Best ‘eco’ laundry detergents, according to expert testing
Our recent laundry detergents test highlighted that if you want the best dirt removal for your garments, you should go with the big brands. But what if you want a more environmentally friendly option, yet still need to shift the grime?
We’ve taken the data for any laundry detergent that has “eco” in its name, or uses eco-friendly style packaging, and popped it in the charts below to help you choose.
We test detergents on their ability to remove 10 different stains. Our overall score is weighted to more common stains – everyday grime, perspiration, and grass and mud – so if a product performs well with these, it’ll get a higher overall score.
If you want to see how good a product is at removing other types of stains, you can check the good and bad points in our test results.
How the products handled the main types of stains
Coming top is Ecostore’s Ultrapower 3-in-1 Citrus Fresh Laundry Powder, which scores 71 overall. It’s the only eco-branded product that made it into our top 10 (at number 10) for all the laundry detergents we tested.
It’s way ahead of all the other eco detergents at removing everyday grime, and equally as good at removing grass and mud.
If you prefer a liquid detergent (or have an auto-dosing washing machine that requires liquid), then your best option is the third-best-performing product – Ecostore’s Geranium and Orange Laundry Liquid. This product only scores 55 overall, though, and if geranium-and-orange smelling underpants isn’t your thing, there’s a fragrance-free version that scores one point less.
At the bottom of the eco pile we find three laundry sheet products, which we’d recommend avoiding.
If stain removal is your thing, here’s the top- and bottom-performing eco laundry detergents for the main stain types.
How the products handled food stains
We also test a number of common food stains. The results form part of a product’s overall score – we don’t usually publish the individual results.
But here’s our top and bottom picks, if you have a particular food stain you regularly need to remove – for example, if there’s a messy chocolate muncher in your household.
Our top Ecostore product still outshines all the others, with scores in the 70s for chocolate, baby food and tomato. It’s also clear that some products may be good at removing certain food stains, but poor at others – see Earthwise’s Laundry Liquid Ultra, which came in the top three for baby food but the bottom three for tomato.
Other common stains
When it comes to other common stains, Dirt Advanced Wash gets two of the top performance spots for mineral oil and make-up.
We also got some high scores among our eco laundry detergents for blood removal – so if you’re an environmentally friendly serial killer you have options.
The greenwashing caveat
Just because a package or brand states it’s better for the environment, doesn’t mean it is. Environmental claims need to be backed up – accreditation and ingredient lists help.
We assess the environmental credentials of products based on their claims and publish our findings on the tested products page.
The top-performing Ecostore Ultrapower 3-in-1 Citrus Fresh Laundry Powder received a “good” rating in our assessment, as it contains no phosphates, lists all its ingredients, and is grey water and septic tank safe.
Remain wary of greenwashing, where products state they are safer for the environment, without providing any real evidence to back these claims up.