Made with earth-friendly ingredients that won't leave a stain on the planet, these 10 Zero Waste Laundry Detergent Brands will have your wash cycle going from dirty to clean in no time!
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A few things to keep in mind when choosing a zero waste laundry brand:
We all love the smell of clean clothes, but do you know where most of those "lavender field" scents come from? You guessed it: synthetic ingredients like trisodium nitrilotriacetate, monoethanolamine, and phthalates, just to name a few.
Without mandatory ingredient listing, it's really hard to know which brands to avoid. So here are some tips to keep in mind:
- If you see the words "optical brightness" on the bottle, skip it. These types of ingredients don't break down in nature and are toxic to marine life. Every time you wash your clothes, these chemicals are going down the drain and into our water systems to potentially cause harm.
- Bleach might seem like a bright idea, but it's not! It's highly caustic and can form deadly dioxins when mixed with other environmental elements. Instead, try this DIY bleach alternative.
- "Phosphate-Free" labels are meant to entice you into buying, they are meaningless, as phosphates were phased out decades ago.
- "Wash in Coldwater" does not mean the brand has natural ingredients. This refers to the energy you will save by washing in cold vs. hot water.
- Watch out for greenwashing!
I've got more information and tips on eco friendly laundry soap at the bottom of the post.
My top picks for Zero Waste Laundry Detergent
The idea of zero waste laundry detergent is to choose brands that are good for you AND the planet.
I started using Elva's natural dish soap, 1 Cleaner, and laundry detergent about 12 months ago and I am hooked! The laundry detergent is one of the best clean-up crews. You only need to use 2 teaspoons per load, but don't let that small amount fool you. I was pleasantly surprised at both the amazing smell my clothes had and how clean my clothes came out. The organic lavender essential oils made my bedsheets smell like heaven.
If you are looking for bulk laundry detergent then order the 1.5 Liter Home Refill Box, which will give you up to 150 loads, making it very cost-effective. They also have refillable cleaners to help you save even more!
Elva's laundry detergent is 100% biodegradable, septic safe, and made with certified organic and biodynamic plant extracts and herbs.
It's also free from zeolite, sulfates, leaching and brightening chemicals, palm oil, artificial colors, or mineral phosphates. If you have sensitive skin, it's perfect. It's also Vegan Friendly, Gluten-Free, and Cruelty-Free.
If you read this blog often, you know how much I love to clean, and this Canadian brand has become one of my new top picks in the cleaning category!
Elva's is based out of Milton, Ontario, and is run by Kirsten, who named the company after her Nana (who is on the logo by the way—so cute!). I love the fact that Kirsten and her team are so dedicated to helping reduce toxins in the home and the planet. They say, "What we put on our body and then what we flush down our drain systems to the fish does matter. A lot." It sure does.
Every single one of Elva's products was made to help someone they love. Their skincare line, Glow, for example, was created to help their teenage daughter who has sensitive, acne-prone skin. Their 1 CLEANER was born out of the need for a better all-purpose cleaner that really works (but without streaking).
Elva's manufactures all of its products responsibly and believes that toxins in products are a social justice issue because the people most affected are often women and poor people, who are forced to buy cheaper products, typically packed full of synthetic fillers.
They make everything in small batches which allows them to drastically reduce waste while bringing you a better, safer product. They follow Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and manufacture their products in Canadian facilities in BC and Ontario.
The Unscented Co. is another Canadian brand I LOOOOOOVE. I've written about them many times and recently featured their refillable cleaning products. There are so many good things about this brand. Their biodegradable concentrated laundry detergent is made in Canada and truly works. You can choose between a 4L (160 loads) or 10L (400 loads) bulk option, or you can get their new Laundry Tabs as well!
I use Unscented Co's fragrance-free detergent for my hubby's scrubs, not only because he's got a sensitive nose but also because his scrubs are all different colors and need to be washed in cold water.
I've also been using and loving their new Laundry Tabs, which will leave your clothes so soft you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them.
These Laundry Tabs help to prevent waste by giving you the perfect quantity with every wash. Plus, every time you buy these laundry tabs, you take out a plastic bottle—another step towards eliminating single-use plastics. Neat right?
Comfortable in High-Efficiency (HE) washing machines and efficient in cold water (starting at 10 °C) The Unscented Co.'s earth-friendly Laundry Tabs will keep your favorite t-shirt (and everything else in your closet) clean and fresh. Wow! That’s a lot of checks in the win column.
Their laundry detergent is biodegradable and works with both HE and standard washers. Made with plant-based ingredients, it's also hypoallergenic, great for cloth diapers, and free from dye, fragrance, and phosphates.
Their new Natural Laundry Whitener + Brightener is unreal for getting the grimiest of whites white again! The hero ingredient here is sodium percarbonate, the best bleach alternative there is! If you have not tried it before I recommend you do. It's great on whites and colors and can be used in both top and front-loading machines. If you have clothing that is really stained I suggest you soak them overnight in a bucket with 1-2 tablespoons of the Natural Laundry Whitener + Brightener and see the magic happen for yourself!
Plus, The Unscented Co's refill options keep thousands of plastic bottles from landfills, and when it comes to the packaging, they always take the environment into account by designing products with that in mind.
All of their products are vegan and cruelty-free. Some of their products (soap bars) do contain RSPO-certified palm oil, which validates the whole supply chain for ethics.
They are certified by B Corp, which means they "meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy."
Use code ECOHUB2022 for 10% off your purchase.
3. Net Zero Co.
There is so much innovation in the green cleaning space—have you ever heard of laundry detergent strips? They are fairly new to the market. I must say, I was pretty skeptical about them, but you can't knock it until you try it right? And I am happy to report these are pretty freaking amazing!
Net Zero Co. has perfected the laundry strips, and this is one of the best plastic-free laundry detergents I have used in my home. What makes them so good? First off, most conventional detergents are made up of 90% water. That's a lot, especially considering water shortages are becoming a major global problem. Then consider the transportation of all those heavy jugs and the fossil fuels that are used and burned in the manufacturing process. Laundry strips eliminate all of this.
I use these the same way I use liquid detergent: toss the strip into the machine, hit on, and that's it. They dissolve in both hot and cold water (in all types of machines) and do an excellent job keeping my whites pristine and my colors vibrant.
There's nothing quite like the scent of a clean load of laundry. I love their Fresh Breeze, and they do have an unscented version too. You can order either 32 or 64 loads, all made without parabens, dyes, bleach, or 1,4 dioxine. They're also vegan and biodegradable in accordance with OECD 310D.
The strips come in compostable packaging and are designed for sensitive skin.
If you don't know Net Zero Co., please take a second to pop over to their website to say hi. They have all of your zero waste essentials in one place. This Canadian company was born after the founders realized how many plastic straws are discarded in the ocean each year—it's about 8.3 billion!
They ship all of their items plastic-free. Their mailers are made with cornstarch, soy ink, and other plant materials that are fully compostable. You can even use them to line your own compost bin, and they will biodegrade in 1-2 months. They use paper tape, which is also compostable.
Based in British Columbia, they work with the Eden Reforestation Projects to help plant trees in environmentally and economically challenged countries around the world. Sign up for their newsletter to get updates on their mission and see the work they are doing first-hand.
Stain removers come with a whole bunch of chemicals that can lead to a whole bunch of health issues. Methylisothiazolinone (MIT) is a potential allergen. Quaternium-15 can release low levels of formaldehyde, which is carcinogenic, and sodium hypochlorite can trigger asthma.
So let's leave the bleach out and opt instead for a solid laundry stick that's powered by plants and tough on stains. You can use this stick for a machine or hand washing. It's easy to use: you simply lather with water and work the stick into the stained area, then launder as usual. To wash the whole item, lather with water and then soap the entire item. I use the latter method for delicates like lingerie.
The Bare Home's stain stick has a very light lemon scent, which leaves your clothes smelling so fresh. It's effective at getting rid of stains and has no unnecessary fillers.
With summer coming (not soon enough!) this would make an effective plastic-free laundry detergent for camping or backpacking because it's biodegradable and light. I've used bars like this when camping; you simply shave a tiny bit off, dissolve it in hot water, and wash. Alternatively, you can rub it directly onto the clothes.
The Bare Home is a Canadian brand I love to use in my home. I have used all of their products—dish soap, hand soap, and all-purpose cleaner, all of which come with at-home refill options. All of the products are made with the highest quality, sustainably sourced essential oils and ingredients. All the bottles are glass and can be reused over and over again. And look at the branding—it's so on point!
All of these products are vegan, cruelty-free, and contain zero palm oil. Use code Ecohub10 for 10% off.
5. Tru Earth
Another smart way to do laundry is with Tru Earth eco-strips. This Canadian company was one of the first to bring laundry strip technology to the mainstream. Each strip is hypoallergenic and ultra-concentrated. You can use them in all types of washing machines, in either hot or cold water.
There are no nasty chemicals and are instead formulated using soy vegetable glycerin for softening combined with a coconut oil-based foam booster, all of which "dislodges dirt molecules and stains." They are free from phosphates, dyes, chlorine bleach, 1,4-dioxane, parabens SLS/SLES, and palm oil.
Opting for eco-friendly laundry strips will lower your carbon footprint substantially. All the packaging contains zero plastic and is much lighter, so fuel consumption and therefore carbon emissions are reduced too.
According to Tru Earth, if everyone switched to laundry strips, the annual eco-savings would be enormous:
"Eliminate one billion plastic jugs (you read that right!), saving 700 million from going to landfills. Save truck fuel and CO2 equivalent to taking 27 million cars off the road for a day, or planting nine million trees."
Manufacturing takes place in Canada in their state-of-the-art lab, where they are subject to strict health regulations.
One of the things I love is that you can bundle and save big time by ordering a year's worth of strips at one time, saving you money and cutting back on shipping too. You can also try them first with their sampler bundle, perfect for newbies wanting to try a zero waste laundry detergent.
And now you can buy their strips that are specially formulated for baby clothes. All of their products come scented or unscented and are vegan and cruelty-free.
Tru Earth is an ethical company that values people and the environment. They believe in honesty, integrity, quality, and customer satisfaction and source all of their ingredients from ethical and sustainable sources.
This is another Canadian brand offering environmentally friendly laundry detergent in easy-to-use strips. When it comes to ingredients, these are top-notch. There is no water, which makes these laundry strips an ultra-concentrated and effective swap. Most laundry detergents we buy are 60-90% water, so choosing strips helps to drastically reduce the carbon footprint of laundry worldwide.
Use the strips in hot or cold water and HE or standard machines. Just tear off a sheet and toss it right into the machine with your clothes. Eco-living Club offers a 10 wash money-back guarantee, so after 10 washes, if you are not hooked, they will give you a full refund.
Eco Living Club was founded by two sisters who wanted to make a difference in the world by helping to reduce the plastic that goes into the ocean. These come in scented and unscented versions and are vegan and cruelty-free.
The company and product are developed in Squamish, BC. They have explored many potential production facilities and selected an IAF & SGS certified company based in East Asia. From the start, their goal was to bring a green, plastic-free laundry detergent sheet to you for a price that is accessible and free from harmful chemicals like phosphates, 1.4 dioxane, formaldehyde, dyes, etc.
The package they come in is cardboard and can be easily recycled.
7. Soap Nuts
I'm totally nuts about soap nuts. Sorry, I could not resist! Have you tried them? I was so skeptical when I tried these about 10 years ago but wow, was I wrong. Soap nuts are definitely one of the best ways to launder your clothes sustainably.
These Eco Nuts are made from USDA organic berries that grow on a tree and naturally contain soap! Nature is so amazing! To make the nuts, they are deseeded and stylized and then packaged plastic-free!
The shells of the soap nut contain a natural soap called Saponin. When the nutshells absorb water, the saponin is released, which creates a soaping effect. They are so gentle, which makes them a great option for people with any kind of skin issue. The soapberries are sourced ethically from Nepal.
These little suckers work, and I hope you will give them a try. Simply put 4-5 nuts in the cloth bags provided and then toss them in the washer with your clothes. You'll be amazed at the results. Berries can be re-used up to 10 times, which will save you a ton of cash—and who does not love that!?
Isn't it great that we have so many eco options to do our laundry? Dropps makes plastic-free laundry detergent pods that completely dissolve in hot or cold water. You can use these in any type of machine—you simply "dropp" one into the machine and that's it!
The pods are made from a water-soluble casing called Polyvinyl alcohol (PVOH) and are packed with natural ingredients and enzymes which help to fight stubborn stains.
Dropps is a US-based company that partners with Oceana to raise awareness surrounding plastic waste. They will ship your Dropps to your door in compostable packaging and have carbon-neutral shipping to offer for each order. This year alone they have offset over 650 metric tons!
They are vegan and cruelty-free, but some items do contain RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil. Choose unscented, lavender, eucalyptus, or citrus and pine—all sure to make your clothes smell wonderful!
Well, what can I say, this soap works! LOL! I am on a roll today. Soap Works is a Canadian company that makes a huge range of cleaning essentials, one of them being their affordable zero waste laundry detergent. You can get up to 60 loads with one bag and there is no need for anti-static treatments or fabric softeners. Plus, it comes in a paper bag that you can compost.
It's not tested on animals and is made from all-natural ingredients with no added fragrance or other nasties. It works best with warm water, so if you use cold water, you will need to pre-dissolve it. And you only need about a 1/4 cup per load. If you have an allergy to Borax, you might want to avoid this zero waste powder laundry detergent.
Borax is a controversial subject and it's banned in some European countries. Here in Canada, it's being reviewed by Health Canada. It's up to you—if you have used it in the past, you know it's really good when it comes to washing and cleaning.
It's available through well.ca and the company makes all of its products here in Toronto, only using ingredients that are mother-nature approved. It's a family fun business that is all about compassion, kindness, and ethics! I can get behind that!
Some of their soaps do contain RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil.
10. Earth Love
Give the earth some love with these all-natural, waste-free laundry tablets. Earth Love's formulations have been researched endlessly to give customers products that work and are waste-free—not an easy feat! The tables are small, easy to use, and super effective. They're made with powerhouse ingredients like Citric Acid, Sodium Carbonate, Sodium Borate, Sodium Percarbonate, which are all-natural and stain-fighting.
Located in Oakville Ontario, this small company is a member of the Plastic Pollution Coalition which is a global alliance of over 1,200 businesses and organizations working towards reducing plastic pollution.
Earth Love keeps sustainability in mind at all levels of manufacturing. 25 tablets will cost you 15 dollars, so these are by far the most affordable zero waste laundry detergents on the market today! 1 tab = 1 load. You really can't beat the price. I am not sure where or how the ingredients are sourced, hence the question mark under "sustainable sourcing."
Is DIY zero waste laundry detergent effective?
This is a tough one for me. I love to make my own cleaning products, like this DIY all-purpose kitchen scrub + cleaner, this DIY bathroom Scrub, or even this DIY all-natural bleach alternative.
But if I am super honest, I have not had much luck with DIYs in the laundry detergent category. I've tried many recipes and my clothes just don't come out as clean as they're supposed to. And they never smell as good either. I know there are probably a ton of good ones out there, and if you have found one that works for you, please share in the comments below. I'd love to hear from you.
Going Zero Waste explained this perfectly in her article on the subject. It basically comes down to the fact that soap is made from natural oils and fats and detergents are made sans fat and oils. It's the oils and fats that can make the DIY less effective.
Zero waste laundry accessories
Going green in the laundry room does not end with zero waste laundry detergent. Making a zero waste laundry room means choosing accessories that are cleaner for you and the planet.
Dryer balls are a more sustainable choice than dryer sheets, which are packed with nasty chemicals. They are single-use, can't be recycled, and end up polluting landfills. Dryer balls reduce drying time because they help to absorb some of the moisture from your clothes. Choose ones that are made with 100% wool—these will help reduce static as well. They are available at Green and Frugal, and you can use code THEECOHUB15 at checkout.
A Guppy Bag is a very innovative item that helps to reduce microplastics that break off of your synthetic clothes when you wash them. I have one and use it when I wash my yoga clothes. It's ONE way to reduce microplastics in your home.
An eco-friendly hamper, like this one from Made Trade, is made from palm leaves and handwoven in by fair trade artisans in Bangladesh. They come in oval and round and are a simply gorgeous addition to any laundry space. Made Trade is one of the best Amazon Alternatives.
How to choose zero waste laundry products
As mentioned at the top of this article, companies that make laundry products are not required by law to put the ingredients on the labels, so my simple suggestion is to connect with brands that do. If brands are not being transparent about it, then just choose another brand—there are so many options!
Look for companies that are using ingredients that are natural and/or organic. They are not always the same thing: natural means no synthetics, whereas organic means having been grown without the use of pesticides.
Other questions to ask:
Are the ingredients biodegradable? Can they prove it?
Are they septic safe?
Do they test on animals?
Are the products free of animal by-products?
How are the products packaged, and is the packaging compostable or recyclable?
If you need more information on eco cleaning, have a look at my green cleaning guide.
Final tips for a zero waste laundry room
The laundry room is a major waste hog. Try to wash in cold water more often, as 90% of the energy used goes to heating the water. Like the dishwasher, wash a full load. Choose an energy-star model (front-loading) and save about $100 a year on your energy bill, cutting down on emissions too.
Wash cotton and other natural fibres at lower temperatures to extend the life of your clothes and your washing machine. To treat stains, soak your garment as soon as possible. Never put a stained item in the dryer; the heat will actually set the stain and you will probably never get it out.
If you need to dry clean a garment, look for a "wet cleaner" because they typically use steam and pure soap. For smaller loads, consider hand-washing; it's more eco-friendly. Try not to buy wrinkle-free clothes because they are often made with really harmful chemicals.
Well, there you have it! What do you use to launder your clothes? I'd love to hear from you.
If you found this post helpful, please help someone by sharing this article – sharing is caring 🙂 ! And for all your cleaning needs, take a quick peek at the brand directory.