Detergent – The search for natural laundry detergent and which brands to avoid.
It started with diaper wipes (see previous post) and now I’m transitioning to laundry detergent. I have just begun on this progressive journey of trying to cut out chemical products from my home. My main go-to website to help me navigate this confusing world is EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaners. I often find myself popping a brand name in their search bar to see what kind of results it will get. I’ve been really surprised to discover some terrible ratings for some of the companies that I thought would be good alternatives. As I looked closer at their ingredient lists, I was amazed to see some concern for cancer. I definitely want to stay far away from those ones!!
After comparing a variety of brands, I came to a personal standard to help me narrow down my search. I’m chosing to stay close to the products that have an overall grade of A or B, no cancer concerns and certified green for the environment. Below, I’ll share some of my thoughts and findings for some of the common laundry detergent brands.
Tide – GRADE F!
Over five years ago, I used to be an extreme shopper – using coupons to get products for free. I took pride in how many household items I got for free or next to nothing. At the time, I was quite pleased to stock pile several years’ worth of laundry detergent. I’m actually on my last bottle of Purex right now. Over the course of time, I started to notice a pattern. I came to realize that the products that are the worst for us (chemically laden or highly processed junk) were the cheapest to buy because they had the most coupons available. At the time, I thought I was really well for myself. Then I started to stay away from purchasing certain products even if I had a coupon for it and could get it cheap. Knowing what I know now, I had no idea that the product I was using was not only harmful to the environment, but to my health.
Tide coupons are easy to get, but check out the letter grade…a fail!
Purex – GRADE D!
I’m currently on my very last bottle of laundry detergent from my stockpile 5 years ago. Because I’m on my last, I’m forced to start considering what new brand I should buy next. Since my values with health and the environment have changed over the last 5 years, I want to be more mindful about what I purchase. Here’s how my current brand rates:
Ecos – GRADE C
In my quest to find the next best laundry detergent, my first stop was Costco to see what they offered for natural laundry detergent. The brand, ECOS, was recommended to me as a good choice. I was so close to buying it during my next visit but decided to check it out first. Here’s what I found:
While there is no cancer concern and it is green certified, I decided that a grade C was too low for me. I wanted to see if I could do better.
Nellie’s Laundry Soda – GRADE B
I was at a baby shower a month ago and saw someone give the mother-to-be a tin of Nellie’s Laundry Soda. Out of curiosity, I inquired further and found out that it was a great “natural” product. I was so convinced that I went to the store and bought a can of the laundry soda and stain remover. I’m not sure why I didn’t look up the product first because when I did, I was shocked! I was surprised to find the bar graph for cancer more so than Tide or Purex!
To be honest, I was confused why Nellie’s received a B grade, considering their concern for cancer, while ECOS was graded C and had no concern. EWG must take all factors into account when rating the products and determining their grade level. Even though the product is not green certified, I did like the short ingredient list. While the ingredients themselves rated well, the concern for cancer nagged at my conscious. Therefore, I returned the product.
Nellie’s All Natural Laundry Soda -100 Load Tin
Nellie’s All-Natural Oxygen Brightener Tin – 2 lb
Rockin’ Green Soap – GRADE Unknown
I bought a bag of Rockin’ Green Laundry Detergent several years ago since it had a good reputation in the world of cloth diapers. While I can’t find the product on EWG, the label sounds promising. Mind you, I’m weary of whether I should trust its claims because other packages say “all-natural” and then turn out to be graded poorly. According to the label, the product is dye free, naturally scented, no fillers, vegan (I like that), and 100% phosphate free with bio gradable ingredients.
Rockin’ Green Laundry Detergent Classic Rock Unscented
Seventh Generation – GRADED C
I thought I’d add Seventh Generation because I would default this brand to being a good natural option. I think many people consider Seventh Generation to be a safer alternative compared to the array of chemical products on the market. Upon looking at its rating, I must say, I’m actually surprised. I thought it would have done better considering the company promotes itself as a safer choice. Ironically, it is certified as a green product but the bar graph for environmental concern is high. Weird.
Seventh Generation Detergent
Method – GRADED B
When I asked around to see what laundry products friends use, Method came up. I thought I’d show how it rates as well.
I’m happy to see this product rated as grade B. However, I wouldn’t use it because of the cancer concern. I’m also surprised to see some ingredients rated grade D. And the bar graphs don’t look too pretty.
Green Works – GRADED F!
Green Works is another product that I equate with being a more natural choice. The packaging actually states, “natural laundry detergent.” Well, I guess it just goes to show that we can’t trust the word “natural” from manufactures considering this product was graded F! I guess the “natural” is supposed to refer to the green certification.
Green Works Detergent
Lastly….the one I chose!
Attitude – GRADE A
Attitude Laundry Detergent
Just like my diaper wipes, I chose Attitude for my laundry detergent. Based on their performance so far, I’ll probably end up choosing this brand again as I continue my journey into soaps, cleaners, etc. Actually, when I purchased my laundry detergent, I bought their dishwasher eco pouches at the same time since they were on sale (the couponer is still in me).
Attitude Dishwasher Eco Pouches Phosphate Free Detergent — 40 Pouches
Notice the bar graphs below compared to the other products I showed. I find it so refreshing! This product gives me a piece of mind. Not only is it grade A, it’s green and has no cancer concerns (according to the bar graph). I understand that I’ll be paying more for this product compared to Tide or Purex, but I’m ok with that. Finding the product on sale has been a bonus and I’ve already started my stockpile!
So there you have it…my laundry detergent journey that’s taken me 5 years to conclude. I hope some of the information I’ve presented will help you come to your own conclusions about what detergent is best for your family. You may not have the same convictions as me, and that’s fine.
Lastly, I found this resource that I had tucked away in a drawer. It’s a top ten list prepared from Environmental Defence. You can go through the link to download a pocket guide that you can take with you on the go!
Environmental Defence’s “toxic ten” list
- 1,4 dioxane
- Artificial musks
- Coal tar derived colours
- BHA and BHT
- Formaldehyde-releasing agents
- Silicone chemicals