Why You Should Switch to a Natural Laundry Detergent

A Drop in the Ocean Zero Waste Store: Why you should switch to a natural laundry detergent
Listen to the audio of this post here:

This post first appeared in our weekly Make Waves Mondays email series on February 13, 2023.

Goooood evening, friend
!! This week is a really exciting blog because we are highlighting our all-time best-selling, EcoWarrior favorite, ultra-sustainable refillable natural laundry detergent and what makes it so freaking great.

(And why we should avoid traditional laundry detergents for the health of our families and our planet ✌️)

So let's get right into it and dive into all things sustainable laundry!

A Drop in the Ocean Sustainable Living Zero Waste Shop

We all gotta do laundry. We all need clean clothes, clean towels, clean bedsheets - the works.

But being EcoWarriors, we also wanna make sure that we’re doing it in the best way - best for ourselves, best for the planet, best for our families.

How to keep your laundry routine sustainable

Every year, 2% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States come from washing our laundry, and the average American tosses 80 pounds of textiles in that same amount of time.

On top of all of that, fashion production is responsible for 10% of the world’s carbon emissions and 20% of our waste water.

So, needless to say, if we can keep our clothes in tip-top shape for longer, we can cut down on massive amounts of waste, energy, and resources.

✨ So before we even touch on the detergent side of things, here are some of my favorite tips for keeping your laundry routine totally eco-friendly:

Wash less

In general, we wash our clothes way too much. And every time we toss something in the wash, the fibers wear down and ultimately reduce its usable life.

Besides undies, socks, and workout clothes which should absolutely be washed after every wear, the rest of our clothes definitely don’t need to be!

In general, shirts can be washed after 1-2 wears and jeans and pants 3-5 wears. Especially if you’re working from home and not working up a sweat, you can for sure go a few wears between washes.

Wash on cold

I won’t get too into this, since we have a full blog post on it, but washing your laundry on cold is a super easy way to greenify your laundry routine!

It’ll save you money, save energy, and it’s just as effective as warm or hot water.

90% of the energy used to wash your laundry comes just from heating the water. If you switched to cold water for just one load of laundry a week, over the course of one year you’ll save the equivalent greenhouse gases as not driving 77 miles.

So, yeah, cold water’s where it’s at ✌️

Hang dry your laundry

We’ve got a whole blog post on this too, but hang drying your laundry is a GREAT way to make your clothes last longer. 

Our lint traps are evidence of this - all those shedding fibers means our laundry is slowly losing quality and is gonna need replacement sooner.

And if every home in the United States hang-dried just HALF of their laundry instead of tumble-drying for one week, we’d save as much energy as we would taking 161,000 cars off the road completely for an entire year.

You don’t need a ton of space, either! So check out the full post for more tips on hang-drying your laundry.

Use wool dryer balls

If you don’t wanna hang-dry everythingggg - I get it! I still tumble-dry my undies, socks, towels, and bedsheets.

But when I do use the dryer, I always use a set of reusable wool dryer balls.

Dryer sheets are kinda the worst - they’re bad for the planet, they’re bad for our laundry, and they’re bad for our skin.

Wool dryer balls are a reusable alternative to dryer sheets that are built to LAST. I’ve had mine for about 6 years now and they still look as good as the day I got them. 

They naturally reduce static, soften your laundry, and even reduce your drying time up to 25%. 

There’s literally no downside. 

They’re amazing. 

If you haven’t made the switch yet, I 100% recommend it. (And check our full blog post on these guys for all sorts of FAQs! Basically everything you could ever want to know about wool dryer balls is covered in this post.)

Bonus: clean your lint trap so that when you do use your dryer, it's more efficient!"

A Drop in the Ocean Sustainable Living Zero Waste Shop

What’s wrong with traditional laundry detergent? Why is it better to use a natural laundry detergent?

At the beginning of this year, New York enacted a new law banning several [well-known] laundry detergents due to the presence of 1,4-Dioxane - a synthetic chemical that’s been classified as “possibly carcinogenic to humans,” based on studies that have shown increased risks of liver and gallbladder cancers in animals.

Among the top offenders? Arm & Hammer, Tide, and Gain.

Traditional laundry detergents are loaded with chemicals that aren’t great for us or the planet - things like synthetic fragrances, synthetic surfactants, and artificial dyes.

I mean, come on, WHY does our laundry detergent need to be radioactive blue??

All of these things can cause some pretty major irritation. They can cause skin irritation and rashes, allergic reactions, eye and lung inflammation, asthma, and more.

Especially if you’ve got babies or kids, these are absolutely not things you want around them. But, really, even as grown adults why would we want these things?

And on top of the effects these chemicals can have on us, whatever we send down our drains, ends up in our waterways. And as you can imagine, if these chemicals are this bad for us (the ones the products are intended for), they’re gonna be real bad for the natural environment, too.

So what’s the best natural laundry detergent?

I may be a bit…okay, a lot a bit…biased, but hey, if I wasn’t head-over-heels obsessed with the products we sell at A Drop in the Ocean, that would be a bit of a red flag, wouldn’t it?

Our natural, refillable, and plastic-free laundry detergent is absolutely one of my favorite products in our shop.

And I’m not the only one. Our laundry detergent is by far our best-selling product, every year.

No lie, last year, we sold nearly 50% more laundry detergent than our next-best-seller.

Our. EcoWarriors. LOVE. the stuff.

But what’s so great about it? 👇

Natural and Biodegradable Ingredients

Well, for one, it’s got none of those nasty toxic chemicals. Just 4 natural and biodegradable ingredients - castile soap, sodium bicarbonate, sodium tetraborate, and sodium carbonate. 

And our scented options (eucalyptus, rosewood, and lavender) are scented with just pure essential oils - no artificial fragrances allowed.

And because of those ingredients, our laundry detergent is safe for babies, safe for sensitive skin, and safe for septic systems. It’s also totally vegan, palm oil free, and cruelty free.

ACTUALLY Zero Waste and Refillable

I don’t know about you, friend, but I am so tired of seeing brands advertise something as “refillable,” when the product comes in a plastic pouch or a carton or even an aluminum bottle but the company doesn’t actually take said pouch, carton, or bottle back to…well…refill.

Because even if you’re pouring that product into another container, you’re not really REFILLING. 

It’s just adding an extra step to single-use packaging.

And that’s why we’ve intentionally designed our products, packaging, and systems to be truly refillable. Truly zero waste. Truly closed-loop.

We get our laundry detergent from a small woman-owned business that’s local to us. We get it in 5-gallon buckets, and when those buckets run out, we bring them back to our vendor to be reused again and again.

And then YOU get our laundry detergent in a glass jar. And when you’re running low, you order a “Refill” glass jar. 

Whether you’re around Tacoma and we’re delivering to you ourselves or you’re across the country and we’re shipping your detergent through USPS, we’re gonna take back your empty jars to wash and reuse - all at no extra cost to you.

Now THAT, my friend, is refillable.

You are in no ways responsible for disposal of your laundry detergent jar. You don’t even have to rinse the jar out if you don’t want to. 

Let us do the hard work to make sure that jar is clean and ready to be added back into the system for so many years to come.

(P.S. We’ve also put a heck of a lot of thought and intentionality behind how we get your products to you. There’s a reason we’re totally online. It’s actually more sustainable - the studies are pretty dang clear about that. So check out our full blog post about the impacts of online shopping, how we’re keeping our shipping practices basically zero impact, and what you can do to make your online shopping habits even more sustainable.)

And a fun fact, we changed our 16oz jar style in 2020 after supply chain issues started hitting us. We liked the change so much we never went back to the old one, but we still have SEVERAL in circulation. They’re still coming back to us, and we’re still washing and refilling them, three years after we discontinued that jar shape.

A Drop in the Ocean Sustainable Living Zero Waste Shop Refillable Laundry Detergent


One jar of our natural laundry detergent is going to last you so much longer than you think.

Our detergent is ultra-concentrated, so all you need is one tablespoon of detergent per load for a regular washer, or just ½ a tablespoon per load if you have a high-efficiency washer.

So one 16oz jar is going to last you 32-64 loads of laundry, a 32oz jar is gonna last 64-128 loads of laundry, and a 64oz jar is gonna last anywhere from 128-256 loads of laundry.

Personally, doing laundry for one in an old apartment washing machine, a single 16oz jar lasts me about 9 months.

And yes, you really can use it in front-loading and high efficiency washing machines! 

Just sprinkle the powder directly into the drum, then add your laundry. And if you have a top-loader without an agitator, still sprinkle the detergent in a donut shape in the drum - otherwise apparently laundry detergents of all kinds won’t work well! (Thank you to EcoWarrior Jessica for this tip via Instagram the other day!)


Another thing I love about our laundry detergent is that it can be used for so many different things besides just your regular laundry day!

Hand-washing delicates. Got some sweaters or other delicates you can’t toss in your washing machine? Fill your sink or a bucket with warm water, and sprinkle in ½ or 1 tablespoon of laundry detergent and stir until it’s dissolved. Add your delicates and gently wash as you normally would by hand. Rinse clean with fresh water.

Stain releaser. Mix a small amount of our laundry detergent with a bit of water to create a watery paste. Apply the paste directly to stains and let it sit for 15-20 minutes, then add to your washer and wash as normal.

Tub cleaner. I haven’t tried this one personally, but I met up with my friend and EcoWarrior Vanessa last week and she shared this tip with me. She uses our laundry detergent as a bathtub cleaner! She fills her bathtub a few inches with hot water, sprinkles some detergent in, and lets it sit basically until she feels like coming back to it. Then she uses one of our natural loofah sponges to scrub the sides and the bottom of the tub, drains the tub, and rinses it clean. 🤯

A Drop in the Ocean Shop: Natural Refillable Laundry Detergent Benefits

But don’t just take my word for it…

Seriously. I told you I love the stuff and I told you how much it crushes even our next-best-seller. But you don’t just have to take my word for it. Check out these reviews!

A Drop in the Ocean Sustainable Living Zero Waste Shop Refillable Laundry Detergent Review

A Drop in the Ocean Sustainable Living Zero Waste Shop Refillable Laundry Detergent Review

A Drop in the Ocean Sustainable Living Zero Waste Shop Refillable Laundry Detergent Review

A Drop in the Ocean Sustainable Living Zero Waste Shop Refillable Laundry Detergent Review

A Drop in the Ocean Sustainable Living Zero Waste Shop Refillable Laundry Detergent Review

🥳 Did you catch the exciting announcement?

If you’ve been around A Drop in the Ocean for a while, you may have noticed a couple of exciting laundry detergent announcements hidden in this post…

First, we have new scents! You asked for ‘em, we made it happen. Now, in addition to eucalytpus and rosewood, we now also have lavender and unscented laundry detergent options!

And second, we have new sizes! I recently started to notice more and more of our EcoWarriors ordering two 32oz jars of laundry detergent at a time, so to make things even easier for you, we’ve now added a 64oz jar option!

I hope these new additions to our laundry detergent lineup will help you continue to make the switch to a more natural laundry detergent - that actually works, is truly zero waste and refillable, and is safe for your family too 💙

If you haven’t yet given our laundry detergent a try, will you do me a favor and drop a comment on this post with any questions you have about it? I would love to know more and help you in any way I can!



60+ Things I Do in a Day to Live More Sustainably
How sustainable are laundry detergent sheets?

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published. Any comments containing external links or promotions will not be approved.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.