Detergents Without Optical Brighteners

Updating: January 10, 2019 –

So, what is all the hub-bub about detergents without optical brighteners?  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!

Top-Rated Detergent

In a hurry? I understand we all live busy lives and some of us do not have time to read all about the cost per ounce, reported adverse reactions, etc. If this is you, skip right to selecting the number one rated detergent without optical brighteners. (here)

However, 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.

My Top Three Picks

  1. Seventh Generation
  2. Bio-O-Kleen
  3. Ecos

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.

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!

Laundering The Army Combat Uniform (ACU)

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).

List Of Optical Brighteners

  • Blankophor,
  • Dikaphor,
  • Disodium Diaminostilbene Disulfonate
  • DMS,
  • Fluorescent Brighteners,
  • Fluorescent Brightening Agents,
  • Fluorescent Optical Brighteners,
  • Fluorescent White Dyes,
  • Fluorescent Whitening Agents (FWAs),
  • Intrawite (textile use),
  • Kolocron,
  • Optiblanc,
  • Optical Brightening Agents (OBAs),
  • Optical Whiteners,
  • Organic Fluorescent Dyes,
  • Tinopal,
  • Tuboblanc,
  • Uvitex.

Helpful Video

List Of Detergents Without Optical Brighteners

ImageDetergent
Brand 
Name & Size
allens Best Detergent for Cloth DiapersAllens NaturallyPowdered
Allens NaturallyUltra Powder
Allens NaturallyLiquid Laundry Detergents

NOTES: Best for babies with sensitive skin, however, doesn’t clean very well!

ImageDetergent
Brand 
Name & Size
Detergents Without Optical BrightenersAttitudeBaby Fragrance-Free
Attitude

Ylang-Ylang & Tangerine

Attitude

Lavender & Grapefruit

NOTES: Awesome for sensitive skin and eczema!

ImageDetergent
Brand 
Name & Size
baby-ganics-laundry-detergentBabyGanicsLoads of Love 3X, Fragrance-Free
BabyGanics3X Fragrance-Free liquid
BabyGanics3X Lavender liquid

NOTES:

ImageDetergent
Brand 
Name & Size
BioKleen Liquid DetergentBio-O-KleenLiquid Laundry Detergent
Bio-O-KleenPowder Free & Clear
Bio-O-KleenPremium Plus Laundry Powder

NOTES: According to various cloth diaper forums, this brand of detergent causes repellency issues with pocket diapers.

ImageDetergent
Brand 
Name & Size
bumgenius laundry detergentBumGeniusPowder

NOTES:

ImageDetergent
Brand 
Name & Size
charlie-banana-detergentCharlie Banana

Powder Fragrance-Free

NOTES: quickly dissolves in cold water, rinses thoroughly

ImageDetergent
Brand 
Name & Size
Cloth Diaper Detergent ChartCharlie’s SoapPowder

NOTES: 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!

ImageDetergent
Brand 
Name & Size
cheer-powder-he-detergent-boxCheer Stay colorful Powdered Detergent Fresh Clean Scent

NOTES: See notes in the comments section. Thank Jonathan

ImageDetergent
Brand 
Name & Size
Detergents Without Optical BrightenersClorox Green WorksLiquid

NOTES: 

ImageDetergent
Brand 
Name & Size
country save Best Detergent for Cloth DiaperCountry SaveLiquid
Country SavePowdered

NOTES: Cost effective, additive free, and great results.

ImageDetergent
Brand 
Name & Size
DroppsLiquid Laundry Pacs – Fresh Scent

NOTES: enzyme-free, NPE-fee, phosphate-free and chlorine-free

ImageDetergent
Brand 
Name & Size
ECOS Free Cloth Diaper Detergent ChartEarth Friendly ProductsBaby Ecos Disney Laundry Detergent, Lavender and Chamomile

NOTES: Phosphate-free, chlorine-free, enzyme-free, borine-free, cocamide DEA-free, dye-free, and free of petroleum ingredients.

 ImageDetergent
Brand 
Name & Size
envirorite Cloth Diaper Detergent ChartEnviroRiteClearly Clean

NOTES: Ingredients: Deionized Water, Vegetable-Based Cleaning Agents, Surfactacts, Microbiostat

ImageDetergent
Brand 
Name & Size
HEX-Performance-Advance-Laundry-Detergent-Free-and-Clear-H-E-XPerformance Anti-Stink Free + Clear Liquid
H-E-XPerformance Anti-Stink Fresh Clean Scent Liquid

NOTES:

ImageDetergent
Brand 
Name & Size
 honest-cloth-diaper-laundry-detergentHonest Company liquid

NOTES: 

ImageDetergent
Brand 
Name & Size
lifekind-cloth-diaper-laundry-detergentLifekindNaturally Safer Triple Concentrated

NOTES: Contains Seed & Pulp Extracts, Orange Peel Extracts, Surfactants from Coconuts.

ImageDetergent
Brand 
Name & Size
Maggies Soap Nuts Cloth Diaper Detergent ChartMaggie’s Soap NutsMaggie’s Soap Nuts

NOTES: 100% natural – Grows on Trees.

ImageDetergent
Brand 
Name & Size
Mountain Green3X Free and Clear

NOTES: 

ImageDetergent
Brand 
Name & Size
Sodium percarbonate Sodium carbonate Citric acid Pure lemon essential oilMolly’s SudsOxygen Whitener Powder
Molly’s SudsSensitive Skin Powder

NOTES: Sodium percarbonate, Sodium carbonate, Citric acid, Pure lemon essential oil

ImageDetergent
Brand 
Name & Size
natureclean-2 nature clean cloth diaper laundry detergentNature Cleanliquid
Nature CleanRefill liquid
Nature CleanPowder

NOTES: Although this is an excellent product, it ships from Canada so if you are in the USA shipping is outrageous!

ImageDetergent
Brand 
Name & Size
Nellie’sNellie’s Laundry Soda

NOTES: contains coconut oil based ingredients. From Vancouver; free from SLS, SLES, Phosphates, Fragrance, and Chlorine, biodegradable

ImageDetergent
Brand 
Name & Size
oxy-prime-cloth-diaper-laundry-detergentOXY-PRIMEOXY-PRIME Powder

NOTES:

ImageDetergent
Brand 
Name & Size
planet Cloth Diaper Detergent ChartPlanetUltra Powder

NOTES: 

ImageDetergent
Brand 
Name & Size
PuracyNatural Liquid Laundry Detergent

NOTES: From Austin, Texas; No phosphates, sulfates, petrochemicals, animal by-products, chlorine, perfumes, dyes, allergens.

ImageDetergent
Brand 
Name & Size
rockin green soap Cloth Diaper Detergent ChartRockin GreenClassic Rock Formula
Rockin GreenUnscented

NOTES: 

ImageDetergent
Brand 
Name & Size
sensiclean Best Detergent for Cloth DiapersSensiCleanLiquid

NOTES: Reports of burns and rashes by users of this detergent.

ImageDetergent
Brand 
Name & Size
Seventh Generation Natural 4X Concentrated Free and Clear Unscented
Seventh GenerationBaby

NOTES: Plant-derived enzyme stain removers. Certified Cruelty Free. From Vermont; 0% fragrances, dyes, or artificial brighteners.

ImageDetergent
Brand 
Name & Size
sportwash Cloth Diaper Detergent ChartSport-WashResidue Free

NOTES: Reports of burns and rashes by users of this detergent.

ImageDetergent
Brand 
Name & Size
sun-earth-cloth-diaper-detergentSun and EarthUnscented

NOTES: Ingredients in this detergent are problematic for build-up/repellency issues with cloth diapers.

ImageDetergent
Brand 
Name & Size
 Trader Joes Best Detergent for Cloth DiapersTrader Joe’sLiquid

NOTES: 

ImageDetergent
Brand 
Name & Size
vaska Cloth Diaper Detergent ChartVaskaBaby
VaskaPerfect

NOTES:

Discontinued Detergents Without Optical Brighteners

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

  • Bio-Vert
  • Bio-Vert with no perfume

Hard To Find Detergents Without Optical Brighteners

Further Reading

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!

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5 Comments
  1. Cheer laundry detergent does not have optical brighteners. Too bad P&G has been minimizing this brand and becoming harder to find. Most stores that carry it will now have liquid or powder, but not both.

    • Cheer laundry detergent does not have optical brighteners. Too bad P&G has been minimizing this brand and becoming harder to find. Most stores that carry it will now have liquid or powder, but not both.

      Hi Jonathan,
      I looked into this, as promised and unfortunately, All but one of the Cheer products do have optical brighteners. Here is a list of what I found along with the source:

      The Only one that I found free of optical brighteners was Cheer stay colorful Powdered Detergent – Fresh Clean. This products only brightener” is Sodium Percarbonate which is a combination of sodium carbonate and hydrogen peroxide. This is a chemical and exposure to the pure chemical can cause burns, skin irritation, eye irritations, and even blindness! However, it is not an “optical” brightener. I will be adding this one to our list, Thanks for bringing my attention to this one! Appreciate it!!

    • Thanks Jonathan! I will look into it. Appreciate your pointing this out to me. It’s really hard to keep up with all of the brands. That’s why user input like yours is so important to me. The more we know, the better we can make educated choices. Hope to hear more from you

  2. This is interesting. I’ll have to look at my current detergent to see about any of the ingredients that are optical brighteners but now it makes so much sense to why my blacks fade fast from certain detergent use.

    I also love ECOS but I can’t find the Disney one, the current line of ECOS I can fine all include fabric softener, so those are out of the question.

    So on that note I hope my current detergent doesn’t have any, and I can continue using it because it’s the most cost effective (and also plant based) for me to do the laundry for a household of 4.

    Thanks for this info! I’ll start researching more now.

    • Cleanitguide.com has an article on how to remove the optical brighteners, once removed they are gone for good unless you wash the clothes in a detergent that has the brighteners in them again. the article is here: https://cleanitguide.com/how-to-remove-optical-brighteners-from-clothes/ I followed the instructions on that page and switched to this brand https://amzn.to/2tV4RI5 – I suppose I should write a post about the huge difference I noticed in my baby’s rashes – lack of. Prior to researching optical brighteners, I used Foca.. cheap and I felt it worked really well. I never associated the “heat bumps” and skin rashes because they were so mild. I just assumed it was baby acne! Now? No baby acne? Weird, huh?

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