Laundry detergent sheets work by dissolving in cold water as you wash your clothes and many people say they're eco-friendly.
But are these eco-strips really friendly or are they another way to sell a product that's bad for the planet with a veneer of green?
We went to find out and this is what our team of consultant chemists told us.
Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergent?
We took a look at sustainable laundry detergent brands recently and there were laundry strips on that list – but we think it's time to separate the liquid laundry detergents from the laundry detergent sheets.
And the reason for that is that microplastics are becoming a serious problem and liquid detergent results in more microplastic generation than sheets do.
Some might argue, that, in fact, using liquid detergent, no matter how eco-friendly, is greenwashing – now, we wouldn't go that far but there's definitely a good case to switch to sheets.
What Are Laundry Sheets?
Laundry detergent sheets or strips are plastic-free sheets that are composed of a cleaning agent.
When you add water to these strips, they dissolve. And to ensure they remain plastic-free, they tend to be sold in cardboard boxes rather than traditional packaging.
That means the packs can either be recycled or composted and once the sheets are finished? There's nothing left to pollute the world.
Why Would They Be More Eco-Friendly?
Laundry detergent sheets have several advantages over traditional laundry detergent and particularly laundry detergent pods.
They reduce plastic waste completely as they are not shipped in plastic bottles. They are much lighter than the laundry detergent liquids and powders too.
They also tend to avoid the chemicals used in traditional detergents and with no phosphates in the average laundry detergent sheet – they can't help to cause algal blooms which pollute our waterways and threaten life in the seas.
And finally, they have a lower carbon footprint because they weigh less than traditional detergent types such as liquid laundry detergent and laundry soap. That means they use less energy in transport and cut down on carbon emissions.
How Much Waste Could Using Laundry Detergent Sheets Eliminate?
Great question. We don't have a hard number on this but they estimate that in the US around 1 billion plastic jugs are used to fill our washing machines.
Even with eco-friendly detergents on the rise – nearly 30% of these jugs are thrown out!
That means 300 million plastic jugs will be dumped in landfills across the nation. A switch to sheets would mean no laundry detergent products ending up in landfills at all.
Are Laundry Sheets Healthy For You?
In order to ensure that they completely dissolve – strips tend to avoid using harsh chemicals.
That means, in theory at least, they ought to be better for you than liquid detergents, laundry powder, chlorine bleach, etc.
They also contain no preservatives because there's no water in a strip and without water? Bacteria and fungi can't grow – so you don't need to worry about them sprouting harmful germs over time.
However, we certainly wouldn't recommend snacking on them. There's no doubt that though they're kinder than the alternatives, they're still strips of soap, they won't taste nice or be good for your stomach.
Do Laundry Sheets Actually Clean Your Clothes?
Yes, a recent consumer round-up review on Reviewed.com says that consumers found Tru Earth Eco Strips were very effective and removed up to 64% of stains – that's about the same as any ordinary liquid in a plastic bottle.
Our own tests tend to confirm this but we would note that sometimes the strips don't dissolve properly in front-loading machines. The best way to get around this is to tear them into pieces rather than adding them as one piece.
Other Benefits Of Laundry Sheets
Switching away from conventional detergents also has other benefits beyond your laundry routine.
A cardboard box is very easy to store and takes up no room compared to a jug and its zero-waste end is a big bonus for the planet.
There's no room for overuse of a laundry sheet – use one per load, that's it.
They're easy to travel with and if you spill sheets all over the laundry room floor? You just pick them up – no need for a mop.
Final Thoughts On Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergents
There's no green-washing here – sheets beat other forms of laundry cleaners hands down.
They have the same cleaning power, they're good for the planet, kind to sensitive skin, and reduce transportation emissions. You really can't go wrong with them.