The Natural Organic Laundry Detergent Primer + Top 3 Brands

small children in front of a laundry line

Have you ever considered switching to an all natural organic laundry detergent?

Detergents are just one of the many sources of synthetic chemical junk that we're exposed to every day.​

Parabens, phthalates, and SLS are just a few of the many synthetic chemicals that have not been tested for safety (and some independent studies are showing concern re: cancer and endocrine disruption) and that may be hiding in your everyday products.​

Switching to an all natural organic laundry detergent is one of many super simple steps that you can take to eliminate all the toxic junk clogging up your life.

What's in Your Laundry Detergent?  

If this little mini lesson in laundry detergent ingredients doesn't make you want to go organic and all natural, then I don't know what will....

The truth is that there are some pretty nasty ingredients in your regular laundry detergent.

Most of us don't really give this much thought.  I know that I didn't, until I had kids and started worrying about those news stories that you hear about kids swallowing laundry detergent and being rushed to the hospital...

But if we're not using this stuff directly on our bodies, then does it really matter what's in our laundry detergent?​

The fact is that we're exposed to the chemicals in our detergents on a daily basis.

When actually doing your laundry, you​'re breathing in any fumes or dust that your detergent gives off.  

And if you use too much detergent in your wash, you'll leave a residue of chemical junk on your clothing.​

washing machine

Have you ever had dry, itchy, or irritable skin in areas where you wear clothes? Do you ever get headaches when cleaning? These may be the initial 'mild' symptoms of these toxins in your body.​

Unfortunately, few of the chemicals used in laundry-care products have been thoroughly tested, particularly in combination with other chemicals, and some chemicals that have been shown to be harmful are still widely used.

​Most laundry detergents contain endocrine disruptors and potential carcinogens.

Conventional laundry detergents often contain...

  • synthetic detergents, which are often made up of petrochemicals​
  • artificial fragrance, which can hide things like phthalates, toulene, and 1,4-dioxane (suspected and known carcinogens)
  • bleach, which contains chlorine (a possible carcinogen and endocrine disruptor)
  • optical brighteners, which are often made from benzene (a known carcinogen)
  • SLS or SLES, to help make your detergent sudsy, but made contain 1,4-dioxane (a probable human carcinogen)
  • quaternium-15 (a formaldehyde-releaser, another carcinogen)

All this means that you should probably think about throwing out the Tide...

Should you DIY your own laundry detergent?

The short answer to this is "no".

While DIY'ing your own laundry detergent can save you a whole bunch of money, and you can completely control the ingredients, there are some things that a DIY detergent just won't do.​

The soap used in DIY laundry detergents attaches to the porous surfaces of your clothes and traps dirt and bacteria.  Instead, you need a detergent (not a soap) that is specially formulated to work in washing machines and to clean porous surfaces.

[For more on DIY laundry detergent and a case study of what happens when you 'strip' laundry washed this way, check out Butter Believer and her super insightful article here.]

The good news in all of this is that there are tons of all natural and organic laundry detergent options out there.

Once you know what you're looking for, it's not too tough to find a super effective and non-toxic brand that you love.

Here are some of my absolute FAVES.​

Best Organic & Natural Laundry Detergent Options​

1. Eco Nuts.  Hands down winner of best all natural organic laundry detergent.

I think this is my fave all natural organic laundry detergent of all time.

Eco Nuts organic laundry detergent is a cute little box of soap berries.​

You pop 3-4 of them into a little muslin bag (included with your soap berries) and the the berries themselves make the soap that washes your laundry.  You use them until they become translucent and brittle.

They are ultra eco-friendly and they have NO synthetic anything.​

$14 for 125 loads​

soap berries Eco nuts

2. Laundry Tarts.  I LOVE this Canadian brand that smells like desert.

If you're Canadian, you can pick up some Laundry Tarts.​

Why we love them:

  • paraben free​
  • phthalate free
  • chlorine free
  • SLS free
  • vegan
  • biodegradable
  • hypoallergenic
  • cloth diaper safe

These come in fun scents like Strawberry Shortcake and Rootbeer Float.

$19 for 45 loads (90 if HE)

all natural organic laundry detergent

3. Method.  Runner up.  Not as good as the others but still pretty darned awesome.

Method laundry detergent is another great option.

No dyes, no perfumes, no parabens or SLS or chlorine, etc.  Totally biodegradable.​

$18 for 75 loads.

What do you use to wash your clothes?

Try out one of these totally eco-friendly, non-toxic options or drop a comment below and tell my what your fave natural organic laundry detergent is.​


I am a Ph.D. candidate at McMaster University, a twin mommy, and a health and wellness entrepreneur. I am in the process of building a sustainable online business to support my family, and helping others to build sustainable businesses themselves. Find me on Google+.

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