The Best Laundry Detergent Sheets Are Eco-Friendly and Can Take Down Most Stains
Red wine on your favorite napkin? No problem.
Published May 12, 2022 11:13 AM
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Reading up on Domino’s shopping guides is like having your own personal product concierge. We do the tedious part—deep-dive research, hands-on testing, and tapping experts for advice—so all you have to do is hit “add to cart.” That’s why we call them Simply the Best.
Say goodbye to unnaturally hued liquids, overpowering scents, and clunky bottles; laundry detergent sheets are here, with clean design and plant-based ingredients. Swapping from liquid to sheet means no more haphazard measuring, sticky handles, or heavy jugs. Detergent sheets also weigh less than their liquid counterparts and come in plastic-free packaging, so switching reduces carbon emissions and waste.
We put a bunch of brands to the test, tackling challenging stains, mildewy towels, and workout clothes with ease. The only thing they couldn’t do is keep track of the sock that always seems to go missing in the wash. But we’ll forgive ’em for that. Here are our the best laundry detergent sheets—they range from scented to scent-free, leave out harmful ingredients, and can counteract spills and stains.
- Best scents: Good Juju Laundry Detergent Eco-Strips
- Best on tough stains: Grove Co. Laundry Detergent Sheets
- Best for sensitive skin: Lazy Coconuts Gentle Laundry Detergent Strips
- Best for brights: Ease New York Multi-Purpose Laundry Detergent Sheets
- Best accessories: Well Earth Goods Ultra Laundry Detergent Strips
Best Scents: Good Juju Laundry Detergent Eco-Strips
Scent options: Summer Rain, Lavender Bloom, and unscented | Plastic-free packaging: Yes | Laundry loads per pack: 36 | Price per load: 41 cents (but the price decreases with a subscription)
What we like:
- Women-founded, BIPOC brand
- Carbon negative and uses zero-waste shipping
- Free of parabens, added dyes, chlorine bleach, 1,4 dioxane, and formaldehyde
- Each sheet has two strips
Why we chose it: Two great scents (plus a fragrance-free option), solid stain fighting, and a brand we’re eager to support is a winning combo.
Because it’s the prettiest laundry detergent we’ve encountered, we initially worried Good Juju might just be a pretty face, er, package. We were totally wrong. In testing, Good Juju did great with food and drink stains and handled sweat stains with ease. While there is an unscented version, we particularly love Lavender Bloom; Summer Rain is a slightly more powerful scent and also appealing. The sheets smell strong before use, but clothes came out subtly scented in a way that felt closer to the complexity of a nice candle than the often flat smell of detergent. Plus, we like that they ship free to the U.S.
Best on Tough Stains: Grove Co. Laundry Detergent Sheets
Scent options: Free & Clear, Lavender Blossom, plus limited-edition seasonal options | Plastic-free packaging: Yes | Laundry loads per pack: 32 | Price per load: 40 cents
What we like:
- Grove Co. is a certified B Corp
- 100% natural fragrances derived from essential oils and plant extracts
- Certified cruelty-free
- Some customer reviews noted that the sheet didn’t fully dissolve
Why we chose it: A strong stain fighter that doesn’t sacrifice eco bona fides.
Red salsa seemed to be kryptonite for most detergents, and while Grove Co. couldn’t entirely get a salsa stain out, the eco-friendly laundry strip did a good job with pomegranate juice, dirt, vanilla extract, and tea stains. That’s pretty impressive, especially since we didn’t pretreat the stains with a stain remover. But Grove Co. has a number of options in that department, too, so those with kids, pets, or messy eating habits aren’t out of luck.
Best for Sensitive Skin: Lazy Coconuts Gentle Laundry Detergent Strips
Scent options: Both options are fragrance-free and unscented | Plastic-free packaging: Yes | Laundry loads per pack: 48 | Price per load: 33 cents
What we like:
- A full and detailed ingredient list is on its site
- Works in all machines and can be used for handwashing, too (great for travel)
- Biodegradable and carbon negative
- There is no scented option
Why we chose it: A supersafe option for anyone sensitive to detergent fragrance.
Here’s what you won’t find on Lazy Coconuts Gentle strips’ ingredient list: fragrance, dye, bleach, parabens, and sulfate. Here’s what they do have: an A rating from the Environmental Working Group, which rates household products based on their impact on humans and the larger environment. Of more than 1,000 laundry products it has reviewed, less than 200 scored an A rating, and Lazy Coconuts detergent strips were in there. Because fragrances can irritate, the two detergent strips are fragrance-free and also hypoallergenic. In testing, Lazy Coconuts struggled to get out spills, so while maybe not ideal for every household, pretreating said stains and letting them soak certainly made a difference.
Best for Brights: Ease New York Multi-Purpose Laundry Detergent Sheets
Scent options: The only option is scented as bergamot, melon, lime, sea salt, and green floral. | Plastic-free packaging: Yes | Laundry loads per pack: 30 | Price per load: 53 cents, but the price decreases with a subscription
What we like:
- Dye-free and bleach-free
- The sheets are made from recycled regenerative plant fiber
- Will work well in cold water, not just warm- or hot-water cycles
- Once the box is opened, it should be used within 6 months
- Strict return policy
Why we chose it: Your colorful clothes will thank you.
Unlike the other options, this detergent sheet doesn’t dissolve in the washer (for good measure, too). Instead, the plant fiber–based sheet works as a color catcher, trapping dyes and preventing color bleeding. We appreciated this feature when doing a load of multicolored towels. After a wash, the sheet can also go in the dryer to prevent static. Ease says that the sheet also prevents “harmful dyes and chemicals from reaching our water source” by trapping them in the sheet, but while the company suggests the sheet is recyclable, we weren’t sure how to recycle it properly. The little piece of fabric didn’t seem like it should go with mixed paper/cardboard or metal/glass/plastic, so it ended up in the trash.
Best Accessories: Well Earth Goods Ultra Laundry Detergent Strips
Scent options: Fresh Linen or unscented | Plastic-free packaging: Yes | Laundry loads per pack: 32 | Price per load: 52 cents, but the price decreases with a subscription
What we like:
- A lot of frees: free shipping, plastic-free, and free of parabens and chlorine bleach
- Family-run business
- Generous return policy
- Performed strongly in our testing, but not a top runner against trickier stains
Why we chose it: A solid detergent with sleek add-ons.
It’s a relief that a brand with Earth in the name could handle dirt stains like a pro, and testing revealed that to be the case here. Well, Earth Good also did well with drink spots from chocolate milk and tea, but not as well with challenging red sauce stains, though a stain remover certainly helped (similar to our experience with Lazy Coconuts). The simple cardboard envelopes are great for on-the-go laundry in communal laundry rooms, laundromats, and while traveling. But in a nice laundry room with open shelving, the walnut storage box would elevate sheet storage. The company also has a well-reviewed plastic-free stain remover stick, and while the wool dryer balls are currently out of stock, it’s possible to sign up for email notifications on its site.
How We Chose These Products
To find the best laundry detergent sheets, we sought out brands making detergent with plastic-free packaging and without harmful ingredients, and then put them to the test, running laundry cycles with a smorgasbord of tough stains—tea, mustard, salsa, vanilla extract, dirt, and chocolate milk. We eliminated brands that just couldn’t handle stains, and used a conventional liquid detergent as a comparative to see how environmentally friendly brands stacked up.
Our Shopping Checklist
With cleaning products, what’s left out is just as important as what’s included. “Parabens, phthalates, and sulfates can be harmful to both consumers and the environment,” explains Alexandra Wojenski, a sustainable cleaning expert at Grove Co. “Parabens and phthalates are preservatives often found in fragrances and personal-care products known to be endocrine disruptors and irritants. Sulfates can also cause skin irritation and be harmful to ecosystems by contributing to acid rain and fog.” Testing can reveal the presence of 1,4-dioxane, which isn’t an ingredient but a contaminant. For example, Well Earth Goods’s strips are free of 1,4-dioxane “as certified by independent laboratory tests.” But not all labels claiming to be free of a concerning ingredient carry the same weight. “The common ‘phosphate-free’ marketing claim is almost meaningless, because few detergents still contain these ingredients,” Environmental Working Group (EWG) explains of the once popular detergent ingredient that triggered algae blooms.
Scents and Dyes
Some people find scents and dyes irritating or simply unnecessary. We were impressed that even the scent-free options we tested could get a campfire smell out of clothes, so it’s not as if going scent-free will mean your laundry comes out smelly. But some people live with teenagers who play sports or really want their laundry to be nicely scented. Fair. Thankfully both options exist, often from the same brand, so it’s possible to use scent-free on some loads and switch to a scented option for the more pungent laundry.
A lot of brands offer discounts for subscribers, which is a great way to save a bit of cash. But the savings only matter if the product is actually getting used. To avoid being overloaded with detergent strips, figure out how often you do laundry, how many loads that usually entails, and how long a single pack—which often contains 30 or so strips—would last.
Surfactants are the powerhouse of laundry detergent, removing things like dirt and oily substances. Detergent strips often advertise themselves as having “plant-based surfactants” or offering a “plant-powered clean.” That means that instead of surfactants made from petroleum, they’ve been derived from coconut or palm oil.
Green Bona fides
Third-party validations are a great way to check the accuracy of claims around ingredients. You can use the Environmental Protection Agency’s Safer Choice database to look up the cleaning brands, but bear in mind that detergent strips are a newer product and small brands might not be included. Grove Co., for example, is included, but its detergent strips aren’t. That said, the presence of a brand is a testament to the company’s ethos and can be considered a sign of good practices. EWG also has a product-search feature with letter ratings, though some critics believe the company overstates the harm of certain chemicals. It’s not always clear how certain things will impact people or the larger environment, and you’ll have to do your own risk assessment and decide how much uncertainty is acceptable. That said, the presence of a brand is a testament to the company’s ethos and can be considered a sign of good practices.
Q: How do you use the best laundry detergent sheets?
Don’t put the sheet in the pull-out drawer where the liquid detergent goes. Instead put it in the washer with your clothing. While they look similar to dryer sheets, most are not meant to go in the dryer and will totally dissolve during the wash cycle. Ease’s sheets are an exception and can go in the dryer post-wash to act as a static reducer.
Q: How do you store the best laundry detergent sheets?
It’s great that laundry sheets come in plastic-free packaging. They’re lighter and take up way less space than a traditional detergent jug. They can stay in the packaging and be stored in a dry space like a cabinet or on a shelf as long as they’re out of reach of small children or pets.
Q: Can the best laundry detergent sheets be used in high-efficiency washers?
For the most part, yes, just double-check on the product’s site where this info will be listed. Many can also be used for handwashing, which is great for travel.
Q: Are there other ways to make my laundry more eco-friendly?
Yes! One easy way to reduce energy use is to only do full loads rather than running the washer when half full. While the washers have gotten rather energy-efficient, dryers haven’t kept up. Consider air-drying clothing using a rack to save energy and lengthen the life span of clothing. IKEA has a streamlined and affordable option that folds up when not in use; Food52 offers one with a hanging rack included. When the dryer is necessary, wool dryer balls reduce drying time somewhere between 10 and 25 percent while also reducing static and wrinkles.
The Last Word
Detergent strips are an excellent and environmentally friendly alternative to liquid laundry detergent. While they’re super-lightweight, they pack a serious cleaning punch and reduce plastic usage. It’s a win-win for the home and the larger environment.