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Laundry Detergents Without Optical Brighteners – Our Insanely Helpful List

Updated: October, 2021

Best Laundry Detergent Without Optical Brighteners Detergent

In a hurry?
If you want to skip right to the number one rated laundry detergent without optical brighteners you’ll find it on Amazon here or the manufacturers’ website here.

I hope you’ll stick around and continue reading for some eye-opening information and extensive details about the options available to you. This list took months to research and compile. I hope it helps.

A Word of Caution!

There are several websites that are listing detergents, such as multiple forms of Cheer as “Optical Brightener Free”, however, these statements are FALSE! I have done extensive research and there is only one variety of Cheer that is optical-brightener free! (See notes for links to cheer ingredients). This is only one example of false information I have found on other websites! Rest assured, this list is up to date and reexamined on a regular basis!

Please do your homework. When it comes to the safety of your infant or military family it’s better to stick with a list you know is thoroughly researched and current. Check the date of the article to find out if its the most up to date information on current laundry detergents.

detergents-we-tested-without-optical-brighteners

 

What Are Optical Brighteners In Laundry Detergent?

Optical brighteners are synthetic chemicals that are added to liquid & powder laundry detergents. Laundry detergent manufacturers add this chemical for the sole purpose of making clothing appear whiter and brighter, and thereby looking cleaner.

Do Optical Brighteners Fade Clothes?

OBAs (optical brightening agents) are added to most of the American laundry detergents today, to make whites appear whiter, but the reality is that they can also cause colors to fade, especially dark colored clothes. Have you ever had a new black blouse that only after a few washes looked grayish and worn out? That would be the OBAs doing their job, making clothes appear lighter/brighter! I would never use harsh synthetic chemicals to wash my cloth diapers, but the fact that they fade dark clothes is why I don’t use them on my clothes either!

optical-brighteners-on-the-label

 

Do All Detergent Have Optical Brighteners?

No, not all laundry detergents have optical brighteners in them! Optical brighteners are synthetic chemicals. So if you’re trying to keep chemicals away from your precious little ones’ skin, this is something you should be checking out on the labels!

What To Look For On The Ingredients Label

  • Disodium Diaminostilbene Disulfonate
  • DMS
  • Fluorescent Brighteners
  • Fluorescent Brightening Agents
  • Fluorescent Optical Brighteners
  • Fluorescent White Dyes
  • Fluorescent Whitening Agents (FWAs)
  • Optical Brightening Agents (OBAs)
  • Optical Whiteners
  • Organic Fluorescent Dyes

 

Trade Names And Optical Brightener Manufacturers

  • Blankophor
  • Dikaphor
  • Intrawite (textile use)
  • Kolocron
  • Optiblanc
  • Tinopal
  • Tuboblanc
  • Uvitex
  • Akzo Nobel
  • BASF
  • Deepak Nitrite
  • Eastman Chemical Company
  • Huntsman International

Helpful Video

List Of Detergents Without Optical Brighteners

We can only fit so much information within each small section, therefore we have provided you with a clickable link, so you can obtain more information on the detergent that you are researching such as reviews, manufacturer information, and varieties available (if any). We hope this information is useful!

If this list does not completely answer any questions you may have, please feel free to leave a comment below and I will try to help you as efficiently as I can. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll find someone who does!

Need information on a detergent that’s not on our list?
No Problem!!! I will look into it for you! Just leave a comment below and I will do my best to find the answers for you.

 

Product
CLICK FOR MORE INFO
Description He Safe

Active Wear Detergent (Optim)

Great for uniforms and work wear.
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Enzymes
  • No Dyes
  • No Softeners
  • No Fragrance
Yes
All Free And Clear Liquid Military Great for uniforms, hunting clothes, and work wear.
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Softeners
  • No Fragrance
Yes

Allens Naturally Powder

Best for babies with sensitive skin, however, doesn’t clean very well!
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Enzymes
  • No Dyes
  • No Softeners
  • No Fragrance
  • Rinses well in cold water
Yes

Allens Naturally Ultra Powder

Although there are no brighteners, the label reads “Not recommended for military uniforms”.
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Enzymes
  • No Dyes
  • No Softeners
  • No Fragrance
Yes

Allens Naturally Liquid

Allen’s Naturally liquid laundry detergent requires only 1/4 oz for HE Machines.
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Enzymes
  • No Dyes
  • No Softeners
  • No Fragrance
Yes

Arm & Hammer Clean & Simple

Great overall detergent.
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Enzymes
  • No Dyes
  • No Softeners
Yes
Attitude Baby Fragrance-Free Good plant-based option. Use half a cap in prewash and a whole cap and a half in the main wash. Wash on hot and add a water softener if your water is at all hard.
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • Awesome for sensitive skin and eczema!
Yes
Ylang-Ylang & Tangerine Good plant-based option. Use half a cap in prewash and a whole cap and a half in the main wash. Wash on hot and add a water softener if your water is at all hard.
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • Good Value For Money
Yes
Attitude
Lavender & Grapefruit
Good plant-based option. Use half a cap in prewash and a whole cap and a half in the main wash. Wash on hot and add a water softener if your water is at all hard.
  • No Optical Brighteners
Yes
[BabyGanics Loads of Love 3X, Fragrance-Free Loads of Love is an unscented detergent that has none of all the “bad stuff” in regular laundry detergent. This means that it is free from petrolatum, phthalates, sulfates, synthetic fragrance, and parabens.
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Chlorine, phthalates, phosphates, synthetic fragrances, or dyes
  • No Dyes
  • No Phthalates
  • No Fragrance
  • No Phosphates
Yes
BabyGanics 3X Lavender liquid
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Chlorine, phthalates, phosphates, synthetic fragrances, or dyes
  • No Dyes
  • No Phthalates
  • No Synthetic Fragrance
  • No Phosphates
Yes
Bio-O-Kleen Liquid Laundry Detergent The liquid brand is a good choice
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Enzymes
  • No Dyes
  • No Softeners
  • No Perfumes
Yes
Bio-O-Kleen Powder Free & Clear
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • Contains Enzymes
  • No Dyes
  • No Softeners
  • No Fragrance
Yes
BumGenius Powder Moms report cloth diapers are clean, and no funky smell.  Commonly used on both pocket diapers and prefolds.
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Enzymes
  • No Dyes
  • No Softeners
  • No Fragrance
Yes
BumGenius Clean & Gentle Liquid Plant Derived, GMO Free, Cruelty Free & Sulfate Free makes this an excellent choice.
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Dyes
  • No Softeners
  • No Fragrance
Yes
Caldrea
Sweet Pea Laundry Detergent
Contains plant-derived surfactants, Borax and essential oils of Geranium, Orange, Jasmine, Coriander, Rose and Bergamot.
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Enzymes
  • No Dyes
  • No Softeners
No
Charlie Banana Powder Fragrance-Free No lingering chemical-based fragrance. It’s completely free from perfume or parabens. It dissolves quickly in cold water, and you won’t have to worry about residues on your clothes after rinsing the soap off. This works great for babies and individuals who suffer from allergic reactions to certain components in regular laundry soaps. Safe and effective for all fabrics including silk, wool, linen, cotton and high-tech microfiber athletic and waterproof gear.
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Enzymes
  • No Dyes
  • No Softeners
  • No Fragrance
Yes
Charlie’s Soap Powder Similar to Allen’s Naturally, however ingredients are proprietary. Extensive studies by Clemson University have shown it leaves no residue. Biodegradable. Technically a “detergent” (not soap, despite its name). Complaints of chemical burns and rash have been reported!
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Dyes
  • No Softeners
  • Essential oil fragrances
Yes
Cheer Powder He Detergent Box There are several other websites (as of May 15, 2019) such as :
  1. Diaper Jungle who claims Cheer Free and Gentle has no optical brighteners, this statement is FALSE! – (link to manufacturers ingredient list)
  2. Homequicks claims Cheer and Cheer Free are optical brightener free. this statement is FALSE! – Cheer (ingredient list) and Cheer Free (ingredient list)
  3. ArmyStudyGuide.com list multiple forms of Cheer (as well as other detergents) as “Optical Brightener Free”, however, these statements are FALSE!

I have done extensive research, with 1,000’s of man hours for this post, combing through ingredients and this variety of Cheer is the ONLY one that is optical-brightener free!  .PDF Ingredients from the manufacturer.

  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Dyes
  • No Softeners

Screenshots of DiaperJungle, Homequicks, and ArmyStudyGuide.

N/A
Clorox Green Works Liquid
  • No Optical Brighteners
Yes
Country Save Liquid Cost effective, additive free, and great results.
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Enzymes
  • No Dyes
  • No Softeners
  • No Fragrance
Yes
Country Save Powdered Cost effective, additive free, and great results.
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Enzymes
  • No Dyes
  • No Softeners
  • No Fragrance
Yes
Dropps Liquid Laundry Pacs – Fresh Scent Plant-based and rather weak. It would take a lot of product to accomplish a good clean.
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Enzymes
  • NPE Free
  • No Phosphate
  • No Chlorine
Yes
Earth Friendly Products Baby Ecos Disney Laundry Detergent, Lavender and Chamomile Phosphate-free, chlorine-free, enzyme-free, borine-free, cocamide DEA-free, dye-free, and free of petroleum ingredients.
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Enzymes
  • No Dyes
Yes
Earthview Laundry Detergent
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • Biodegradable
  • Healthy Child Compliant
  • No Animal Testing
  • HE Safe
  • Methylisothiazolinone-free
  • Fragrance-Free
Yes
EnviroRite Clearly Clean
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Enzymes
  • No Dyes
  • No Softeners
  • No Fragrance
N/A
H-E-X Performance Anti-Stink Free + Clear Liquid Eliminates tough odors – including smell caused by sweat, bacteria, mold, and mildew!
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Dyes
  • No Softeners
  • No Fragrance
Yes
H-E-X Performance Anti-Stink Fresh Clean Scent Liquid A light, fresh scent that doesn’t linger.
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Dyes
  • No Softeners
Yes
Honest Company liquid Plant-based. Contains sodium cocoate, which can build up in diapers, trapping bacteria and causing repellency issues. This baby laundry soap has a neutral pH level, which means it does not irritate the skin.
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Enzymes
  • No Dyes
  • No Softeners
  • No Fragrance
Yes
Kirkland Signature Environmentally Responsible Ultra Clean Liquid Laundry Detergent(eBay) Contains vegetable-based surfactants including those derived from coconuts
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • Biodegradable
  • Safe for Septic Systems
  • Not tested on Animals
  • No Phosphates
Yes
Lifekind Naturally Safer Triple Concentrated Contains Seed & Pulp Extracts, Orange Peel Extracts, Surfactants from Coconuts.
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Enzymes
  • No Dyes
  • No Softeners
  • No Fragrance
Yes
Maggie’s Soap NutsMaggie’s Soap Nuts 100% natural – Grows on Trees!!! Perfect for hunting camo! This is actually a natural soap, not a detergent and can build up on fibers and cause repelling issues. Perfect for regular laundry.
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Enzymes
  • No Dyes
  • No Softeners
  • No Fragrance
Yes
Mountain Green 3X Free and Clear
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Enzymes
  • No Dyes
  • No Softeners
  • Fragrance-Free
  • PETA acceptable product
Yes
Molly’s Suds All Sport Wash Liquid
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Dyes
  • No Softeners
Yes
Molly’s Suds Oxygen Whitener Powder Does not contain surfactants.
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Enzymes
  • No Dyes
  • No Softeners
  • Essential oil fragrances
Yes
Molly’s Suds Sensitive Skin Powder Does not contain surfactants.
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Enzymes
  • No Dyes
  • No Softeners
  • No Fragrance
Yes
Nature Clean liquid
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Enzymes
  • No Dyes
  • No Softeners
  • No Fragrance
Yes
Nature Clean Refill liquid
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Enzymes
  • No Dyes
  • No Softeners
  • No Fragrance
Yes
Nature Clean Powder Detergent Although this is an excellent product, it ships from Canada so if you are in the USA shipping is outrageous!
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Enzymes
  • No Dyes
  • No Softeners
  • No Fragrance
Yes
Nellie’s Laundry Soda Contains coconut oil based ingredients. Not considered strong enough to properly clean a dirty diaper. Too expensive to be able to use enough to get a proper clean.
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Enzymes
  • No Dyes
  • No Softeners
  • No Fragrance
Yes
OXY-PRIME Powder Rinses completely and decomposes almost immediately in the environment leaving no toxic by-products or phosphates to the water table.
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Enzymes
  • No Dyes
  • No Softeners
  • No Fragrance
Yes
Planet Ultra Powder Not an effective detergent.
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Enzymes
  • No Dyes
  • No Softeners
  • No Fragrance
Yes
Puracy Natural Liquid Laundry Detergent From Austin, Texas; No phosphates, sulfates, petrochemicals, animal by-products, chlorine, perfumes, dyes, allergens.
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Dyes
  • No Softeners
  • No Fragrance
Yes
Rockin Green Classic Rock Formula, Smashing Watermelons Fantastic for hard water
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Enzymes
  • No Dyes
  • No Softeners
  • Essential oil fragrances
Yes
Rockin Green Unscented Fantastic for hard water
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Enzymes
  • No Dyes
  • No Softeners
  • No Fragrances
Yes
Ruby Moon Cloth Diaper Detergent- Warm Vanilla Sugar This product is not really a detergent, it is mainly water softeners and salt. Not recommended for cloth diapers as it contains no surfactant.
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Enzymes
  • No Dyes
  • No Softeners
  • Some varieties have fragrance
Yes
Sensi Clean Liquid Very expensive. Reports of burns and rashes by users of this detergent.
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Enzymes
  • No Dyes
  • No Fragrance
Yes
Seventh Generation Natural 4X Concentrated Free and Clear Unscented Use 1/2 cap in your cloth diaper prewash and 1 1/2 caps in the main wash. Wash on hot; add a water softener, such as Calgon if your water is at all hard. Does contain essential oils.
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Dyes
  • No Fragrance
Yes
Seventh Generation Baby Plant-derived enzyme stain removers. Certified Cruelty Free. From Vermont; 0% fragrances, dyes, or artificial brighteners.
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Dyes
  • No Perfumes
Yes
Sport-Wash Residue Free Reports of burns and rashes by users of this detergent.
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Enzymes
  • No Dyes
  • No Softeners
  • No Fragrance
Yes
Sun and Earth Unscented
The free and clear variety does not contain synthetic fragrances.  Ingredients in this detergent are problematic for build-up/repellency issues with cloth diapers.
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Enzymes
  • No Dyes
  • No Softeners
  • No Fragrance

Ingredient PDF

Yes
Target Free & Clear Everspring
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Dyes
  • No Softeners
  • No Perfumes
Yes
Tide PureClean Liquid, unscented
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Dyes
  • No Fragrance
Yes
Trader Joe’s Liquid Contains fabric softener which can buildup and cause repellency issues with cloth diapers.
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Enzymes
  • No Dyes
Yes
Vaska Baby
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Dyes
  • No Softeners
  • No Fragrance
Yes
Vaska Perfect
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Dyes
  • No Softeners
  • No Fragrance
Yes
Woolite Baby
  • No Optical Brighteners
  • No Dyes
  • No Softeners
Yes
Woolite Dark Midnight Breeze Scent
  • No Optical Brighteners
Yes

 

Discontinued Detergents Without Optical Brighteners

You can check eBay and other outlets that deal in discontinued products for these oldies but goodies.

  • A Happy Green Life
  • Bio-Vert
  • Bio-Vert with no perfume

 

Hard To Find Detergents Without Optical Brighteners

 

Can optical brighteners be washed out?

Well yes and no!

No, optical brighteners can not be “washed” out by simply washing them in your washing machine with laundry detergent. It takes a little more effort than that!

Yes, optical brighteners can be cleaned out of your laundry with speical products. The folks over at Clean It Guide have an article “How To Remove Optical Brighteners From Clothes” that is simple to follow. I did exactly what they said and IT WORKED!

aundry-detergents-without-optical-brighteners-military-hunting-camo-cloth-diapers
ACU, OCP Uniform Washing In Optical Brightener Free Detergent
 

ACU, OCP Uniform Washing In Optical Brightener Free Detergent

On the care label, the instructions are to launder in a mild detergent which does NOT contain “optical brighteners.” The reason the instructions say not to use detergents with optical brighteners is that they make Army uniforms a lot more visible (not quite glow in the dark, but close).
 

Laundry Detergents Without Optical Brighteners F.A.Q.

Here are a few of the specific questions we get asked a LOT:
 

2. Does all free and clear contain optical brighteners?

Yes

3. Does Dreft have optical brighteners?

Yes PDF ingredient list

Detergents Without Optical BrightenersDetergents Without Optical Brighteners Free And Clear Safe

This Post Has 20 Comments

  1. froleprotrem

    Hey there! I’m at work browsing your blog from my new apple iphone! Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and look forward to all your posts! Carry on the excellent work!

  2. Jazzycbroom

    Does tide free and clear and seventh generation in the lavender scent have optical brightness? I also wanted to know does fabric softeners have optical brightners?

    1. Tammy

      Yes, Tide Free & Clear does have an optical brightener called “DISODIUM DIAMINOSTILBENE DISULFONATE”. Seventh Generation Lavender does not have optical brighteners and it also has no dyes or synthetic fragrances – you can read about it here on Amazons product page. Hope this helps

      1. Tammy

        Yes, you are correct Nick. Tide free and GENTLE does not however, tide free & CLEAR does have optical brighteners. (see ingredient list here) Our list above is not all-inclusive of every detergent that doesn’t have optical brighteners, only the ones that (1) we’ve tested and used on our cloth diapers and (2) have no optical brighteners. Thank you for adding

  3. Cheri

    Hi Tammy, I use the Grab Green brand laundry pods, typically Vetiver scent but also Fragrance Free if nothing else is available. Would these be brightener free?

    1. Tammy

      Let me look into it and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible. Thanks

    2. Tammy

      Cheri, I checked out the Grab Green brand here https://amzn.to/2tZuCuN and while it does brighten clothes, it does not use an optical brightener to do so. You found a winner! Thank you for your question. I will add this item to our list!

  4. John Bishop

    Dear Tammy,

    We just bought new white Charisma towels; the tags state no bleach and no optical brighteners. Does OXI CLEAN contain either?

    1. Tammy

      Oxygen bleach (like OxiClean) is an alternative to chlorine bleach. OxiClean contains two active ingredients: Sodium Percarbonate and Sodium Carbonate. These substances form oxygen and hydrogen peroxide when mixed with water. So no, OxiClean does not have optical brighteners or bleach. I use it on my cloth diapers as it doesn’t disintegrate the fabric the way “bleach” does. If it were me, yes I’d use it.

      The best way to wash towels is with warm water and color-safe bleach (if needed) for colored towels. Use hot water and nonchlorine bleach, like OxiClean (if needed) for white towels.

      Hope this helps

  5. Courtney

    Do you know if Sprouts free and clear has optical brighteners?
    Here are the ingredients:
    Water, sodium chloride, methylisothiazolinone, sodium citrate, sodium laurel sulfate, sodium oleate, laureth-7

    Thanks so much!

    1. Tammy

      Courtney, methylisothiazolinone is a cytotoxin that may affect different types of cells and have been linked to lung toxicity, allergic reactions and possible neurotoxicity. However none of the ingredients you have listed are Optical Brighteners. Hope this helps

  6. Erinn

    Hello I was wondering about Target’s new free and clear Everspring detergent. Thanks!

    1. Tammy

      Hello Erinn and thank you for your question! I’ve looked into the Target Free & Clear Everspring Detergent and it does not contain any optical brighteners! I will be adding it to our list, thank you so much!!

      Target Free Clear Everspring Detergent Ingredients

  7. K.

    Thank you for the information. What if detergents with optical brighteners were previously used? I have several sets of secondhand diapers that my sister washed with a detergent containing optical brighteners. Can the optical brighteners be removed with washing?

    1. Tammy

      Yes, we covered that in the above article. It’s ok, I skim through things when I’m in a hurry too! LOL I’ll paste it here:

      • No, optical brighteners can not be “washed” out by simply washing them in your washing machine with laundry detergent.
      • Yes, optical brighteners can be cleaned out of your laundry with special products. The folks over at Clean It Guide have an article “How To Remove Optical Brighteners From Clothes” that is simple to follow. I did exactly what they said and IT WORKED!
    2. Fatima

      I am looking for a liquid laundry detergent that has no optical brighteners, no softeners and no essential oils

      1. Tammy

        Essential oils will most likely be listed as a fragrance. So any from this list that says no optical brighteners, no softeners, and no fragrance would be good, The first four on this list are good examples of that.

    3. Sarah Gras

      Does Arm & Hammer free and clear have optical brighteners? What about Purex baby?

      1. Tammy

        Yes…

        • Purex Baby contains “Disodium Diaminostilbene Disulfonate” – Yes, this is an Optical Brightener
        • Arm & Hammer™ for Sensitive Skin Free of Perfumes & Dyes Liquid Detergent contains “Disodium distyrylbiphenyl disulfonate” – Yes, this is an Optical Brightener
        • Arm & Hammer™ for Sensitive Skin Plus OxiClean™ Liquid Detergent — Fragrance and Dye Free contains “Disodium distyrylbiphenyl disulfonate” – Yes, this is an Optical Brightener
        • Arm & Hammer™ Sensitive Skin plus Skin-Friendly Fresh Scent Liquid Detergent contains “Disodium distyrylbiphenyl disulfonate” – Yes, this is an Optical Brightener

        Hope this helps! Let me know if there are any others you’d like to know about. I’d be happy to research them for you.

    Comments are closed.