7 Laundry Detergent brands without optical brighteners

There are a lot of chemicals in laundry detergent products that pollute the environment. Most of the detergents also use fragrances, which can be problematic for allergy sufferers. In this article we look at the most important chemicals and their impact on humans and the environment and introduce brands who offer alternatives to conventional laundry detergents.

What chemical substances are in detergents?


Today, mainly oxygen-based bleaches such as percarbonate or hydrogen peroxide are used.  These bleaches oxidize the organic colors from the dirt in the laundry and discolor them. Bleach activators such as tetraacetylethylenediamine (TAED) increase the efficacy of bleaching agents at low temperatures. Fortunately, chlorine bleach is being used less and less in the conventional detergent brands.


The fragrances in the detergents give the laundry a pleasant scent and cover the unpleasant odors of the wash liquor. However, various perfumes added to the detergent such as limonene or geraniol can cause allergies.


As a filler for pulverulent detergents mainly sodium sulfates are used. They ensures a good flowability, good dosage and solubility of the product. For the actual cleaning they have no effect.

However, sodium sulphate can not be biodegraded easily and contributes to the salinity of the waters, which in turn interferes with the equilibrium of the freshwater flora and fauna. If you want to avoid fillers, you better take a liquid detergent.

Optical brighteners

What are optical brighteners in detergent?

Optical brighteners deceive our eye. During the washing process, they are drawn on the fiber of the textile and remain there. They convert the invisible ultraviolet light into visible blue light. Mixed with the complementary color yellow of the laundry, a radiant white results for the human eye: A deception without any washing effect.

Why are optical brighteners bad?

The problem with optical brighteners is that they get into the wastewater and are difficult to biodegrade. Direct skin contact is suspected to cause a hormonal effect by some classes of brighteners. Ecologically produced textiles and detergents therefore do not use optical brighteners.

What detergent does not have optical brighteners?

Here comes a list of laundry detergent brands without optical brighteners and other harsh chemicals

  • Seventh Generation
    from Vermont; 0% fragrances, dyes, or artificial brighteners.
  • Puracy
    from Austin, Texas; No phosphates, sulfates, petrochemicals, animal by-products, chlorine, perfumes, dyes, allergens.
  • Ecos Earth friendly products
    Does Ecos have optical brighteners? No. The formula is alos Phosphate-free, chlorine-free, enzyme-free, borine-free, cocamide DEA-free, dye-free, and free of petroleum ingredients.
  • Mrs. Meyers Laundry Detergent
    from Racine, WI; Free of Phthalates, Chlorine, Formaldehyde, Artificial Colors, Parabens, Animal Derived Ingredients, MEA, DEA, Optical Brighteners.
  • Biokleen Free & Clear
    From Gurnee, Illinois. Biokleen uses a hypoallergenic formula. The detergent is 3 times concentrated to reduce packaging, waste and energy. Biokleen liquid laundry detergent is plant-based,with no artificial fragrances or dyes. The products are never tested on animals, use biodegradable ingredients and are manufactured in the US.
  • Sun & Earth
    from King of Prussia, PA; Vegan, Kosher, Cruelty free, Phosphate free, Dye free, Perfume free, No harmful synthetics, UV brightener free.
  • Grab Green
    from Camarilo, CA; Free from Phosphate, optical brighteners, chlorine and dye, non-toxic formula made of naturally-derived ingredients
  • Nellie’s All Natural Laundry Soda
    from Vancouver; free from SLS, SLES, Phosphates, Fragrance and Chlorine, biodegradable

But what about well known laundry detergent brands. Are they free of optical brighteners?

Does Tide Free have optical brighteners?

According to the official website of Tide, Tide Free does contain optical brighteners. The only Tide product that does not have optical brighteners is Tide Purclean, which is a plant-based detergent that is 75% bio-based and certified by the USDA BioPreferred Program. Tide Purclean >>> also has no dyes, chlorine, phosphates, or optical brighteners. Therefore, if you are looking for a laundry detergent that is free of optical brighteners and other synthetic chemicals, Tide Purclean may be a better option than Tide Free.

Does Persil contain optical brighteners?

According to the official website of Persil, Persil Sensitive detergent contains optical brighteners. However, it is not clear if other Persil products also contain optical brighteners, as the website does not provide this information, clearly. Therefore, consumers who want to avoid optical brighteners may need to contact Henkel directly or check the product labels carefully before buying or using their detergents.

Does Arm and Hammer sensitive detergent have optical brighteners?

Arm and Hammer sensitive detergent claims to be free of optical brighteners, dyes and perfumes, making it a suitable choice for people with sensitive skin or allergies. However, some customers have reported that they still see a blue tint on their clothes after using this detergent, which suggests that it may contain some traces of optical brighteners. Therefore, it is advisable to test the detergent on a small area of fabric before using it on a large load of laundry.

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