With the wide range of zero waste laundry detergent brands available, you’re truly spoiled for choice. Choosing your go-to brand is not as simple as switching to a supermarket powder in a box as it might be less wasteful but can still be harmful to the environment and your health.
Doing laundry is not exactly the most exciting chore, as with most other chores around the house. But there is nothing quite like the smell and feel of freshly washed towels, sheets and clothing.
Traditionally laundry detergents are made from a cocktail of chemicals, served up in a plastic bottle, or perhaps a box. The chemicals within these detergents flow into the waterways through the machine outlet pipe, come into contact with your skin and can be very harmful to you and the planet. But as you’re visiting this page you’re most likely aware of this already.
Luckily we now have options as eco-friendly products are on the rise, you can either go for a more eco-friendly and zero waste laundry detergent or make your own if you choose.
We’ve put a list of our favourite zero waste laundry detergents together with sustainability, health and the planet in mind. You might need to try a few different options to see what works best for your family, but there is plenty to choose from below.
Dropps is a safe and gentle laundry detergent, this particular one is great for sensitive skin, allergies and even pets. It’s the original detergent pod that is gentle on fabrics and can be used for wool, cotton and cashmere as well. It smells fresh and spicy without being overwhelming, it’s just perfect for that super clean laundry feel.
Manufactured in the USA, Dropps uses sustainable, plant-based ingredients and don’t test on animals. It’s free from dyes, enzymes, optical brighteners, parabens, phosphates and phthalates – which is definitely what we want to hear!
In terms of packaging, you’ll find that the box is compostable and plastic-free so no recycling needed. The pods are made from a water-soluble film composed out of polyvinyl alcohol.
The founders of Dropps are textile engineers turned detergent scientists. Leonore Schwarts started the Conshohocken Cotton co, focusing on creating a patented cotton yarn. There she noticed that the commercial detergents weren’t very gentle on the fabrics, they took matters into their own hands and removed the enzymes to make sure the fabric stays soft. This lead to an innovative formula that was tough on dirt, yet gentle on fabrics, they named the product Cot’n Wash and it was a hit.
The product has evolved over the years, into small, pre-measured packs that dissolve as you wash. Who says you can’t have it all; effective, eco-responsible, and convenient!
We’re big fans of Bower Collective products and have featured them previously in our zero waste dish soap post. They make a range of refill products that is leaping bunny certified, vegan, made in the UK. The pouches can be returned to Bower after you’ve collected four. The poaches is then cleaned and re-used for someone else, making it a true zero waste laundry detergent.
As a company, Bower is committed to leaving a better world behind. They bring you products that look good, feel good, reduce waste, are sustainable and effective.
They make both liquid and powder detergent so there are options to choose from. This particular refill pack had a lovely Lavender fragrance but is also available as an unscented liquid if you’re not a fan of Lavender. It’s highly concentrated and delivers 25 washes per litre and can be used at low temperatures and with delicate fabrics.
The ingredient list is noticeably short and 20p from every purchase goes to the Marine Conservation Society’s Save Our Seagrass’ appeal project to protect endangered seagrass meadows in the UK.
We have featured Meliora in our post about zero waste dish soap previously. They make a few incredible soaps and related products. The Meliora Laundry Powder is highly concentrated, you literally only need 1/2 a teaspoon per high-efficiency load or a tablespoon per standard load.
Their packaging is made of cardboard and steel, so no plastic to be found here. Not only is it a zero waste laundry detergent it’s also dye-free, preservative-free, brightener-free and fragrance-free. It’s gentle on clothes and skin, yet super effective.
This mighty laundry powder is 100% biodegradable and septic safe, no need to worry about using it around kids and pets. It’s leaping bunny certified so no animal testing either!
Meliora’s is a Certified B Corp committed to people, planet and profit and all their products are made in Chicago at the company’s own factory. They work with 1% for the planet and Women’s Voices for the Earth, committing 2% of their annual revenues to environmental and charitable nonprofits. As they carry the MADE SAFE® seal you know the products have been examined to make sure it doesn’t build up in the environment, your body or the water system.
Cleancult helps to clean your laundry using citric acid and saponified coconut oil which lifts stains and odours without the toxins. We love the Juniper and Sandalwood scent, it’s infused with essential oils for a fresh and crisp smell.
It’s easy to use, just pour the detergent directly into your washing machine as per the instructions and you’re good to go.
The eco-friendly packaging looks like a milk carton and is made out of recyclable paper, not plastic. You can either fill your own container, grab one of Cleancult’s refillable glass dispensers or use as is, it’s up to you!
Cleancult’s products are designed in Puerto Rico but manufactured in the USA. The company was built to fix the dirty problems within the business of cleaning. They’ve done this by making natural cleaners that work, with ingredients you can understand. It’s a fast-growing brand that helps to remove 44lbs of plastic from the world with every single new customer. Now that’s a cause we can support.
Besides their packaging, the company is dead set on creating quality products out of coconut-based ingredients. They do matching containers that are quite beautiful. You can kit out with refillable bottles, anything from hand soap bottles to all-purpose spray bottles. It’s both elegant and sustainable. They also sell bundles, which are available directly from the Cleancult website.
Tru Earth is widely available, not only in the USA but also in the UK. They make an incredibly convenient Eco-Strip Zero Waste Laundry detergent that is vegan friendly, paraben-free and super gentle.
Their plastic-free packaging reduces transportation fuel consumption and emissions. And yes it saves our oceans from an influx of plastic. With Tru EArth’s eco laundry strips you don’t have to worry about measuring or spilling laundry powder or detergent – yes we’ve all been there – you just use one strip per load. We’d recommend putting these strips amongst items for best results, or place directly into the drum of a top loader machine.
Laundry strips are also nice and compact, with no bulky bottles to try and store away.
Tru Earth is manufactured in Canada, which has stringent regulation. It’s rigorously tested and biodegradable so no nasty chemicals to be found. The company is on a mission to save us from our plastic addiction while keeping our clothes wonderfully fresh and clean.
Honey Heritage Farm’s Laundry Detergent tabs are 100% biodegradable, vegan, and zero-waste. It works well in both hot and cold washes. The tabs are pre-measured making it easy to use and cost-effective as a little goes a long way. The container comes with both large and small tabs for bigger and smaller loads. It comes in a lavender mint, lemon or unscented option.
The ingredients include coconut oil laundry soap, washing soda, sodium borate vinegar, hydrogen peroxide and essential oil. You won’t find any toxins, palm oil or plastic here!
Honey Heritage Farm is a regenerative family-run farm and business in Washington. They focus on creating toxin-free products that are both good for the body and easy on the environment. We’ve written about regenerative and sustainable farming a few times in the past, Harmony Heritage is doing just that. Farming to restore the ground and ecosystem through rotational grazing and eco-friendly practices. We love what they’re doing not just with their laundry detergent, but with their holistic farming approach as well.
Nellie’s Laundry Soda is a zero waste laundry detergent that leaves your clothing and washing machine naturally clean. It’s hypoallergenic, vegan, leaping bunny certified, free from SLS SLES, gluten, phosphates, fragrance and chlorine. Being highly concentrated you only need a regular tablespoon for a regular size load and is safe for HE and standard machines.
Consisting of only four ingredients, it dissolves quickly in both cold and hot water. Importantly it rinses clear, leaving the environment and your skin spotless and clean.
Being a powder, Nellie’s doesn’t contain any water which means more cleaning powder is packed into a smaller volume of detergent.
Nellie is built on honesty and simplicity, going green before others were even thinking of it. Nellie was an actual person who inspired the brand, the company’s cleaning products were developed in honour of her. All their items are biodegradable and free of toxins.
The detergent comes in a tin, which can be re-used for other things once the powder is finished.
L Jameson Co’s washing powder is a must-try, especially if you have a sports playing family as it does get sticky smells and stains out of your washing. It’s gentle enough for delicates and baby clothing. The Blossom scent is sweet, floral and has a slight ginger undertone to it.
It works in both HE and standard machines come with a reusable measuring scoop and is safe to use on whites and coloured clothing. Their packaging is zero waste as it comes in a cardboard container.
Their ingredients include sodium tallowate, sodium cocoate, sodium carbonate, sodium borate, sodium bicarbonate, sodium palmate kernelate, Sodium tetraborate decahydrate.
L Jameson Co is based out of Oklahoma in the USA and you can find their products on Etsy via the link below:
Soap nuts are saponin-rich fruits that typically come from the Sapindus Mukorossi tree, often used as a laundry detergent and cleaner. The dried shells contain saponin that produces a light lather, it’s 100% natural and eco friendly. Just use between 4 and 6 of their soap nuts per load. There won’t be lots of bubbles during the cycle and it will smell a bit like apple cider. You can re-use the nuts several times and the bag will deliver around 77 loads.
Soap nuts aren’t nuts per se, it’s a relative of the Goji berry and is safe for those with nut allergies. It has also been used as a cure for eczema and psoriasis in Ayurvedic medicine.
We’ve previously featured Butter Me Up Organics in our Zero Waste Toothpaste post, they are based in California in the US. Being a Zero waste company they believe in recycling and upcycling as much as possible. All their products are made with sustainability at the heart and are cruelty-free – you can find them on Etsy via the link below.
We’ve featured Battle Green Box in our Zero Waste Deodorant post previously and is a great brand if you’re in the UK. Battle Green Box is a small business based in Wales that sells eco-friendly products and gifts. They make a range of personal care and cleaning products traditionally and also sell natural soap nuts. Their Soap Nuts doesn’t contain any chemicals and 3-4 nuts can last for a few loads. The shells can be safely composted once spent.
Each of their 200g bags lasts for around 80 washing cycles and come with a small cotton bag to hold the nuts while in the wash. Soap nuts are of course vegan, free from palm oil, pet friendly and safe for septic tanks.
Soap nuts clean surprisingly well and are a great alternative to traditional detergents. It’s worth a try, for sure.
Biokleen is tough on stains and odours, it leaves no residue and doesn’t have a harsh scent. It’s highly concentrated, eco-friendly, non-toxic, plant-based and contains no artificial fragrances, colourants or preservatives. Kind to those with chemical sensitivities and allergies and made in the USA.
Their citrus essence laundry powder whitens and brightens using plant-based surfactants and fruit extracts.
Biokleen has been around since 1989, it was started by Jim Rimer in his garage. He spent many nights by candlelight cooking up cleaning products to pay his electric bill. Word got out that he made plant-based cleaning products that worked. After 30 years the company has kept it’s commitment to making safe products that look after the environment.
Why Choose a Zero Waste Laundry Detergent?
Laundry detergent is something we buy, sometimes without thinking about it. But most mainstream detergents contain a long list of chemicals that is bad for us and our waterways. Most supermarket detergents come in plastic bottles unless you buy laundry powder. But even those need to be handled with caution.
Traditional detergents often contain things like:
- Propriety fragrances, where the ingredients are unknown and can be toxic
- Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs)
- Petroleum-based surfactants
Mamavation has written a really good article on toxins in laundry detergent that you can read here for more information. In the article, she also lists brands to avoid at all costs, which include a lot of well-known supermarket brands.
Many zero waste laundry detergent brands dually focus on reducing waste and toxins, so we hope you find this list above to be a great start to a more eco-friendly and waste-free laundry regime.