Are Detergents Biodegradable? | Build a Stash

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Key Takeaways

  • Not all detergents are biodegradable. Detergents that contain non-ionic and ionic surfactants are unlikely to be biodegradable.
  • There are biodegradable detergents available that are eco-friendly and plant-based - like Earth Breeze and Puracy.
  • Despite their plastic construction, detergent bottles are 100% recyclable.

When it comes to household chores, I'm conscious of the products I use and their environmental impact. This includes detergents, but are they biodegradable?

Not all detergents are biodegradable. In fact, all conventional detergents are not because they contain petrochemicals, sodium lauryl sulfate, and phosphates. You can find labeled biodegradable detergents that are cleaner, safer, and more natural products for daily household use.

After performing thorough research and speaking with some experts in the industry, I can confidently confirm this guide is the number one resource to learn about detergents and their environmental impact. I also learned about some of the best biodegradable laundry detergents available. Keep reading to learn more.

Table of contents


Are Detergents Biodegradable?

As I've researched more about detergents, I've discovered that not all detergents are biodegradable. Traditional detergent is not biodegradable, but finding a biodegradable laundry detergent alternative is possible.

A biodegradable detergent is typically branded as eco-friendly, all-natural, or plant-based. On the other hand, detergents containing non-ionic and ionic surfactants are less likely to be biodegradable.

I found some great examples of biodegradable laundry detergents, such as Earth Breeze, which boasts certified biodegradable, nontoxic, and cruelty-free ingredients, making it suitable for sensitive skin.

Another noteworthy option is Biokleen's Eco-Bottle Laundry Liquid Detergent, which has biodegradable ingredients and recyclable cardboard box packaging.

Liquid detergents are the better choice because powdered detergents contain sodium sulfate. Detergents made from synthetic chemicals cannot be classified as biodegradable and may cause adverse effects on human health and the environment.

Is Using Detergents Bad For the Environment?

I discovered that both phosphates in non-biodegradable detergents and plastics in detergent pods could cause harm. I learned that detergents containing phosphates could lead to algae blooms when disposed of in freshwater, posing threats to aquatic life and ecosystems.

Not all detergents are created equal, though. Up to 75% of plastics from detergent pods can end up in the environment. However, the industry claims that many of these pods are made of water-soluble films which biodegrade in 90 days or less.

In my quest to find eco-friendly alternatives, I discovered a number of biodegradable laundry detergents. These detergents are made with certified biodegradable, non-toxic, and cruelty-free ingredients, making them safer for the environment and gentle on sensitive skin.

Many companies even encourage a zero-waste lifestyle by offering laundry detergents in bulk or in reusable containers. It's clear that not all detergents are bad for the environment, as long as we choose biodegradable options and avoid those with harmful chemicals and materials.

What Detergents Are Biodegradable?

As someone who cares about the environment, I've come across some biodegradable laundry detergents that are not only eco-friendly but also effective at cleaning.

Biodegradable detergents contain a larger percentage of organic products than other detergents, with the main chemical components being dyes, optical brighteners, and artificial fragrances.

These biodegradable materials and ingredients are more eco-friendly, making them a better choice if you're looking to reduce your environmental footprint. Here are a few options.

Earth Breeze

Earth Breeze stands out because its ingredients are certified biodegradable, nontoxic, cruelty-free, and safe for sensitive skin. Plus, it's affordable, making it a great choice for families.

Plastic packaging is also biodegradable and recyclable. It’s made mostly from clean ingredients like washing soda. It’s also affordable and safe for everybody to use and ranks as one of our favorite eco-friendly detergents.

Puracy Natural Laundry Detergent

Another biodegradable laundry detergent I found was Puracy Natural Laundry Detergent. It ticks all the boxes for green detergents, as it's safe for sensitive skin, comes in minimal packaging, and was even developed with the help of physicians.

The product is dermatologist-tested, ensuring its safety and effectiveness. The next time you shop for laundry detergent, look for products with certified biodegradable ingredients and try them.

Biodegradable Vs. Non-Biodegradable Detergents

I've looked into the differences between biodegradable and non-biodegradable detergents, and here's what I found:

Biodegradable detergents are organic, meaning microorganisms can break them down into organic materials without releasing toxins or causing harm to the environment. This is a safer product than conventional detergents.

For instance, Earth Breeze is a biodegradable laundry detergent made of certified biodegradable, non-toxic, and cruelty-free ingredients. These ingredients break down faster than what is found in conventional laundry detergents.

On the other hand, non-biodegradable detergents are made of chemicals that cannot be broken down by microorganisms and may harm the environment. This is the key difference that you’ll notice in an eco-friendly detergent.

Biodegradable detergents contain a large percentage of organic products, including dyes, optical brighteners, and artificial fragrances. Non-biodegradable detergents, however, contain harmful chemicals that don't break down easily.

Can You Recycle Liquid Laundry Detergent Bottles?

In my personal experience, I’ve found that most laundry detergent bottles are made from plastic #2 (high-density polyethylene). The good news is that this type of plastic is 100% recyclable and generally accepted by recycling centers.

Before recycling your detergent bottles, make sure they are empty. Because of the residue in the bottles, rinsing is not necessary. If your local curbside recycling program accepts them, simply place the bottles in your recycling bin.

If not, you can usually locate a nearby recycling facility that does. Why not get creative? I've repurposed old laundry detergent bottles in various ways. Some ideas include:

  • Hand weights
  • Scoops
  • Funnels
  • Tool storage
  • Craft templates

The bottles can be recycled for both an eco-friendly laundry detergent and a traditional one. To further reduce your environmental footprint, consider purchasing detergents that come in more sustainable packaging.

For instance, Tide Liquid bottles contain at least 25% post-consumer recycled material, and their powder detergent boxes are made of recyclable cardboard.