Updated: October, 2021
Best Laundry Detergent Without Optical Brighteners Detergent
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.
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!
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
- 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
- Intrawite (textile use)
- Akzo Nobel
- Deepak Nitrite
- Eastman Chemical Company
- Huntsman International
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!
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|Great for uniforms and work wear.
|All Free And Clear Liquid Military||Great for uniforms, hunting clothes, and work wear.
|Best for babies with sensitive skin, however, doesn’t clean very well!
|Although there are no brighteners, the label reads “Not recommended for military uniforms”.
|Allen’s Naturally liquid laundry detergent requires only 1/4 oz for HE Machines.
|Great overall detergent.
|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.
|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.
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.
|[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.
|BabyGanics 3X Lavender liquid||
|Bio-O-Kleen Liquid Laundry Detergent||The liquid brand is a good choice
|Bio-O-Kleen Powder Free & Clear||
|BumGenius Powder||Moms report cloth diapers are clean, and no funky smell. Commonly used on both pocket diapers and prefolds.
|BumGenius Clean & Gentle Liquid||Plant Derived, GMO Free, Cruelty Free & Sulfate Free makes this an excellent choice.
Sweet Pea Laundry Detergent
|Contains plant-derived surfactants, Borax and essential oils of Geranium, Orange, Jasmine, Coriander, Rose and Bergamot.
|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.
|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!
|Cheer Powder He Detergent Box||There are several other websites (as of May 15, 2019) such as :
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.
|Clorox Green Works Liquid||
|Country Save Liquid||Cost effective, additive free, and great results.
|Country Save Powdered||Cost effective, additive free, and great results.
|Dropps Liquid Laundry Pacs – Fresh Scent||Plant-based and rather weak. It would take a lot of product to accomplish a good clean.
|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.
|Earthview Laundry Detergent||
|EnviroRite Clearly Clean||
|H-E-X Performance Anti-Stink Free + Clear Liquid||Eliminates tough odors – including smell caused by sweat, bacteria, mold, and mildew!
|H-E-X Performance Anti-Stink Fresh Clean Scent Liquid||A light, fresh scent that doesn’t linger.
|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.
|Kirkland Signature Environmentally Responsible Ultra Clean Liquid Laundry Detergent(eBay)||Contains vegetable-based surfactants including those derived from coconuts
|Lifekind Naturally Safer Triple Concentrated||Contains Seed & Pulp Extracts, Orange Peel Extracts, Surfactants from Coconuts.
|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.
|Mountain Green 3X Free and Clear
|Molly’s Suds All Sport Wash Liquid||
|Molly’s Suds Oxygen Whitener Powder||Does not contain surfactants.
|Molly’s Suds Sensitive Skin Powder||Does not contain surfactants.
|Nature Clean liquid||
|Nature Clean Refill liquid||
|Nature Clean Powder Detergent||Although this is an excellent product, it ships from Canada so if you are in the USA shipping is outrageous!
|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.
|OXY-PRIME Powder||Rinses completely and decomposes almost immediately in the environment leaving no toxic by-products or phosphates to the water table.
|Planet Ultra Powder||Not an effective detergent.
|Puracy Natural Liquid Laundry Detergent||From Austin, Texas; No phosphates, sulfates, petrochemicals, animal by-products, chlorine, perfumes, dyes, allergens.
|Rockin Green Classic Rock Formula, Smashing Watermelons||Fantastic for hard water
|Rockin Green Unscented||Fantastic for hard water
|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.
|Sensi Clean Liquid||Very expensive. Reports of burns and rashes by users of this detergent.
|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.
|Seventh Generation Baby||Plant-derived enzyme stain removers. Certified Cruelty Free. From Vermont; 0% fragrances, dyes, or artificial brighteners.
|Sport-Wash Residue Free||Reports of burns and rashes by users of this detergent.
|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.
|Target Free & Clear Everspring||
|Tide PureClean Liquid, unscented||
|Trader Joe’s Liquid||Contains fabric softener which can buildup and cause repellency issues with cloth diapers.
|Woolite Dark Midnight Breeze Scent||
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 with no perfume
Hard To Find Detergents Without Optical Brighteners
- All: Free and Clear Liquid – Military
- BabyGanics: 3X Fragrance-Free liquid
- Bio-O-Kleen: Premium Plus Laundry Powder
- Citra Suds – 2x Concentrated – Lavender Bergamot liquid
- Citra Suds – 2x Concentrated – Valencia Orange liquid
- Claudia’s Choices – Ultra Phosphate Free Laundry Powder (Canada)
- Crunchy Clean
- Eco-Max: liquid & powder
- Ecover – Zero 2x, Fragrance-Free, Liquid
- Ecover – Zero 2x, Lavender Field, Liquid
- EnviroRite – Clearly Clean
- Equator –
- Method – Squeaky Green
- Mrs. Meyer’s Laundry Detergent: Basil, Lavender, Lemon Verbena, Geranium, and Baby Blossom
- Natural Value: Naturally Gentle
- SA8 Legacy of Clean: Delicate Fine Fabric
- Thirsties – Super Wash
- Tiny Bubbles
- VIP: Hypo-Allergenic
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!
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?
3. Does Dreft have optical brighteners?