♫♫ Laundry day / help me here / read my soap / grumblings ♫♫
January 7, 2015 11:11 AM   Subscribe

I need new hypoallergenic laundry detergent that doesn't make a mess.

Buying liquid All Free & Clear (or the generic equivalent) in the large dispenser-sized push button bottles has gone from an occasional mess to an inevitable mess. Even when I take MeFi's advice to throw the cap in the wash, the bottle will still sometimes leak from the seams or the nozzle. Recently and even more spectacularly, a half-full 64 ounce container fell off the washing machine due to the machine's vibrations and created a huge puddle on the floor. Having finally - finally! - removed the sticky mess from my basement, I turn to the green for advice.

I've always used liquid laundry detergent, but I think maybe I should be looking at powder? Does that exist for free & clear detergent? How would I use it in a high efficiency front-loader with an insert? Does it work as well? Does it dissolve effectively in cold water? What do you suggest?

  • I buy detergent in the largest size container wherever possible.

  • I have a front-loading washing machine.

  • I wash a lot of things in short cycles with cold water.

  • I don't want to use those pod things unless it's that or nothing.

  • We have a history of hives and asthma attacks from laundry detergent, so the solution must be unequivocally hypoallergenic.
  • posted by deludingmyself to Home & Garden (21 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
    Best answer: The Method Pump is super concentrated and has good refills. No mess.
    posted by bensherman at 11:13 AM on January 7, 2015 [8 favorites]

    Best answer: I've heard and am now spreading based on experience good vibes about Charlie Soap.

    Coconut oil based so if you're allergic to coconut please disregard these pixels.
    posted by Buttons Bellbottom at 11:19 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

    Best answer: I use seventh generation (natural) powdered detergent in cold water in a HE front loader and while it usually does fine, on occasion I have issues with undissolved streaks on my textured knit items. I don't know if all powdered detergents act this way, but it certainly doesn't dissolve perfectly everytime.
    posted by Aranquis at 11:29 AM on January 7, 2015

    Best answer: I have allergies, and I use and like Ecos. I use the normal strength stuff that comes in a gallon size, but it looks like they have 2x and 4x strengths also so a little will go a longer way, or the packs that you're not big on trying but are kind of unbeatable for the lack of mess.
    posted by rabbitrabbit at 11:29 AM on January 7, 2015

    Best answer: ARM & HAMMER™ Powder Laundry Detergent, Perfume & Dye Free does a good job for me. I am exquisitely sensitive to most fragrances and rely on this product (and Planet dishwashing liquid, too).
    posted by Carol Anne at 11:33 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

    Best answer: nthing the Method Pump. Completely mess-free and spill-proof.

    Once you buy the pump bottle, the big 34oz refill packs are super cheap.
    posted by erst at 11:34 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

    If you like the All Free and Clear, you could always continue to buy the large bottles with the button dispenser and purchase smaller bottle one time that you decant into from the button dispenser containers for daily use. That way you can store the large bottle someplace out of the way on its rear so it can't leak out of the spigot and you only have to touch it when the smaller, easy to maneuver, non-spilling bottle gets low and needs refilling.
    posted by cecic at 11:36 AM on January 7, 2015 [9 favorites]

    Best answer: I'm going to suggest that you use All Free and Clear Small and Mighty. This is good for a few reasons:

    1. It's HE
    2. You don't use as much product, so there's less stuff in your wash
    3. You already know that you and your family don't have a problem with it
    4. When it goes on sale BOGO, it's damn near free
    5. It's better to keep detergent closed in it's container until it's used, so those large containers, in addition to being unstable, cause air to come in contact with the product, it gets thick and nasty.

    When it goes on sale, I buy as many bottle of the small and mighty as I can and store them. They're easy to use, there's no drippy mess like in those dispenser thingies.

    Another thought is to transfer the detergent to another, more stable container.
    posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:37 AM on January 7, 2015

    Best answer: I've used Method or Arm & Hammer for years and they both work great. I slightly prefer method but will buy A&H in a pinch.
    posted by notjustthefish at 11:49 AM on January 7, 2015

    Best answer: I'm not sure if this brand is available in the US, but Neutral is a really nice laundry detergent. We also use their fabric softener, hand soap, and liquid dish detergent. It's all truly unscented.
    posted by neushoorn at 11:54 AM on January 7, 2015

    I buy bigger containers of All Free Clear and then pour them into a smaller ones for use. I hate those giant spout dispenser they're ridiculous.
    posted by radioamy at 12:06 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

    Best answer: I use Charlie laundry powder soap for my super sensitive delicate skin. It's not terribly expensive, because a little goes a long way, and it's very good at cleaning my clothes.
    posted by PearlRose at 12:09 PM on January 7, 2015

    You could just use plain baking soda. Pre-treat any stains with a dab of the All Free & Clear (seconding the small & mighty size). Unless your clothes are really soiled (gym clothes, kids muddy/grass-stained pants, etc.), you don't really need to wash them with detergent.
    posted by melissasaurus at 12:10 PM on January 7, 2015

    My husband has skin allergies, and I've been making my own laundry detergent for over 15 years. Here's how: grate up 6 bars of Fels Naptha soap, and add 2 c. each of Borax and Arm and Hammer washing soda. (All of these can usually be found at WalMart.) Mix them up and use 3-4 tablespoons per load. I wash huge loads and use an LG front loading washing machine. Non-allergenic and cheap, too.
    posted by summerstorm at 12:20 PM on January 7, 2015

    Seconding homemade soap, like summerstorm. I hated lugging home those ginormous, leaky bottles of All Free & Clear, especially when I knew they were mostly water. I make my homemade detergent using 1 cup of Dr. Bronner's soap (any scent), 1/2 cup borax & 1/2 cup washing soda. I mix this in a gallon juice pitcher, which I then fill with hot water, stirring to mix, as I add the water. It will get clumpy as it sits, so my pitcher has a lid and I shake it up before I add it to the machine.

    Caveat: I am not particularly allergic and I use a top loading washer.
    posted by sarajane at 1:24 PM on January 7, 2015

    Best answer: I will nth Charlie's soap. I've never used the liquid, but the powder is awesome. I've never reacted to it (and sometimes free and clear stuff still gives me headaches.) It once got (sorry, this is disgusting, but...) the powerful combination of sangria and vomit out of a white t-shirt.

    I bought the big bucket in December of 2012, used it for me and his mom and him, took half of what was left with me when I moved out in the summer of 2013, and just ran out last month, FWIW.
    posted by joycehealy at 2:01 PM on January 7, 2015

    Best answer: Seconding the method pump. I haul my laundry up a massive hill to the laundromat, and one too many oopsies with twist cap jugs in the bag with clean laundry led me to the pump approach. I keep my soap in a large zip bag to keep dribbles from touching my clean clothes, but that's it. If it weren't getting jostled around in a bag over my shoulder, I don't think it'd even drip at all. It seems really secure.
    posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 2:35 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

    Best answer: Coming in to nth the Method. Works very well and doesn't irritate my sensitive to almost everything skin.
    posted by MuChao at 9:20 PM on January 7, 2015

    I use Arm and Hammer Free and Clear (because it's cheap), which I decant into an old large push button Tide Free and Clear dispenser.
    posted by leahwrenn at 10:15 PM on January 7, 2015

    Best answer: nthing the Method Pump.

    If they sell Ecover in the US, that might work for you too. It doesn't have a pump, but a lid.

    (The only two detergents I can use are Method and Ecover, so ... yeah.)
    posted by Ms. Moonlight at 3:55 AM on January 8, 2015

    Response by poster: I've purchased a bottle of the Small & Mighty version of AF&C, which I will try out whenever the giant leaky bottle currently in our basement is finally empty. Method & Charlie's sound like good alternatives, too. Thanks!
    posted by deludingmyself at 12:31 PM on March 2, 2015

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