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Unboxed: 7 laundry products cleaning up the aisle

For years, the laundry aisle has been overflowing with plastic jugs and products full of unnecessary water, fragrance, chemicals and more. These seven products eliminate all that, giving consumers a more sustainable option.

Gianna Rosenbach

June 9, 2023

7 Slides

Natural laundry brands are responding to the demand for sustainability by offering waterless, plastic-less, and fragrance-free alternatives to the clothes-washing products that have dominated the conventional laundry market for years. By choosing these eco-friendly options, consumers actively contribute to water conservation, plastic waste reduction, and improved indoor air quality. Additionally, these products offer practical benefits such as compactness, efficiency, and concentrated formulations that cater to the needs of time-conscious consumers, while also benefitting transport and storage logistics. This smaller environmental footprint also means a smaller physical footprint, and products occupy less shelf space on already-crowded retail shelves.

Unfortunately, some natural laundry brands do still rely on polyvinly alcohol—a thin plastic polymer wrapped around pods and woven into laundry sheets to keep them intact that is contraversial because it does not necessarily biodegrade. In fact, according to a research article "Degradation of Polyvinyl Alcohol in US Wastewater Treatment Plants and Subsequent Nationwide Emission Estimate," published by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health in 2021, approximately 75% of plastic PVA particles remain intact in oceans, waterways, and soils even after dissolution, leading to environmental pollution. Still, these tabs and sheets do eliminate the need for single-use plastic and shipping unnecessary water weight around the world (i.e., liquid detergent in plastic jugs and dryer sheets).

The products below push sustainability in household products further in this sense, while also appealing to a wider variety of consumers by offering fragrance and dye-free options. Fragrance-free products promote healthier living by minimizing allergies, skin irritations and the release of harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air.

Scroll through the seven natural laundry products our editors are loving right now or click through the gallery.

Ingredients Matter Laundry Soap

1. Ingredients Matter
Laundry Soap – Fragrance-Free

This powdered laundry product is actually a soap, not a detergent. Ingredients Matter claims that soap is more gentle on your skin, clothes and the environment than traditional detergents. With no hidden petroleum or unnecessary plastic, this waterless cleaner offers 72 loads per box and is compatible with both standard and HE machines, making it versatile for any laundry routine. Certified by EWG for safety and Leaping Bunny certified, Ingredients Matter carefully selects a blend of ingredients for its soap, including sodium cocoate from coconut oil and glycerin. It's free from detergents, synthetic fragrances, preservatives, dyes and more. Furthermore, as a partner of Safer Choice, Ingredients Matter prioritizes transparency by disclosing CAS numbers for our ingredients, ensuring peace of mind.



Nantucket Footprint Laundry Strips

2. Nantucket Footprint
Unscented Laundry Detergent Strips 

These light and compactly packed new fragrance-free strips contain natural enzymes for powerful stain-fighting abilities and work with all washing machine types. With a commitment to ingredient transparency (no U.S. Federal law requires household cleaning products to disclose ingredients) and giving back to environmental causes, Nantucket Footprint offers a safe, effective, and convenient way to achieve a greener clean. In addition, the brand champions children's safety by giving the compostable packaging a secure child lock. Also, check out the brand's glass cleaning kit, which won last year's Best New Natural Living Product NEXTY Award. 


Nellie's Stain Stick

3. Nellie's All-Natural
WOW Stick Stain Remover

Nellie's is bringing it back to the basics with simple household products with recognizable ingredients that have been used by generations to clean—no need to mess with the classics that work by adding in unnecessary junk. This powerful stain remover is made with natural ingredients, devoid of dyes and synthetic fragrances. Infused with lemongrass and sweet orange essential oils, it tackles tough stains and eliminates any accompanying odors. Just wet the WOW Stick, apply it to the stained area, rub under water and launder with Nellie's Laundry Soda for pristine, stain-free results.


Cleancult Dryer Balls

4. Cleancult
Wool Dryer Balls – Fragrance-Free

Cleancult showed off its new rebranded look at Expo West 2023, and this now may be the one cult New Hope editors are following. Ditch the single-use dryer sheets and replace them with these reusable Wool Dryer Balls for shorter dry times, softer clothes, and less static cling. Crafted from 100% natural and ethically sourced New Zealand wool, these fragrance-free dryer balls are free from chemicals, dyes and perfumes, making them safe for sensitive skin. With a lifespan of up to 1,000 loads, these eco-friendly and biodegradable dryer balls leave behind nothing but fresh, soft laundry.


Tru Earth Fabric Softener Strips


5. Tru Earth
Eco-Strips Fabric Softener – Fragrance-Free

Tru Earth has seen rapid growth as it expanded from Canada into the U.S. and recently announced that it achieved B Corp Certifed status! These new fabric softener strips continue Tru Earth'sEarth's mission to combat single-use plastic and excessive numbers of plastic containers ending up in landfills. Simply tear off a strip and pop it in your machine. No risk of spilling a mess of liquid or powder everywhere. These strips are also hypoallergenic, paraben-free, phosphate-free, and cruelty-free.

The Unscented Company Laundry Refill

6. The Unscented Company
Laundry - 4 L Refill box (160 loads)

The Unscented Company's Laundry Refill is a great option for those not quite ready to switch away from liquid detergent. This powerful concentrated detergent is color-safe, tackles stains and is effective even in cold water. The biodegradable detergent is Certified Leaping Bunny and is suitable for HE and standard washers. Other qualities to note are that the solution is fragrance, dye and phosphate free, made with plant-based ingredients, thus hypoallergenic and a cloth diaper-friendly formula. According to the brand, the design of this easy-to-store cardboard box removes two plastic bottles from circulation. A 10-liter refill box offering up to 400 loads is also available.

Blueland Laundry Starter Kit

7. Blueland
Laundry Starter Set

These "naked" (sans-wrapping) laundry tablets are made with plant and mineral-based ingredients that are tested and proven to lift stains and dirt. The tablets are formulated without VOCs, parabens, ammonia, dye, phthalates or chlorine bleach and are USDA BioPreferred. The starter kit comes with a recyclable storage tin to hold tablet refills, and all tablet refills come in compostable packaging. Blueland is woman- and AAPI-owned, Climate Neutral Certified, B Corp Certified and Cradle 2 Cradle Certified. No wonder this product was a finalist for this year's Expo West NEXTY Awards. 


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About the Author(s)

Gianna Rosenbach

Content Creator, CPG and Digital, New Hope Network

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