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Green (and not-so-Green) Laundry and Cleaning Products


If you're trying to 'green' your life, you may want to start by evaluating the products in your kitchen and laundry room. Most detergents and household cleaners - even many that claim to be natural or green - contain chemicals that are harmful to us and the planet. The good news is, there are plenty of easy-to-find natural laundry and cleaning products that get your clothes, dishes, and house just as clean without causing environmental harm. Here are a few of our favorite green cleaners that give you all the clean without the guilt.

Tip - When purchasing green skincare or cleaning products, check Environmental Working Group's (EWG's) database to see various brands' ratings to determine how 'green' or 'eco-friendly' they really are. The products highlighted below are those that we use ourselves, and are intimately familiar with their manufacturing processes, which is why we trust them (even though some are not listed in EWG's database).  

Best Natural, Eco-Friendly Cleaning & Laundry Products

Soap Nuts Laundry & All-Purpose Cleaners - Most Natural, Least Waste

Favorite Brand: NaturOli (sold on our site)

Cost: Around $12 for an 8 oz (80 wash) bag

Key Benefits: All natural, minimal to zero waste, biodegradable, hypoallergenic, organic

Soap nuts are the generic name for the berries produced by the Sapindus genus of trees. This fruit contains a high amount of saponins, which is a soapy-like substance that has been used for millennia as a natural cleaning agent, most notably in India. (Note for anyone with allergies, these are NOT technically a nut, so they are safe for people with tree nut allergies to use).

Soap nuts (aka soapberries) have been used as natural Ayurvedic remedies for hair, scalp, and skin conditions, plus treatments for a plethora of ailments, for thousands of years. They have been used in the treatment of eczema, psoriasis, dandruff, chlorosis, anemia, migraines, diarrhea, cholera, paralysis, anti-venom, the prevention of lice, and more.

Soap nuts detergents leave your laundry clean, fresh and soft. The all-purpose cleaner leaves your house and dishes sparkling clean. They are 100% natural, certified organic, chemical-free, fragrance-free, biodegradable and hypoallergenic. As an added bonus - the berries come in plastic-free packaging!

I've used soap nuts for years - and have converted my family and friends to them as well. They're amazingly effective. The only drawback people note is that they don't give your clothes any sort of scent, however this is easy to remedy by adding your favorite essential oil in the wash.

Wool Dryer Balls - Most Natural, Least Waste

Favorite Brand: NaturOli (sold on our site)

Cost: Around $15 for 3 balls, which last 1000+ cycles

Key Benefits: All natural, minimal or zero waste, biodegradable, hypoallergenic, organic, renewable, cruelty-free

Wool dryer balls are a fabulous environmentally-friendly, all-natural laundry aid and dryer sheet / fabric softener replacement. Dryer balls shorten drying time (thus saving energy), soften and fluff-up laundry, plus help reduce static (forget those costly, chemically-treated dryer sheets). Many people are able to reduce dryer temperature, thus saving energy while being gentler on fabrics. They will help save you the frustration of untying laundry that has become tangled or knotted.

Again, we've used dryer balls for years - and have converted our families to them. Like soap nuts, they're incredibly effective at reducing drying time and softening fabric. And, you can add your favorite essential oil to them for a fresh scent as well.

Dr. Bronner's Castille Soaps - Best All-Purpose Cleaners

Cost: $18 for 32 ozs

Key Benefits: All natural, recyclable bottles made from recycled plastic, biodegradable, concentrated, multi-purpose

Dr. Bronner's line of castille soaps are incredibly effective multi-purpose cleaners that can be used as body wash, shampoo, laundry detergent, dish soap, food wash, household cleaners, and for many other purposes. They smell fantastic (I use Dr. Bronner's when I hand wash clothes, and soap nuts when I machine wash), and work as well as they smell. What's even better is that they are concentrated, biodegradable, made with organic and certified fair trade ingredients, and packaged in 100% post-consumer recycled bottles.

Noodle & Boo - Most Luxurious Laundry Products

Cost: $22 for 64 ozs of liquid detergent

Key Benefits: Natural, biodegradable, recyclable packaging, hypoallergenic, plant-based formula, wonderful scent, luxurious

Noodle & Boo offers a full-line of natural, luxurious laundry and skincare products that are optimized for sensitive skin. Their Ultra-safe laundry detergent uses a plant-based formula to naturally remove stains and odors. They also sell a fabric softener, bleach-free stain remover, and other laundry essentials. All products are hypoallergenic and pediatrician-tested, so they're safe for your entire family. What's unique about Noodle & Boo as opposed to the other products on this list is that it is a luxury manufacturer. So for those of you who like to treat yo'self, Noodle & Boo may be the brand for you.

Natural Cleaning Products with Mixed EWG Ratings

Before buying a 'natural' cleaning or skincare product, I research the brand on Environmental Working Group. Although some smaller brands don't exist in the database (such as Noodle & Boo and NaturOli), many larger brands do. The below cleaning products received conflicting EWG reviews. This doesn't mean that they're necessarily bad (they're decidedly better than purchasing a non-natural cleaning agent), but I'm more wary of them than the products discussed above.

  • Grab Green Products - Some of GG's products have pretty bad ratings on Environmental Working Group. However, the unscented laundry powder and pods received an A. If you're in the market for laundry pods or powders, these may be good ones to try.
  • Seventh Generation Products - Again, their EWG ratings are a mixed bag. Although their dishwasher products, laundry pods, and laundry powder received A ratings, their 4X laundry detergent received a C.
  • The Honest Company - I've heard bad things about this brand, including that they had a product recall and that their products aren't safe and natural. I would steer clear of them, personally.
  • Mrs. Meyer's Products - This brand is all over every physical and online store's 'natural' section, however the best rating any of its products has on EWG is a B. Yikes. Just goes to show that you should do your research before believing 'green washed' marketing.
  • Method - Similar to Mrs. Meyer's, this brands ratings are pretty bad. The highest any product has is a B, and most are C or below. I would avoid this brand as well.
  • Zum - Similar to Method & Mrs. Meyer's, although touted as a truly 'green' product, Zum has bad EWG ratings.