Organic Authority's Favorites: 5 Best Natural Laundry Detergents

Free of chlorine, sulfates, parabens and other nasties.
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Colorful shirt and trousers in a white laundry.
Colorful shirt and trousers in a white laundry.

Written By Kirsten Hudson

Clean up the way you do laundry with laundry detergents that don't include the usual toxic chemicals. Free of petrochemicals, chlorine, sulfates, parabens and other nasties, these five natural laundry detergents make doing laundry a much more healthy and environmentally-friendly chore. Next time you're getting ready to do a load, grab one of Organic Authority's top five laundry detergent picks.

1. Zum Clean Aromatherapy Laundry Soap in Eucalyptus-Citrus

Would you rather wash your skin with detergent or soap? That's the question Zum Clean Aromatherapy Laundry Soap asks on its packaging. Right after that it adamantly states that this product is not detergent; it's soap. Basically your second skin, your clothes deserve to get clean free of chemicals just like your own skin, the company says.

This soap uses just a few simple ingredients to get your skivvies clean. The packaging lists saponified coconut oil, sodium borate, sodium bicarbonate, pure essential oils and vegetable glycerin as its ingredients. And, you won't find any detergents, optical brighteners, chlorine, parabens, phosphates, petrochemicals or sulfates in the mix.

This soap leaves clothes with the lovely combined scent of eucalyptus and citrus. You can also buy this soap in five other unusual scents including, frankincense and myrrh, lavender, patchouli, sweet orange and tea tree-citrus.

Zum Clean Aromatherapy Laundry Soap works in both standard and HE machines. You can get up to 32 loads from a 64 oz. bottle in a standard machine and 64 loads in an HE machine. Plus, you don't need to use any toxic fabric softener, because this soap naturally softens fabrics.

2. Method Laundry Detergent in Fresh Air

Method Laundry Detergent comes in a super sleek bottle made from 50 percent recycled plastic. Next to it, those conventional laundry jugs look nothing but frumpy. The slim bottle also boasts a handy dispenser that makes pumping the detergent into the wash super simple, with no drips! (It's also just darn fun to use.)

Plus, you can reuse the bottle, cutting down on your laundry waste. You just buy refill pouches of its super concentrated formula -- enough to get up to 85 loads out of one pouch -- and replace them in the bottle. You can get up to 50 loads out of the original 20 oz. bottle. The detergent is safe for both standard and HE machines.

Method laundry detergent lists 16 plant-based ingredients in its formula. The company also offers a nice, informative summary of all of the ingredients used in its products. However, it doesn't mention what exactly makes up its "fragrance." Scents also include free and clear, lavender cedar, spring daisy, sweet pea and water lily & aloe.

3. Emma Laundry Soap by Eco-Me

This plant-based laundry detergent keeps it simple. Emma Laundry Soap by Eco-Me contains just 11 completely pronounceable and recognizable ingredients. It doesn't include any of those nasty chemical preservatives, dyes, colorants, synthetic fragrances or sulfates usually found in laundry detergents. Plus, this soap's plastic packaging is BPA-free and recyclable.

The ingredients in Emma Laundry Soap include: water, castile soap, potassium jojobate (jojoba oil soap), potassium cocoate (coconut oil soap), potassium olivate (olive oil soap), rosemary oil extract, aloe vera], sugar-base solubilizer (caprylyl capryl glucoside), vegetable-base thickener (glyceryl caprylate caprate), xanthan gum and plant essential oils (lavender, chamomile).

This wash is super gentle; the company even recommends using it on baby clothes and delicate items. It leaves clothes with the lovely scent of lavender and chamomile. And, you can get up to 64 loads out of a 32 oz. bottle.

To use it, I first started the wash cycle and then stuck the soap-filled cap in the water as it poured in to let the soap mix in with the water. Otherwise it might have been difficult to get the goopy soap (it has a yogurt-like consistency) out of the cap. This soap is safe for HE machines. You can also use it to remove stains by dabbing a small amount onto the soiled area, letting it sit and then rinsing the garment with warm water.

4. Seventh Generation 4X Laundry Detergent in Geranium Blossoms and Vanilla

When you use this detergent from Seventh Generation, you can decrease the amount of waste usually chucked from the laundry room. Seventh Generation 4X Laundry Detergent comes in a compostable jug made from recycled fiber. An inner plastic pouch encases the liquid detergent, protecting the compostable jug from the liquid. And, the whole package uses 66 percent less plastic than a typical 100 oz. 2X laundry detergent bottle.

The concentrated formula contains 28 ingredients. Go here for a full ingredient list. While the free and clear version only contains 12 ingredients, the geranium blossoms and vanilla scent adds 16 ingredients, most of which are essential oils. Sadly, it does contain two synthetic preservatives. You can get up to 66 loads out of a 50 oz. bottle in an HE machine. This detergent is also safe for standard machines.

5. Ecover Laundry Liquid 2.5X Concentrate ZERO

Ecover Laundry Liquid Concentrate doesn't come in your usual plastic bottle. Unlike most plastic packaging, which is made from crude oil, Ecover's laundry products come packaged in a type of plastic made completely from plants.

Dubbed PlantPlastic by Ecover, this type of plastic is completely renewable, reusable and recyclable. Created from sugarcane, the plastic-making process works like this: Once harvested, the sugarcane gets fermented and distilled to produce ethanol. The ethanol is dehydrated to create ethylene, which is then crafted into PlantPlastic. According to Ecover, it only takes 15 hectares of land to make a year's worth of the packaging, so growing the sugarcane used in the packaging doesn't harm the nearby Amazon rainforests or require unnecessary resources.

As far as what goes in the packaging, the unscented version of this soap, called free and clear, contains just 17 ingredients. Its ingredients include water, sodium laureth sulfate, propanediol, coco-glucoside, sodium citrate, isostearic acid, alcohol denat, sodium lauryl sulfate, formic acid, sodium hydroxide, sodium gluconate, calcium chloride, lipase, mannanase, subtilisin, amylase and cellulase.

This soap works equally well on whites and colors. Its concentrated formula means more loads for less. One 51 oz. bottle equals about 34 loads in a standard machine and 51 loads in an HE machine.

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