4 Switching to Non-Toxic Laundry Detergent

Walking down the laundry aisle can not only be a sensory overload but also incredibly confusing. Normally turning to a label is the first step to picking a non-toxic product but with laundry detergent it is not that simple because not only are companies not required to list ingredients on the label but they don't even have to tell you if you ask.

Pay close attention to the Tide label. It reads "Ingredients include biodegradable surfactants (anionic and nonionic) and enzymes". Doesn't sound scary right? They even say biodegradable so that has to be good for the environment right? But what does it really mean? What is in Tide Liquid Detergent (HE)? Sodium Borate, Disodium Diaminostilbene Disulfonate, Fragrance, Alcohol Ethoxylates, Ethanolamine, Diemthicone, Alcohol Ethoxysulfates, Laureth-9, Linear Alkybenzene Sulfonates, Polyethyleneimine Ethoxylates, Surfactants, Enzymes, Diquaternium Ethoxysulfates, Sodium Cumenesulfonate, Liquitint Blue, Diethylene Glycol, Penetic Acid, Protease, Amylase, Mannanase, Pectinase, Sodium Formate, Formic Acid, Calcium Salt, Ethanol, Sodium Hydroxide, Citric Acid, Propylene Glycol, Sodium Fatty Acids, Water.

Well that is a bit more than just "biodegradable surfactants and enzymes".

What about the Tide Free and Gentle Detergent?  The label reads "Solvents, Water" but what that really means is that the following ingredients are in the product: Ethanolamine, Anionic Surfactants, Alcohol Ethoxylates, Sodium Salt, Alkyl Benezenesulfonic Acid Monoethanolamine, Benezenesulfonic Acid, Alcohol Sulfate, Alcohol Ethoxylates, Solvents, Enzymes, Alcohol Denatured, Water

There are several alternatives to the mainstream laundry products that contain less harmful ingredients and actually disclose them to the consumer. Ecos Free and Clear - Water, Cocamidopropyl Betaine (coconut-based surfactant), Sodium Coco-Sulfate (coconut-based surfactant), Cocamidopropylamine Oxide (coconut-based surfactant), Phenoxyethanol (preservative), Methylisothiazolinone (preservative), Equisetum Hiemale (Horsetail Plant) Extract. 
We made the switch several years ago from Tide to Ecos (by the way of a few other brands) and have never regretted our decision. Our detergent performs better than Tide and I don't feel like our clothes are coated in chemicals or that their smell is over powering. Things don't need to smell like "something" to be clean! There is also a serious difference in cost. 1.47L (32 loads) of Tide is $13.99 or $0.44/load vs 6.21L (210 loads) of Ecos is $15.99 or $0.076/load. 

The biggest reasons I hear for why people have not made the switch - even when they know the mainstream product is toxic - is because they don't know if the environmentally friendly product will work. Some do and some don't so it can be trial and error. I would recommend containing the company and asking for a sample if you don't want to jump all in and try something new.

Top Things to Look for in a Non-Toxic Landry Detergent
1. Plant based rather than petrochemical/petroleum based
2. Free and Clear - no need for fragrance and dyes!
3. Concentrated formulas - they use significantly less water in their manufacturing process
4. No animal testing
5. Ingredients listed on the label!

If you are looking to make the switch consider these brands - Ecos by Earth Friendly Products, Eco Nuts, Seventh Generation

Why did you make the switch or if you haven't, what is stopping you?

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  1. The price is LOWER for natural!?!? Seriously?! I would have thought the opposite. I have lots of Tide to use up first (is it better to use up what's already bought or throw it away? Hmm), but then I will be switching for sure. I was thinking of making my own detergent, but not sure if that would be good for an HE machine. No sense making my own if the Ecos is so affordable!

  2. The throw away vs use up debate is always a tricky one! There are pros and cons to both sides so I would just do whatever you are comfortable with.

    I have thought about making my own but honestly, it is so low on my priority list when combined with everything else there is to do! But if you are looking for recipes check out EcoKaren!

  3. The Costco around me carries Ecos for about a dollar more than the conventional stuff. A dollar extra spread over 200+ loads of laundry seems like a fair trade off, in my opinion. During my last trip to Costco I noticed that Ecos makes a dish soap (for hand washing, not in the dishwasher). I'm very excited by this!

  4. They do have nice dish soap too!