Clean laundry, ahhhh. It’s wonderful, but can sometimes seem so elusive.
I have been searching for the perfect natural laundry detergent for almost two years, and it has sometimes been frustrating and annoying when detergents don’t work as well as I want or expect them too. I admit that several times over the past two years I have returned to All Free & Clear, which was the detergent that my mom used when I was growing up, and there’s something about that comfort of using what your mom used that’s just easy to slip back into.
Because it’s been such a long experiment and process, I really don’t have very good “official” review data for each of these products, but I’ll give you my best, and honest, opinion of them.
Here’s a list of the natural detergents I have tried over the past few years, and my pros and cons for each:
When I made homemade detergent, I used a recipe that I got from my friend Jenica. When I first made the detergent I used a bar of Kirk’s Castile Soap. The second time I made it, I used Fels Naptha, as she suggests.
Cons: I was pretty disappointed with the detergent because I was getting small grease-like spots on my clothing that I thought were from the detergent (I later learned that it most likely wasn’t from that, because even after I stopped using the homemade detergent, I still had problems with the spots).
I didn’t feel like it really got out dirt or stains very well, but I did think that my clothes smelled clean with the Kirk’s Castile Soap – which to me basically means they don’t smell like anything. I didn’t like the scent when I made the detergent with Fels Naptha, it has a pretty strong smell.
Pros: The ingredients are inexpensive and relatively easy to find, and you can make a large batch that will last you for a long time for a low cost. You know exactly what’s in the detergent because you make it yourself at home. I may go back and try this again to see if it would work better for me now.
Even thought I didn’t have a very good experience with homemade detergent, I know lots of people that have, so definitely don’t discount this as a great frugal and green option for your laundry until you’ve tried it for yourself. (And for anyone that’s worried, all of the little spots have since washed out, so none of our clothing was actually ruined.)
Ecover Laundry Wash
Cons: It is pricey, and the bottle is pretty small – it says 20 loads on it. I don’t want to have to buy new detergent every 20 loads! The directions say to use 2-3 capfuls per load of laundry, but that seems like a lot to me. I tried only using one, which would help the bottle to last for more washes, and it was okay. But I think it works best with at least two, and possibly three capfuls for heavily soiled loads.
Pros: This detergent worked pretty well. It has a very light scent, that is not overpowering, and I was pretty happy with how it got out stains and dirt.
I think this detergent is a little too expensive for the amount that you have to use to get your laundry clean. It’s not worth it to me to pay so much for such a small bottle.
Cons: I couldn’t find it locally, so I had to order it online and pay for shipping. I’m not always great about ordering stuff online – I would rather run to the store and buy what I need when I run out, so this is the biggest con for me.
Pros: I really liked Country Save for both my regular laundry and my cloth diapers. My clothes came out fresh, clean and soft, even without using fabric softener. I felt it worked really well on stains and dirt. The box lasted for a long time because you don’t have to use as much for an HE machine.
This is really great detergent. It can be used for regular laundry, towels and rags, and even cloth diapers with great results. I wish I could find it locally so I didn’t have to order it online.
Meijer Natural Brand Laundry Detergent
Cons: This detergent did not work well for us at all. The clothes came out of the washer still smelling stinky and kind of musty. It did not work well on stains or dirt. I think we still have half a bottle sitting in our basement, because I just couldn’t use it all up.
Pros: It is easy for me to buy at my local Meijer store and is one of the most economical natural detergents.
I was disappointed in this detergent and would not buy it again.
Green Works Laundry Detergent
I just used this once from a sample that I had. So, take that into consideration with this review.
Cons: This detergent also did not perform well on stains or dirt. The clothes smelled okay, but there was a scent to them, and I would rather there be no scent at all. It is made by Clorox, and I just cannot justify supporting a company that makes so many other toxic cleaning products – even if this one is green.
Pros: It is easy to find at many retail locations, and can be very economical when bought on sale with a coupon.
I didn’t really use this enough to give a complete review of it, but I wouldn’t use it because it’s made by Clorox.
Nellie’s All Natural
Cons: Again, I couldn’t find it locally, so I would have to order it online. And it is more pricey than some of the other options.
Pros: I love Nellie’s for my regular laundry and my cloth diapers. It works great on stains and dirt, and the clothes come out smelling nice and fresh and clean, but not scented. You use one scoop per normal load, so the tin of laundry soda would last for a while. Plus, can I just say that the packaging is so cute!
This is great detergent that works well for all my laundry – clothing, cloth diapers, household towels and rags. I wish I didn’t have to order it online, but to me, it is worth it.
A few things to note:
- I have a HE front loading washer. I almost always wash on cold, except for cloth diapers and household wipes and rags that get washed on hot.
- We have hard water with a water softener. I definitely notice a difference in the effectiveness of our detergent when our softener is low on salt. Your water quality will make a difference in how well a detergent works for you.
- Because most of these detergents that I used for longer periods – Homemade Detergent, Country Save, and Nellie’s All Natural – don’t have optical brighteners in them, and because of our hard water, it is hard to keep my whites looking bright white. I’ve come to accept this as a side-effect of choosing to use natural detergents. So, we really don’t wear many white clothes besides socks, undies, and my hub’s undershirts – which I am okay if they aren’t bright white.
- Also, none of these detergents work perfectly on stains without some kind of pre-treatment/stain remover. We’ll be discussing ways to naturally remove stains, and keep whites looking bright, nest week.
So, as you can probably guess, I have to say my favorite brands of natural laundry detergent that I have tried so far are Country Save and Nellie’s All Natural Laundry Soda. They worked the best on dirt and stains, and left my clothes and other laundry smelling clean and fresh.
Because I know this is not an all-inclusive review of the many different brands of natural laundry detergent out there, I’d appreciate if you all would weigh in with your experience and advice on natural laundry detergents. I’d love for the comments to be full of useful information to add to this post to help others find a natural detergent that will work for them.
Also, this is a great review of eight green and natural laundry detergents at Keeper of the Home.
What kind of detergent do you use? What has been your experience with finding a good natural laundry detergent?
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*Disclosure – I received Ecover’s Laundry Wash and Nellie’s All Natural Laundry Soda for free to review. I always give my best and honest review of a product.