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How to choose eco-friendly laundry products

Learn how to discern green detergents, bleaches, fabric softeners and other laundry products from their less eco-friendly counterparts. Plus, find out which ones actually work. 

It emerges from the dryer warm and toasty, but is your laundry truly clean? Because cleaning-product manufacturers aren’t required to provide full ingredient lists, skin irritants and even suspected carcinogens may be lingering on your linens.

Look for companies that divulge every ingredient—good and not-as-good—on labels or websites (some to avoid: sodium laureth sulfate, phosphates, petroleum, and octylphenols). And be leery of products with "danger" or "warning" statements.

Then choose these nontoxic, plant-based options.


Seek out gentler (on you and the environment) ingredients like biodegradable coconut-kernel oil, corn-derived or vegetable glycerin solvents, and essential oil fragrances. Aneutral pH, around seven or eight, means the detergent is mild enough for washing clothes by hand.

Try: Earth Friendly Ecos Lavender Liquid Laundry Detergent

Stain remover

Did you know the same enzymes that break down food in your stomach can also break down stains on your clothes? Also look for minerals such as boric acid and calcium chloride.

Try: Bi-O-Kleen Bac-Out Stain & Odor Eliminator


Bleach doesn’t have to be abrasive, especially if you avoid chlorine—a potent eye, respiratory tract, and lung irritant. Oxygen bleach instead uses hydrogen peroxide, which naturally degrades into oxygen and water.

Try: Seventh Generation Chlorine Free Bleach


Opt for plant-derived ingredients like cotton extract to soften your linens and natural essential oils to lend a subtle fragrance. Or make your own with a simple kitchen staple: Add ½ cup vinegar to the washer during the final rinse cycle.

Try: Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Basil Fabric Softener

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