If you're still using toxic, faux-fragranced detergent, dryer sheets and fabric softener, it's time to make the switch.  Not only are their non-toxic alternatives easier on your clothes, they're better for the environment and your health.  Here's why.


Conventional laundry products can contain harsh chemicals and fragrances that linger on your clothing.  (How's that for "clean?")  For example, synthetic fragrances are often derived from petrochemicals, may contain ingredients cited on the EPA's Hazardous Waste List, and have been linked to everything from cancer and birth defects to hormone disruption and diabetes.  (If you want to know more about the hazards of synthetic fragrances, here's a great article.)  Phenols are surfactants that have been linked to hormone disruption and growth of breast cancer cells.  They're also known to act as toxins for the heart, kidneys, lungs, and central nervous system.  Optical Brighteners are used to make whites look whiter, but don't actually clean any more effectively.  They often contain benzene (one of the 20 most commonly used chemicals in the US), which even the American Cancer Society has directly linked to cancer. And lastly, bleach is highly corrosive and known to irritate skin, eyes and respiratory system. 


  1. Follow washing instruction labels.  (Reference our handy printable guide to the right!)  From there, we recommend washing everything but sheets and towels in cold water and drying on low.  Saves energy and is easier on your clothes. 
  2. Adjust your expectations.  If you're you're used to products that leave white whiter with every wash or melt 3-month-old stains away in front of your eyes, please know: these are not those.  But they're also not chock-full of the chemicals that make that possible, either.
  3. Use a little elbow grease (especially when it comes to stain removal).  Follow the instructions to thoroughly apply (scrub, wipe, etc.), let sit, rinse and repeat if necessary.  
  4. Less is more.  Do you really need an arsenal of laundry products?  Nah.  One detergent, a dryer sheet alternative and a stain remover will cover the bases.
Copyright Keller Andrews Limited.  Icons via A.M. Briganti.

Copyright Keller Andrews Limited.  Icons via A.M. Briganti.


It can be tough to swap to a natural and/or non-toxic laundry detergent.  If you're used to an oxy-max-whitening-brightening-bleaching-magic-potion, please know that this isn't that.  But it also isn't laden with chemicals, doesn't smell like a faux-fragranced teddy bear, and won't harm the environment.  Your whites won't get brighter with every wash. (How does that happen?!  Chemicals.  That's how.)  But your clothes will be clean.  Note: Their liquid detergent doesn't score as well with the EWG as their powder option due to a few ingredients that have been loosely linked to environmental concerns like aquatic toxicity. 

Seventh Generation Natural Laundry Detergent, Amazon, Pack of 2, $25

We also tried... Honest Company's Laundry Detergent did not work as well and scored a "C" from the Environmental Working Group.  They do have a "pod" (powder) option, which scores better but we have not tried it.


Dryer balls are uh. mazing.  These are all-natural, hypoallergenic and organic wool.  No chemicals, no fragrances.  They bounce around and separate your laundry items, thereby reducing static, and even absorb moisture, which reduces dry time.  If that's not enough: they're guaranteed to last for fifteen. hundred. loads.  We like to leave all six balls in the dryer and just swap laundry loads.  There's a little caveat.  They will get caught in the arms of your shirts, the corners of your fitted sheets, and the ankles of your leggings.  It's annoying, yes.  But it's a small inconvenience when you consider the tradeoffs.  

Little Lamb Dryer Balls, Amazon, $15

We also tried... Honest Company's Dryer Cloths work but they score a "C" from the Environmental Working Group and create more waste than is necessary.


Heads up: natural and non-toxic stain removers require a little elbow grease to match wits with conventional options.  Be sure to apply it thoroughly, bolt/wipe/scrub, let it sit, etc.  It won't make stains disappear in mere seconds in front of your eyes (no chemicals, remember?) but it does work.

Ecover Stain Remover, Amazon, $5

We also tried... Honest Company's Stain Remover totally works.  But it scored a whopping "F" from the Environmental Working Group.  Wish we had looked that one up before assuming it was non-toxic!

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