Is laundry detergent biodegradable?

This blog post will answer the question, “Is laundry detergent biodegradable” and cover topics like the biodegradability of laundry detergent and frequently asked questions related to the topic.

Is laundry detergent biodegradable?

The great majority of detergents are not biodegradable, especially brand-name detergents. They include non-natural compounds such as optical brighteners, dyes, and artificial scents, among others.

What Qualifies a Detergent as Eco-Friendly?

Essentially, eco-friendly detergent has a lesser impact on ourselves and the earth. Natural or naturally derived substances that are harmless to people and the environment are used in their production. 

Additionally, it must be packed in biodegradable or readily recyclable materials, such as cardboard or metal tins.

Additionally, it would be ideal if the facilities where these items are manufactured used more sustainable processes. Some companies manufacture their goods in facilities that utilize renewable energy and/or reuse or recycle the water they use. 

There are other more circular practices that reduce the environmental effect of manufacturing, so keep an eye out for them.

For more eco-friendly detergents, it is preferable to choose brands that show corporate responsibility via environmental and social efforts. Consider carbon neutrality programs, nature conservation investments, and diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives.

Does Eco-Friendly imply biodegradability?

Eco-friendly detergent should also be biodegradable. Laundry detergent (or any product, for that matter) should not remain or accumulate in our ecosystems if it ends up there after it has been used. Our ecosystems can only manage so much of so many different items.

In actuality, mankind now requires the equivalent of 1.75 planets to produce the resources we need and absorb our waste. If you cannot comprehend this, it is because we only have one planet.

Therefore, whether we discuss eco-friendly laundry detergent or any other eco-friendly product, it must be biodegradable and leave little to no trace behind. Our operations are just too enormous to accept anything smaller.

What effects do laundry detergents have on the environment?

Traditional laundry detergent has a significant effect on the environment. When untreated wastewater from our laundry is released into sewers, it ends up in our ecosystems. This has several impacts on aquatic life.

To begin with, laundry detergent may promote eutrophication, which is the accumulation of phosphates and nitrogen (common constituents in traditional detergents) in water bodies such as river bodies, resulting in algae blooms. 

When all of this algae dies, its decomposition consumes all of the oxygen in the water, leaving other aquatic species unable to exist and leading them to perish as well.

The hazardous chemicals in regular laundry detergent may pollute groundwater in areas where infiltration occurs. It leaves behind chemicals such as nitrates, ammonium, boron, & phosphates that are undesirable. 

This is quite dangerous since groundwater is a significant supply of potable water for humanity. Groundwater provides 51 percent of the population’s drinking water in the United States.

The effect of traditional laundry detergents is really significant, which is why we must be as conscientious as possible while selecting goods.

Does biodegradable laundry detergent work?

In the same way that there are many eco-friendly products that effectively disinfect, eco-friendly biodegradable laundry detergent can be equally effective as conventional detergent, if not more so, because it does not contribute to environmental destruction in order to help us perform a simple, everyday household task!

Contrary to popular belief, there is a multitude of natural cleaning solutions that do not jeopardize our planet’s future for our cleaning requirements! 

There is a non-toxic, eco-friendly solution for anything in your house, from basic tasks such as cleaning a foggy mirror to cleaning grout without scrubbing.

Similarly, there are biodegradable laundry detergents that are just as effective as their non-biodegradable competitors. You must just know where to seek and experiment with various options. Similar to what we do with all of the chemical cleansers that gather beneath our kitchen sinks over time, but less hazardous.

I’ve also discovered a wealth of helpful resources to aid you on your path, so be sure to peruse The Hub for solutions to all of your green cleaning inquiries. I have this comprehensive guide on zero-waste cleaning, a do-it-yourself bathroom scrub and cleanser, suggestions on natural laundry stripping with vinegar, and a great deal more!

What characteristics should I search for in an eco-friendly, biodegradable laundry detergent?

There are two essential components to consider when purchasing biodegradable, eco-friendly laundry detergent. Both the product’s components and its packaging are listed.

Additionally, we may assess the brand’s efforts in terms of ethical sourcing and corporate responsibility. This will assist in determining whether or not brands are truthful and whether or not they greenwash their goods.

The Components Used

Look for a list of ingredients that is devoid of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, phosphates, bleach, synthetic colors, formaldehyde, and the vague “fragrance.” Instead, search for plant-based components.

The Packaging Used

In terms of eco-friendly laundry detergent packaging, easily biodegradable or recyclable materials such as cardboard are ideal. 

Where that is not possible, seek plastic containers that are recyclable or bulk choices with refill stations where you may bring your own container. Perfect for zero waste washing and environmentally friendly in terms of packaging and plastic waste management.

Which detergents are biodegradable?

Biodegradable product manufacturers will inform you that their product is biodegradable. However, you should consult their list of components to determine what their product consists of. 

If you are uncertain, you may even do your own study on the substances. Additionally, it is advantageous to purchase products from reliable, certified companies. Consider certifications from groups such as EWG and Ecocert.

Beware of These Dangerous Detergent Ingredients

I will highly recommend eco-friendly washing detergents. However, you should first examine your current supply of liquid and powder detergents.

And I’ve compiled a list of components that are often found in conventional detergents. Unfortunately, common is also synonymous with damaging to the environment, and these are things you don’t want to see on the label of an eco-friendly laundry detergent.

  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate
  • Phosphates
  • Optical Enhancers
  • Chlorine Bleach
  • Artificial Fragrances
  • 1,4-Dioxane
  • Dichlorobenzene

I will now elaborate on these.

Sodium Laureth Sulfate

Firstly, this difficult-to-pronounce chemical molecule may be damaging to the skin and is often the primary cause of skin problems in those with sensitive skin when they use particular laundry detergents. However, did you realize that it is also a common organic weedkiller?

Therefore, when your laundry detergent enters the environment, it might harm plants.


Phosphates are often found in laundry detergents, and they are typically not removed by water treatment facilities. When they enter natural streams, they produce eutrophication, which is a kind of marine animal poisoning.

Optical Enhancers

These are often irritating, and not just to those with sensitive skin. There is a reason why detergents containing these chemicals warn against contact with the eyes. However, these optical brighteners have a direct harmful effect on aquatic life.

Chlorine Bleach

Even in tiny concentrations, chlorine is harmful. This impact is easily understood by spending time in a chlorinated swimming pool sans eyewear. However, this influence may also affect marine vegetation.

Artificial Fragrances

This is another prevalent cause of allergic responses, especially among those with sensitive skin. There is insufficient research on their impact on nature, however, if it irritates human skin, then it is not intended for contact with live organisms.


This is used in detergents less often, however other cleaning products still include trace quantities. It is a proven human carcinogen and has no place in laundry detergent.


The third chemical to avoid has a very harmful impact on marine life and is almost hard to remove from the environment once it has entered the water.

Best Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergents

A few best eco-friendly detergents are listed below:

I will now elaborate on these.

Tru Earth Laundry Detergent Strips/Sheets

Tru Earth Eco Strips is the best eco-friendly laundry detergent I’ve been able to locate. Unlike conventional laundry products, they come in little sheets that may be added directly to the washing machine.

Each strip is one wash, and while weighing just 0.1 ounces, it has the cleaning power of 1.4 ounces of conventional soap.

Additionally, the Tru Earth laundry strips immediately disintegrate in hot and cold water, so there is no need to search for them in your clothing. Additionally, this ensures that these strips will not get stuck in the machine’s filter.

Biokleen Natural Laundry Detergent

It’s great to have access to fragranced eco-friendly washing detergent. The substances are 100% biodegradable and derived from plant materials.

Tide Purclean

Tide is a leader in the washing powder sector, but they have also created eco-friendly detergents. This one is packaged in a cardboard box and has a recyclable plastic bag with a handy nozzle.

The outcome is 50 percent reduced plastic use compared to plastic bottle washings of the same volume.

However, Tide has also opted to adapt its production techniques for this detergent, resulting in a process that employs 100 percent renewable energy.

ATTITUDE Baby Laundry Detergent

The last of our suggested eco-friendly detergents are manufactured by Attitude and is great for washing baby garments. Not only does it not include any harsh or hazardous chemicals, but it is composed completely of plant-based substances.

In addition to being cruelty-free, it is also vegan-certified. Overall, this makes it suited for the sensitive skin of infants and prevents their exposure to common allergens.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs), “Is laundry detergent biodegradable?”

Is laundry detergent environmentally hazardous?

Most of us already know that conventional laundry detergents are harmful to the environment. Detergents do not biodegrade entirely, contaminating our water sources, rivers, and seas with heavy metals such as cadmium and arsenic.

How can you determine if a detergent is biodegradable?

Ingredients are the sole method to distinguish biodegradable detergents from their non-biodegradable counterparts. Both detergents are composed of chemicals, but biodegradable detergents include a greater proportion of organic materials.

Why is detergent not biodegradable?

In general, detergents are ammonium or sulfate salts of long-chain carboxylic acids. These manmade substances are not biodegradable because they cannot be broken down into simple molecules by bacteria.

How long does detergent take to decompose?

On average, it takes between 70 and 450 years for them to degrade in a landfill! After you discard it, that container of laundry detergent will remain in a landfill for millennia.

Is soap totally biodegradable?

In general, a bar of soap is deemed biodegradable if at least 90 percent of it decomposes into water, carbon dioxide, and biological material within 6 months of being disposed of.

Which is more environmentally friendly: liquid or powder washing detergent?

Liquid detergent is more environmentally friendly than powder detergent. Since liquid detergent includes fewer chemicals than powder detergent, this is the case. 

Furthermore, liquid detergent is less likely to enter streams, where it may contaminate the water and destroy aquatic life.

Is Tide detergent eco-friendly?

Tide is dedicated to making an impact across the whole product lifetime, from sourcing to production through usage and disposal. 

The detergent is made in a facility that sends zero production waste to landfills using 100 percent renewable wind energy, and the bottle is likewise 100 percent recyclable.


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