The 10 Safest Laundry Detergents (And Brands to Avoid)

(Psst: The FTC wants me to remind you that this website contains affiliate links. That means if you make a purchase from a link you click on, I might receive a small commission. This does not increase the price you'll pay for that item nor does it decrease the awesomeness of the item. ~ Daisy)

by Daisy Luther

Unless you are vigilant in choosing the safest laundry detergents available for your family, the soap you are using to get clothes clean may be increasing your family’s risk of asthma, skin irritation, hormone disruption, and cancer.

The Whole Home Detox series is dedicated to removing the causes of chronic illness from our homes, one room at a time. Last week, we discussed the toxins linked to  health concerns that could be lurking in your laundry room – be sure to check out the details if you missed it. It’s important to remember that your exposure to the toxins in your laundry soap don’t stop when the clothing is folded and put away. These products are designed to remain on your washed items – this is evidenced by the “fresh scent that lasts and lasts.”

Let’s solve the problem by looking at the safest detergents available and thrifty DIY options

My choices are based on three things:  availability, price, and “A” ratings by the Environmental Working Group, which assesses the risks inherent in thousands of different commercial products. If you purchase detergent, go here to see what grade your favorite brand receives from the EWG. (I was pretty disappointed that my former favorite got a terrible rating.) For more information, be sure to refer back to the article that goes into detail about the undesirable ingredients.

Unfortunately, unless you make your own detergent, you will find that, just like untainted food, laundry detergent without all of the unwanted chemicals will be more expensive than the standard offerings like Tide or Gain. Most folks put in more detergent than is necessary, so be sure to only add the recommended amount to get the most bang for your buck.

The 10 Safest Laundry Detergents

(These recommendations are in no particular order – all of the commercial products share an “A” rating from the EWG. Some of these are affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission if you make a purchase. You may be able to find the products less expensively at your supermarket, discount store, or health food store.)

Honest Free and Clear

Whole Foods Detergent

I put this one first because it was the only product with an A rating that is available at my local Target (where it is quite a bit cheaper than on Amazon.)



This soap contains citrus and grapefruit seed extracts, and has no artificial fragrance, colors or preservatives. Whole Foods carries this product. This product has the least expensive cost per load on the list.

Seventh Generation Laundry Powder

seventh generation

This product is available as shown, scented with citrus and lavender, or unscented. Important note: ONLY THE SEVENTH GENERATION POWDERED DETERGENT RECEIVED AN “A” RATING. The liquid detergents by this company, which are the only ones offered at my local Target, scored Ds and Fs. I found this product at Whole Foods as well as online.


Planet by Ultra

Planet by Ultra

This detergent works for HE and standard machines. It’s 100% biodegradable and free of color, fragrance, and phosphates.


Molly’s Suds Laundry Powder

Mollys Suds

This very concentrated powder only requires 1 tablespoon per load.


Whole Foods 365 2X Concentrated Laundry Detergent

Whole Foods Detergent

This product is available unscented and with lavender scent. As far as I could discover, it is only available at Whole Foods Stores. Unfortunately, they don’t list the prices online.

Sun and Earth Unscented Detergent

Sun and Earth

This detergent is unscented, and there’s a whole list of other stuff not in it.  It’s also Vegan. Kosher. Gluten free. Soy free. Nut free. Cruelty-free. Phosphate free. Dye free. Perfume free. No harmful synthetics. UV brightener free.


GrabGreen Laundry Pods, Unscented

grab green pods

If you prefer the convenience of a pod, GrabGreen scores an A from EWG and is the most reasonably priced option on Amazon. Other A scores went to Honest 4 in 1 Laundry Packs and 7th Generation Free and Clear, both of which were outrageous on Amazon but maybe better priced at Whole Foods.


Soap Nuts

Soap nuts

Another option is soap nuts. If you aren’t familiar with them, soapnuts come from a little tree from the genus Sapindus.  These shrubs grow in warm to tropical regions.  Many of the soapnuts sold in North America are grown in Nepal and India. The nuts aren’t actually nuts at all, but little berries that are related to the lychee.  The berries are harvested and then dried in the sun until they become a hard leathery little nugget. To use them for laundry, place 3-5 nuts in a muslin bag (included) and put the bag in a bowl. Pour very hot water over the bag and let it soak for about 10 minutes to release the soapy stuff.  Add the entire bowl and bag to your laundry and wash as normal. I don’t really love the smell of soap nuts (it’s sort of vinegar-y) so I always add a couple of drops of essential oil to the spin cycle. The soapnuts can be reused for approximately 3 loads of laundry before they lose their oomph.

And, of course, DIY…

My favorite option, and also the most affordable, is making my own laundry soap. In the course of the research for this article, I’ve had to adapt my previous “recipe” to make it better for us. For example, I had no idea that Borax was on EWG’s naughty list, but it is. The group gives Borax an “F” score for “High Concern: developmental, endocrine, and/or reproductive effects; Some Concern: skin irritation, allergies, and/or respiratory effects.”

Better ingredients for your homemade soap include:

As well, choosing Castille soap over Fels Naptha or Zote can improve the toxicity of your homemade product. (Fels scored a C and Zote was not rated.)  My favorite Castille soaps come from Dr. Bronner.

Here’s my revised homemade laundry detergent recipe, which makes a huge batch:



Cut the soap into pieces about the size of your thumbnail. Initially, I was using the dry canister of my blender for just the soap but it was getting gummy instead of coarsely chopped.  I resolved this by adding a half cup of baking soda and handful of cut up soap and processing the two items together.

Don’t overblend it, or it will still give you gummy chunks.

Then comes the ridiculously easy part. Dump all of your ingredients into a container big enough to mix it in – I used a large Rubbermaid tub and two big cooking spoons.  You can add your favorite essential oils if you want to. My personal favorite addition is lemon essential oil. The fragrance will get stronger when the mixture is placed in an airtight container.

Once it is well mixed, transfer it into the container in which you intend to store it.

Use 3 tablespoons per load.  With powdered laundry detergent, some people prefer to fill the washing machine and agitate the soap for a few minutes to dissolve it.  I just chucked it in on top of the clothes, started the machine and walked away, and it dissolved fine.  This is dependent on the hardness of your water, so you’ll need to experiment for best results.

Products that seem like they’d be great, but they’re not

It’s probably no surprise that the mass marketed brands like Gain, Fab, Tide, and the like all scored dismally. Disappointingly, here are a few products that seem like good choices, but actually contain fairly high risks. If you get bummed out at what is in your cupboard right now, I’m in the same boat. I’m very annoyed that I had been spending more money on a product that scored an F, when I might as well have used one of the blatantly unhealthy products. Listed with their grade from EWG:

What kind of soap do you use?

What is your favorite laundry detergent? Did you check the score on EWG? Are you going to make any changes to the products that you use in the future? Share in the comments below.

Check Out the Other Articles in the Whole Home Detox Series

Picture of Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

Leave a Reply

  • This article is perfect timing…
    Was going to buy ingredients for homemade laundry detergent again tomorrow.

    Has anyone found the LA’s Totally Awesome Power Oxygen Base Cleaner (Chlorine Free) 32 oz at your local Dollar Tree or Wal-Mart? I see you can order a case for $12 from Dollar Tree (did not notice shipping). Amazon has it for $9.97

    Can you use a regular cheap blender from Wal-Mart to grind up the castile soap and baking soda? I don’t have a food processor. I have been using Fels Naptha and grating by hand (wearing a face mask). The smell is overpowering! I have liquid castile soap – really am considering making the liquid version in a large bucket.

    • Frances – according to The Cookin’ Mom, this product is the same as the LA’s.

      You could dry using a cheapo blender. You could also get one of the little inexpensive food choppers at walmart. 🙂

      • Regarding: using a blender to chop up soap. I don’t think the little choppers will work – not enough power.

        I purchased a blender for $5 at a garage sale intending to dedicate it to chopping the Fels Naphtha bar. It worked, and it didn’t.

        The bar of soap was difficult to grind. It was a bit too damp and hard. Perhaps if I had chopped it into smaller pieces, and let the bar of soap dry out a bit, it would have been better. The blender’s motor overheated, and the soap coated the blades.

        I will definitely use the blender again, but try to figure out a better method.

        • Sue – I’ve had that issue too – I found if I chopped up the soap, then threw in a cup or so of baking or washing soda with it, that powder helped with the dampness and allowed the blender to work. 🙂

          • Haven’t made homemade soup, use Oxy Clean laundry detergent, and have been for years. It’s in the yellow/gold container.
            Haven’t used anything but Cheer and Tide a long time ago.

        • Fels Naptha soap (and other bar soaps, I assume) is much easier to grind if you first cut the bar in 1 inch cubes and microwave it until it begins swelling. Let it sit a few minutes until cool and it will be dry and crumbly.

    • Love your idea for DIY laundry soap and purchased the ingredients, but now I am wondering if it is safe for HE washers.

    • I’ve researched this pretty thoroughly, and the safest laundry detergent I’ve found is by Greenshield Organics. So far, the best place I found to buy it online is Lucky Vitamin. Amazon usually has it too, but at a much higher price. Actually, I’ve found that Lucky Vitamin usually beats Amazon’s prices on bunches of the things I like to buy. I also once found Greenshield Organics laundry detergent at Whole Foods for only $7 and change, but I think it was a closeout, so I’m not sure they’d still have it now.

      The Greenshield Organics has done a satisfactory job with cleaning dirty diapers (we use cloth diapers and diaper covers), gross workout clothes and ordinary laundry. I’ve been really happy with it. I treat heavily stained items with a squirt of liquid Doctor Bronners prior to washing.

      Please be careful about using homemade laundry soap. According to Natalie Wise, who is author of a book called The Modern Organic Home, homemade laundry soap clogs plumbing in the long term. See this interview with Natalie for an abbreviated warning about that. More thorough info is in the book, which I have, and highly recommend.

      I think y’all would find the book useful; it’s a book of organic and natural DIY cleaning recipes, along with miscellaneous other cleaning instructions and tips. It’s a great book for people who want to rid their homes of harmful chemicals.

    • I use Fels Naptha all the time and I grate it by hand each time. I do 3 bars at a time and make a 5gal bucket. It lasts about 5 months so it’s cheap to make

  • I enjoy making my own too.
    Here’s a terrific way to save even more money on the oxy clean ingredient needed. …’s sodium carbonate peroxyhydrate. Buy in bulk anywhere online. …..

    Hope this helps !

  • Thank you for a great informative article! I had no idea about the effects of borax! Do you have any suggestions for a liquid version of the homemade laundry detergent? Liquid seems to work better in my HE washer.

    • I’m going to try my hand at making one using some liquid Castile soap and dissolving the other ingredients into some water, then mixing the two together. I don’t have an HE washer, but I can let you know how the liquid detergent turns out in general 🙂

    • I have those ingredients left too. I’m not throwing them out, because at some point they could come in handy. As well, there are things we wash that aren’t worn against out skin or put on our beds like outdoor pillow covers, towels I use up at the barn, cleaning rags, etc. I am going to use up some of my old products that way. I can’t afford to be so wasteful as to just throw everything away. And I can commiserate: My favorite was Mrs. Meyers, which also flunked.

      • OMG! Mrs. Meyer’s!!??? I’ve been so proud of myself for discovering MM & using “her” products. I love the Geranium scented dish soap!! Here I thought I had finally found my nirvana of clean but non polluting! Thanks for the info.

  • My laundry detergent flunked with an F! Thank you for the list; I will be reassessing which brand we use.

    Ruth Goodman is a re-en actor on the BBC, and has done some interesting reenacting for BBC farm programs such as War Time Farm and earlier time periods as well. She is convinced that 99% of the dirt will come out of the clothes with water and an extended agitation alone. She says that water is the only thing she uses. I have tried this out of curiosity, only using one to two tablespoons of the detergent that I will not be using any longer. Despite the fact that it is only an 18 minute agitation, and the machine is probably too full, with hard, very cold water, the clothes are clean.

    Maybe there is something to her position, but I doubt I will ditch all laundry detergent anytime soon.

  • I have tried this homemade soap, or a version of it, borax, baking soda and a little dawn. I have sensitive skin and this made me itch. I went back to my regular soap which is arm & hammer.

    • I have eczema and my dermatologist told to get rid of all soap bars and harsh laundry detergent. I now use kiss my face lavender for bathing, I love it. Changed cleaning products to : vinegar, baking soda with out ALUMINUM.,borax and essential oils.

  • Borax IS safe to use in laundry detergent. Boron, aka Borax, has been smeared by the pharmaceutical industry because, among other things, it cures arthritis. Arthritis is a huge money-maker for Big Pharma, so they had to suppress the truth about boron. In actuality, a comparison of the Material Safety Data Sheets for borax and sodium chloride (table salt) shows that sodium chloride is 50%-100% more toxic than borax.
    Read The Borax Conspiracy at to get the whole story of why this once widely-used, healthy product has been blacklisted.

  • I use a biodegradable detergent that also cleans my dishes, floors, windows, bathrooms, and car. it is the only cleaner I have at home. ☺

  • I’ve done a little research online and found that The Honest Co has had quite a few lawsuits filed against them for making false claims about the ingredients used in multiple products, including their liquid laundry detergent.

    Of those that have used natural detergents…which is your favorite on this list?!
    I prefer unscented, as I have very sensitive skin…but I still need a strong cleaner!

  • I just wanted to let you to know The Honest Free and Clear Laundry soap received a C rating from EWG when I double checked today. Not sure if this changed since the article was posted in Jan 2016? Just getting ready to detox my laundry room and I was double checking the ratings on EWG before heading out to the store.

    • I’m sorry, I have the regular type of washing machine, so I can’t answer that.

      Has anyone else who is reading experimented with these?

  • I’m a little perplexed at how EWG comes up with their final grade. Of the 32 “A” graded laundry detergents, most have higher levels of concern for serious things like hormonal/reproductive and cancer than detergents with lower “B” and “C” grades. For example, Honest Co’s Free and Clear gets a “C” but when you look at its individual levels of concern by category, it has *lower* levels of concern for hormone/repro/cancer than almost all the “A” graded ones (Martha Stewart, Biokleen, and 7th Generation powder are the only three with comparably low levels of concern). This makes it exceptionally confusing over how to compare personal safety levels using EWG’s grades.

    Also, most of the EWG’s “A” graded detergents seem to have “some” concern about repro/hormonal and cancer, which just strikes me as odd that they receive an “A” grade.

    I’ve emailed Honest about EWG’s rating; waiting on a response.

    If anyone has sorted these things out, I’d love to hear from you. Maybe I’m not using the EWG site properly, but just seems to me that an “A” grade would necessarily require “low” concern (as opposed to “some” or more) for things like cancer and reproductive risks.

    • Yes!! Ewg is VERY flawed. I have been wondering if companies dish out a little extra $ to get better rankings. For instance, take a look at this current years sunscreen rankings……some of the top 5 have hORRIBLE known chemicals in them, yet some of the purest sunscreens aren’t at the top of the list…hm….
      I think it’s best to get a “villain lost” of bad chemicals and do your own ingredient checking.

      Borax isn’t harmful for the record. Ewg considers both sodium borate (borax) and boric acid to be the same and they aren’t, thus giving it an F rating.

    • These products are green-washing. We’ve become detectives in order to find laundry detergent that does not slowly poison us and our ecosystems. It really shows how little regard to human health there is, when a product can have an A+ because it is “only mildly” cancerous, endocrine disrupting, hormone harming and toxic to aquatic life which our plumbing leaches into. ????

      Unfortunately castille and coconut-oil based soaps result in a film on my clothes and machine so it’s not an option, better to clean with no soap.

      Meanwhile surfactants are dangerous, they should be eliminated — I’ve been trying to cut them out of my life completely for 8 years. I’m upset that I returned back to “eco” detergents that do have surfactants in them. I try to minimize the negative impact by using less than recommended but that’s not a solution.

      Thanks to the person who recommended ORGANIC GREENSHIELD I will give them a try as they use those soap berries I’m curious about –– 

      Ingredients: Water, Sapindus Mukorossi (Organic Soap Berries), Cocos Nucifera & Potassium Hydroxide* (Saponified Organic Coconut Oil), Sodium Carbonate, Sodium Bicarbonate, Xanthan Gum, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice Powder (Organic Aloe Vera), Glycerin (Organic), Sea Salt, Cymopsis Tetragonoloba (Organic Guar) Gum, Acacia Senegal (Organic Acacia) Gum

  • Over the past 2 months, I’ve started reacting to everything. When you can walk in the grocery store and smell the fish at the far back corner, plus the soap, and floor wax, and the smelly stuff the guy at the register is wearing, it just becomes unbearable. With all of this, my allergist/immunologist wants me to reduce my toxin load, as it can be causing oxidative stress or affecting my immune or nervous system.

    I’ve been using fragrance free laundry detergent for as long as I can remember. Tide Free and Gentle, which gets an…F 🙁
    Today, my hubby picked up Seventh Generation Free and Clear liquid. I should have looked at the ingredients before he did a load of towels. The towels looked cleaner. I touched one, they were softer. I smelled it…and then…my throat started to tighten up. Meanwhile, my hand that touched the towel started itching. Trying to narrow down what’s in the Seventh Generation that I reacted to that’s not in the Tide that I can use. I know I react to methylisothiazolinone and to linalool.

    Thank you for putting this list together. Off to do research on the ingredients these contain to see if I can find something to use that’s less toxic. I also need to make sure it’s easy to use (preferably a liquid) as I have pets (which thankfully I’m not allergic to).

  • seventh generation laundry detergent fight stains on label. It has laureth-6, sodium lauryl sufate .

  • I just went on the Walmart website to order Biokleen laundry detergent, and right on it under safety says know under California law to cause cancer. Where are you getting your information from?????

  • What was the product to replace the Oxygen Base Cleaner? The link to Amazon no longer works. Also, how many loads of laundry does this make?

  • I use Shaklee free and clear powder (one half coffee spoon with one half coffee spoon baking soda.
    Works good for us, our cat hates smells. It’s ok to use with bleach. You can reduce it by half because it works well with the baking soda. Makes the cloths soft. We have an HE machine. Nov 2016

  • Daisy, this is such a great article and so valuable. Can you contact me? There is a product you don’t mention here that I’d love to talk with you about. Look forward to hearing from you. Email me directly at [redacted for privacy] so we can set up a time to talk.

  • I use Melaleuca laundry detergent and all the products for my household…
    The best of science and nature NO safety caps

  • I have been using Cal Ben soap for years. I like their liquid laundry soap better than the powder, but I think that might be because I was using too much of the powder. It has no additives. It’s just soap, not detergent. I don’t know where it’s sold. I heard about it on a radio show in which the owner was being interviewed and just ordered it online ever since.

  • I use the ECOS Lemongrass liquid laundry soap and I love it. I just checked the EWG, and it’s rated a C, so not too bad. There is Low Concern for the Cancer & Developmental & Reproductive Toxicity. And Some Concern for the other 3 ratings. I’m ok with what it’s rated it. I have really liked this laundry soap, and it’s a good price. 🙂

  • I absolutely LOVED your comments next to the ones that weren’t so green after all. Made me smile and laugh. Thanks for sharing!

  • Hi, love your blog and thank you for this article and the nudge to rethink detergents for washing clothes.
    Since I live in Germany and don’t have access to the same products that you describe, I began searching the internet (again) and came up with an article on purely natural plants to be used. Haven’t tried this out but certainly will. I love it because it is non toxic, good for me and for the environment.
    1. Chestnuts – he describes to put the chestnuts in a small cloth bag, smash the chestnuts with a hammer (the smaller the pieces the best results (more sapponines can desolve), put the bag in a glas jar with cover and pour hot water over it to cover. Let soak overnight and use the “chestnut-milk”, i.e. put the liquid in the washingmaschine and start your normal washing. The author doesn’t say how many to use unfortunately… I guess start off with 5-6? The clothes are reported to be clean with a neutrally fresh odor.
    2. Ivy leaves- put 8-10 middlesized Ivy leaves in a glas with a jar, pour hot water over it and let sit 24 hrs. Remove the leaves and use the water in your normal washing cycle. This is said to remove sweat odor. Ivy is said to a natural fabric softener and is good for use on towels.
    3. Berch leaves – same as with the Ivy leaves but use a “handfull” of leaves.

    All three variaties are said to have been proven to clean the clothes and leave a naturall-fresh odor. The results are said to be hygenic. BUT BE CAREFUL IF YOUR ARE ALLERGIC TO PLANTS . Usually a safe way to test – unless you already know that you have a specific allergy linked to the above plants- is to make the solutions described and put a diluted bit of the solution on the inside of your ellbow and watch if there is a reaction within 24hrs.

    Just a note on the Soap Nuts – the author made a comment I think is worth noting. Alot of the Soap Nuts come form India (at least those that reach Europe – don’t know where those in american shops come from). The consequence is that they use a lot of energy for the long transportation process and locally, there are so many exported that the locals are using highly toxic detergents sold to them instead of using the soap nuts themselves.

    Well, I really like this idea of totally toxic-free and frugal washing. I wanted to share this with you – will try them out myself and let you know. Possibly a combination with washing soda and maybe gall soap- like it to remove stains before going into the washing mashine..
    for example..… (is not vegan)…

  • I have made my own liquid laundry detergent for the last several years. My recipe is 1/3 bar of soap, grated, 1/2 cup washing soda, 1/2 cup Borax and approximately 2 gallons of water. It costs $.72 for 2 gallons. I use 1/2 cup per load of laundry and I wash our clothes in cold water. I’ve been using FelsNaptha soap, but I’ll try Castille soap in my next batch.

  • OK, I actually washed my first load of clothes only using Ivy-Water!! I used it on dark clothes – would work also for colors – because the liquid is green. I was totally skepticalbecause I didn’t see any soapy suds developing. But- would you believe it – the clothes are clean and smell natural – fresh. I will definitely do this again… and again…

    • I honestly don’t know. I’d test it first with something white that you don’t care too much about 🙂

    • I will get those fixed. Amazon may have updated the listings since I wrote this. Thanks for letting me know 🙂

  • Been thinking to try diy laundry detergent especially the last year, been using Mrs Myers for a few years now. Oy! Disappointed! And now, just before finding this page, I read online about how terrible diy laundry soap is, and when “stripping” fabric of the DIY , it’s murky brown. Have you read this? What do you think? So frustrated…

  • P.S. How many grams of essential oil do you add in your recipe? I think I will make my own Castile soap rather rhan Dr Bronners. Worth a try! Xox

    • I’m sorry – I didn’t measure. I’m more of a “sprinkle some in until I like it” person. 🙂 Put in less than you think it will need, since it will get stronger as it sits in the container.

  • I put this one first because it was the only product with an A rating that is available at my local Target (where it is quite a bit cheaper than on Amazon.) – Honest Free and Clear


    Which statement is correct?

  • i make my own. this works well as long as you have fairly soft water. my recipe is similar to yours, but i add water and warm it on the stove. it will gel when it cools, and when you scoop out some, it tends to separate. just pretend it didn’t do that. the reason i bother doing this is that the powder doesn’t always dissolve in the washer for me, and i may have white bits on the clean clothes. also, the soap bits are bigger than the other ingredients and i didn’t feel they got scooped up in the proper proportions.

  • I use Molly’s and it just started making me itch and giving me hives. 🙁 Perhaps I am using too much – I only use literally a pinch – I do small loads – so if anyone has suggestions, I am sad to have to change now but maybe the peppermint is too much or the powder too strong for my highly sensitive skin?

  • I’m using the eco-friendly Tide at the moment; PurClean. My husband and I want to make our footprint on this planet as small as we can. He bought this thinking it would be great to help with that. Turns out it’s the only laundry detergent I’m allergic to. I broke out in these bumps all over. I’m super itchy. There’s something in it that’s not right. I think I might go back to making my own. I stopped making my own due to how hard it is getting ingredients where I live. I’m in a secluded living zone. The only way to get to a city is by ferry.
    I do like making my own laundry soap, it’s quick and easy. I guess I better hop on to order some things in. I’m staying away from Tide from now on.

  • I’ve had the DIY for many years now, first the Fels/Borax/Washing soda (cooked/stored in 5 gal bucket) – then I switched to the liquid Baking Soda/Borax/Dawn. Both leave clothes very soft so don’t need a softener, but towels after time seem to repel water, and the whites have dulled. My husband wants something now because he wants a nice smell. I tried vinegar in the wash to remove mold smell from towels, and I always added essential oil to the mix for a better smelling detergent. I’ve never tried castille soap. Is the LA oxy thing a replacement for Borax? Do you have a printable list of your detergents to look for/avoid?

  • OK but out of all the good which takes out stains the best. Like food stains. Grease stains. I have a 4 yo boy who could not be messier if he tried! Help!!!

  • I must be the only guy on this comment section. I was trying to find the Ultra Planet one and it is not available at Walmart, HEB, or Target. Anyone know of other stores that might carry it? Thanks.


  • Do I have to use the oxygen cleaner for this recipe to get clothes clean? If I do will it bleach out the clothes I’ve previously sprayed with stain remover bc that’s what Oxyclean did years ago when I used it.

  • I use branch basics concentrated liquid and oxygen boost. The product is so natural and chemical free. Also while the concentrate is pricey you can use it for everything from dishwasher to washer to cleaning furniture etc.

  • I noticed the heavy reliance on washing soda (sodium carbonate) in your own laundry
    detergent recipe. Are you aware that washing soda is considered a carcinogenic in the
    state of California?

  • I was curious about the f rating on mrs. Meyers laundry soaps. I clicked the link to the ewg, but there was no information on it. Thanks!

  • Wow, this list is terrific and I would buy any one of these products if they were available in CANADA – Amazon prices are too high and we don’t have a Whole Foods store here (yet) Anyway, I appreciate the list and hope to find one of these products in the city where I live.

  • Does anyone else have trouble with laundry not smelling fresh and clean using diy detergent? I use homemade worth dr.Bronner and washing soda baking soda and borax and still no good smell. My boys clothes stink. I even our in essential oils with their s. I use wool dryer balls….help.

  • I have had the best results with a Tablespoon of Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds and 1/4 cup of washing soda. If you go to the EWG’s website both of those items are very low in toxicity. I found that this combo gives me the best clean, lowest toxicity and a reasonable price! I also put vinegar in the fabric softener compartment.

  • Home made “Oxiclean” can be made from combining washing soda & hydrogen peroxide. So you can essential omit the “oxi” product from your recipe.

  • Grating Fels Naptha (outside on the porch and with a mask) did not make it small
    enough to dissolve with the rest of the ingredients. So I now take the grated stuff
    and put it in my Cuisinart and it turns it to powder. I’ve been doing this for several
    years now.

  • Overall the failing grade is due to a miscalculation on EWG’s part related to Borax (sodium borate).

    Sodium Borate (Borax) is safe to use in laundry products.

    The data which EWG uses to rate sodium borate is the same as the data they use for boric acid. These are two completely different compounds. By definition they are two separate substances. However, EWG chooses to lump them into one listing. Borax is the basic mineral that is mined from the ground and it is then refined through heavy processing and reacted with an acid to create boric acid. Borax is intended for use in laundry cleaners, soaps, and other topical cleaners.

    Boric acid can be toxic if ingested and is primarily used as a pesticide and insecticide. Here is an excellent resource on the differences between the two compounds written by a PhD chemist:

    (I took this from puracy’s comments on someone else who had the same concern)

  • A lot of the products you listed still contain sodium lauryl sulfate or a related substance. These surfactants can really irritate sensitive skin. The Biokleen contains “Laurel 7.” And the Seventh Generation product, if you read the reviews, has been causing a lot of allergic reactions.

    • Have you found anything that helps I break out with hives with anything I’ve tried even tried diy laundry detergent and the hives were everywhere

  • I buy laundry detergent pods and bleach alternative pods from Dr. Mercola’s website ( It’s called Greener Cleaner. But may be too pricy for a family that does multiple loads of laundry every day. I do only 2 loads of laundry per week. I buy it because I am prone to skin rashes and i have no problem with this brand. It gets my clothes clean and odor-free and is fine in HE machines. If the item doesnt go next to my skin, i am not picky. The local drop-off laundromat uses the smelliest, perfumed, vile blue color detergent, and i do draw the line at that!

  • I’m so glad to see Biokleen on the list. I’ve read other articles about “safe” laundry soap that never mentioned it. I’ve used their products for years, if used as directed you definitely get your money’s worth!

  • I am a former volunteer fire fighter and a registered nurse I have worked for 50 years I have developed steadily worsening asthma triggered by fragrances like tide and fe breeze and Purex and borax all these things make me very very sick my breathing Is impairedmy throat closes up very very bad for me I start to cough and tons of junk comes out of my lungs when I am exposed to dryer sheets detergents perfumes aftershave hair products skin lotion scented lotions you name it all these fragrances that people think are so wonderful make me sick and so many people I talk to feel the same way can’t stand it and they’re dangerous and we are being fed a line of you know what by the companies that manufacture this garbage they’ve got everybody thinking you have to smell a certain way it’s nonsense and it’s dangerous I can’t tell you how much I suffer when I have a 12 hour shift at work I’m sick for a couple days after I get headaches I get irritable I cough can’t breathe . I use Dr. Bonner’s liquid soaps for everything Sals Suds for cleaning I use Dr. Bronner‘s Castile liquid soap for laundry everything comes out clean I can breathe and the best fragrance for laundry is to put your stuff on the clothesline and let the air dry it with clean fresh air and sunshine thank you for this wonderful post that you have provided us. I wish people would start to listen and think and not just except this line of lieswe’re being fed to make money. We know it’s just terrible brainwashing for profit another wonderful product as you mentioned is vinegar and baking soda together they clean up all kinds of stuff we don’t need chemicals thank you so much

  • After checking many reviews on Amazon a large number talk of black mold around the rim of the bottle and a bad odor from the washed clothes. I will be skipping this one.

  • I’ve heard really wonderful things about Japan! Ugh yeah here in Taiwan people aren’t that rushed either but Korea was a whoooole different story when it came to riding the subway or bus! Sad story, we actually had a CS lined up for Busan but then our host crapped out on us the last minute ???? I would have loved to try CS there but guess it wasn’t in the books for us to do it.

  • Hi Daisy! Appreciate your POV so much. I have a consideration for you to add to the detergent posts: anything that comes in those little water soluble pods (or packs, as some brands call them) is bad news. Those dissolveable skins are absed on Polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) for their construction. And unfortunately, this is just another microplastic – so using them is a water contaminant. EWG doesn’t recognize this, but the haven’t figured out how to stop giving A ratings to reef-toxic sunscreen either. Our family’s tinytime is a sailboat, which probably makes us more concerned about this than most folks – but it’s something that we should all be aware of!

  • I just checked out LA’s totally awesome oxygen based cleaner and EWG gave it an F rating. Don’t think I’d recommend that.

  • Nellies is one of the worst ones we have dealt with. My 21 yo daughter had to go to urgent care twice and we went to the allergist today. Trying to find the best option for truly safe laundry detergent. It’s disappointing how many of the awful ones are considered ‘safe’ by mainstream.

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