If you are looking for the best name-brand laundry detergent, Consumer Reports is the best source of information. However, there is an eco-friendly laundry detergent that has actually outperformed Tide in university tests, called Charlie’s Soap (in the tests it is called Wonder Wash laundry detergent, but it is really the same product). Not only this, but it actually improves the flame-retardency of sleepwear, is eco-friendly and rinses out completely, so it is also the best laundry detergent for washing baby clothes.
CLEMSON UNIVERSITY – Tests to determine the rinseability differences between WONDER WASH and Liquid Tide. The graph was obtained from testing rinseability of cotton diapers during numerous wash cycles. Detergents were WONDER WASH and Liquid Tide. Also cycles were completed using water only (control). Conditions during the wash cycle were determined by AATCC Test Method #61. Observing the graph you will note that cotton diapers washed with Liquid Tide gained nearly 2% in weight in only 8 washings while the weights of cotton diapers washed in WONDER WASH and water remained basically unchanged. WONDER WASH rinsed out completely and Liquid Tide did not.
CLEMSON UNIVERSITY – The measured effect of multiple washings on the Flammability of Children’s Sleepwear in accordance with the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Test 16 CFR 1615/1616 and ASTM Test D4723 Clemson University test results showing char length measured in centimeters after a three second exposure to an open flame, after the given number of washings. WONDER WASH improves the flame retardant properties of children sleepwear. After 17th wash and dry cycle, the samples only melted with no residue. Even when the flame was held longer than the specified three seconds, there was still no burning or charring – only melting. Four other products were tested – Ivory Snow, Tide, Baby Soft and Dreft – but only WONDER WASH improved and continued to improve the flame-retardancy of the fabrics tested.
It is interesting to note that powders generally performed better than liquid detergents in the latest Consumer Reports tests. However, fabrics tend to bleed and fade less when washed with liquid detergents. If you have a septic system, however, you should use liquid detergent, as powder detergents can contain plastic and other types of fillers which can plug up the drain lines and the leach field (this actually happened once to my parents, the septic guy had to come and jet the lines to get rid of the plastic balls). It may say “safe for septic systems” on the powder detergent box, but don’t believe it. The manufacturers stand to lose over 25% of their business if they admit they are not safe for septic systems, which is why many products labeled as “safe for septic systems” really aren’t.
For wool and other delicates, in our opinion the best laundry detergent is EucalanWoolwash, a no-rinse product.