Five of the best... eco-friendly detergents

| 8th July 2011
From phosphates to petrochemicals, doing the laundry can be a dirty business. Valentina Jovanovski rounds up five natural alternatives that will leave your clothes smelling literally of roses

Last month, Australia’s Sunday Morning Herald led with the story that the last two Australian detergent manufacturers to use phosphates had agreed to phase them out after a nation-wide campaign. The latest development in the fight to clean up the detergent industry, the Austrailian success has led to calls from the EU for a ban on phosphates in domestic laundry and cleaning products to come into effect by 2013.  Commonly found in supermarket and big brand cleaning products, phosphates, when released into water, can harm aquatic life and lead to poor water quality. And the phosphate problem isn’t the only one. Many detergents are made from petrochemicals and although the law requires biodegradable ingredients, it only applies to 60 per cent of the total formula. Encouragingly, consumers have responded to environmental concerns and the market in eco-friendly detergents is growing, with increasingly effective products putting concerns about cleanliness to bed. So which ones should you be investing in?  Detergents that are phosphate-free, not animal tested, biodegradable and packaged in recyclable containers should be at the top of your list. Efficacy at 30°C is also worth looking for as these detergents need less energy. Here are five that tick all of the boxes.

Ecover non-biological laundry liquid, £4.57
Ecover’s products are completely biodegradable and don’t contain optical brighteners, which can be bad for your skin. The detergent’s formula has been improved and contains a new ingredient made from rapeseed oil, which has resulted in improved washing power thanks to its non-foaming properties. Best for colours and darks; whites can turn grey if not washed with scalding water. Overall though, this is one of the better products on the market.
Ecover can be found at supermarkets nationwide.

Ecoleaf laundry liquid, £5.29
Manufactured from plant extracts and 100 per cent biodegradable, the Ecoleaf brand is produced by Suma, a green wholesaler. Sold in recyclable containers, the non-biological laundry liquid is made in the UK and comes with certification from the Vegan Society and BUAV.
Ecoleaf is available from the Ethical Superstore and Suma.

Bio D washing powder, £3.68
This non-biological, concentrated powder can be used for hand washing or automatic and twin tub machines. The powder comes in 1 or 2kg recyclable bags or 12.5kg recyclable boxes. It’s made from renewable raw materials wherever possible and doesn’t test on animals or include animal by-products. Bio D also has certification from the Vegan Society, Naturewatch Trust, BUAV and World Wildlife Foundation. None of the company’s products contain phosphates, chlorine bleaches, petroleum-derived additives or synthetic perfumes, chemicals common in conventional detergents.
Bio D is available from Goodness Direct and Big Green Smile.

Alma Win organic liquid detergent concentrate, £6.90
Organic and vegan, this detergent can be used at 30°C for whites and colours. The main downside is the lack of a fresh scent: although synthetic fragrances are unnecessary, many eco-friendly products include essences to give the washed clothes a clean smell. If you can’t live without fragranced laundry, Alma Win has recently introduced an organic lemon scent, which can be added to your wash with the detergent. Alma Win products do not contain phosphates, petrochemicals or synthetic ingredients.
Alma Win is available from So Organic and Real Foods.

Home Scents Violet’s Magic Laundry Powder, £15.98
The price is a little steep but you certainly get your money’s worth in cleaning power, as each 1kg tub lasts for 40 washes. Gorgeously lavender scented, the powder is chemical free and based on gentle natural minerals and organic essential oils. Formulated with young children in mind, it works equally well on adult clothing and does a good job at 30 degrees.
Violet’s Magic Laundry Powder is available from Goodness Direct and The Natural Store.

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