What Is the least toxic laundry detergent?

Most laundry detergents are terrible for the environment and your health. If you’re looking for more wholesome alternatives, kudos. Your family deserves to have clean laundry without a toxic chemical brew.

Let’s dive into the best plant-based, eco-friendly options.

Quick links:

Loni Bio


Molly’s Suds



Seventh Generation

Smart Sheep

Why switch to non-toxic detergent?

Why are detergents bad for health?

Why are detergents bad for the environment?

How can I make the switch?

How can I make DIY detergent?

If you want a non-toxic option that’s effective and convenient, buy our laundry detergent strips. They’re eco-friendly, compact, and contain only the safest plant-based products.

Detergent strips

“The most important thing is that there are no harsh chemicals that can screw up my septic system! My clothes seem to feel softer after using the Smart Sheep Laundry strips. Both of these things are an absolute PLUS!”—MichaelB, Amazon purchaser (five stars)

What are the 7 best non-toxic laundry detergents?

A new wave of eco-friendly laundry detergents is here—and they actually work.

These non-toxic detergents use plant-based ingredients and fragrance-free formulas to leave you with fresh and clean clothes without the toxins.

Here are our picks for the 7 best non-toxic laundry detergents that are safe for both your family and the planet.

  1. Loni Bio liquid laundry detergent
  2. SWASH by Whirlpool liquid laundry detergent
  3. Molly's Suds Original laundry powder
  4. ECOS® Hypoallergenic laundry detergent sheets
  5. Nellie's Non-Toxic detergent powder
  6. Seventh Generation EasyDose detergent pods
  7. Smart Sheep laundry detergent sheets

Loni Bio laundry detergent

Loni Bio liquid laundry detergent is formulated with eco-friendly and biodegradable ingredients and contains natural fragrance for a pleasant experience. Its hypoallergenic concentrated formula is great for people with sensitive skin.

Loni Bio can be used in both hot and cold water, making it usable for handwashing and washing machines. 

This natural laundry detergent is free from harsh chemicals commonly found in conventional laundry detergents, such as phosphates, chlorine, and synthetic fragrances, making it gentle on both your skin and the environment.

Swash by Whirpool

SWASH liquid laundry detergent by Whirlpool is a plant-based, hypoallergenic formula free of dyes, perfumes, and other harsh chemicals. 

SWASH is dermatologist tested for sensitive skin, SLS free, and made in a zero waste facility powered by wind turbines. It's an environmentally responsible choice that still provides premium cleaning power even in cold water cycles. The light, fresh scent comes from natural essential oils. 

Molly’s Suds original laundry powder

Molly’s Suds original laundry detergent powder contains sodium percarbonate, sodium carbonate, and sodium silicate as its key cleaning agents.

  • Sodium percarbonate is an effective whitening agent that helps boost your detergent's stain-removing powder.
  • Sodium carbonate, also known as washing soda, is a water softener that allows your detergent to work better in hard water.
  • Sodium silicate prevents dye transfer between fabrics to keep colors bright.

These plant-derived ingredients offer powerful cleaning without harsh chemicals. They make Molly's Suds an effective and safe choice for those with sensitive skin or allergies.

With its effective stain and odor removal capabilities, Molly's Suds provides a reliable and eco-friendly option for both regular and high-efficiency washing machines.

While effective at cleaning, it does not contain whitening agents or brighteners.

ECOS® hypoallergenic detergent

ECOS Hypoallergenic laundry detergent sheets have a plant-based, biodegradable formula made without dyes, perfumes, or common allergens. It is rated an "A" by the Environmental Working Group's ingredients database.

It utilizes plant-based ingredients and does not compromise on cleaning power, effectively removing tough stains while remaining gentle on the skin.

The company's commitment to sustainability is reflected in its use of biodegradable ingredients and recyclable packaging, making ECOS® Hypoallergenic an ideal choice for those seeking a laundry detergent that is both hypoallergenic and environmentally conscious.

Nellie's laundry detergent

Nellie's Non-Toxic Vegan Powdered Laundry Detergent cleans effectively and ensures that your skin isn't irritated or exposed to harsh toxins, as it's made with natural, vegan ingredients.

It is also free from harsh chemicals such as phosphates, chlorine bleach, and synthetic fragrances, making it a non-toxic choice for both your clothes and the planet. The formula includes plant-based ingredients that effectively clean and remove tough stains, leaving behind a fresh and clean scent.

Nellie's Non-Toxic Vegan Laundry Detergent is biodegradable and packaged in recyclable materials, further emphasizing its commitment to sustainability.

Seventh Generation laundry detergent

Seventh Generation EasyDose Laundry Detergent is a plant-based formula free of dyes, artificial fragrances, and chlorine. It is an "A" rated detergent by EWG that comes in dissolvable laundry pods. The formula uses biodegradable ingredients like sodium citrate, sodium carbonate, and alkyl polyglucoside. 

Seventh Generation detergents are not tested on animals. This formula is effective in both cold and hot water and safe for high efficiency washing machines. It contains no SLS, phosphates, or optical brighteners according to the label.

Smart Sheep detergent strips

“In love with these strips. Not only are they all natural and good to the environment, they leave our laundry smelling so good and fresh.”—Barb K, Amazon purchaser (five stars)

Smart Sheep laundry strips are a convenient and eco-friendly alternative to traditional liquid or powder detergents. Made from all-natural, biodegradable ingredients, these pre-measured strips dissolve easily in both hot and cold water, ensuring hassle-free and effective cleaning.  Smart Sheep detergent strips

They are free from harsh chemicals commonly found in conventional detergents and are gentle on both your skin and the environment. 

Packaged in recyclable materials, Smart Sheep laundry sheets are an excellent choice for those looking to reduce their carbon footprint and contribute to a healthier, cleaner Earth.

Try them out for a cleaner, greener way to do your laundry.

“Even our workout clothes smell fresh! No plastic waste, easy to use, great for hand-washing too”—karmakin, Amazon purchaser (five stars)

Detergent strips

Why switch to non-toxic detergent?

There are two main reasons to ditch toxic chemicals and switch to natural detergents for your laundry routine:

  1. Healthier for you and your family
  2. Healthier for the planet

Let’s look at both of these reasons in more detail.

Why are detergents bad for my health?

Laundry detergents are full of harmful ingredients that accumulate in your home and in the bodies of your family members These include the following chemicals:

  1. Sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate (SLS & SLES) can irritate the eyes and inflame sensitive skin and lungs.
  2. Phthalates are known to cause damage to the liver, kidneys, and lungs.
  3. Phosphates have been linked to harming the cardiovascular system.
  4. Methylisothiazolinone can be harmful to the eyes and cause dermal irritation.
  5. Formaldehyde is known for its ability to irritate the throat and eyes.
  6. Parabens can have a negative impact on hormone function.
  7. 1,4-dioxane is considered a carcinogen and known to cause skin, eye, and lung inflammation.
  8. Artificial preservatives can be carcinogenic and may also trigger allergies.
  9. Surfactants can cause skin irritation, affect enzymes, and disrupt normal bodily functions.

Over years of use, contact with these toxins can have an accumulating effect on your health.  

How do detergents impact the environment?

When we wash our clothes with traditional detergents, the toxic chemicals enter the water supply through wastewater runoff. This effects the ecosystem in the following ways:

  • Water pollution. Chemical-laden detergents, when washed down the drain, can end up in rivers, lakes, and oceans. These chemicals disrupt delicate aquatic ecosystems. For example, phosphates can cause imbalances in nutrient levels, leading to excessive algae growth and oxygen depletion, known as eutrophication, which suffocates aquatic organisms.
  • Soil contamination. Detergent runoff can contaminate soil and affect plant growth and health. The chemicals can disrupt the natural soil microorganisms and disturb beneficial insects, impacting biodiversity and agricultural productivity.
  • Air pollution. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) present in some traditional detergents can contribute to air pollution when they evaporate during washing and drying processes. VOCs can participate in the formation of ground-level ozone, a major component of smog, which is linked to respiratory issues and environmental damage.
  • Plastic packaging. Most detergents are packaged in plastic. The manufacture and disposal of plastics contribute to environmental pollution. Most plastic jugs never get recycled and wind up in landfills.

Loni Bio, SWASH, and Seventh Generation offer non-toxic formulas, but package their detergents in plastic jugs and bottles. These containers may leach harmful chemicals and end up in landfills.

Molly Sud’s and Nellie’s powders use cardboard boxes which is better, but still contain inner plastic liners. Plastic of any kind undermines their eco-friendly mission.

ECOS hypoallergenic sheets come in a 100% cardboard box which is a step in the right direction.

But Smart Sheep laundry strips go a step further—each strip is individually wrapped in a biodegradable paper that quickly dissolves in water. The outer box is 100% cardboard and paper. This plastic-free packaging makes Smart Sheep strips the most eco-conscious choice for green laundry cleaning.

Make the switch to non-toxic detergents; your health and the environment will thank you. They’re affordable, effective, and safe for your family.

How can I make the switch to non-toxic detergent?

So you’ve decided to switch to a detergent that’s free from harmful chemicals, synthetic fragrances, and dyes. You want something gentle on the skin with no risk of allergic reactions or irritations.

You also want something powerful and effective. Good thing there are so many great non-toxic options available today.

When shopping for safe laundry detergents, look for products with the following qualities:

  • Plant-based ingredients like coconut oil, citrus extracts, and essential oils
  • Free of added dyes, artificial fragrances, SLS sulfates, and optical brighteners
  • Greywater safe—biodegradable and septic safe
  • Unscented or naturally scented with essential oils
  • Transparent company with green manufacturing practices
  • Look for the EWG Verified mark

DIY laundry detergent recipe

You can also make your own laundry detergent with just a few simple ingredients. If you have the time, here’s how to make your own detergent.


  • 1 bar of grated natural soap (Castile or soap nuts work well)
  • 1 cup of washing soda
  • 1 cup of borax

Steps to follow:

  1. Grate or finely shred a bar of Castile or soap nut soap into flakes. Natural soap avoids extra chemicals found in commercial bar soaps.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the grated soap, washing soda, and borax until well combined. Use a fork to break up any clumps.
  3. Add 1-2 tablespoons per load of laundry based on soil level. Adjust amount as needed.
  4. Store unused detergent in an airtight container away from moisture. Keeps several months when stored properly.

You can also add optional ingredients like essential oils for natural pleasant scent, vinegar as a fabric softener, or lemon juice for whitening.

DIY laundry detergents have many benefits:

  • You control the exact formula based on your needs
  • Avoid synthetic fragrances, dyes, and preservatives
  • Cost effective compared to buying natural brands
  • Reduced plastic waste from containers

Happy washing!

Laundry detergent FAQ

What is the best safest laundry product to use?

The safest laundry products are EWG-verified, plant-based formulas that are free of dyes, fragrances, brighteners, and other harsh chemicals. They clean effectively using ingredients like sodium citrate and enzymes.

Which laundry detergent has fewer chemicals?

Fragrance-free, plant-based detergents like Smart Sheep, ECOS Hypoallergenic, Molly's Suds, and Grab Green contain fewer harsh chemicals than conventional soaps. They rely on ingredients like plant oils and sodium carbonate to naturally clean laundry.

Is Persil non-toxic?

No, Persil contains added fragrances, optical brighteners, and other potentially irritating chemicals, so despite its cleaning effectiveness, it cannot be considered a non-toxic laundry detergent brand.

Which laundry detergent isn't toxic?

There are several laundry detergents on the market that are considered non-toxic and environmentally friendly. Some popular options include Smart Sheep, Seventh Generation, ECOS, Grab Green, and Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day. These brands use plant-based ingredients and avoid harsh chemicals, making them safer for both the environment and people's health.

It is always recommended to read the labels and ingredient lists to ensure the detergent meets your specific needs and preferences.

Are some laundry detergents toxic?

Yes, most laundry detergents are toxic. Many detergents contain harmful chemicals such as phosphates, chlorine, and synthetic fragrances that can have negative effects on both human health and the environment. These chemicals are skin irritants, can cause respiratory problems, and contribute to water pollution. 

Can I trust the "eco-friendly" labels on laundry detergents?

While "eco-friendly" labels on laundry detergents can offer some assurance, it's important to look for third-party certifications such as EPA's Safer Choice, EU Ecolabel, or USDA Organic to ensure credibility. 

Reading the ingredient list and avoiding harsh chemicals like phosphates, chlorine, and synthetic fragrances can help you make a more informed and environmentally conscious decision.

Are there any potential health benefits associated with using the least toxic laundry detergent?

Using the least toxic laundry detergent can potentially reduce exposure to harmful chemicals, such as irritants and allergens, leading to fewer skin irritations, respiratory problems, and environmental pollution, thus promoting overall health and well-being.

Are there any specific ingredients I should avoid while choosing laundry detergent?

When choosing laundry detergent, it is advisable to avoid toxic ingredients such as phosphates, chlorine bleach, optical brighteners, synthetic fragrances, and sulfates. These substances can be harsh on the skin, cause environmental pollution, and contribute to respiratory issues.

Further reading

Homemade stain remover for stubborn stains on white clothes

Should I use dryer sheets or dryer balls?

Why is the dryer making my clothes smell burnt?

Will essential oils on my dryer balls stain clothes?

What is the best laundry detergent for sensitive skin?

Laundry detergent sheets vs liquid detergent—who wins?

What are the best fabric softener substitutes?

Can I use dryer balls and dryer sheets together? 

How to add essential oils to dryer balls

What is the best stain remover for baby clothes?

Stain stick recipe you should try