Are detergents biodegradable? (7 ingredients to avoid in detergents) 

The article will target the biodegradability of detergents while also covering aspects such as 

  • Are detergents eco-friendly?
  • What are the ingredients that you need to avoid when buying detergents?
  • What is the relation of detergents with plants?
  • How to discard biodegradable detergent packaging?
  • How to discard non-biodegradable detergent packaging?
  • What packaging to look for when buying detergents?
  • What are some eco-friendly brands?

Are detergents biodegradable?

When it comes to detergents’ biodegradability, the quick rule is whether the detergents are made from natural ingredients or synthetic ingredients. 

If the detergents are made from natural ingredients such as plant-based ingredients, they will be biodegradable. 

However, if the detergents are made from synthetic ingredients, they will not be given the status of being biodegradable. 

The primary reason is that the detergents made from synthetic ingredients will persist in nature for a longer duration of time as the microbes will be unable to break down their inner structures. 

What to avoid in detergents? (7 ingredients) 

The next time you went for shopping detergents, you need to be wary of ingredients such as

  • Phosphates
  • Formaldehyde 
  • Bleach 
  • Sulphates
  • Dioxanes
  • Artificial colourants 
  • Unspecified fragrance 

Are detergents eco-friendly?

Again, the answer to this question will vary subjectively. Before we advance further, we need to acquaint ourselves with what eco-friendly actually means. 

When something is eco-friendly, it usually means that it is friendly to nature and there are no negative effects on nature, the production or the use of that particular consumer product. 

When it comes to ingredients, there are both eco-friendly detergents and non-eco-friendly detergents. 

Eco-friendly detergents are those that offer properties such as

  • The detergents are made from biodegradable materials
  • The detergents feature the use of natural or plant-based ingredients 
  • The detergents come in biodegradable packaging 
  • If there is no biodegradable packaging, the ingredients come in recycled packaging
  • The detergents feature the use of recyclable material which can be easily recycled 
  • The detergents are vegan 
  • The detergents are cruelty-free
  • The detergents are certified for credentials such as biodegradable, vegan, or cruelty-free 

In contrast to this, there are non-eco-friendly detergents. These detergents mostly feature the use of non-biodegradable ingredients. There is an active use of chemicals such as triclosan or parabens. These chemicals have been established negatively with nature. 

More than that, the materials used in non-eco-friendly detergents also relate negatively with other organisms too such as aquatic or marine life. 

What happens is that when the detergents are used, the leftovers enter water bodies through the drainage channels. 

When this happens, there is a direct exposure of the content of the ingredients to the life that resides in the water bodies. As a result, if the ingredients are degradative in nature, there are negative and degradative consequences on the life that comes in contact with them. 

What is the relation with plants?

The exact answer depends on the amount. In small amounts, detergents are not harmful to plants because, in small amounts, there will be the introduction of elements to the plants that may facilitate plants’ growth. 

However, in large quantities, there will be degradative effects such as a change in pH, and other dynamics such as salinity et cetera. 

What about the packaging of detergents?

There are three polarities that are observed when it comes to the packaging of detergents. These include

  • The packaging is biodegradable 
  • The packaging is recycled and made from recycled material 
  • The packaging is not recyclable and is not made from recycled material 

Let us discuss all three points to develop a stance and side on the packaging of detergents. 

The first case

The first case is that the packaging is biodegradable. If we were to give any hierarchy, then this polarity would be rated the best because it is the most advantageous to nature. 

The reason why biodegradable packaging is the best is that this packaging is made from natural materials (in the majority of cases) and that means that there would be decreased environmental anomalies rendered on the environment and associated aspects such as life. 

Also, biodegradable packaging can be put to a lot of good uses such as composting. So, what composting is in the first place? Composting is the breakdown of biodegradable and organic waste into compost. 

Let us, therefore, assess how composting can be done. When it comes to that, there are two polarities that one can incline on. 

One is that composting can be done at the composting centres. You do not really need to do much here. All you need to do is to transport the compostable material to the composting centres. 

However, if you find the first option a little boring, there is some excitement in the room for you and that means you can actually compost the packaging of dip laundry detergent at home as well! All you need to do is to follow the simple given steps 

  • Select a suitable place for composting 
  • The place should be accessible as well
  • Shred the compostable material into small pieces to improve the efficiency and yield of the composting process
  • Make alternate layers of green and brown material. There should be aerators at the start of the pile. 
  • Be sure to continuously mix up the pile so that there is proper aeration. 
  • Also be sure to provide the right external conditions such as pressure, sunlight, and aeration 
  • Mix up the pile every week 
  • The compost should be ready in 5-8 months

The second case

The next best thing in line is that the packaging features the use of recycled material and is also recyclable. This means that there are two major advantages that are offered here. 

One is that there is the use of recycled material. This means that the utilisation of non-biodegradable waste such as plastics alleviates the overall burden that is posited on nature. 

Also, the leftover material (packaging material) can be then given to recycling centres or discarded in green-coloured bins intended for recycled material so that the eco-problems such as waste accumulation or waste built-up may be tackled. 

The third case

The third case is the least eco-friendly because there is the use of virgin material which means giving the environment a lot of stress and a lot of strain. 

Also, if the packaging is not recyclable, there will be issues such as the packaging waste will be put into landfills where it will remain for many years. 

This will spring many eco-issues such as waste accumulation and global warming, not to mention pollution too. 

What are some eco-friendly brands?

When it comes to buying detergents, you need to stick with eco-friendly brands that will cause the least damage to the environment. 

  • DirtyDirty Labs Free & Clear Liquid Laundry Detergent
  • 9 Elements Eucalyptus Liquid Laundry Detergent
  • Grove Care & Renew Lavender & Rosemary Liquid Laundry Detergent
  • Tide purclean Unscented Liquid Laundry Detergent
  • Defunkify Lavender Liquid Laundry Detergent
  • Seventh Generation Free & Clear Laundry Detergent Packs
  • Dip detergent 

These brands are claimed to be sustainable offering the following environmental benefits such as

  • Biodegradable 
  • Made from natural and naturally sourced materials
  • Made from renewable energy 
  • Biodegradable and recyclable packaging
  • Recycled packaging material
  • Certified from green organisations 


It is concluded that detergents are only biodegradable if they are made from natural, organic, and plant-based materials. However, detergents are made from chemicals and ingredients that are derived from petrochemicals and non-renewable sources of energy. Since these ingredients are not derived from nature, their return to nature is also impossible. 

The article also discussed the aspects that made detergents eco-friendly or non-eco-friendly. The aspects include packaging, ingredients, certifications, and being cruelty-free or not. 

Lastly, the article discussed the packaging aspects of detergents and explained three cases or polarities that are observed when it comes to the packaging of detergents. 


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