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Why Choose Fragrance-Free Laundry Detergent?
Studies show that continued exposure to fragrances can cause skin irritation, allergy, and a variety of other health concerns. For example, when perfume from laundry detergent comes into direct and long-term contact with your skin, it can be overpowering for the nose and cause rashes, irritations, and other allergic reactions.
As a result, dermatologists advise anyone with sensitive skin to use fragrance-free laundry detergent. Fortunately, the number of fragrance-free laundry detergents on the market has increased significantly in recent years. In the following, we will go over the various types of laundry detergents and review the 7 best fragrance-free laundry detergents on the market in 2023.
Does fragrance-free laundry detergent make my clothes clean?
Yes, fragrance-free laundry detergent cleans your clothes just as well as perfumed detergents do. You just avoid exposure to harmful perfumes and fragrances.
What are hypoallergenic laundry detergents?
Manufacturers are happy to advertise their laundry detergents as hypoallergenic. But what does that mean? Well, the term ‘hypoallergenic’ isn’t’ regulated by the FDA. Instead, a ‘hypoallergenic product’ is simply a manufacturer’s claim that the product causes fewer allergic reactions than other products. That said, hypoallergenic laundry detergents are, usually, free of fragrances, dyes, chlorine, and common irritants that are known to cause sensitivities and allergies.
But – be aware that a hypoallergenic label on laundry detergent does not guarantee that it’s also fragrance-free. So always check the label to make sure the detergent doesn’t contain any perfume or masking fragrances.
Will fragrance-free laundry detergent make my clothes smell?
Fragrance-free laundry detergent will clean your clothes just like any detergent, and your clothes will therefore smell clean. That is, your clothes will not smell dirty. Because they’re clean. What it won’t do is make your clothes reek of artificial and harmful perfumes.
Types of fragrance-free laundry detergent
A good laundry detergent removes dirt, stains, and sweat from your clothes without fading the fabric color, leaving clean, fresh clothes behind, and does not cause an itchy rash. We remember struggling to find fragrance-free detergent and scouring the supermarket aisles in vain only a few years ago. In the United States, only heavily scented detergents appeared to be available in stores. Fortunately, this has changed, and several fragrance-free products are now on the market.
Laundry detergent comes in multiple forms:
- Liquid: This is the most popular type of detergent on the market. The amount of liquid detergent must be rationed using a measuring cup, and it’s useful for pre-treating stains.
- Tablets: These pre-portioned amounts of detergent are convenient because they are quick to grab and don’t require measuring. But you also pay for the convenience with a higher price tag, and they’re not useful for pre-treatment.
- Powder: Typically, the lowest cost per load. Like liquid, powder requires measuring and then pouring that specific amount into your machine. It’s possible but much less handy to use for pre-treating stains.
Review of the best liquid fragrance-free laundry detergent in 2023
While the most convenient to use, pods are generally more expensive per load. We prefer liquid detergent because it’s:
- Convenient for pre-treating
- Dissolves easily in any water temperature
We have reviewed and tested fragrance-free detergents based on how well they clean garments and the packaging functionality. For example, does the nozzle drip (or in some cases leak), and does it come in environmentally-friendly packaging? It is also worth noting that some manufacturers can be somewhat creative in calculating the number of loads. So don’t blindly trust the number of loads on the packaging.
Today’s store shelves are crammed with laundry detergents, including an increasing number of fragrance-free detergents. To assist you in choosing the best fragrance-free liquid detergent, we’ve compiled a list of the top 7 best fragrance-free laundry detergents for sensitive skin.
If you’re looking for a gentle yet powerful and effective laundry detergent that won’t trigger your allergies, then All Free & Clear perfume-free detergent is the perfect choice. It is free of perfumes and dyes and has been awarded the NEA Seal of Acceptance by the National Eczema Association. There are several other fragrance-free formula variations available, which can be a bit confusing: free & clear eco and free & clear odor relief.
This version, the stainlifters with OXI, has proved particularly adept at removing harder stains and more soiled garments (contains OXI power for whitening & brightening.) It is not only completely fragrance-free but also one of the best laundry detergents for cleaning clothes. Where other laundry detergents had to throw the towel in the ring (almost literally), the All Liquid Fragrance-Free Stainlifters with OXI delivered. This is our favorite detergent for both cleaning clothes and for being allergy-friendly.
It works in any washing machine, including HE machines, and at any water temperature.
Proctor & Gamble’s Tide is a household name that claims the top spot in the North American laundry detergent market. And while we all know the iconic orange bottle, this free & gentle version, on the other hand, couldn’t be further from the well-known perfumed dark blue liquid. Tide’s free & gentle detergent is formulated without dyes and perfumes.
It’s even recognized by the National Eczema Association (NEA) and the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF).
Tide Free & Gentle Liquid laundry detergent is an excellent substitute for consumers accustomed to using Tide. It has good cleaning power, and it doesn’t have a scent. Tide Free and Gentle comes in two formulas for use in regular and high-efficiency washing machines.
Another great option for those looking to avoid fragrance in their laundry detergent is Tide + Downy free laundry detergent. Like the Tide Free & Gentle that we just reviewed, this version is also recognized by the National Eczema Association (NEA) and the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF).
The liquid laundry detergent cleans and conditions without the use of dyes and perfumes, and it works in all washing machines, including high-efficiency (HE) ones.
In our laundry tests, Tide + Downy free performed consistently well and even cleaned day-old stains off different fabrics. We also love that the laundry detergent contains a touch of Downy, so we don’t have to think about adding fabric softener, which makes it perfect for those who appreciate an all-in-one product.
Safe to use in all washing machines, including HE, and suitable for all water conditions.
Next on our list of the best fragrance-free laundry detergents is the All Stainlifters Free & Clear Odor Relief. This fragrance-free liquid laundry detergent is great for those looking for a laundry detergent that cleans well and eliminates tough odors.
While the stainlifters with OXI proved best at attacking extra dirty clothes and materials, the odor relief excels in best mimicking the “freshness” that you normally only get with perfumed laundry detergents. So what we at first thought was a marketing gimmick turned out to be the real deal. And while the stainlifters with Oxi was a little better in our tests at dealing with tough stains, the odor relief came close.
Safe to use in HE washing machines.
Amazon Basics Liquid laundry detergent provides the best value among our reviewed fragrance-free laundry detergents. The Amazon Basics liquid laundry detergent is free of perfumes and dyes for a hypoallergenic clean. The very reasonably priced 82.5-ounce bottle of liquid laundry detergent is enough for reportedly 110 loads, making it one of the detergents with the lowest expenses per wash. This fragrance-free liquid detergent cleans well and is reasonably priced, making it a perfect choice for anyone on a tighter budget.
Safe for all washing machines, including HE washers.
Persil ProClean’s Liquid Laundry Detergent is free of dyes and perfumes and doesn’t leave an unwanted scent, which makes it perfect for those looking for a hypoallergenic wash. It has great cleaning power, works in all water temperatures, including cold water, and can be used in all washer types. It consistently performed well against stains, it particularly worked wonders on old chocolate-stained toddler t-shirts, which is why Persil Proclean easily earns a spot on the list of the 7 best fragrance-free laundry detergents in 2023.
Safe to use in all washers, including HE ones.
Seventh Generation is well-known for its environmental friendliness. This fragrance-free liquid detergent is a USDA-Certified Biobased Product and is free of fragrances, dyes, and artificial brighteners. It comes in an easy-dose bottle – you just squeeze the bottle, and it shoots out the correct amount. So it’s that easy to get the right amount of liquid – every time. The compact 23oz bottle reportedly gives you the same 66-load convenience but uses less plastic and less water than Seventh Generation’s traditional bottle.
It cleans well and effectively removes all but the most stubborn grease stains. We really liked the convenience of the easy-to-dose bottle (if need be, you simply squirt again for a larger laundry load).
Do note that several of our readers have told us they have experienced an allergic reaction to the 7th Generation Free & Clear Fragrance-Free Laundry Detergent. While we did not detect any reaction or scent, we recommend anyone perform a safety test with minimum use of laundry detergent to determine if you tolerate the product.
Fragrance-free laundry detergents recommended by our readers
Our dedicated and helpful readers share their experiences with fragrance-free laundry detergents. Many have contacted us saying that they, too, find the All and Tide brands to be the best fragrance-free detergents.
Several have also warned that they didn’t like the fragrance-free detergent from 7th Generation. Some experienced allergic reactions to Tide Free and Clear PLUS specifically or any laundry detergent containing Oxi. While these reactions may be individual or related to other ingredients that fragrance, you should always ensure to test laundry detergent before use.
Reader-recommended fragrance-free laundry detergents that we did not test (yet)
- Miele Ultraphase fragrance-free detergent: Specifically for Miele’s (fantastic) washing machines, this comes in a fragrance-free version. Our reader recommended staying clear of the scented versions.
- Bounce Free & Gentle: This is actually a fabric softener that is often bundled with the Tide Free & Clear fragrance-free laundry detergent.
Fragrance-free laundry detergents that didn’t make the cut in 2023
Not all fragrance-free laundry detergents made the cut. We have tested the following popular fragrance-free options but found that they did not clean well enough to be included in our list of the best fragrance-free laundry detergents in 2023.
Kirkland UltraClean Free & Clear Fragrance-Free Laundry Detergent
Kirkland’s liquid detergent is free of perfumes and dyes and very reasonably priced. It comes in a 1.51-gallon jug that can be dispensed by laying it on its side on a counter. However, the detergent’s consistency is thick and greasy, which can leave a bit of residue on your clothes. Also, we’ve experienced many leaks from the nozzle from several bottles, so be careful.
This laundry detergent for sensitive skin is formulated without dyes and perfumes. Like most of the brand’s products, it contains baking soda, which is great for cleaning and removing odors from clothes. That said, we’ve been testing this detergent for the past few months, and the results are mixed.
It does fairly well with clothes that are not too dirty. However, more soiled or stained materials clearly challenge the Arm & Hammer fragrance-free laundry detergent. It does not remove stains quite as well as other detergents we’ve been testing.
Being its most important task, we rate Arm & Hammer Free & Clear fragrance-free laundry detergent lower than the main competitors and (almost) at the same level as Kirkland (which cleans better but spills).
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