Many supermarket-bought laundry detergents contain nasty hidden ingredients like animal fat. Yuk! Luckily, vegan laundry detergent and vegan fabric softener are readily available to buy in the UK.
Whether you’re vegan for the animals or to help to save our planet, once you learn about the nasties that lurk in many of the most popular brands of laundry soap, you’ll certainly want to make the switch to a vegan-friendly laundry detergent.
This article lists the best cruelty-free and vegan laundry detergent brands in the UK to help you to make the best choice when it comes to washing your clothes.
Want a free trial of SMOL vegan laundry detergent? Get 9 capsules for free here.
Is laundry detergent vegan?
Some laundry detergents are vegan-friendly, but not all are. Laundry detergent may contain animal-derived ingredients like pig, cow or sheep fat. Many laundry detergent companies also test on animals by putting the products on their skin, in their eyes and down their throats.
The best vegan laundry detergent brands
To save you the hassle of trying to find good vegan-friendly laundry detergent, I’ve reviewed the most popular vegan washing powders and liquids in the UK.
As well as having no animal-derived ingredients and no animal testing, these are also more environmentally-friendly than the well-known brands that you may have used before.
All of the laundry detergents in this list are:
Here’s a quick comparison table of the best vegan laundry detergents, or scroll down for a full review of each one…
|Laundry detergent||Reason to choose||Price per wash||Where to buy|
|Smol||Delivery subscription||19 pence||Smol website|
|Faith in Nature||Super-concentrated liquid||14 pence||Amazon|
|Ecoegg||Cheapest option||3 pence||Amazon|
|Soap nuts||Natural and sustainable||7 pence||Amazon|
|Astonish||Great-smelling 2-in-1||20 pence||Amazon|
|Tru Earth||Space-saving||50 pence||Amazon|
How to tell if laundry detergent is vegan
It can be very tricky to know which brands of laundry detergents are suitable for vegans. You’ll need to consider any animal-derived ingredients, whether the product has been tested on animals and whether it contains toxic ingredients that can harm animal life in rivers and lakes.
Animal ingredients in laundry detergent
Many brands of powdered or liquid laundry detergent contain animal fat which may come from pigs, cows and sheep which are primarily killed for their meat.
It’s not easy to tell whether a particular kind of laundry detergent contains animal fats or not, as these can have lots of different names on the label. Oftentimes, reading the label doesn’t give you enough information for you to to know if an ingredient comes from a plant or an animal.
List of laundry detergent ingredients that could mean animal fat:
- Cationic esterquat surfactant
- Cationic surfactants
- Ditallowoylethyl hydroxyethylmonium methosulfate
- Lauric acid
- Myristal ether sulfate
- Myristic acid
- Oleic acid
- Oleyl myristate
- Palmitic acid
- Sodium tallowate
- Stearic acid
- Stearic hydrazide
- Stearoyl lactylic acid
- Stearyl betaine
- Stearyl imidazoline
- Tallow amide
- Tallow amine
- Tallow glycerides
- Tallow imidazoline
This list includes many of the commonly-found animal ingredients in laundry detergent, but it’s not exhaustive. It’s also important to note that some of these ingredients may be plant-based, as they have the same name whether the fats are sourced from plants or animals.
The only way to know for sure whether a particular product is vegan-friendly to contact the manufacturer. Sometimes, they may not reply. And when they do, it’s often with a stock answer which skirts around the issue.
Sometimes, companies may try to reassure you that all of the ingredients are ‘natural’, as they consider animal fat to be a natural ingredient. Or, they might say that they are ‘committed to avoiding animal testing’, which could actually mean that they are still doing it.
Animal testing for household products
It can be difficult to know which laundry products are truly cruelty-free. Even if laundry detergent is labelled with the words ‘not tested on animals’ or ‘cruelty-free’, all that means is that the finished product wasn’t tested on animals. Each of the individual ingredients could have been tested on animals before they were combined!
You can look out for the cruelty-free bunny logo as a sign that something is genuinely cruelty-free. But, you should be aware of imitation bunny logos, as there are only three official bunny logos that you can trust.
You should also know that cruelty-free and vegan don’t always go hand in hand. Any product can be cruelty-free but not vegan and vice-versa.
The environmental impact of laundry detergent
Regular laundry detergents are bad for the environment for two reasons:
- Detergents may contain toxic ingredients like cadmium, phosphates and arsenic which can contaminate our rivers and lakes, damaging ecosystems
- Detergents often come in plastic packaging which isn’t always recyclable and even if it is, it can’t be recycled indefinitely
If you’re vegan for environmental reasons, then you’ll be pleased to know that zero-waste laundry detergents do exist.
Top 6 vegan laundry detergent reviews
Here are my reviews of the best vegan-friendly laundry detergents…
Smol laundry capsules are the most effective concentrated laundry capsules in the world. They’re so concentrated, that these tiny vegan-friendly laundry capsules fit through your letterbox. You can set up a monthly subscription that’s tailored to your needs and simple to pause or amend online.
Smol laundry capsules clean fantastically well. But don’t just take my word for it. Smol laundry detergent has been rigorously tested against industry standards and performs better than or equal to the leading brands. Plus, the company has over 20,000 five-star reviews on Feefo. Smol are so sure that you’ll love their products that they offer a money-back guarantee.
Smol detergent has a beautiful fragrance, made with ethically-sourced essential oils. The plastic-free packaging is made from sustainable materials and is 100% recyclable.
- Delivered through your letterbox
- Free trial
- Bio and non-bio capsules
- Plastic-free packaging
- Child lock
Faith in Nature vegan laundry liquid is super-concentrated, so one bottle lasts for up to 150 washes. It contains natural ingredients with no enzymes, parabens, phosphates or bleaches.
Faith in Nature cleans clothes very well, even at lower temperatures. It’s made with organic aloe vera and rosemary so that it’s gentle on skin, yet powerful on stubborn stains. The company was founded in 1974 and this laundry liquid has over 1,000 five-star reviews on Amazon.
This concentrated laundry detergent is suitable for all kinds of fabrics including fine fabrics, bright colours and reusable nappies. Yes, it comes in a plastic bottle. However, the plastic is recycled and you can post it back to the company for free for them to refill.
Tip: Decant into a smaller bottle or use this pump to dispense easily
- 100% natural fragrance
- 100% recycled and recyclable packaging
- Made in UK
The Ecoegg Laundry Eggs is filled with natural and powerful cleaning pellets which activate in water. It lasts for up to three years, then you simply refill the egg shell with more pellets.
I have been using the Ecoegg for a few months now and have found that it works better than any of the laundry liquid and tablets that I used before. My clothes come out nice and clean, although they don’t have any smell, so you may also wish to use a vegan-friendly fabric conditioner to add some fragrance.
The Ecoegg can be used on all kinds of fabrics at temperatures of up to 60 degrees. If you have a combined washer-dryer, you must be sure to remove it before the drying cycle.
- Made in UK
- Lasts for three years
4. Soap nuts
Soap nuts are a pure and natural washing detergent that literally grows on trees! The shells of these nuts have been used in India and Nepal for hundreds of years. Now, they are becoming popular around the world as a vegan alternative to traditional washing powder that’s better for your skin and the environment.
When the shells of soap nuts come into contact with water, they release a natural soap called saponine. To use soap nuts, you simply add four or five half shells to the cotton bag provided, tie it and put it into the washing machine with your clothes.
Soap nuts are great for delicate fabrics, but for tough stains, you may need to add some vegan-friendly stain remover. They don’t add any smell to your washing and are completely chemical-free.
Astonish is an excellent choice for a budget brand vegan laundry detergent. If you’re looking for something that you can pick up in your local supermarket rather than ordering online, then Astonish is your best bet.
Astonish products can be found in many shops like Asda, Morrisons, Co-Op, Iceland, Ocado, The Range, Home Bargains, Savers, B&M Bargains, Wilko. Although you may find it easiest to get Astonish laundry detergent delivered from Amazon.
Astonish 2-in-1 laundry detergent is super-concentrated, so less packaging is needed than some other laundry liquids which contain added water. It’s designed to be gentle on fabrics, but some people may be allergic to some of the ingredients, like benzisothiazolone. This brand is also not eco-friendly and it comes in a plastic bottle.
- No need for separate fabric softener
- Smells great
- Made in UK
- Available in local shops
6. Tru Earth
Tru Earth Eco-strips are tiny strips of ultra-concentrated laundry detergent. You just toss a single strip into the washing machine and your clothes will come out clean and fresh.
These environmentally-friendly laundry stips are 100% biodegradable and come in a small cardboard box. As they’re so tiny and light, their carbon footprint is 94% smaller than traditional liquid and powder detergents. That said, they are made in Canada so have some way to travel to the UK.
Not just kinder to the planet, these vegan-friendly laundry strips are also kind to skin and free from parabens, phosphates and chlorine.
- Plastic-free and biodegradable
- No measuring
Other brands of vegan laundry detergent
As well as the top six laundry detergents that I reviewed above, there are some more which didn’t make the cut which you may be considering. I’ll give some more information on these popular brands below.
Method laundry detergent
Is Method vegan and cruelty-free?
All Method products are vegan-friendly and cruelty-free approved under the Leaping Bunny Program. However, the Method brand is owned by S.C. Johnson, a company that tests on animals. For this reason, some vegans choose to boycott Method cleaning products.
Ecover laundry detergent
Is Ecover laundry detergent vegan and cruelty-free?
Ecover products do not contain any animal ingredients and are not tested on animals, but they are not officially certified as vegan. Whilst Ecover products are cruelty-free according to the Leaping Bunny Program, the brand tests on water fleas.
The Leaping Bunny Program and European law don’t consider water fleas (daphnia) to be ‘animals’, even though these crustaceans are considered animals according to science [Source]. Ecover is also owned by S.C. Johnson, a company with a reputation for animal testing.
The bottom line
Which is the best laundry detergent for vegans depends on what your priorities are. To help you decide, I’ve put them all into a handy comparison table…
|Laundry detergent||Vegan||Cruelty-free||Plastic-free||Hypo-allergenic||Made in UK||Price per wash||Where to buy|
|Faith in Nature||YES||YES||–||–||YES||14p||Amazon|
I plan to write a guide to the best vegan fabric conditioners soon, so be sure to come back for that.