The best eco-friendly laundry detergents available in Canada
Cut the harsh chemicals
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Over the past couple of decades, many eco-friendly laundry detergents have bubbled up out of the suds, promising to clean your clothes without harming the environment.
But with so many green labels promising plant-based this and carbon offset that, it can be hard to separate facts from marketing speak. That's why we cut through the greenwash and put eco-friendly detergents to the test at our laundry labs in the United States.
We spent three weeks evaluating several of the most popular soaps—from plant-based soap nuts to "hybrid" liquid detergents—on how well they remove stains, how affordable they are, how many plant-based ingredients they include, and how transparent they are about all of the ingredients they contain.
But before we get into the actual results, it's important to acknowledge that there's no such thing as a perfectly "green" detergent. For instance, the harvesting and processing of some plant-based ingredients can contribute to a more significant overall carbon footprint than traditional, petroleum-derived alternatives. And some detergents may be all-natural, but don't get clothes very clean.
With those caveats in mind, these are the best eco-friendly laundry detergents we tested that are readily available in Canada.
1. Tide Purclean
Our testing showed that Tide Purclean came out on top, removing the most amount of stains.
Tide Purclean is a brand-new detergent with a familiar name and a reduced environmental impact. It claims to clean as well as conventional Tide, and our tests proved that claim to be 100% true. In fact, it's far and away the best-cleaning eco-friendly detergent we tested.
However, there are two drawbacks: cost and content. Tide is typically considered a big name brand, and Purclean is no different. Tracking its price over time on Amazon, we can see that it’s one of the more expensive detergents we’ve tested.
Purclean can be described as a hybrid detergent—only 75% of its ingredients are plant-based, and some of the rest are petroleum-derived. Compared to Mrs. Meyers and Seventh Generation—each 97% plant-derived—it's less green. But if you want to do Mother Earth a small favour without sacrificing performance, Purclean is the best choice for clean laundry.
Get Tide Purclean (2.04 L) at Amazon for $16.97
2. Seventh Generation Free & Clear Laundry Detergent
Seventh Generation is one of the most popular eco-friendly brands on the market, producing everything from facial tissue to diapers. The company’s Free & Clear detergent impressed us with both its primarily plant-based ingredients and stain removal.
In our original roundup, this detergent did not claim the top spot. However, in our retest, we gave more weight to the corporate culture surrounding these detergent companies—Seventh Generation and its Free & Clear scored top marks. Not only does the detergent have above-average stain-fighting power, but Seventh Generation is also committed to the eco-friendly cause.
The detergent bottle is made of 80% recycled plastic, and the ingredients inside are 97% biological and plant-based. Seventh Generation also has a good track record with transparency and environmental advocacy. It’s a certified B-Corporation, and partners with the Rainforest Alliance and Forest Stewardship Council.
We tested the Free & Clear version of the detergent. Our testers remarked at the near lack of scent—a smell that has nearly universal appeal. During the stain-removal rounds, this detergent came in third overall. We found that it removes 5% fewer stains than traditional Tide, which is impressive considering the Seventh Generation contains fewer chemicals.
Get Seventh Generation Free & Clear Laundry Detergent (2.95 L)at Amazon for $14.97
3. Tru Earth Laundry Strips
Tru Earth is a laundry strip that you simply tear and toss into the washer. It combines the convenience of a detergent pod while being easier to transport and less enticing to children. As a stain fighter, we found these strips to be on par with some of the top contenders on this list. Tru Earth removed about 63.7% of our testing stains, allowing it to land in third place in our roundup. As an added bonus for those wanting to support local businesses, Tru Earth is a Canadian-owned company and the strips are manufactured at the company's labs in British Columbia.
The recommended dose for a medium-sized load is only two-by-four inches and weighs just a fraction of what liquid competitors recommend. The whole package weighs just 2.5 ounces, so it takes a lot less energy to transport. Combine that with the fact that the packaging we received was plastic-free, Tru Earth Laundry strips ended up pretty high on our list.
Get Tru Earth Laundry Strips (64 sheets) at Amazon for $32.95
4. The Laundress Sport Detergent
The Laundress is an expensive brand, with the average per-load cost being nearly twice what we see with competitors.
However, the price is partially justified, as the Laundress Sport detergent came in fourth overall in our stain removal tests. The highly concentrated formula means you're paying for soap, not water.
The bottle is compact and sturdy, making it a perfect travel companion. And we liked the fresh scent it left on clothes, though it does smell like shampoo.
Get The Laundress Sport Detergent (475ml) at Amazon for £45
5. Defunkify Active Wash Laundry Detergent Powder
Defunkify defied our expectations. After testing, this is our favourite fragrance-free detergent in this roundup. In terms of overall cleaning ability, it came in the middle of the pack. However, its ranking rose shapely when we looked at the sweat and blood stain removal scores.
Defunkify is an activewear wash that advertises getting out post-workout grime. We like that this detergent lived up to its name and got the funk out of our test laundry.
We also liked the fact that this detergent is relatively affordable. Being a laundry powder means you don’t need to pay for shipping water, a heavy substance that most detergents contain.
Get the Defunkify Active Wash Laundry Detergent Powder (1.5 KG) at Amazon for $59.36
6. Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Laundry Detergent
It turns out that Thelma A. Meyer—the real person behind Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day cleaning products—really knows her stuff. The liquid laundry detergent that bears her name came in sixth overall. Since you can buy Mrs. Meyer's in bulk, it's more cost-effective than traditional detergent. Although it's more expensive per bottle, our calculations show that Mrs. Meyer’s has a lower cost per wash.
The only thing our testers didn't love about Mrs. Meyer's is the scent it left on laundry. Some of our reviewers were fans of the lemon verbena scent, but others thought it smelled like citrusy shampoo. You may prefer one of the seven other scents, but you won't find a perfume-free option.
Get Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Laundry Detergent (1.8 L) at Amazon for $18.69
7. Charlie's Soap
Charlie's Soap—the only powdered detergent in our roundup—came last in the overall rankings. We think it's a great alternative for cleaning clothes in the great outdoors—think extended camping trips—but far from the best bet for your laundry room.
t wasn't the cheapest we tested, and it had real trouble removing any of the stains it faced. But to be fair, we skipped some of Charlie's more onerous suggestions, like pretreating laundry overnight in a water-and-detergent-filled bucket.
Get Charlie’s Soap (30 loads) at Amazon for $15.77
Avoid: Eco Nuts
Popularized on “Shark Tank,” Eco Nuts are about as natural as a detergent can be. Each box is full of dried soapberries, containing a soap-like substance that foams up in the wash. They're also reusable and exceptionally affordable.
Unfortunately, they don't clean as well as other detergents, leaving 15% more stains behind than Tide. In fact, they were pretty much obliterated by all the other detergents we used.
Get Eco Nuts (100 loads) at Amazon for $27.95
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