standards.

You can start with their Laundry System, which comes with a glass bottle of detergent (with a pump) and some wool dryer balls. After that, you can sign up for a subscription and get a refill of the glass bottle delivered to your door as often as you need it. Like many of the other brands listed here, it’s a concentrate, so a little goes a long way.

I personally really like the glass bottle with the pump. It’s easier to use than a plastic jug with a cap and it also just looks nicer in the laundry room.

MamaSuds (My runner-up for non-toxic baby laundry detergent)

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Price: $12+
Carries: Liquid laundry soap, oxygen powder, laundry stain stick, wool dryer balls
Certifications: None
Formulated for Cold Water? Yes (all temps)

One thing I really like about MamaSuds is that it’s a very small business, and their products are made by everyday people like you and me. (They say it’s “Made by Mamas, FOR Mamas”!).

Their natural laundry detergent is made with very minimal ingredients (literally 3 to 5, plus water). It comes in Unscented, Lavender, and Lemon, and you can get it in a 16 oz bottle or a 64 oz jug (and you can get a pump to go with it for easy dispensing).

They also have a Fine Linen Soap, which is specifically formulated for your delicates, and an Extra Strength Oxygen Powder, which can be used as a bleach alternative or just a general laundry booster.

They also have other cleaning products that I like too, including all-purpose cleaners, body wash, and more.

(P.S. Note that MamaSuds detergent does contain sodium borate, aka borax. I personally don’t have a problem with that, but some people choose to avoid it.)

Molly’s Suds (Best for delicates)

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Price: $15+
Carries: Laundry powders, oxygen booster, wool dryer balls, stain remover
Certifications: Leaping Bunny (Cruelty-Free)
Formulated for Cold Water? They say you can use it in cold water, but it works better in warm/hot.

Honestly, I use any and all of the laundry detergent brands listed above for my delicates… But if you want options that are formulated specifically for different types of clothing, Molly’s Suds is a great option.

In addition to their original laundry detergent, they also have a few different kinds of Activewear Washes (powder and liquid), Delicate Wash, Swimwear Cleaner, Baby Detergent, and Dark Wash.

In addition to being safe and non-toxic, Molly’s Suds laundry detergent is certified vegan and cruelty-free. Their laundry powder is made from just five ingredients. The peppermint smells amazing, leaving your clothes super fresh.

Shop Molly’s Suds on Thrive Market, Grove, Walmart, or

AspenClean (Best non-toxic laundry detergent for whites)

best non-toxic laundry detergent for whites from Aspen Clean on

Price: $18+
Carries: Laundry detergent, oxygen bleach alternative powder, and lots of other cleaning products
Certifications: EWG Verified, ECOCERT
Formulated for Cold Water? Yes (any temp)

It’s hard for me to choose the best non-toxic laundry detergent for whites because there are a lot of good options that carry oxygen powders that can give the detergent’s cleaning abilities an extra boost (both for whites and colors). But it seems to me like AspenClean’s powder works slightly better than the others, which is why it gets my “best for whites” pick.

I also use AspenClean’s liquid laundry detergent, which comes in Fragrance-Free, Lavender, and Eucalyptus. It’s all free from things like artificial colors, synthetic fragrance, SLS/SLES, and more.

The other brands that carry oxygen boost powders that work well as bleach alternatives are Branch Basics, Meliora, Dirty Labs, Molly’s Suds, and Truly Free. I have used all of these products and I think they’re all good choices!

(If you’ve never used oxygen boost powders before, you should know that they don’t work as well as bleach does when it comes to literally bleaching things. They’re great as stain removers / pre-treatments, and they generally work to give your clothing a better clean. Obviously, they’re a much safer option than conventional bleach, though.)

Truly Free (Best for hard water)

Best non-toxic laundry detergent for hard water Truly Free on

Price: $18+
Carries: Refillable liquid laundry detergent (scented and unscented), fabric softener, oxy boost powder, stain remover, dryer sheet alternatives, laundry machine cleaner
Certifications: None
Formulated for Cold Water? Yes (any temp)

Truly Free is a great brand in part because they offer just about every kind of household cleaning product you’d need—including a Softening Rinse for those with hard water!

Their laundry collection includes a non-toxic refillable detergent, fabric softener, enzyme stain remover and stain sticks, dryer sheet alternatives, oxygen boosters, laundry machine cleaner, and static-wrinkle releaser.

This detergent is made with plant-based ingredients, including essential oils for scent. (If you or your little ones are sensitive to essential oils too, they also have an unscented version.)

Truly Free is lighter on our planet, too. The first time you order from them, you’ll get a free container, but then after that, you’ll get refillable pouches delivered to your door.

For other parts of your home, they also offer bathroom cleaners, all-purpose cleaners, dish soaps and detergents, floor cleaners, and more.

Use the code THEFILTERY for 30% off your order.

Meliora Stain Stick (My pick for the best non-toxic stain remover)

Best non toxic stain removers on TheFiltery Meliora

Price: $4.99
Carries: Soap Stick Stain Remover, powdered laundry detergent, oxygen brightener, other home cleaning products
Certifications: MADE SAFE, Leaping Bunny (cruelty-free)

I actually have a whole post where I tested different non-toxic stain removers, and although there were a lot of good options, the one that took the prize was Meliora. I found it to be the most effective with the least amount of “elbow grease.”

Plus, I like that it’s affordable and very low-waste/plastic-free.

Use code THEFILTERY10 for 10% off.

What About the Best Detergent for Eczema & Sensitive Skin?

Actually, all of the detergents listed above would be good options for those with sensitive skin or eczema since their ingredients are free from harsh chemicals, allergens, and skin irritants. That being said, since some individuals react differently to various ingredients (even some natural ones!), you may still have to do some trial and error to figure out what’s best for your or your loved ones’ skin. In general though, I would recommend that those with eczema, rosacea, or otherwise sensitive skin go with any of the fragrance-free options.

Best 100% Chemical-Free Option: Magnetic Laundry System

If you’re looking for an unconventional laundry detergent alternative that’s completely free from all chemicals, you might want to check out the Magnetic Laundry System. You can read more about it and check out our full review here.

Best He Detergents: All of the above!

Unless otherwise indicated, all of the above detergents are compatible with He washing machines, so you can feel good using any of them!

Best Free & Clear Detergent

In general, “Free & Clear” indicates that a detergent is free from dyes and perfumes. But you have to be careful because there isn’t any real, enforced “standard” when it comes to putting this label on detergents and other products.

Some conventional laundry detergent brands offer Free & Clear versions of their detergents, but some of them are greenwashed and have snuck in fragrance ingredients and/or potential irritants.

Any of the fragrance-free options from the recommended brands above are great options for laundry detergents that are truly “Free & Clear.”

“Just” Okay Brands

These brands are “pretty good,” but they do have a couple of questionable ingredients, so they don’t quite make the cut for me.

  • BioKleen*
  • Cleancult
  • Tru Earth
  • Brandless
  • Puracy
  • Earth Breeze
  • Ecos*
  • EcoMe*

The Sneaky Brands!

These are the brands that come off as “natural” or “eco-friendly” but in fact contain several different problematic ingredients:

*The brands with asterisks have some products that are better than others. Some of their specific products are safe while others are not.

Other Commonly Asked Questions About “Non-Toxic” Laundry Detergent

Which Laundry Detergents Are Toxic?

Here are the laundry detergents that don’t even come close to making the cut when it comes to ingredient safety. (Notice that many of them have products targeted for babies and children!)

  • Ajax
  • All
  • Arm & Hammer (with the exception of regular baking soda and their Super Washing Soda Detergent Booster & Household Cleaner)
  • Cheer
  • Clorox
  • Downy
  • Dreft
  • Dynamo
  • Era
  • Fab
  • Gain
  • Kirkland
  • LA’s
  • OxyClean
  • Persil
  • Resolve
  • Shout
  • Suavitel
  • Sun
  • The Laundress
  • Tide
  • Up & Up (Target)
  • Great Value (Walmart)
  • Xtra

Is Seventh Generation Laundry Detergent Safe?

Seventh Generation, Mrs. Meyer’s, and Method laundry detergent are perhaps the three most popular brands that are marketed as “eco-friendly” or “natural,” but are in fact guilty of greenwashing.

You’ll notice that Mrs. Meyer’s and Method are on our “Sneaky” list above; they don’t even make the cut for the “Just Okay” list. Seventh Generation, however, is a little bit different because while many of their products contain problematic ingredients, they also carry several products that are perfectly safe. So with this brand, it’s good practice to consider the products on a case-by-case basis.

The good thing about these brands is that they’re often widely available at stores like Target and Walmart, so they may be a good option if you need to pick something up at the store. Here are the Seventh Generation products that are generally safe to use (note that the baby detergents are not on this list!):

  • Seventh Generation 3-In-1 Oxy Booster Packs, Free & Clear
  • Seventh Generation Chlorine-Free Bleach, Free & Clear
  • Seventh Generation Ultra Power Plus Laundry Detergent Packs
  • Seventh Generation Zero Plastic Tablets, Fragrance Free
  • Seventh Generation Laundry Detergent Packs
  • Seventh Generation Natural Laundry Detergent Powder, Free & Clear

Should You DIY Laundry Detergent?

Because of the fact that there are so many non-toxic, and affordable options, you don’t necessarily need to make your own. But if you enjoy DYI-ing, there are some great, safe recipes for laundry detergent, like this one on DIY Natural!

What About Non-Toxic Dryer Sheets?

Just like with laundry detergent, dryer sheets can contain a lot of hidden ingredients that can potentially cause harm. Because they’re so concentrated, they can actually be even worse than the detergent itself. Check out this article for more information about non-toxic alternatives to dryer sheets.

With so many safe options, there is no reason you can’t stock your laundry room with clean and fresh-smelling detergents that won’t pose harm to you or your family and can still get rid of stubborn stains!

If you found this article helpful and would like to get more of my low-tox lifestyle tips delivered to your inbox once a week, sign up for Filtered Fridays!


About Abbie

Abbie Davidson is the Creator & Editor of The Filtery. With almost a decade of experience in sustainability, she researches and writes content with the aim of helping people minimize environmental toxins in an in-depth yet accessible way.

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  1. I am new to this and laundry detergent is my biggest question right now because according to Consumer Reports most eco-friendly brands (I think they only tested the most popular/easier to find ones) were not effective at cleaning. I care about reducing toxins AND getting clothes clean. I am also curious why you suggested DIY detergent since I thought it was well understood it is bad for the washing machine and clothes (Earth Breeze, Going Zero Waste, Better Homes and Gardens, etc.). Help me understand?
    And thank you for this site- it really will help me get started!

    1. Hi Victoria!
      Many eco-friendly/non-toxic laundry detergents work just as well as the more ‘conventional’ brands… I’ve been using them for years now! But honestly, I would just encourage you to try a couple brands out for yourself! The biggest difference you might find is that many of the eco brands don’t leave your clothes & other textiles smelling as strong after they go through the wash. But that’s a totally separate thing from whether or not the clothes are “clean.”
      Regarding the DIY – it kind of depends. Like using a LOT of baking soda, for example, can potentially damage certain washing machines. If you want to try out a DIY option, I would recommend picking out the recipe you want to try and then just check with your machine’s manufacturer to make sure the ingredients in that recipe are okay.

    1. Hi CK, I used to recommend Puracy more because it’s definitely not the WORST brand, but their laundry detergent does contain benzisothiazolinone, which is not suitable for people with sensitive skin, eczema, etc. They are also still very secretive about their fragrance ingredients, which I don’t like. That said, their Free & Clear variety would be a pretty good choice for people who don’t have sensitive skin.

  2. I was on a paid laundry and housekeeping team for a few years. Homeowner very skeptical about anything nontoxic. Using Tide, a fragrance-boosting laundry product, and chlorine bleach. Every day.

    With much field-testing, we transitioned the home to GO Laundry Detergent by Green Shield Organic, and liquid peroxide bleach. Plus 365 Stain Remover that works every bit as well as Shout.

    Shockingly, all in all, great results. Satisfied homeowner! But I’ll try more products from this postโ€” a journey for sure.

    Anyone read the book “Laundry Love”? By Patrick Richardson, official laundry expert who studied textiles and fashion. Promoting the least-toxic methods and ingredients that have worked for him. A must-read for professional laundresses!

    Happy to discover this well-researched blog! This post now my go-to for upgrading my laundry products.

  3. I use Better Life Fragrance Free, but I still find I must rinse & rinse…and RINSE my underwear or it irritates “intimate sensitive areas.” It’s still much better than Seventh Generation or Kirkland detergent, both of which irritate no matter how much I rinse. I’m allergic to benzoates, including the preservatives methylisothiazolinone and benzylisothiazolinone, as well as fragrances. I definitely need something very hypoallergenic, especially for my “intimates.” Are there any (preferably liquid/He) detergents you would recommend that might not need quite so diligently vigorous rinsing?

    1. Hi Sarah,
      Oh, that’s interesting… Better Life’s fragrance free option actually looks like a good choice, so I wonder if you’ve tried just using less detergent and/or using a different setting on the washing machine? Or you could give laundry magnets a tryโ€”those don’t use any soap at all. Or you could try Soap Berries?

  4. Would you please comment on Ecover Zero liquid laundry detergent? Thanks – we love your site and appreciate your help on so many different subjects.

    1. Hi Andie,
      So glad to hear it & thanks for the kind words! The ingredients in Ecover Zero look so-so. It seems to be free from endocrine disrupting chemicals and mystery fragrances, however, it does contain multiple preservatives that are known irritants (such as methylisothiazolinone and benzylisothiazolinone) as well as sodium lauryl sulfate, which is also an irritant. So this detergent would not be suitable for someone who struggles with things like eczema, sensitive skin, skin allergies, and things like that.

    2. Hi Andy, for Ecover Zero, I only have experience with their liquid non-chlorine bleach. Works great for laundry whites, at least for cotton bedding and towels. I fillled in as laundress in a wealthy home, so it had to workโ€” and it did!

  5. My kid has sensitive skin so I’m on a journey to find the best non toxic detergent for us but I didn’t know where to start. I’m going to give Branch Basics a try. Thanks for sharing!

  6. What about Hypoallergenic ECOS plant based detergent? I use the Lavender scent.

    Also, what can I use to replace Clorox? I was using oxi clean but I see thats on the bad list. Iโ€™ve started converting my cleaning products to food grade H2O2. Maybe I can use a diluted amount into my whites?
    Thanks for all the great info. ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป

    1. Hi Lea,

      Unfortunately, it looks like the ECOS Hypoallergenic Lavender has methylisothiazolinone in it, which is a known allergen. We recommend trying to stay away from that ingredient when possible, especially if you’re dealing with someone with skin issues and looking for a truly hypoallergenic product.

      Instead of Clorox/OxiClean, you could try hydrogen peroxide and/or baking soda, or one of these products:

    1. We wouldn’t recommend this one… Although it does not contain dyes or fragrances, it does have a few “not-great” ingredients, including benzisothiazolinone (which can be a potential skin irritant) and a fluorescent brightener. A lot of these “Free & Clear” varieties from more “conventional” brands can be pretty sneaky!

  7. Do the ingredients for lifekind check out as safe?
    Ingredients: Vegetable-fiber chelators, soda ash, grapefruit-seed and -pulp extracts, orange-peel extract, surfactants (degreasers & conditioners from coconut), zeolites, sodium percarbonate and citrate, low-pH silicates, and sodium sulfate. 100% all-natural active ingredients with no fillers.

    1. Hi Megan,

      This ingredient list looks OKAY, but the problem is that it’s not really a full ingredient list. Ingredients like “surfactants” and “silicates” are not specific ingredients; they’re categories. I’d like to see some more transparency from this brand and I personally would use something different in the meantime!

    1. Hi Ana,

      I’d put Nellie’s in the “okay” category. It doesn’t look like their laundry soda or laundry nuggets contain any extremely problematic ingredients; however, a few of the ingredients (like Laureth-7 and Alcohol Ethoxylate) aren’t GREAT either.