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Best Detergents for Hand Washing Clothes of 2021

Updated
Who needs washing machines?

Hand washing clothes is finding its place in the modern age.

We might not notice it, but our constant use of washing machines takes a huge toll on both our water and energy consumption. This has a negative impact on the environment as a whole.

Yet, it’s more than possible for you to play your part. Whether you’re an experienced hand washer or you want to try it out, we have you covered. We recommend the best detergents for hand washing clothes.

Our Top Picks

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Model
Product Comparison Table
Features
Product Image of the Fine Fabric Wash (16.9 Ounce): Eucalyptus
Best for Hand Washing Delicates
Eucalan Fine Fabric Wash
  • No rinse needed
  • Environment-friendly
  • Repels moths & fleas
Product Image of the Soak S07-6G Soak Wash Rinse, 12-Ounce, Celebration
Best for Rinse-Free Washing
Soak Laundry Soap
  • No rinse required
  • Environment-friendly
  • No strong fragrances
Product Image of the all Liquid Laundry Detergent, Free Clear for Sensitive Skin, 2X Concentrated, 110 Loads
Best for Sensitive Skin
All Liquid Laundry Detergent
  • Expert-recommended
  • NEA certified
  • Removes allergens
Product Image of the The Laundress New York The Laundress - Laundry Detergent for Delicates, Care for Fabric, Silk, Delicates Detergent, Synthetics and Blends, White No Flavour, 16 Fl Oz
Best for Hand Washing Silk
The Laundress Delicate Wash Lady
  • Designed for dry-clean delicates
  • Environment-friendly
  • Highly concentrated
Product Image of the Tide Plus Bleach Alternative Safe on Colors HE Turbo Clean Liquid Laundry Detergent, Original Scent, 1.36 L (29 Loads), 46 Fl Oz (Pack of 1) (037000875482)
Best for Cleaning Power
Tide Plus Bleach Alternative HE Liquid
  • Trusted brand
  • Strong cleaning power
  • Works for hard water
Product Image of the The Laundress - Wash & Stain Bar, Vegetable Soap, Borax & Essential Oils, Laundry Soap Bar and Stain Remover, Travel and Wash Clothes, Allergen-Free, 2 oz
Best for Hand Washing Bras
The Laundress
  • Plant-based and biodegrable
  • Allergen free
  • Made in the USA
Product Image of the Roux Maison Delicate Laundry Detergent - Odor Eliminator HE Detergent, All Natural Laundry Detergent, Up to 40 Machine Wash Loads or 80+ Hand Washes - Fragrance Free 16oz.
Best for Hand Washing Wool
Roux Maison Laundry Detergent
  • Environment-friendly
  • Long-lasting
  • Works on dry-clean clothes

Is It Really Better to Hand Wash Your Clothes?

Most of the time, washing machines will do the job properly. But there are times when washing by hand is the better choice.

  • Save time: You don’t have to walk to the laundromat if you don’t have a machine, or waste electricity.
  • Conserve energy: You’ll use no electricity and save on water as well as detergent compared to a washing machine.
  • Preserve clothes: Hand washing is much more gentle on your clothing since there’s less heat and less friction. It’s an ideal choice for delicate fabrics.

How to Choose the Best Detergent

Not all laundry detergents are the same. There are several things you should look out for when choosing the appropriate type of laundry detergent for hand washing:

  • Fabric type: Delicate fabrics such as silk or rayon, being primarily made of protein and cellulose, can be damaged by detergents that contain enzymes or are highly alkaline.
  • Bleach or non-bleach: Bleaching agents such as hydrogen peroxide or hypochlorite salts can have detrimental effects on delicate fabrics like silk and rayon. It can also react with your skin and cause irritation.
  • High-efficiency formula: Formulas designed for high-efficiency washing systems are able to clean stains and dirt using much less water than others.
  • Allergenicity: Some detergents have the potential to cause skin inflammation due to an allergic reaction to some of its ingredients. This is especially important for those who hand wash their clothes (1).
  • Form: Detergents that come in liquid form are easier to dissolve in water, which means less effort on your behalf. Solid or powdered products are generally cheaper, and usually have cardboard packaging which is a better alternative to plastic.

The Best Detergents for Hand Washing Clothes of 2021

We’ve combed through countless options to choose the best detergents for hand washing clothes. Read our reviews of the top 7 picks to find the one that works for you.

1. Eucalan Fine Fabric Wash

Best Detergent for Hand Washing Delicates

Designed by a company in Canada, Eucalan takes the name after two ingredients in its prototype, eucalyptus, and lanolin. It marks itself as a safe and non-toxic product in accordance with strict European regulations.

It’s safe for the skin unless the person is highly allergic to eucalyptus, lavender, jasmine, grapefruit, or lanolin. The detergent also features something unique in that it’s a flea repellent. There are also variations of the product that use scents that keep the moths away.

In addition, no rinsing is also required with this product since its formulation is low-suds. Testing the fastness of colors with the product is also simple and quick. It only involves moistening a piece of cloth and then pressing it against a less noticeable part of the clothing, then waiting for a while to see if the color seeps in.

Pros

  • No need to rinse.
  • Environmentally friendly.
  • Does not contain bleach.
  • Repels moths and fleas.

Cons

  • Might discolor copper sinks.
  • Could cause an allergic reaction.

Additional Specs

Dimensions 6.50 x 2.80 x 2.80 inches
Biodegradable Yes
Volume 16.9 fluid ounces
Fragrances Eucalyptus, Lavender, Grapefruit, Natural, Jasmine
Delicates-friendly Yes

2. Soak Laundry Soap

Best Detergent for Rinse-Free Washing

This product is made to be eco-friendly, which will appeal to users of the same nature. The packaging is made of recyclable material, and only water-based material is used. It also provides a comfortable hand washing experience that’s rinse-free and gentle on the skin.

The detergent is also a low-suds liquid. As such, no rinsing is required for further cleaning once the water is squeezed out. All that’s left on the clothes afterward is the fragrance.

Additionally, testing for color-fastness is pretty quick. All you need to do is rub a bit of the product on an unnoticeable part of your clothes and wait for a couple of minutes.

Everything is locally manufactured on Canadian soil under NAFTA regulations. Thankfully, it can be shipped to the United States.

Pros

  • No rinsing is required.
  • Environmentally friendly.
  • Does not use strong fragrances.
  • No bleach.

Cons

  • It’s a bit pricey.
  • The bottle can crack during winter shipping.

Additional Specs

Dimensions 6.2 x 2.50 x 2.50 inches
Biodegradable Yes
Volume 12 fluid ounces
Fragrances Yuzu, Fig, Celebration, Pineapple Grove, Lacey Scentless
Delicate-friendly Yes

3. All Liquid Laundry Detergent for Sensitive Skin

A product of Henkel, this detergent is recommended for use on sensitive skin by dermatologists, allergists, and pediatricians. Consequently, the product has the Seal of Acceptance from the National Eczema Association (NEA).

It also has a concentrated formula, which gives it twice as much cleaning power compared to others from the same brand. It removes almost all of the allergens that we can get on our clothes, either seasonally or from everyday activities, like playing outside or with animals.

The detergent is also compatible with being used in HE washing machines and has been tested and found to be gentle on the skin. This makes it a more than suitable choice for hand washing. Finally, it’s free of dyes and fragrances.

Pros

  • Recommended by skincare experts.
  • Has the NEA seal.
  • Efficient at removing allergens.
  • Does not contain bleach.

Cons

  • Not suitable for delicates.

Additional Specs

Dimensions 7.50 x 4.10 x 11.40 inches
Biodegradable Unknown
Volume 82.5 fluid ounces
Fragrances None
Delicate-friendly Yes, except silk and wool

4. The Laundress Delicate Wash Lady

Best Detergent for Hand Washing Silk

Founded and based in New York, the Laundress prides itself on making products with a sense of consciousness towards the environment. Their products are also tested on the founders of the company themselves rather than animals.

Containing plant-derived materials, the detergent is non-toxic and biodegradable. Its coloring is natural, and does not contain any bleach.

Additionally, this product is designed to efficiently clean clothes labeled as “dry-clean.” This makes it a great choice for hand washing delicates, from silk and spandex to nylon and rayon.

The product also contains a high concentration of active ingredients. It can be used for as many as 32 washes despite its relatively low volume. It’s also suited for use in washing machines, including HE machines.

Pros

  • Designed for dry-clean delicates.
  • Environmentally friendly.
  • Highly concentrated.
  • Does not contain bleach.

Cons

  • A bit pricey.

Additional Specs

Dimensions 0.50 x 0.50 x 6 inches
Biodegradable Yes
Volume 16 fluid ounces
Fragrances Lady, a mix of rich amber, bergamot, lavender, and musk.
Delicate-friendly Yes

5. Tide Plus Bleach Alternative HE Liquid

Best Detergent for Cleaning Power

Tide is one of the most well-known names when it comes to detergents. It’s designed to work in high-efficiency (HE) washers which enables it to remove stains more efficiently using less water. This makes it a suitable choice for hand washing.

It contains special ingredients that work by removing stains and dirt and suspending them in the water, preventing them from repositioning themselves on the fabric.

You can safely use it with colored clothes since it’s bleach-free. This Tide product also contains an ingredient that neutralizes any chlorine in hard water.

It also stands out from other HE detergents; it has suds that collapse quickly. It boasts a cleaning power that’s six times higher and only takes half as long, only requiring one wash.

Pros

Cons

  • Costly.

Additional Specs

Dimensions 10 x 6 x 3.50 inches
Biodegradable Unknown
Volume 46 fluid ounces
Fragrances Original Scent
Delicate-friendly Yes, except silk and wool

6. The Laundress Wash & Stain Laundry Bar

Best Detergent for Hand Washing Bras

Unlike other products mentioned in this article, The Laundress’ laundry detergent comes in a solid form that looks pretty much like a bar of soap. Made from natural products with essential oils providing the fragrance, the product doesn’t contain harmful chemicals.

Since the bar is essentially a paste, it can be used to do quite a large number of washes. It also doesn’t produce any waste products and eliminates the need to use fabric softeners.

After spot cleaning the soiled area of clothes with this bar, soak it for about ten minutes, then you can proceed with washing it in the washing machine. What makes this product really stand out is how easily you can clean with it by simply rubbing the bar on the wet fabric and washing.

Pros

  • Efficient stain remover as it can wash away oil and grease stains such as makeups, cuffs & collars, and sunscreen.
  • Plant-based and biodegrable.
  • Allergen-free.
  • Made in the USA.

Cons

  • Takes a while to dissolve.

Additional Specs

Dimensions 0.5 x 0.5 x 6 inches
Biodegradable Yes
Volume 0.11 lbs
Fragrances Classic
Delicate-friendly Yes

7. Roux Maison Delicate Laundry Detergent

Best Detergent for Hand Washing Wool

Roux Maison is driven by a love for the environment. They developed this product with the idea that cleanliness of clothes, as well as the environment, are a top priority.

All its ingredients are completely natural. Even better, the bottle packaging does not contain bisphenol A (BPA), a common plastic product that causes harm to the environment.

The formulation is also specifically designed to be an efficient alternative to dry-cleaning. As such, it works very well on all types of delicate fabric.

It comes in a concentrated form that can handle up to 80 washes, less so in the case of washing machines. It’s compatible with HE. Consequently, this makes the product a sound choice for hand washing your clothes.

Pros

  • Environmentally friendly.
  • Can be used for a high number of washes.
  • It works well on dry-clean clothes.

Cons

  • Packaging can leak.

Additional Specs

Dimensions 2.5 x 2.5 x 8 inches
Biodegradable Yes
Volume 16 fluid ounces
Fragrances Ambrosia, Sweet Tea, or Fragrance-free
Delicate-friendly Yes

Hand Washing Laundry Detergent Comparison Chart

Product Best Dimensions Biodegradable Volume Delicates-friendly
Eucalan Fine Fabric Wash Delicates 6.50 x 2.80 x 2.80″ Yes 16.9 oz Yes
Soak Laundry Soap Rinse-Free 6.2 x 2.50 x 2.50″ Yes 12 oz Yes
All Liquid Laundry Detergent Sensitive Skin 7.50 x 4.10 x 11.40″ N/A 82.5 oz Yes, except silk & wool
The Laundress Delicate Wash Lady Silk 0.50 x 0.50 x 6″ Yes 16 oz Yes
Tide Plus Bleach Alternative HE Liquid Cleaning Power 10 x 6 x 3.50″ N/A 46 oz Yes, except silk & wool
The Laundress Wash & Stain Bar Bras 0.5 x 0.5 x 6″ Yes 0.11 lbs Yes
Roux Maison Delicate Laundry Detergent Wool 2.5 x 2.5 x 8″ Yes 16 oz Yes

What Is the Best Way to Hand Wash Clothes

For your hand washing to work best, there are important things to keep in mind:

  1. Read the label: Fill a tub with water at the proper temperature and choose the best detergent for the type of fabric you’re going to wash.
  2. Proceed carefully: If there is no care label, then fill the tub with cool or slightly warm water. Add a suitable amount of detergent for one item of clothing, more for several items of clothing.
  3. Separate colors: Wash the white, light-colored, and dark-colored clothes separately.
  4. Soak and wash: Let your clothes soak for a while if they’re heavily stained. Otherwise, you can do some gentle rubbing and swirling. Squeeze the clothes without wringing or twisting them.
  5. Rinse: Rinse and repeat until the water becomes completely clear.

Hand Washing Clothes with Ease

To summarize, it’s important to remember the type of fabric you’re handwashing. Knowing whether the company you’re buying from has a negative impact on the ecosystem or not is also significant. You don’t want to end up contributing to the ruin of our planet.

Last but not least, price matters, products that can provide more washes are more economical. They’re a decent choice if you want to save money. We hope you’ve found the best detergent for hand washing clothes in our list.

Headshot of Amy Anthony

About the Author

Amy Anthony

Amy is a stay-at-home-mom, seasoned writer, and a home cleaning and organization aficionado. Amy enjoys having an absolutely spotless home and has worked hard to develop strategies to keep it that way, despite having 2 kids and 3 dogs!

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