We’ll also show you how to make your own laundry detergent using only natural, household products or plants.
If you’re short on time and want to get straight to washing, these are the best zero waste laundry detergent options.
- Best Zero Waste Detergent, Tru Earth Eco-Strips Laundry Detergent
- Most Natural Option, Ecozone Soap Nuts 1 kg
- Best Natural Powder, Fysio Natural Washing Powder
- Best Laundry Soap Bar, Serendipity Natural Co. Organic Stain Killer
- Best Powder Pods, GrabGreen, 3-in-1 Laundry Detergent
- Best Liquid Detergent, The EcoGurus Natural Detergent
- Best Packaging, Be Zero Shop Laundry Detergent
- Best Fragrance, HippyLab Laundry Detergent
- Best Artisanal Detergent, Cornish Crafty Corner Natural Soap
- Best Dryer Balls, 8-natur Wool Dryer Balls
Table of Contents
- Best Detergents for Your Home and the Earth
- Why Switch to Zero Waste Laundry Detergent
- The Final Spin
Best Detergents for Your Home and the Earth
These are the top options for zero waste laundry detergent we found. They’re natural and reliable alternatives for your regular washing powders.You can also find more inspiration in our eco friendly laundry detergents guide.
Best Zero Waste Detergent — Tru Earth Eco-Strips Laundry Detergent
These Tru Earth laundry strips are ultra-concentrated and easy to dose. You just pop a single 3-gram strip into the machine, and it dissolves in the water.
Each sheet has the cleaning power equivalent of 40 grams of regular detergent. You can use them in all types of machines, even high-efficiency models, and they leave no residue.
The laundry strips are fragrance-free, chlorine bleach and dye-free, and apt for sensitive skin. They’re also vegan and not tested on animals.
Tru Earth ships in a recyclable, completely plastic-free box and the product is biodegradable. Thanks to their super-concentrated size, transportation is also more energy-efficient. This lowers fuel consumption and emissions by a whopping 94 per cent.Why we love it: These plastic free laundry detergent strips are washing machine efficient and Mother Earth-friendly. Its minimal packaging takes up very little space, and you can recycle it afterwards
Most Natural Option — Ecozone Soap Nuts 1 kg
You can’t get much more natural than by washing your clothes with these soap nuts, also called soapberries.
Sometimes an entirely natural product can feel more of an effort to use than a traditional one, but these berries are simple. Your order arrives in a fabric bag and includes a washing pouch. You just load it up with nuts and bung it into the machine! The 1-kg bag lasts up to 330 washes, depending on the hardness of the water.
When the berries are in contact with water, they release saponin, a natural soapy substance that removes dirt and even makes foam. A neat zero waste touch is that you can compost the shells when you’re done with your washing.
The berries are vegan, cruelty-free, hypoallergenic and organic. This brand of soap nuts is also shipped from the UK, even though the berries themselves are sustainable sourced outside of the country.Why we love it: This product is for those who want to do their bit for the environment and save a bit of cash too. These soap nuts are completely natural and biodegradable. They’re also easy to measure and use on all types of fabrics and washing machines.
Best Natural Powder — Fysio Natural Washing Powder
This eco friendly washing powder from Fysio starts life as an extra virgin olive oil soap bar and chlorophyll. Add into the mix, the lovely essential oils and fragrances of lavender, chamomile and calendula that leave a mild, fresh scent.
Although it’s put together with baby clothing in mind, Fysio is suitable for the whole family—and for both machine and hand washing. You can use this detergent with whites and colours, and it will remove stains in all temperatures.
This product is phosphate, sulfate and paraben-free, vegan, not tested on animals, and the packaging is recyclable cardboard as well as plastic-free. It’s naturally antibacterial and suitable for those who are highly sensitive or have skin issues like dermatitis, psoriasis, or eczema.
It does ship from Greece, which adds to this product’s carbon footprint.Why we love it: This washing powder is a sensible option if you suffer from skin conditions, itching or allergies. It’s safe for babies’ clothing but still effective.
Best Laundry Soap Bar — Serendipity Natural Co. Organic Stain Killer
This bar soap from UK business Serendipity Natural Co. is powerful and multi-talented. You can apply it on anything in your home, from clothes to dishes or even a dirty oven.
To wash clothes, simply apply the moist bar onto the stains and put it in the machine. If the clothes are very dirty or the stains are particularly tough or old, you can let it soak overnight. You can also grate this soap bar to make washing powder.
The soap is 100 per cent vegan and cruelty-free. It’s made from organic coconut oil and lemon essential oil, which gives your clothes a light scent, not an overpowering smell.
What’s best about this product is that you’ll be able to reduce your footprint thanks to buying locally. Also, the packaging is cardboard and paper you can recycle, with absolutely no plastic in sight.Why we love it: Serendipity Natural Co. is a small UK business that doesn’t use plastic on its soaps. This detergent works even on notoriously tough stains, like food, permanent markers or blood.
Best Powder Pods — GrabGreen, 3-in-1 Laundry Detergent
These laundry detergent powder pods are quick, easy and versatile. They dissolve completely in water, don’t leave residue and remove stains even in cold temperatures.
GrabGreen doesn’t use animal testing or animal byproducts in their detergents. They also keep dyes, artificial fragrances, parabens or phthalates at an arm’s length.
The female-led company believes in transparency and isn’t afraid to bare all about what’s inside the package. They also openly explain why they use each ingredient, so you’ll know exactly what you’re buying and putting in your machine.
Although the packaging is plastic, you can recycle it. This detergent is also from the US, which impacts the carbon footprint of your purchase.Why we love it: This product has three in one—a detergent, a stain remover and a brightener. It’s also easy to use, and the pods dissolve in all temperatures.
Best Liquid Detergent —The EcoGurus Natural Detergent
This liquid detergent uses plant-based ingredients and is completely free of phosphates, chlorine, dyes, and fragrance. It’s also suitable for washing colours and whites starting from 30 degrees, which is another green bonus.
The laundry liquid is apt for sensitive skin to use with kids or people with skin conditions or allergies. You can also use it to hand wash without ruining your mitts.
The packaging is made from recycled materials. Plus, this detergent is produced in the UK using solar power, so it’s a good option for reducing your carbon footprint. Why we love it: This product is local and made using solar power. It’s also effective and leaves your clothes soft without any additional products needed.
Best Packaging — Be Zero Shop Laundry Detergent
This laundry detergent is vegan, all-natural and comes in compostable packaging. It has a very light, natural scent you can choose between tea tree and lavender. It’s apt for all types of washing machines.
The product washes well, even using a small amount, and the 2-pound (0.9 kg) package lasts for about 50 to 70 loads. It’s made of sodium carbonate, sodium borate and castile soap flakes, with no fillers or artificial colourings.Why we love it: The ingredients list is simple and natural, and the packaging is fully compostable. This product helps you move toward a zero-waste lifestyle.
Best Fragrance — HippyLab Laundry Detergent
The HippyLab detergent is a handmade soap powder made from all-natural ingredients, including coconut oil, sodium carbonate, lye and rainwater—yes you read that right!. It’s borax free and arrives in a recyclable paper bag, which will help you reduce waste.
This product cleans well even in cold water and is non-toxic. You can order it with your preferred essential oil smell from an impressive variety of phthalate-free options.
Why we love it: Your clothes come out of the dryer static-free, and you can pick out the scent that appeals most to you.
Best Artisanal Detergent — Cornish Crafty Corner Natural Soap
We couldn’t leave out this natural soap that comes from a small local business, Cornish Crafty Corner. It’s a handmade and vegan laundry powder that leaves your clothes with a fresh and clean scent but doesn’t include any fragrance.
This powder is made from pure soap, Epsom salts and soda crystals. It also includes sodium bicarbonate as a natural, soft abrasive to remove stains. The paper package comes with a reusable wooden scoop.
This detergent is very DIY and made from natural household products. It keeps your whites white and maintains your colours, but you don’t have to worry about nasty artificial brighteners.Why we love it: This all-vegan detergent is from a small local UK business. It comes in a resealable paper bag with a reusable mini wooden measuring cup.
Best Dryer Balls — 8-natur Wool Dryer Balls
If you want to cut down on the dreaded ironing pile, you can use dryer balls. They help to reduce the creases in your clothes without using an artificial fabric softener. They also reduce static and absorb water.
Dryers are not the most environmentally-friendly invention. Yet, in the dead of winter when you have a washing pile the size of Everest — it’s understandable why busy households can’t live without them.
These dryer balls are not only a natural way to make clothes soft, but the good news is they also reduce your drying time by up to 30 per cent. This helps you save energy and reduce your carbon footprint.
They come in a fabric bag that includes six large balls, reusable up to 1000 times. Both the balls and the bag are fully plastic-free. They’re white, but they can be used with all colours of clothing.
The balls are made of 100 per cent fair trade New Zealand merino wool, so they’re not vegan. They’re also made in Germany, which adds to their transportation footprint.
Why we love it: These balls are a non-chemical, natural option for the dryer made of unbleached New Zealand wool. They make clothes softer and prevent tangling and static.
Why Switch to Zero Waste Laundry Detergent
As you probably know if you’ve been looking to reduce your ecological footprint, it’s not easy to go waste-free. Plastic is everywhere, and so are toxic chemicals that leak from your home into the environment.
If you’re ready to begin your transition to zero waste detergents, we’ll give you some tips on how to do it.
Switching to more ecological laundry detergents helps you maintain your health and keeps the environment cleaner.
- The detergent you use on your clothes is close to your skin all day. Anything toxic can cause skin issues like rashes, or detergents can even affect your lungs.
- Chemicals you wash down the drain also end up polluting water down the line.
- Going zero waste means you’ll also be able to reduce your overall footprint on the environment.
How to Choose a Zero Waste Laundry Detergent
Here are some pointers on what to look for — and what to avoid — when you’re picking a zero waste laundry detergent.
Type of Zero Waste Laundry Detergent
Nowadays, you have quite a wide selection of zero waste laundry detergents to choose from—we’re talking traditional powders and liquids to bar soap. You can also use pods, strips or all-natural DIY detergents.
Think about what’s the easiest and most comfortable for you to use in your home every day. Also, weigh up the safety aspect and pick detergents you can use around children or pets. Pods, for example, can look like sweets to kids.
To have a truly zero waste home, you’ll need to look for products that have minimal, plastic-free or recyclable packaging. Some paper and cardboard packaging is also compostable.
Also, check out these plastic free dishwasher tablets from Ecoleaf if you’re trying to make your home completely zero waste. They’re made in the UK!
If the ethical aspect of your detergent is important to you, you can find plenty of products that are plant-based and not tested on animals. Many are also sustainably sourced and fair trade. This means you can have both clean clothes and a clear conscience.
What Toxic Ingredients to Avoid in Laundry Detergents?
These are some of the ingredients you will find in regular detergents that can cause problems for your health.
Bleach is used in detergents as a disinfectant and keeps whites white, but it’s a hazardous material, an irritant and corrosive.
If you get bleach on your skin or in your eyes, nose or mouth, it can cause anything from a mild complaint to hospitalization. Also, breathing in bleach can be dangerous to your lungs. Mixing it with other cleaning products, including ammonia and acids like vinegar, can cause a serious reaction.
Parabens are preservatives in cosmetics and food. This could make you think they’re safe, but they can affect your hormones. The top zero waste detergents are paraben-free.
You can find phthalates in many products around your home, including cosmetics and plastics, where they’re used to increase flexibility.
Some phthalates affect your hormones and reproductive system, but since the research is not conclusive, they’re not forbidden. Still, we suggest it’s better to be safe than sorry!
Regular laundry detergents typically have a strong fragrance, you know the kind—you take a whiff and end up with a fuzzy nose for the rest of the day. They can also be too harsh for fragile skin, especially kids.
If you’re sensitive to artificial fragrances, it can trigger all kinds of side effects—from headaches to asthma attacks.
Detergents include sulfates in their ingredients lists for their cleaning effect. They also give regular detergents, soaps and shampoos their characteristic foam-factor, but with this rich lather comes the possibility of skin irritation.
Sulfates are also accepted for use on everyday household products, but they can be rough on your skin. Be careful with sulfates, especially if you have sensitive skin.
Optical brighteners are one of the most toxic and irritant components of laundry detergents. Manufacturers include them because they reflect light and make clothes appear brighter, although they won’t make them any cleaner.
Methylisothiazolinone is a preservative that extends your regular detergent’s shelf life, and it’s another favourite for use in cosmetics and paint. This synthetic is also a powerful allergenic that can cause rashes, swelling, itching and inflammation.
How to Make DIY Laundry Detergent
Not convinced about buying a zero waste laundry detergent? Here are three recipes for homemade laundry detergent, and a tip for fabric softener.
Baking Soda and Castile Soap
You can make a zero waste laundry detergent powder at home using two cups of baking soda and a bar of castile soap.
- Preheat your oven to about 240 degrees (celsius).
- Spread the baking soda on an oven dish, preferably one you don’t use for food.
- Place the dish in the oven and leave it for about an hour. This turns into washing soda. You can gently move it around after about 30 minutes to make sure it’s evenly heated.
- In the meantime, grate the soap or pop it into a food processor. You can pick a scented castile soap to give your detergent a subtle, fresh scent.
- Now it’s time to mix your ingredients in a bowl. Remember that washing soda is very alkaline and can irritate your skin or lungs, so don’t touch it with your hands or get too close to it. You can use gloves for extra protection.
- Store your mixed detergent in a jar and use a couple of spoonfuls every time you do your washing!
For this recipe, you’ll have to bribe the kids for their conkers this autumn. You can use horse chestnuts to make detergent because like soapberries, they also contain natural saponins
- Cut your chestnuts up or crush them into small pieces, and place them in a recipient or jar. The smaller the pieces, the better the saponins will release from the chestnuts.
- Fill the jar with water and soak the chestnuts at room temperature overnight.
- Since the detergent is made from fresh chestnuts, it only remains good to use for a few days. If you want fresh soap all year round you can freeze them.
Ivy might be an even better option since it’s not seasonal. This detergent is also easy to prepare at home and completely natural!
- Pick old, dark green ivy leaves if you can. These have the highest concentration of washing properties.
- Cut up a couple of leaves in the middle with your fingers.
- Place the leaves in a washing bag or a sock and tie it up.
- Put the sock or washing bag in the machine and wash as normal.
Vinegar Fabric Softener
Vinegar is a natural fabric softener. Just pop in ¼ cup of white vinegar into the fabric softener dispenser and wash normally. It will also make your clothes whiter and give them a fresh smell!
What Can Be Used as a Substitute for Laundry Detergent?
You can use vinegar, lemon juice or baking soda as natural detergent substitutes, or make a DIY one from chestnuts or ivy. If you run out of detergent, try your body wash, shampoo or hand soap. They’re lifesavers when you need to get something clean urgently.
Why Homemade Laundry Soap Is Bad
Homemade laundry soap is not necessarily bad, but it can be less effective at removing stains. Some homemade soaps can also leave residue on your clothing, but this depends on the soap you’re using.
The Final Spin
It can be difficult to find a zero waste laundry detergent, but there are many eco-friendly options that help you clean up your act.
You can try one of the options above that are free of toxins and a zero-plastic package. They use natural products that pamper your fabrics and take care of the environment, while getting your clothes squeaky clean.
And what’s best, all these products ship to the UK! Of course, if you want to reduce your carbon footprint further, support the local businesses we included in the review.