Your septic tank can handle only so many toxic chemicals before it stops functioning.
Laundry detergents play a big role in killing helpful bacteria, clogging pipes, and building up sludge in the tanks. It’s time you replace your detergents with a biodegradable, plant-based, surfactant-free, and low-sudsing formula.
Throughout my one-week analysis, I vetted nine laundry detergent brands that are septic-safe, nontoxic, and safe for waterways. I’ve also factored in their cost, cleaning efficiency, sustainability, vegan and cruelty-free status, and contribution toward eco-friendly ventures.
Here’s what I found!
1. Earth Breeze Eco Sheets — 9.68/10 (The best septic-safe laundry detergent)
Earth Breeze is the best laundry detergent for septic tanks because of its biodegradable, paraben-free, chlorine bleach-free, and dye-free formula that cleans exceptionally well! These sheets dissolve in a few seconds and are completely safe for septic systems.
Earth Breeze Eco Sheets are made of a concentrated formula of safe ingredients, such as glycerol, primary alcohol ethoxylate, sodium dodecyl sulfate, and sodium acetate trihydrate. These nontoxic chemicals have a high biodegradability and low-sudsing rate that doesn’t clog septic systems or kill off beneficial bacteria in your septic water.
Despite being septic safe and certified hypoallergenic, the Earth Breeze formula is powerful enough to remove stubborn stains. My test articles looked and smelled fresher than before. One sheet was enough to banish 98% of the stubborn grime from white and dark articles. Whites became whiter, and colored clothes regained their original pop! You can safely use this formula on baby clothing as well.
If you have an extremely sensitive nose, you should go for their fragrance-free detergent.
Earth Breeze packages its sheets in 100% compostable cardboard envelopes that are lightweight and easy to store. These sheets use little energy in transportation and little water in manufacturing, reducing significant carbon emissions. Moreover, the packaging and detergent are both plastic free.
Earth Breeze is always looking for opportunities to offset its overall carbon footprint. They are a part of “We are Neutral” and engage in many earth-friendly causes, such as tree plantings and ocean cleanups. I couldn’t find this kind of motivation in any other brand during my research.
What’s particularly impressive about this company is that they donate 10 sheets to refugee shelters, homeless shelters, women’s shelters, or developing countries with every purchase you make. I loved how I could “select” where my donation would go at the time of purchasing. In addition, as a part of “1% for the Planet,” they give away 1% of their annual revenue to planet-restoration activities.
Earth Breeze is a Leaping Bunny-certified and vegan-friendly brand.
You will get all these exceptional features for just $0.33 per wash, which can be further reduced to $0.20 if you subscribe to their monthly package. This detergent is definitely the best bang for your buck!
The only drawback is that they are new to the market, and people find it difficult to trust a new brand quickly. Their quality may not be well documented yet. But Earth Breeze has already gained thousands of positive reviews and a five-star rating on online stores.
I give them a score of 9.68/10 because of their formula that is septic safe, hypoallergenic, eco-friendly, vegan, and cruelty-free. According to my analysis, this brand is true to its claims!
You can try out Earth Breeze without fear of losing money because they provide free shipping and a full money-back guarantee. Their customer service is always available to refund if you’re not satisfied.
To sign up for Earth Breeze, go to their website.
2. Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder — 8.20/10 (Highly septic-safe but doesn’t give away)
Charlie’s Soap snatched a second place on my list because of its low sudsing, concentrated, and highly biodegradable formula. They use only five plant-based ingredients that can clean all types of stains easily.
However, Charlie’s Soap doesn’t engage in environmentally friendly ventures, and they come in recyclable plastic pouches that are not 100% eco-friendly.
Charlie’s Soap laundry powder is EPA Safer Choice certified, meaning its formula is safe for skin, the environment, and your septic tanks. They don’t contain hazardous phosphates, chlorine bleach, dyes, or petroleum-based surfactants, which are the main culprits of destroyed septic systems.
In fact, their formula comprises only washing soda, plant-based surfactants, and sodium metasilicate that pose no harm to water sources or sensitive skin.
If you’re not a fan of fragranced detergents, this is the best choice for you. Charlie’s Soap doesn’t use any scents in its detergents.
Although it’s made up of only a few plant-based ingredients, this detergent is strong enough to remove grass, blood, ink, and food stains from your clothes. My test articles came out clean and bright. The formula doesn’t damage the clothes in any way. Moreover, it’s super safe for washing baby essentials and delicate fabrics.
Charlie’s powdered laundry detergent costs only $0.19 per wash, but they don’t offer free shipping or a refund guarantee.
If powdered detergents are not your cup of tea, you can try out their liquid and pod detergents made of the same low-sudsing and safe formula and suitable for all kinds of washing machines.
While Charlie’s Soap is highly safe for septic systems, this brand doesn’t put any effort into restoring the planet or helping vulnerable communities.
I couldn’t find any engagement from their side in carbon-offsetting activities. This brand uses recyclable plastic pouches and bottles to pack their products, which is not 100% eco-friendly. After all, less than 10% of plastic actually ends up being recycled. With many brands going carbon neutral and plastic free, Charlie’s Soap should actively make an effort in this area, or they’ll fall behind.
Charlie’s Soap is an excellent option if you want to keep your septic system safe and running without frequent maintenance. I highly recommend this detergent for its ingredients, but it’s just not the most “eco-friendly” option with its plastic packages and the brand’s zero contribution toward regenerating the planet.
For more information, check out the Charlie’s Soap website.
3. Dropps Stain and Odor Detergent — 7.80/10 (Septic-safe but pricey)
Dropps detergent pods are made of only plant-based ingredients that biodegrade and do not harm water sources or septic systems. Enzymes in their formula can tackle all stubborn stains, from coffee to grease.
The only drawback is their hefty price and meager contribution toward the environmental and charitable causes.
Dropps deserved the third spot on my list because of its paraben-, surfactant-, and dye-free formula. They use safe yet tough ingredients that can wash away all that grime from your clothes. This formula brightens the colors and renews the look with each wash.
Dropps creates its pods with the help of CleanGredients—the EPA’s database of safe and approved ingredients. This formula can readily biodegrade in water and doesn’t form suds in septic systems and pipes. Since it’s free of optical brighteners, phosphates, and chlorine bleach, the residue doesn’t harm the helpful bacteria in your septic tanks.
Dropps offers its pods in five different scents, but if you have a sensitive nose, you can always try their unscented version.
They come in eco-friendly cardboard packaging that’s 100% compostable.
I appreciate Dropps for offsetting its carbon footprint by partnering up with Clearloop and contributing to the construction of solar projects in Jackson, TN, and surrounding areas. But they can surely put more effort into helping society and restoring our damaged planet.
Dropps Pods will cost you $0.46 per wash, which is quite expensive, especially compared with some of the cheaper options on this list. Although they offer subscriptions and free shipping on orders over $29, the price is still too high compared to the first two contenders.
According to them, the laundry detergent pods are wrapped in a polyvinyl alcohol (PVOH) that dissolves just as it hits the water. But this may not be completely true—some of my test articles had slimy residue stuck to them in the washer. You will need to rinse the clothes twice or use warm water for the pods to fully dissolve. In addition, some environmentalists believe that PVA/PVOH in higher amounts can harm aquatic ecosystems.
Dropps scented variations contain “citrus aurantium dulcis (orange) peel oil” and “abies sibirica (fir needle) oil,” which can be a little too harsh for people with allergies.
Dropps laundry detergent contains plant-based ingredients that do not harm septic tanks. Although they are a tad expensive and don’t do a lot for the environment, Dropps is a good alternative if you need a septic-safe detergent.
4. Puracy Natural Laundry Detergent
If you need a detergent that is safe for your septic tank yet light on your pockets, Puracy is a good option.
Their liquid detergent is made of only plant- and mineral-based ingredients that can quickly biodegrade without harming waterways. You can check out their ingredient list with clearly mentioned origins of every chemical.
Puracy is priced at only $0.22 per load. In addition, you can get a 5% discount by subscribing to their monthly package. However, they don’t offer free shipping unless your order is over $55.
Instead of big plastic jugs, Puracy uses small, recycled bottles to package their highly concentrated detergent, which goes a long way. Although they have reduced the use of single-use plastics by using only recycled plastic, their packaging is still not 100% eco-friendly and biodegradable.
According to them, a 24-oz. bottle can clean 96 loads. But from my own experience, you might need more than the recommended amount for a heavily soiled load. Puracy liquid laundry detergent doesn’t quickly remove all the troublesome grime.
What I found very disappointing is that they talk a lot about helping vulnerable communities but don’t put in any significant effort toward this cause.
Overall, Puracy liquid laundry detergent is a good septic-safe alternative that can fight tough stains, but there are brands that do even more for the environment.
5. Meliora Laundry Powder
Made safe, cruelty free, and vegan certified, Meliora uses only five ingredients: washing soda, baking soda, sodium cocoate, glycerin, and coconut oil. All of these chemicals are 100% safe for your skin, the environment, and your septic systems.
They package their detergent in a plastic-free canister and provide a free steel scoop with your first purchase. Although the cans are an interesting plastic-free approach, this package is heavier to ship than cardboard boxes, which causes a higher carbon footprint.
Meliora comes in three scented variations made of safe essential oils. They also have an unscented option for people with sensitivity to fragrances.
But what caught my eye is their dedication to restoring the planet! Meliora donates 2% of its annual revenue to green initiatives as a part of “1% for the Planet” and “Women’s Voices for the Earth.” None of the brands on this list, except Earth Breeze, is generous enough to give away a fraction of their revenue to help the planet.
Meliora detergent misses the mark by a few points because of its average cleaning performance. I had to use more than the recommended amount of detergent to wash away even light stains.
6. Biokleen Eco-Bottle Laundry Liquid
Isn’t it just great to see “green” bottles instead of big plastic bottles? Biokleen sneaked into my list because of its green packaging and 100% plant-based ingredients. This detergent is EPA Safer Choice certified, cruelty free, and vegan.
Since it doesn’t contain chlorine bleach, harmful surfactants, ammonia, dyes, or phosphates, Biokleen is safe for septic tanks.
I had to bump them down to sixth place because of their average cleaning power and almost zero contribution toward the planet.
7. ECOS Laundry Detergent
ECOS uses only plant-based ingredients that can readily dissolve in water, causing no buildup or malfunctioning in septic systems. This product is 100% hypoallergenic, EPA Safer Choice, and Leaping Bunny certified.
ECOS is a brand that has contributed to society by helping in passing the “Cleaning Product Right to Know Act,” the first law in the US to make the ingredient disclosure of cleaning products a law. They actively participate in many ventures to help bring out a substantial change in the world.
ECOS uses plastic jugs for its liquid detergent, which is, although recycled, still plastic. They gave a good cleaning performance, but I had to use twice the amount of detergent mentioned on the label.
8. Ecover Laundry Detergent
Ecover also used only plant-based, natural surfactants and chemicals in its formula, which is biodegradable and not harmful to cleaning systems. However, it contains methylisothiazolinone and benzisothiazolinone, which are skin and lung irritants. Ecover is not a good option for people with kids at homes or with skin allergies.
Moreover, they come in high-density polyethylene (HDPE), big plastic bottles—a big disappointment.
Ecover couldn’t take off tough stains from test articles. They don’t participate in any Earth restoration or charitable causes.
It’s better to go for brands that are trying to make a difference.
9. Arm & Hammer Liquid Detergent
Arm & Hammer liquid laundry detergent comes in big plastic jugs and still claims to be eco-friendly. Oh, the audacity!
I included them in the list because their detergent is phosphate free and safe for septic systems. Also, it does a good job at cleaning and is extremely budget friendly—the reason for its immense popularity.
But people turn a blind eye to the fact that Arm & Hammer uses harsh chemicals, such as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), methylisothiazolinone, benzisothiazolinone, sodium borate, and synthetic fragrances that can cause skin and lung problems and harm the environment as well.
From my vantage point, you’re only saving a few cents to destroy the planet in the long run. If you want to switch to a greener detergent, go with Earth Breeze.
Other Detergents I Tested
Following are the detergent brands that couldn’t make it to the top nine.
10. Mrs. Meyer’s Laundry Detergent
Mrs. Meyer’s laundry detergent cleans well, but their septic-safe claim is a bit false. Going through their ingredients glossary, I found some controversial contents like methylisothiazolinone and methylchloroisothiazolinone. It’s better to use any of the top three laundry detergents on my list instead.
11. Method Concentrated Laundry Detergent
Method liquid laundry detergent is septic safe, but it’s not hypoallergenic. During my research, I found that people have suffered from serious eye irritation from this product. So, it’s better to avoid it if you have little kids who may come in contact with it.
12. Persil Free & Sensitive Laundry Detergent
Persil is one of the most popular brands of laundry detergents. Persil Proclean Free & Sensitive is better than most of the other products in their catalog, but it still has surfactants and other controversial chemicals. They claim them to be naturally driven but considering their history, I highly doubt it.
13. Clean Cult
Clean Cult is overpriced and leaves the laundry dingy after washing. It couldn’t remove the tough stains from my samples. The ingredients are safe, but what’s the point if it has subpar cleaning?
The Bottom Line
Maintaining septic systems is important in rural areas with older homes, such as New England and the Deep South. Improper decomposing can cause a backup in your home piping system and, in the worst case, contaminate water and spread diseases. Moreover, residual wastewater from the laundry is the leading cause of harm to septic systems.
Earth Breeze‘s nontoxic formula is authentic and biodegradable, making it well suited for septic tanks. The contents are natural yet powerful enough to clean the gunk out of a soiled bunch.
Earth Breeze Eco Sheets are easy to use and don’t harm fabric. These sheets left laundry looking bright and smelling fresh. It removed the toughest of stains in a single wash. I also checked the pH level of the wastewater, which came out to be 6.7—a healthy score for an optimal septic tank.
Usually, there is a recurring complaint that laundry sheets and pods don’t dissolve properly, but I had no problem with Earth Breeze Eco Sheets. In addition, these laundry sheets are economical at only $0.22 per load (with a monthly subscription).
I liked the compact packaging, which is also biodegradable, making it safe for the environment. Furthermore, the brand has a low carbon footprint as part of the “We are Neutral” campaign.
Earth Breeze also leads when it comes to eco-friendly initiatives. They are part of the “1% for the Planet” club and donate 1% of their annual revenue to green initiatives.
Although Earth Breeze is relatively new in the market and may not have the popularity enjoyed by the traditional detergent giants, their excellent performance is making waves, and more people are trying this eco-friendly laundry detergent every day.
So, if you want an economical, eco-friendly laundry detergent that doesn’t harm your home septic system and also cleans exceptionally well, then do try Earth Breeze.
Nowadays, there are chemicals in pretty much any product we use. Unfortunately, even if they make life temporarily simpler, these chemicals are destroying nature. One example is how a laundry detergent harms the bacteria in septic tanks. The failing septic system then introduces toxic wastewater into the ground and pollutes nearby streams and lakes. In the worst cases, it can even pollute the drinking water supply and threaten aquatic ecosystems. These same chemicals can damage your septic system.
To save you the trouble of frequent cleaning and removal of backups in septic systems, I have used my research methodology to scrutinize the best laundry detergents available.
Step 1: Listing popular septic-safe laundry detergents
So, I started by gathering the names of popular septic-safe brands available in stores. To my surprise, there are many who claim to be safe for septic and gray water tanks. I shortlisted the most popular ones with the highest sales.
Step 2: Sorting on the basis of ingredients and certifications
The main problem with traditional laundry detergent is that chemicals used for cleaning harm beneficial microbes and bacteria in the septic system. These natural bacteria are meant to consume all the waste sludge in the septic tanks, making the residual safe to discharge into the ground.
Unfortunately, brands can exploit the loopholes in US EPA rules and with deceptive branding can sell the product as septic safe and eco-friendly.
So, I cross-checked the certifications like “EPA Safer Choice” through the EPA’s database and skimmed through the ingredient lists.
According to my research, the following nonbiodegradable chemicals are the main culprits behind harming the septic ecosystem.
- Phthalates—used to create fragrances
- Quaternary ammonium compounds—used for killing germs and bacteria
- Bleach chlorine—used for better cleaning performance
- Phosphates—dissolves gunk, softens water, and enhances cleaning
- Surfactants—used to remove dirt and gunk from fabric surface
- Other suds and bubble producing chemicals
I removed the brands that had these ingredients in them.
With increasing awareness of harmful ingredients in household products, better and more natural alternatives are available. Some brands claim to have plant-derived (natural) versions of the above chemicals, so I included them in the list.
Step 3: Reading online reviews
Now that I had the list of septic-safe laundry detergents containing authentic ingredients, I went online to see the reviews by genuine customers. I didn’t take into consideration the reviews on the company website, as they are often fake.
My main focus was reviews given on e-commerce websites. After going through hundreds of comments by customers, I got the insight I needed. Some people had an allergic reaction to a certain laundry detergent, while others were upset with the post-wash smell. Many complained about the cleaning performance and cost of the detergent. I included this in my scoring system.
Step 4: Conducting interviews with real customers
To add a fresh perspective, I interviewed people who had septic systems in their homes. They shared their struggles of keeping the septic tank in optimal condition. Many people found laundry detergents the main cause of the slower decomposition of waste in septic systems. Some even had problems with famous septic-safe brands. This helped me rank the detergents even better.
Step 5: Interviewing septic-safe laundry detergent brands
I had doubts about the ingredient glossary of certain brands. So, to give them a fair shot, I contacted them and recorded their responses. Surprisingly, a few companies had excellent customer service and cleared my doubts. Earth Breeze, for instance, explained how its ingredients are natural and biodegradable. However, many famous brands didn’t even reply to my emails, and I scored them less because of that.
Step 6: Conducting wash tests
Here comes the crucial part, testing the laundry detergents. To keep the scoring fair, I made thirteen identical batches of multiple fabrics. I used the most common fabric types like silk, cotton, denim, and linen. Each swatch had food, ink, oil, and grass stains.
I used the recommended detergent amount mentioned by the brands and washed my soiled cloth samples. After one wash cycle, I let them dry naturally. Once dried, I examined them under the sunlight and then UV light to get a clearer picture.
Some detergents faded the colors, while others smelled odd after the wash. The top three brands have the best cleaning performance across whites and colors.
Step 7: Checking the pH levels of residual wastewater
Making my methodology scientifically sound, I checked the pH levels of residual wastewater from my test washing. I used a good old litmus paper test to specify the pH values. A healthy septic tank’s pH levels are 6.5–6.7 because bacteria thrive in this range. Laundry detergents producing wastewater of this pH range are ranked higher in my list.
Step 8: Scoring the best septic safe laundry detergent
Now that I had all the data needed to score the best septic-safe laundry detergents, I used the following factors to rank them.
- Ingredients and certifications
- pH level of residual wastewater (septic safety)
- Cleaning performance
- Sustainable packaging
- Cost per load
- Subscription offers, delivery charges and return policies
- Focus on eco-friendly initiatives
Laundry detergents that performed best in these categories are ranked higher. Out of thirteen, only nine made it to the final list.
This eight-step methodology helped me rank the best laundry detergents out there that are perfectly safe for your septic tanks and gray water systems. This review will surely help you make the safer choice for your everyday usage.
Check out my list of the eight best laundry sheets analyzed and vetted through the same methodology.
Best Septic Safe Laundry Detergent for Efficient Cleaning
To find the safest eco-friendly laundry detergent for septic tanks, I analyzed the detergents of the 13 most popular brands available on the market and identified the 9 best.
I sorted them according to their ingredients, certification, pH levels, cost, cleaning efficiency, and environmental contribution. This eight-step research methodology is devised so that you don’t fall victim to bogus branding.
Out of 13 septic-safe laundry detergents, Earth Breeze performed best in all categories and scored the first position. Here’s what this environmentally friendly brand has to offer:
- 100% biodegradable ingredients and authentic certifications
- Optimal pH level of residual wastewater
- High cleaning performance
- Zero-waste packaging
- Eco-friendly projects
Earth Breeze is a relatively new player, and it may take time for it to compete with traditional brands. But thousands of customers have already used it and left positive reviews about its performance.
So, if you’re looking for the best septic-safe and biodegradable laundry detergent that also cleans well, I’d highly recommend Earth Breeze’s Eco Sheets. It’s a complete package, and you’ll find it hard to get the same value for your money elsewhere.