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Shopper's Guide: Laundry Detergents

There are so many options out there these days when it comes to 'eco' laundry detergents, we thought we would help you to understand which option is right for you, and to give you a clear guide to the pros and cons of each option, as well as a bit of an insight into what we consider when looking for products...

Bio or Non Bio, what's the difference?

Bio contains enzymes which break down biological stains. Often biological detergents will also contain laundry bleach, which can fade colours in some clothing, and for this reason non-bio is considered the best choice for strong colour washes. The enzymes in bio do a lot of the work in cleaning your laundry, meaning you can use it effectively at lower temperatures. Non Bio is often considered the preferred choice for those with sensitive skin or small children, although no link between the enzymes and skin reactions has ever been found. In blind tests, it has been proven that other ingredients were actually causing reactions, rather than the presence of the enzymes themselves.

Now, let's have a look at some of the aspects we consider when buying stuff to wash our little cottons with...

So, what makes a laundry detergent sustainable?

Just as there is no silver bullet that will solve climate change, there is no single aspect or ingredient in laundry detergents that makes them planet friendly. Instead there a number of factors (palm oil use, container materials, refill options, carbon footprint and ethics of the company etc) that contribute to our decision making when choosing brands and products to stock.

Let's take a look at our range of products one by one...

(to note: all price comparisons have been made using the recommended dosage for hard water, medium load, being as we are in a hard water area)

SESI Non-Bio and Bio Laundry Liquids

Non Bio £2.80/l or 14p per wash

Bio £3.80/l or 19p per wash

SESI are an Oxford-based social enterprise who celebrated 15 years as refill revolutionaries this year! Oh yes, they have very much been out their banging the refill drum long before the zero waste movement had a name!

SESI's products are all vegan, biodegradable, and produced within 50 miles of Oxford. SESI are also transparent in their methods and ingredients, so it is no surprise that they are an Ethical Consumer recommended brand.

💚 All products are cruelty free & vegan

💚 Locally made & supplied

💚 Fully circular supply (all bottles are washed and reused)

💚 Great value

💚 Lowest waste option

Zero Waste Club Laundry Sheets

£6.95/pack of 64 sheets, or 21.7p per load

You might have seen a few of these laundry sheets lately, there are a whole host of brands out there making these now. Zero Waste Club offer these sheets, using 1 per small load or 2 per larger load, coming out at much better value than others in the market.

These are great for anyone who finds time is sacred, just chuck them in the drum and away you go! Zero Waste Club have a fully transparent supply chain, pay their workers fairly, and of course use only vegan and plant derived ingredients.

💚 Convenient, really easy to use

💚 All products are cruelty free & vegan

💚 100% Palm free

💚 Lightweight so minimal carbon footprint

💚 Space saving

❌ Made in Asia

SESI Non-Bio and Bio Laundry Powders

Non-Bio & Bio Powder both £4.80/kg or 23.2p per wash

SESI powders are concentrated, and we found, that if used with White Vinegar (instead of Fabric Conditioner) we were able to use the soft water directions, meaning we used half as much powder, and therefore it is half the price per wash. White Vinegar is acidic which helps soften the water and therefore soften the fabrics. (And no, it doesn't leave your clothes smelling of chips!)

💚 All products are cruelty free & vegan

💚 Locally made & supplied

💚 Fully circular supply (all bottles are washed and reused)

💚 Lowest waste option

EcoEgg Laundry Eggs

£9.95 (refills £4.95), or 10p per wash

EcoEggs replace both laundry detergent AND fabric conditioner, making them by far the cheapest laundry alternative. They contain two types of mineral pellets which clean your clothes and leave them feeling soft. They have fragrance free, spring blossom and fresh linen options, and we have refills of all of these for when they need replacing.

We do tend to find that the fragrances are quite subtle after the first few washes, but you are able to use your own fabric conditioner with them should you wish to boost the scent a bit.

💚 Best value option by far

💚 Low carbon footprint, made in the UK

💚 Space saving

💚 100% Palm free

💚 Recommended by Allergy UK

💚 Convenient and easy to use

❌ Not as effective on tougher stains (red wine etc)

For comparison, at the time of writing:

Persil was being sold in Sainsburys for £5.25/918ml. This works out at 22.9p per wash

Ecover was being sold in Sainsburys for £9.00/1.5l. This works out at 30p per wash

It's also important to maintain your machine

Washing Machine Freshener £4.95/200g pouch

Often overlooked is the need to maintain your machine, and our freshener is great for doing just that. Sprinkle inside the drum and the detergent tray before putting on a hot cycle. Most machine manufacturers recommend to do this once a month, and it is especially important in hard water areas.

What do we use?

We have used all of the above at some point, and it depends on who is doing the laundry as to what takes preference! I (Dan) tend to either use the laundry sheets, or the EcoEgg, as I like the fact they are quick and easy to use and I don't have to measure anything out. I don't use fabric conditioner at all, but I will put a bit of white vinegar in if I am washing towels.

Vi tends to use the SESI bio laundry liquid, or the non bio with fabric conditioner (as the non bio liquid is unfragranced). This just goes to prove that everyone will have a different preference!

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