Tackling the Laundry Basket | Understanding Laundry Detergents


Today’s blog post is all about understanding laundry detergents. Although not everyone’s favourite task, laundry is still high up there when it comes to necessary weekly chores. Personally, I love geeking out over laundry and organising my lights, colours, darks and such. Yep.. I admitted it. I love laundry!

Laundry can’t all just be thrown in willy nilly if you want whites to stay white, colours to stay bright and items to last. Your towels need to be treated differently than your woolly jumpers or fine underwear. Washing dark t-shirts with white ones is a recipe for disaster. Then we have the fact that different clothes need different temperatures, spin speeds and even sometimes, detergent!

That’s where this blog post comes in. Let’s tackle the laundry basket. Today we’re talking about Laundry Detergent.

Tackling the Laundry Basket | Understanding Laundry Detergents

There are a plethora of different types of laundry detergent on the market nowadays and sometimes it can be hard to know which one you require. Typically, bio and non-bio tend to be the most common varieties that you will see when you’re on the hunt for laundry detergent. So….

Understanding Laundry Detergents washing machine and dryer

What’s the Difference Between Bio and Non-bio Laundry Detergent?

Let’s tackle this one first because it’s the most confusing to a lot of people.

The main difference between bio and non-bio laundry detergent is the presence of enzymes. Biological (aka bio) laundry liquids and powders contain enzymes whereas non-bio do not.

These enzymes help to break down all matter of difficult to remove things, from stains like blood, grass, egg, jam and chocolate etc. These enzymes are able to remove the difficult to remove stains to help get your clothes nice and clean.
Another bonus point is that they tend to be able to do this at low temperatures and in a sustainable way. When buying eco-friendly laundry detergents, you’ll be happy to know these enzymes are natural ingredients and readily biodegradable.

laundry basket with white laundry nets

Pros for Bio

  • Because biological washing detergent contains enzymes, it effectively breaks down proteins, fats and general grime in your clothes. As a result, stain removal may be more effective in comparison to non-bio.
  • Additionally, because of these enzymes, bio products tend to have a better performance at lower temperatures. If you’re looking at your energy bills, this may be a worthy pro since hotter water temperatures cost more to run. Generally speaking, most of the energy used when doing a wash is used to heat the water.

Cons for Bio

  • While enzymes are wonderful for getting rid of stains, they can damage delicate items like wool or silk. In this case, use a laundry detergent specifically for these items such as a wool or delicates laundry liquid.
  • If you have sensitive skin or suffer from eczema or psoriasis for example, bio may aggravate your skin. If this is a problem for you, no problem. Opt for non-bio in this case to avoid irritation.
Understanding Laundry Detergents white linen pegged on line

Let’s turn our heads towards non-bio detergent now.

Pros to Non-Bio

  • Non-bio washing detergent is often the better option for people with sensitive skin or skin conditions such as eczema. People with allergies tend to get on better with non-bio.
  • Babies and small children often have very sensitive skin, so it’s also advisable to use it when washing their clothes so as to avoid irritation.
  • When it comes to washing fabrics like wool or silk, you definitely want to go the non-bio route. The enzymes in bio can damage these fabrics since they contain proteins that the enzymes in bio detergents love to break down. This is good when it’s a sweat patch or food stain, but not so much when it’s your beloved jumper!  

Cons to Non-Bio

  • Non-Bio may not remove stains as effectively. Although not always the case since it depends on your personal laundry situation, non-bio may have a tougher time getting some stains out. If you have active children who make a mess out of anything they touch, you’ll really appreciate the stain busting superpowers of bio detergent. (If their skin is not sensitive that is).
  • You may need to invest in additional products to assist in keeping your whites white and your clothes stain free. Not necessarily a con, but something to be aware of.

    Non-bio detergents are still very effective and often get most of the marks out. That being said, you might find that you need an extra stain remover to treat especially stubborn marks. In that case, try using a natural stain remover. Read on to learn more about them.
  • You may need to wash your laundry at higher temperatures to get the same cleaning results in comparison to Bio.

Understanding Laundry Detergents | Our Recommendations

We stock a few marvellous brands for cleaning, and in an attempt not to overwhelm you with information, I will try to list our most popular and why below.

Bio Laundry Detergent

If you have a laundry basket filled to the heavens covered in cooking stains, kids’ gym clothes and the likes, try:

Understanding Laundry Detergents ecover washing powder bio laundry

Ecover Bio Washing Powder

Ecover is a leading brand in the world of eco cleaning products, and for good reason. It works! This bio washing powder features active plant-based, biodegradable ingredients to help tackle stains even at 30°. It leaves clothes with the delicate fresh fragrance of Eucalyptus & Lavender.
It’s vegan, dermatologically tested and suitable for septic tanks.

If you’re looking for the liquid version, ask in-store. If it’s not available they can definitely order it in for you.

Understanding Laundry Detergents ecover colour laundry liquid

Ecover Colour Concentrate Laundry Liquid

If you’re washing colourful clothes, using laundry detergent specifically formulated for colours is an excellent way to ensure your colours stay bright and your clothes last longer.

This formula helps fight against tough stains, revive colours and removes bobbles from cotton fibres after multiple washes. Furthermore, it also features a dye transfer inhibitor which helps prevent colours from running.

Non-Bio Laundry Detergent

If you’re looking for Non-Bio laundry liquids and powders try:

Understanding Laundry Detergents Lilly's eco clean laundry detergent orange

Lilly’s Eco Clean Non-Bio Orange Blossom & Chamomile Laundry Liquid

We love to support Irish brands around here, and so it’s a pleasure to share about Lilly’s Eco Clean non-bio laundry liquid. A firm favourite amongst Nourish customers, you’ll find this easy to use and very effective.

Both of Lilly’s laundry liquids are made of effective plant-based ingredients based on using simple liquid coconut soap. They use less typical foaming agents and none of the unnecessary performance chemicals. As the name suggests (non-biological) they don’t contain enzymes. This formula ensures you will end up with lovely clean fresh clothes, without excess fragrance.

Bio D washing powder 2kg

Bio D Non-Bio Concentrated Washing Powder

Another great company offering fantastic laundry liquids and powders to get your laundry coming out fresh and clean!
This fragrance-free, non-biological Washing Powder is hypoallergenic and accredited by Allergy UK. Its concentrated formula is highly effective while gentle on even the most sensitive skin.

For Those with Very Sensitive Skin

For those with very sensitive skin, and/or for those that don’t want any scent, try:

Understanding Laundry Detergents ecover non bio laundry zero powder

Ecover Zero

This formula contains 0% fragrance and enzymes to minimise the risk of allergies on sensitive skin. Furthermore, it’s allergy approved by the British Allergy Foundation.

We stock both the laundry liquid and the powder of this product.

lilly's eco clean unscented laundry liquid

Lilly’s Eco Clean Non-Bio Laundry Liquid Unscented

This product is unscented and suitable for the most sensitive users. Even a small amount will give a great result with cleanliness that will feel good, clean, and won’t irritate.

Bio D laundry liquid non bio

Bio D Non-Bio Concentrated Fragrance-Free Laundry Liquid

This fragrance-free non-bio laundry liquid is accredited by Allergy UK. It is super-gentle but super-effective concentrated formula (25 washes/L!) and can be used at low temperatures. It’s also suitable for washing delicate fabrics by hand.

Laundry Add-On’s

Understanding Laundry Detergents ecover wool and silk laundry

Wool, Silk and Delicates

For those wishing to wash delicates such as wool or silk items, try:

Ecover Delicate Wool and Silk Laundry Liquid

If you have wool that is suitable for washing in the machine (read the label!) then go ahead and pop it in the machine on a wool wash and use this laundry liquid. Alternatively, wash your woollies in the sink or bath by hand with a squirt of this product. Once it’s soaked for 15 minutes or so, gently squeeze out the water and roll in a towel to get rid of excess water. Then lay flat to dry.

If you have delicates such as bras or lacey items, use this laundry liquid to care for them and prevent damage to them. You can use the delicates cycle or wash by hand.

ecover stain remover

Natural Stain Removers

Now, the products mentioned above are marvellous, but sometimes you might need a little extra help to tackle stubborn stains. For example, when you have grease and protein stains like kitchen oils, lipstick, make-up, blood, chocolate, egg, curry etc. you may need some backup.

Try Ecover Stain Remover to wrestle tough protein-based stains from your clothes easily before throwing them in the machine.

All you need to do is moisten the stained fabric with water and apply the stain remover to it. Work in the liquid with the built-in brush gently and then hand wash or place in normal washing load. Done!

This product is not recommended for wool, silk and other delicate fabrics.

ecover laundry bleach

Ecover Bleach

Sometimes those whites just don’t want to stay white. How about trying an alternative to chlorine bleach? This laundry bleach helps remove bleachable stains without any chlorine or optical brighteners.

It’s excellent when used diluted to treat stains or added to detergent to give your laundry a boost. This fragrance-free laundry dynamo uses an oxygen-based bleaching agent to keep those threads looking their best.

Simply soak your stained clothes in a mix of warm water and this bleach powder before washing. Alternatively, add it to your normal wash for extra punch.
This is suitable for whites and colourfast clothes and works best on bleachable stains such as tea, blood and tomato.

Understanding Laundry Detergents clothes hanging on a rail in lights to darks order

In summary…

  • Typically, bed linen, towels, light-coloured laundry and any item that is colourfast are ok to wash at cooler and hotter temperatures (check the label for temperature recommendations).
  • On the other hand, dark colours, colourful clothing or items that are not colourfast should be washed at lower temperatures to preserve their colours. In addition, they’ll last longer and look better if you use a detergent specifically formulated for colour washes.
  • For washing delicate items and such, lower temperatures are generally required. If you’re washing wool, cashmere, or silk you’ll need a specific detergent for it.

Try Refilling!

Although recycling is great, and companies using recycled bottles is also wonderful, refilling is even better. If you have a container already, all you need to do is refill it rather than buying a new one each time.

We offer refills in-store for our laundry liquids (as well as hand soap, washing up liquid etc.), so bring along your empty bottle and we’ll fill ‘er up!

That’s it for this blog post on understanding laundry detergents. I hope I was able to shed some light for you about the mysteries of laundry!

If you’d like to learn more about natural cleaning, I have a two-part blog series on the blog. Check them out here:

Emily Nöth

Any questions? Drop into your local Nourish store to chat with our expert team and explore our full range of foods, supplements and skincare. You can also find our full product range in our online store.

Follow (and chat with us) on Facebook and Instagram or subscribe to our weekly Nourish newsletter.

Image of Nourish female staff member standing in doorway of shop

*Please note that while we are knowledgeable about our products and nutrition, this blog should never be a substitute for medical advice and attention

Please remember that you should always obtain the all-clear from your doctor before starting any new supplement plan or diet if you’re on any medication