Polluting oil-based surfactants, marine life-killing phosphates, microplastics, unsustainable palm oil, animal products and toxic chemicals are all likely to turn up in the average laundry liquid. While you may be able to spot some of the culprits on the label, the law doesn’t even require them all to be disclosed. And that’s before we even get to the plastic bottle! Many people are now turning away from these formulated products altogether, toward new ideas like mineral washballs or more traditional cleaners including soap, vinegar and soda crystals.
If you’re not quite ready to make that leap, don’t despair. We’ve found two thoughtful companies who are making impressive efforts to offer laundry cleansers which are just that bit cleaner. Both avoid petrochemical-derived ingredients altogether, meaning their products won’t turn out to be adding liquid polymers or microplastics to our waterways. They’re also biodegradable, hypoallergenic and free from phosphates, optical brighteners, enzymes, GMOs, and synthetic perfumes. Each is both Vegan Society and Cruelty Free International certified, the only way you can currently be 100% confident that a cleaning product won’t contain either animal-derived ingredients or those tested on animals.
Around since 2012 and based in Somerset, Greenscents is certified both Soil Association organic and POFCAP palm oil free. The company’s super-concentrated laundry liquids are designed around a blend of naturally-occurring soapnut shells and shikakai pods, a detergent combination believed to date back to the 20th century BC, boosted with cider vinegar. The greenscents in question are, of course, natural essential oils rather than mystery chemical cocktails. The laundry liquid comes in a gorgeous amber glass bottle designed to be re-used. If you like an uplifting boost on opening the washing machine door, you’ll love the Citrus variety, but there are also Lavender and Minty options, and a Nonscents version, ideal for the super sensitive or anyone who thinks clean washing shouldn’t smell at all. If you’re keen to try one of the more basic alternatives, they also do an amazing organic liquid vegetable-derived Castile soap. They keep the recyclable plastic packaging to a minimum by supplying both 5 and 20 litre refills by post and you can return those containers to them free for re-use, but check locally for opportunities to cut them out altogether by refilling instead.
With Ecover and Method subject to boycott by animal lovers since they were bought up by SC Johnson in 2017, Hull-based Bio-D (for ‘biodegradable’) may now be the most widely-distributed of the detergent brands you can rely on. Set up in 1989 to create cleaners which didn’t introduce hazardous chemicals into the home, and still independent, Bio-D is one of only a handful of UK cleaning product manufacturers to have gained B-Corp certification, which indicates verified accountability and transparency in its treatment of both people and planet throughout the supply chain. It’s also RSPO certified for its sustainable use of palm oil. All its plastic bottles and refill containers are 100% recycled, sourced from kerbside collections. The impressive laundry range, designed around a coconut and citrus-based detergent, includes concentrated liquids in one, five or 20 litre containers, concentrated powders and a simple, oxygen-based bleach in plastic-free packaging, and a brilliant paper-wrapped stain remover bar. The Non-Bio Laundry Liquid comes in Juniper or Lavender, but we particularly love the Fragrance Free one, which has the shortest imaginable list of ingredients. The range is available from most good health food stores as well as online, and at many refilling stations.