Zero Waste Laundry Detergent Brands Taking Plastic Loads Off Landfills #zerowatelaundrydetergent #bestzerowatelaundrydetergent #plasticfreelaundrydetergent #zerowatelaundrydetergentbrands #sustainablejugle Image by Kind Laundry
Image by Kind Laundry
Zero Waste Laundry Detergent Brands Taking Plastic Loads Off Landfills #zerowatelaundrydetergent #bestzerowatelaundrydetergent #plasticfreelaundrydetergent #zerowatelaundrydetergentbrands #sustainablejugle Image by Meliora
Image by Meliora

13 Zero Waste Laundry Detergent Brands Taking Plastic Loads Off Landfills

Amber McDaniel

Laundry day is not so bad. Said no one ever.

Especially since in the USA alone, 2.5 million plastic bottles are used every hour (laundry detergent bottles being one of the most common offenders). To add to the load, only 14% of plastic packaging is actually recycled.

So it’s safe to say the planet hates laundry day even more than you do!

Fortunately, you can put a sustainable spin cycle on with zero waste laundry detergent

Laundry detergent without plastic is better for our planet and provides more conscious cleaning powder. 

So, what is the best sustainable laundry detergent?

Everything we recommend to you on Sustainable Jungle is independently researched and we ask all brands to confirm their claims. To avoid waste, we test products on an as needed basis. This post contains affiliate links. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a small commission. Learn more about why we do this here.

Plastic Free Laundry Detergent Brands We Love

For zero waste laundry powder, Meliora is making our (laundry) day with their conscious cleaning power in a reusable container.  

We’d agree with plastic free laundry detergent reviews that hold etee’s non liquid laundry detergent in high esteem. It’s powder and 100% plastic-free.  

And if you’re looking for the best plastic free laundry detergent from a no-fuss, no-measure perspective, Dropps laundry detergent is a standout.

Once you’ve completed that spin cycle through these sustainable laundry detergents, rinse off at the end to see how we selected the true brightest brands.

1. EcoRoots

Zero Waste Laundry Detergent Brands Taking Plastic Loads Off Landfills Image by Sustainable Jungle #zerowatelaundrydetergent #bestzerowatelaundrydetergent #plasticfreelaundrydetergent #zerowatelaundrydetergentbrands #sustainablejugle
Image by Sustainable Jungle

*Note: Most products offered by EcoRoots are palm oil free

About EcoRoots’ Zero Waste Alternative to Laundry Detergent

EcoRoots Eco-Strips utilize the uncompromising cleaning power of the plant-based cleaning agent: Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate. 

It works by gently displacing dirt and stains from textiles, keeping them suspended until they can be washed away.

These dissolvable strips are not only safe for travel, septic systems, and HE washing machines; they’re also safe for you and your family (even your zero waste baby).

That’s because they’re free of harsh chemicals, parabens, phthalates, phosphates, synthetic fragrances, dyes, brighteners, and animal byproducts.

Choose between fragrance free and fresh breeze (natural fragrance and essential oils).

They’re also available in singles or a money-saving duo pack—that’s extra value-add since each sheet is designed for two loads. Just tear in half and your whole pack will last a whopping 64 loads.

EcoRoots‘ Ethical and Sustainability Practices

For a long time, EcoRoots has been a go-to for our self-cleaning routines, think: shaving soap bars and zero waste razors. But now they’ve expanded their cleaning range to other areas of the home.

Their zero waste products come in reusable jars or compostable paper/cardboard and are always cruelty-free, palm oil-free, and largely vegan except for some occasional beeswax.

Also among our favorite brands that give back, this member of 1% for the Planet has donated over $10,000 so far to Ocean Conservancy.  

Also available on Amazon

2. Dropps

Zero Waste Laundry Detergent Brands Taking Plastic Loads Off Landfills #zerowatelaundrydetergent #bestzerowatelaundrydetergent #plasticfreelaundrydetergent #zerowatelaundrydetergentbrands #sustainablejugle Image by Dropps
Image by Dropps

About Dropps’ Zero Waste Laundry Detergent Made in the USA

Dropps’ plastic free laundry detergent pods pack a stain fighting punch. 

Between naturally-derived lavender and eucalyptus scents, sensitive skin varieties, and either stain or odor fighting formulas, they make something for (almost) every lifestyle.  

As with their eco-friendly dishwasher tablets, the sustainable laundry pods are made using polyvinyl alcohol (PVOH) which is dissolvable in any type of washing machine and in cold water. 

Dropping plastic waste even more, Dropps uses biodegradable packaging: a fully compostable, recyclable, and FSC-certified cardboard box. 

Dropps‘s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Dropps is the original low waste laundry detergent pod, combining sustainability and effective cleaning formulations.

The brand uses exclusively plant-based ingredients, manufactures in the United States, and does not support the use animal testing. They do use palm oil, but source RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil. 

Dropps also use carbon-neutral shipping (meaning they offset 100% of their shipping carbon footprint) and partner with ocean-saving Oceana.

Also available on EarthHero

3. Earth Breeze

Zero Waste Laundry Detergent Brands Taking Plastic Loads Off Landfills #zerowatelaundrydetergent #bestzerowatelaundrydetergent #plasticfreelaundrydetergent #zerowatelaundrydetergentbrands #sustainablejugle Image by Earth Breeze
Image by Earth Breeze

About Earth Breeze’s Zero Waste Laundry Sheets

Price: One-Time Purchase $25–Subscription Price $15

While offering uncompromising cleaning power, Earth Breeze’s zero waste eco-strips are safe on our planet and sensitive skin.

Available in Fresh Scent and Fragrance Free versions, each box can handle up to 60 loads, which is far more than your average laundry detergent.

They’re packed with chlorine bleach free ingredients like glycerol, sodium dodecyl sulfate, and PVA.

The biodegradable ingredients are also free of parabens, phthalates, phosphates, dyes and palm oil.

They’re suitable for sensitive skin, just as effective in cold water and gentle enough to wash cloth nappies with.

Earth Breeze‘s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Earth Breeze is a member of 1% For the Planet and is carbon neutral through We Are Neutral.

They only use vegan and animal-friendly ingredients. The sheets are sent in biodegradable and compostable packaging, maintaining your waste free laundry room theme.

With every sale, Earth Breeze financially contributes to projects that plant trees and cleans up oceans. 

They also regularly partner with charities and nonprofits, through which they donate laundry sustainable detergent and meals to those in need. 

4. Kind Laundry

Zero Waste Laundry Detergent Brands Taking Plastic Loads Off Landfills #zerowatelaundrydetergent #bestzerowatelaundrydetergent #plasticfreelaundrydetergent #zerowatelaundrydetergentbrands #sustainablejugle Image by Kind Laundry
Image by Kind Laundry

*Note: We have reached out to this brand to confirm their ethical policies with no response to date.


Kind Laundry’s low-waste detergent treats your clothes to conscious cleaning power.

Hand washing, top-loading, front-loading, and HE washing machines, their laundry detergent sheets are versatile no matter your clothes washing preference.

Each contains just 5 ingredients and are non-toxic and free of allergens, petroleum, parabens, phosphates, phthalates, dyes, artificial colors, and optical brighteners.

However, one of the ingredients (Polyglycol Ether) is a common palm derivative so we’ll check on their palm policy.

Best of all, these premeasured sheets are ultra convenient for both the home and travel. Choose between fragrance-free and ocean breeze scented.

The sheets themselves are dissolvable (made from PVOH) and the plastic free packaging the laundry detergent comes in is compostable.

Kind Laundry‘s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Based in Toronto, Canada, Kind Laundry is Leaping Bunny Cruelty Free Certified and does everything under the mission to “create a more sustainable future”.

Founders Bernard and Angie started the company in their very own laundry room, after they decided to create a more “bearable” way to do laundry. They believe:

“As consumers, we have the power to change the world by being careful in what we buy and consume.”

That’s why they wanted to give people a safe and non-toxic alternative to plastic laundry jugs.

5. Tru Earth

Zero Waste Laundry Detergent Brands Taking Plastic Loads Off Landfills #zerowatelaundrydetergent #bestzerowatelaundrydetergent #plasticfreelaundrydetergent #zerowatelaundrydetergentbrands #sustainablejugle Image by Tru Earth
Image by Tru Earth

*Note: While these strips do not directly contain palm oil, it is used in the manufacturing of two of the ingredients. This palm oil is RSPO-certified and Tru Earth is currently seeking more sustainable alternatives to these ingredients.

About Tru Earth Eco Strips: Waste Free Laundry Detergent

We think Tru Earth is one of best low waste laundry detergent options on the market.


Because it’s a time saver. You can just drop one of these pre-measured strips in the wash, set your cycle, and walk away. 

It’s available in either fresh linen scent and fragrance-free, these OECD 310D-certified biodegradable papers are suitable for all sustainable washing machines, including HE machines.

Aside from no measuring or wasted laundry room space, these strips have no palm oil, gluten, SLS/SLES, parabens, phosphates, added dyes, chlorine bleach, 1,4-dioxane (certified by labs), or animal-based ingredients.

Instead, they contain a dermatologist-certified hypoallergenic formulation using soy vegetable glycerin (for natural softening), plant starch, a coconut oil-based foam booster, and mineral and essential oils.

They even contain a water softener that’s plant-derived, food-grade, and biodegradable so folks with hard water can still reap the benefits.

They do not tolerate testing on animals by either themselves or their ingredient suppliers.

All that is to say Tru Earth is a non toxic sustainable laundry brand you should try. 

However, it’s worth noting these sheets do contain polyvinyl alcohol and thus should be considered dissolvable, not truly biodegradable, to err on the safe side. 

Tru Earth‘s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

“If it’s so eco-friendly, how the heck does it get my clothes clean?”

If you share this opinion by former skeptic and Tru Earth co-founder, let this brand change your mind. 

Tru Earth eco strips are some of the best zero waste laundry detergent for smelly clothes. 

All in a tiny, paper strip manufactured in Canada.

After finding grime, each one dislodges dirt molecules and combats stains, keeping them in suspension until they are rinsed away.

Aside from reducing your carbon footprint at home, these products reduce your carbon footprint before they get to your front door.

Since these strips weigh only 3 grams, they’re 94% lighter than traditional laundry detergent, which equates to far lower transportation emissions.

The brand has calculated that if everyone switched to Tru Earth Eco Strips, the yearly savings would amount to saving 700 million plastic jugs from hitting the landfills and taking 27 million cars off the road (that’s the equivalent of planting 9 million trees).

6. Symbiotic Products LLC

Zero Waste Laundry Detergent Brands Taking Plastic Loads Off Landfills #zerowatelaundrydetergent #bestzerowatelaundrydetergent #plasticfreelaundrydetergent #zerowatelaundrydetergentbrands #sustainablejugle Image by Symbiotic Products
Image by Symbiotic Products

About Symbiotic Products LLC‘s Plastic Free Laundry Detergent

Want homemade zero waste laundry detergent without actually having to make anything?

Enter: Etsy. With more options than you’ll know what to do with. One such shop worth considering is Symbiotic Products LLC

Taking up minimal space in your laundry room, a box of Symbiotic Products LLC’s Eco Clean Sheets can handle up to 100 loads—at just 20c for each one. 

Bulk orders are available, too (400 loads).

They work in all water temperatures and washers, including HE.

The small ingredient list includes “plant-derived” polyvinyl alcohol—which differs from the synthetic plastic-derived version we know. We’ll reach out to ask more about their natural PVA. 

Symbiotic Products LLC‘s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Coming to the rest of the world from Washington, Symbiotic Products LLC”will not stop until sustainable products are the norm.”

The Etsy wholesale shop specializes in home and body cleaning products that are better for Earth. 

All products are 100% vegan and free of animal testing. 

7. Etee

Zero Waste Laundry Detergent Brands Taking Plastic Loads Off Landfills Image by Sustainable Jungle #zerowatelaundrydetergent #bestzerowatelaundrydetergent #plasticfreelaundrydetergent #zerowatelaundrydetergentbrands #sustainablejugle
Image by Sustainable Jungle

*Note: etee’s laundry soap is vegan and palm oil free but some of their other products (i.e. dish soap) are not.

About etee’s No Plastic Laundry Detergent

etee’s concentrated laundry detergent powder will no doubt justify the valuable real estate it takes up in your zero waste laundry room. 

Unlike laundry detergent pods (which are made with PVA, polyvinyl acetate), the powder is super concentrated and completely plastic-free. You need just one tablespoon per load. 

You’ll be washing with safe, unscented, biodegradable ingredients that can handle tough stains without relying on sulfates, parabens, or harsh chemicals. 

Even the paper bag the laundry powder comes in features a biodegradable lining! 

For extra tough stains (read: bloody noses, spilled coffee, grass stains), there’s also a zero-waste laundry bar. 

We’re not the only ones feeling sudsy about etee’s laundry detergent. 

If you’re curious about zero waste laundry detergent reviews, just know this laundry soap has amassed a following from National Geographic, Rachel Ray, and the Food Network.

etee‘s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

We’re thankful that a kayaking trip gone wrong inspired the brand to make beeswax wraps. Now they’re one of our favorite ethical alternatives to Amazon

In addition to making zero plastic laundry detergent, this Canadian brand brings a sustainable sparkle to our homes and bodies with their zero waste dish soap, organic face moisturizer, organic body wash, and much more.

They hand make all products using mostly organic ingredients (in an HQ fueled by renewables) and never use plastic. 

They’ve prevented more than 100 million pieces of single-use plastic from being produced.

8. Bestowed Essentials

Zero Waste Laundry Detergent Brands Taking Plastic Loads Off Landfills #zerowatelaundrydetergent #bestzerowatelaundrydetergent #plasticfreelaundrydetergent #zerowatelaundrydetergentbrands #sustainablejugle Image by Bestowed Essentials
Image by Bestowed Essentials

About Bestowed Essentials’ Plastic Free Laundry Detergent Made in the USA

Just a tablespoon of Bestowed Essentials’ sustainable laundry detergent powder helps the plastic waste go down. 

Less is certainly more in their zero waste laundry soap formulation made of recognizable ingredients like baking soda, epsom salt, and washing soda, which comes in a compostable paper bag.

Like all other products, you’ll never find preservatives, sulphates, fragrances, coloring, or parabens in their no waste laundry detergent. 

Bestowed Essentials‘ Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Helping us to wash up and save our world, neurodivergent-female-veteran-owned Bestowed Essentials has zero waste hand soap and other cleaning supplies for homes and bodies. 

Rapid City, South Dakota is where they ship from—or you can find them at dozens of retailers in the US and Canada.

As a social enterprise, all goods are made by individuals who face barriers to employment and BE helps out in additional ways by donating funds and time to help those in need. 

Everything, down to the shipping tape, is plastic-free and biodegradable. 

All products are PETA-certified Cruelty Free, 100% vegan, and palm oil-free, too. 

9. Ethique

Zero Waste Laundry Detergent Brands Taking Plastic Loads Off Landfills #zerowatelaundrydetergent #bestzerowatelaundrydetergent #plasticfreelaundrydetergent #zerowatelaundrydetergentbrands #sustainablejugle Image by Ethique
Image by Ethique

About Ethique’s Zero Waste Laundry Detergent Bar

Ethique’s Flash! Solid Laundry Bar & Stain Remover is one of the best zero waste laundry detergents that easily justifies its inclusion here.

Made with 100% biodegradable ingredients and pure essential oils (read: no chlorine bleach), the bar smells beautiful and lasts longer than you’d expect.

This bar is effective on dirt molecules, but gentle on our Earth. 

Being a solid form of vegan and plastic free laundry detergent, it comes with minimal packaging—just an easily recyclable or compostable cardboard sleeve. 

The general consensus of converts is how well this product works, especially at removing stains and even making whites brighter. And who doesn’t love the fact that it’s lasting longer than today’s conventional liquid laundry detergents?

While it can only be used to hand wash clothes, it’s great for traveling, camping, backpacking, or just washing hands or dishes. It’s not suitable for washing machines, but maybe we should all be using our washing machines a little less often, eh?

Ethique’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Ethique may have started in New Zealand a few years back, but now their plastic-free and natural products are found all over the world. 

We’re big fans of their zero waste shampoo and zero waste deodorant. And we’ve also just uncovered their organic face wash.

Ethique ticks all the boxes when it comes to sustainability—their products are vegan, cruelty-free, non-toxic, and palm oil free. They also use thoughtful packaging (all products are in bar form!) and ethical sourcing. 

Plus they’re a certified B-Corp and unlike most other zero waste brands are certified climate neutral, too. 

Not only do they carbon offset their emissions, but they also contribute to charity projects each year.

Impressive right? But they’re also very much future focused: “So far we’ve saved over 8 million plastic bottles from entering landfill, and we’re just getting started: our next goal is 50 million by 2025.”

Also available on Amazon

10. Meliora

Zero Waste Laundry Detergent Brands Taking Plastic Loads Off Landfills #zerowatelaundrydetergent #bestzerowatelaundrydetergent #plasticfreelaundrydetergent #zerowatelaundrydetergentbrands #sustainablejugle Image by Meliora
Image by Meliora

About Meliora’s Zero Waste Powder Laundry Detergent

If you’re looking for variety, Meliora provides a vegan and plastic free laundry detergent for every scent preference and cleaning need: unscented; lavender; lemon; lemon lavender clove; and more (all using certified organic essential oils instead of synthetic fragrances).

Natural ingredients like baking soda, washing soda, and vegetable soap make this non-toxic laundry detergent for everyone—even those with sensitive skin. 

For really tough stains, they carry a stain removing soap stick to lighten up your whites.

In addition to their laundry powder, all products are vegan, cruelty-free, and MADE SAFE Certified. They also come in a plastic-free and reusable canister.

Meliora‘s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Meliora Means Better—and they’re achieving this by making products that are better for people and the planet.

They make several eco-home and body care alternatives, and even have a plastic-free collection. An ethical online shopping no-brainer!

The B Corp and Leaping Bunny certified company is also women-owned, provides living wages, uses low-impact products and packaging, and gives back a percentage of profits through partnerships with 1% For the Planet and Women’s Voices for the Earth.

11. Dr. Bronner’s

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Image by Sustainable Jungle

*Note: the plastic bottles are made with 100% recycled plastic

About Dr. Bronner’s Bulk Laundry Detergent Zero Waste

Dr. Bronner’s doesn’t sell laundry detergent per se, but their 18-in-1 liquid castile soap is an organic shampoo, soap, natural body wash, dish soap, and laundry detergent (and 13 other things…).

It’s really the multi-purpose poster child for home and personal cleaning.

Just mix ⅓ to ½ cup ofthe soap with ½ cup of vinegar (or divide this recipe in half for HE washing machines) for a natural and effective laundry soap for hand washing or any wash cycle. 

It’s kind of like a homemade zero waste laundry detergent, but without all the work that goes into responsible ingredient sourcing and mixing.  

Dr. Bronner’s does come in a plastic bottle but the fact that it can be used for a variety of purposes means that it still greatly reduces the amount of packaging that purchasing traditional detergent would require.

Plus, it’s so concentrated that one of these bottles will last you a long time.

Many local zero waste shops, organic grocery stores (like Whole Foods), and health food stores sell bulk refills of Dr. Bronner’s, so you can refill the same bottle again and again—making it one of the few zero waste liquid laundry detergent options around.

Dr. Bronner’s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

If you’ve ever read the Dr. Bronner’s book (ahem, label), you’ll know that there are “cosmic principles” that drive everything the brand does. 

Ever since Emanuel Bronner founded the brand in the 1960s, they’ve been using the purest organic and fair trade ingredients.

After all, any product that can be used to wash your clothes AND brush your teeth must be made of some seriously cosmic stuff.

Their credentials certainly speak to this fact: Regenerative Organic Certified, USDA Certified, Fair Life Certified, Oregon Tilth Certified Organic, NSF Certified, Leaping Bunny Certified, and Non-GMO Project Verified. And they’re a Certified B-Corp. 

They use equitable supply chains, fair trade sourcing, renewable organic agriculture practices, renewable energy, and 100% post-consumer recycled plastic packaging.

In house, they also offer 100% free health care for all employees, a cap on executive salaries, and profit sharing for full-time employees.

We could go on and on, but Dr. Bronner’s gives back in too many ways to count. 

Also available on Amazon (UK)

12. Zero Co.

Zero Waste Laundry Detergent Brands Taking Plastic Loads Off Landfills #zerowatelaundrydetergent #bestzerowatelaundrydetergent #plasticfreelaundrydetergent #zerowatelaundrydetergentbrands #sustainablejugle Image by Zero Co
Image by Zero Co

*Note: Zero Co. uses RSPO MB certified palm oil, meaning some is sustainable palm oil but not all.

About Zero Co.’s Zero Waste Laundry Detergent Made in Australia

Attention all Australian readers: Zero Co. is your cleaning hero co!

You can sign up for the company’s plastic free laundry detergent subscriptions to receive single-use plastic free deliveries on your first order, courtesy of their forever bottle, which is made of ocean, beach, & landfill plastic. 

Every zero waste laundry detergent refill is also made in recycled plastic—and much less than you’d get with most laundry detergents.

Plus, it’s sure to smell delicious as it contains Lemon Myrtle and Australian Grey Gum. 

Zero Co.‘s Ethical and Sustainability Practices

We actually interviewed the founder Mike Smith on our Podcast and he’s the real deal. 

All of Zero Co.’s packaging is made from recycled materials and their entire range can be classified as refillable cleaning products.

Zero waste liquid detergent is one of them, which will aim to help customers “take a load off mother earth”.

Their affordable zero waste laundry detergent also ends up being cheaper than what you’d get at the supermarket and features some of the most natural ingredients.

All products are also vegan, cruelty-free, plant-based, free of palm oil, grey water safe and made in Australia. 

Their palm oil bears an RSPO MB certification so it comes from both RSPO-certified and non-certified businesses, but they’re working toward all sustainable palm oil in the future, as well as more palm oil free products. 

13. Dirty Labs

Zero Waste Laundry Detergent Brands Taking Plastic Loads Off Landfills #zerowatelaundrydetergent #bestzerowatelaundrydetergent #plasticfreelaundrydetergent #zerowatelaundrydetergentbrands #sustainablejugle Image by Dirty Labs
Image by Dirty Labs

*Note: Dirty Labs only uses RSPO certified palm oil

About Dirty Labs’ Zero Waste Liquid Laundry Detergent Made in USA

Dirty Labs’ plastic free liquid laundry detergent is highly concentrated, readily biodegradable, nontoxic, and packaged in a recyclable aluminum bottle. 

They have a Free & Clear version and Signature (Magnolia + Bergamot + Cedar). The fragrance is free of all EU listed allergens. 

The plastic free laundry detergent can be paired with their Bio Enzyme Laundry Booster, which uses biosynthesis, a biorenewable fermentation process that creates proprietary 5-in-1 enzyme driven cleaning technology, Phytolase®. 

This eliminates odors, softens without requiring fats (that can ruin activewear), and brightens without optical brighteners. 

Because the formula is hyper-concentrated, the package sizes are much smaller, which significantly reduces the transportation carbon footprint. 

Dirty Labs‘ Ethical and Sustainability Practices

Their ingredients are backed up by several certifications: EPA Safer Choice, USDA Certified Biobased, EWG Verified, PETA Animal Test-Free and Vegan, and National Eczema Association. 

An ingredient sourcing map shows that most of their responsibly sourced ingredients come from the USA.

Everything is shipped in plastic free packaging, too. 

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What Is Sustainable Laundry Detergent?

As with most eco-products, there’s a spectrum of alternatives that we’d consider as sustainable laundry detergents.

But sustainable laundry detergent packaging aside, sustainable laundry soaps are made with natural, biodegradable materials, and not detergents.


Because, detergents, by definition, are synthetic phosphate-rich substances that are NOT biodegradable.

Meaning every time you wash your clothes, a lot of nasty surfactants are being dumped into the world’s sewage systems, where it can then slowly leach into the environment.

This harms septic systems, sometimes pollutes drinking water, causes death and disease to fish and other aquatic life, and leads to eutrophication in natural waterways.

This overabundance of phosphorus leads to overgrowth of aquatic plants like algae leaving oxygen-depleted “dead zones”.

Because 50% to 75% of phosphorus in lakes and rivers is now detergent-derived, we’re basically expediting the natural eutrophication process from thousands of years, to just decades.

Combine sustainable laundry detergent with no plastic and each mountain of laundry can do a whole heap of good. 

Why Choose Plastic Free Laundry Detergent?

They’re not just an annoyance when hauling them to and from your laundry room, plastic jugs are taking a toll on our planet, too.

Which is why the OECD has produced multiple reports (including a recent study on detergent bottles) into the sustainability considerations of plastic packaging following the Global Forum on “Plastics in a Circular Economy: Design of Sustainable Plastics from a Chemicals Perspective”. 

To put it into perspective, 900 million laundry jugs are discarded annually in North America alone. 

And just 30% of the HDPE jugs are recycled. The rest take thousands of years to degrade in landfills, releasing microplastics and toxic chemicals in the process. 

That’s why low and no waste laundry detergents are a necessity, along with dryer sheet alternatives.

How We Found The Best Zero Waste Laundry Detergent Brands

Ok, so we all need to use zero waste laundry detergent which generally means plastic free laundry detergent. 

But zero waste laundry detergent packaging isn’t the only thing we look for. Here are some other important considerations:

  • Zero waste: Naked bars, compostable paper sacks, reusable glass, and recyclable metal containers are obvious first choices. 

However, while we prioritize plastic-free brands, we don’t necessarily discount one for using a small amount of plastic packaging, so long as they offer a take-back / refill program. Ideally from a local refill station for truly zero waste bulk laundry detergent but refills from a bulk online store works, too. 

Other options are brands that do their best to ensure a little plastic from them will replace a whole lot. Dr. Bronner’s is a good example here.

  • Non-toxic: When it comes to the ingredients, we look for brands using natural and non-toxic ingredients (ideally organic). Ticking such criteria means the soap will be biodegradable, completely breaking down into water, CO2, and biomass in under a year. 

Polyvinyl alcohol, of course, is a tricky concept when it comes to end-of-life outcomes, so we recommend reading up on it a little lower down.

  • Vegan: Because animals don’t belong in your clothes, let alone in the stuff used to clean them.
  • Cruelty-free: No animal testing. Even if a product doesn’t have any animal byproducts, we need to make sure it doesn’t fall into the ethical-gap between vegan and cruelty free.
  • Palm oil free: Palm oil is one of the most environmentally devastating crops, so laundry detergent pods can be pro-orangutan if they avoid the ingredient, or at least use RSPO certified palm.
  • Ethical sourcing/manufacturing: We look at how brands source their materials, what other organizations they work with, and what they do to make their manufacturing process as green and fair as possible.

Lastly, while not a necessity here, we also consider what brands are doing to give back.

We are always impressed by any who have a charitable initiative for social or environmental good. 

A note on polyvinyl alcohol (PVOH, PVA, PVAL)

Abbreviated as PVA, PVOH, and sometimes PVAL, polyvinyl alcohol is a fossil-based (i.e. plastic) biopolymer that is water-soluble. 

Aside from laundry pods and sheets, PVA has tons of applications, such as dishwasher pods, contact lenses, and even eye drops. This is because it’s so flexible, chemical-resilient, and low in toxicity (especially compared to other plastics).

But being derived from a petrochemical is not actually the biggest issue with PVA/PVOH.

The problem with PVA

Here’s our deep dive on: is PVA eco friendly? For the summary, keep reading.

Many companies market PVA products as biodegradable when they’re not.

They’re dissolvable, which is an important distinction to make. Even though PVA dissolves into a “non-harmful” monomer, it’s still leaving something behind.

Technically speaking, PVA/PVOH does have the capacity to fully biodegrade in water, but not within an acceptable time frame unless under very specific conditions (which necessitate the presence of certain enzymes and microorganisms and a prolonged period of time).

Studies show these conditions are rarely met by wastewater treatment plants where most PVA ends up.

Over 75% of PVA in the U.S. alone isn’t properly treated and remains in our waterways—to the tune of 8,000 tons per year.

The environmental ramifications of this include a contaminated food chain, worsened crop yields, groundwater pollution, and heavy metal sequestration.

So, can polyvinyl alcohol ever be considered eco friendly?

On one hand, PVA is a far better alternative than other types of plastic that don’t break down at all and contribute to beach pollution and plastic islands cluttering our world’s oceans.

On the other, it’s still releasing a form of plastic pollution: microplastics. In that way, PVA/PVOH isn’t truly zero waste. Though it’s (much) less wasteful, so your stance on the material likely depends on how literally you interpret the term.

As we’ve discussed at length on the subject of what is zero waste, zero waste often doesn’t literally mean zero waste. Since that is (almost) never achievable. Which is why we’ve included some brands using this material.

In short, PVA is the lesser of many evils. If the convenience factor of pods and sheets is the difference between choosing a fully chemical laden, plastic-packaged pod or one of these, we’d much rather they choose one of the four options on this list.

That said, we certainly advocate for more companies being upfront about the drawbacks of polyvinyl alcohol, as well as its benefits and we hope this clears the wash water a bit so you can tackle the next laundry day with a bit more know-how.

In the near future, we hope to see PVA alternatives making pods and papers truly planet-friendly.

The technology is there, evidenced by etee’s beeswax dish soap pods, but seeing as natural waxes and oils are more expensive and difficult to use, it’s an uncommon alternative that is far from hitting critical mass. 

Final Thoughts On Plastic Free Laundry Detergent Brands

If that mountain of dirty clothes in your closet is eye-balling you, don your red cape—because now you’re packing low and no waste laundry detergent alternatives. 

While you’re at it, pair that with a cold water cycle, zero waste laundry accessories (like the Guppyfriend bag), and Earth’s super-efficient dryer (the sun) and you can save laundry day with a routine our planet would be proud of. 

Voila…clean clothes, clean planet. 

Let’s make laundry day something to celebrate (as much as we can anyways). Spread sustainable suds and news of the best zero waste detergent with your friends and family.

Pin these:
Zero Waste Laundry Detergent Brands Taking Plastic Loads Off Landfills #zerowatelaundrydetergent #bestzerowatelaundrydetergent #plasticfreelaundrydetergent #zerowatelaundrydetergentbrands #sustainablejugle Image by Kind Laundry
Zero Waste Laundry Detergent Brands Taking Plastic Loads Off Landfills #zerowatelaundrydetergent #bestzerowatelaundrydetergent #plasticfreelaundrydetergent #zerowatelaundrydetergentbrands #sustainablejugle Image by Kind Laundry

14 thoughts on “13 Zero Waste Laundry Detergent Brands Taking Plastic Loads Off Landfills”

  1. When you are using the word “detergent” here is it interchangeable with “soap”? I’m looking for laundry soap, not detergent, so I’m curious if any of those listed above fall into that category. Thanks for such a helpful website!

    • Hi Stacy, apologies for the confusion, yes we generally use the terms zero waste soap and detergent interchangeably. If you’re looking for a soap bar – I use Ethique’s bar (which is on this list) and I really love it. Also the Dr Bronner’s castile soap is a liquid soap that you can use for laundry too. Hope that helps!

  2. I recently reached out to Dropps and they confirmed PVOH which is used to form the pod is a direct derivative of PVA, i.e. PVOH is a fossil fuel-derived plastic. There are also studies (although this is up for debate) that these materials often don’t biodegrade in most wastewater treatment facilities. You may want to reconsider including this product in your post.

    • Hi Sarah, Thank you so much for raising this issue. We’ve had a few comments making the same point so we have made some adjustments to the article separating those detergents that use PVOH and those that don’t. We’ve also added a short explainer in the intro and a more detailed explanation at the bottom. Hope this helps to make the choices clearer for those out there on the hunt for the most low impact laundry detergent. Thanks again!

  3. PVOH is less friendly than perhaps it seems at first glance. It’s worth looking into more deeply before deciding it is an environmentally friendly alternative to loose powder or tablets or even detergent sheets.

  4. Hi there!

    First things – I LOVE your site, every time I’ve made a zero-waste switch your website has been totally invaluable.

    Second – smol is (from what I’ve gathered) the U.K. version of dropps. I’m not sure about whether they contain palm oil or not (their website isn’t terribly transparent on that). They are, however, plastic free, vegan, and free from animal testing, so thought I should highlight for your U.K. readers!

    • Hello, I live in the UK and have recently asked smol about their palm oil policy. They came back to me straight away with an open, honest answer, so full marks for customer service.

      They have confirmed that they don’t use palm oil as such as an ingredient, but that their glycerin comes from a mix of soy, palm and coconut; albeit the palm oil is from RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil).

      From what I understand, the RSPO have their own controversies and despite best intentions, true sustainability can never be guaranteed. I therefore prefer not to use palm oil at all.

      Pity, as I was looking forward to trying smol. I will keep the brand on my radar to see whether their palm oil practice improves in the future.

  5. I absolutely love the way the products are listed with a small legend on the right indicating all the essential points in red and green. It makes decision making so easy. Apart from that, I like the background provided about each company.

    Best website! Thank you much!


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