Living in a world that’s all about convenience, fast results, and “I want it yesterday” thinking, it can be hard finding home products that are actually safe and healthy to use, not to mention effective. But we think that the hunt is worth it, considering that so many of us are plagued by negative skin and respiratory side effects from the products we use everyday. Laundry detergent is no exception.
Developed out of love for his mother and her dedication to green-cleaning, Nellie’s owner and founder James Roberts wanted to honor his mother’s beliefs in cleaning without the use of harmful ingredients like phosphates and other toxins. Now, Nellie’s is a leader in the green and safe cleaning industry, with their recognizable vintage packaging to serve as a reminder of where it all started.
The All-Natural Laundry Soda from Nellie’s is one of their signature products, providing an effective yet non-toxic clean for all loads of laundry. We already love the messaging and look of this company and product, and hope to give you a thorough review of its true quality, safety and efficiency. Read on!
So who are Nellies?
Nellies are a USA based company inspired by a real person called – you’ve guessed it – Nellie. Her son, James Roberts, founded the company and based it on his mother’s values of honesty and simplicity. Apparently, she going ‘green’ way before the color was cool. James was inspired to create products safe enough to use on his baby, using his mother’s core values.
I like the sound of this.
These are values I respect and promote on this very site!
Does the laundry soda match these stated values?
The All-Natural Laundry Soda from Nellie’s is fragrance-free and made without phosphates, chlorine, SLS, SLES, gluten, and other potentially irritating ingredients. It is formulated for use in HE washers. It is a powder which makes it concentrated and cost-effective.
Only one scoop is needed for regular sized loads and can work in both hot or cold water.
Nellie says to wash according to the instructions on the garments.
The laundry soda provides enough product for 100 loads, and does not leave any residue.
The product itself came in a tin canister, decorated with vintage lettering and the iconic vintage portrait of “Nellie.” We love the packaging, not only for the fun vintage look but also because it isn’t plastic. The canister came with a plastic scoop for measuring the powder, and the powder itself is a bright white.
Why powder over liquid?
Nellie’s products definitely favor powder over liquid and here’s why. “Liquid detergents are made up largely of water. At Nellie’s, we don’t think selling and moving water around the planet is a very good idea. The fact is, more cleaning power can be packed into a smaller space using powder.”
There you have it! We couldn’t agree more.
Does it actually work?
Nellie’s Laundry Soda worked very well and left our clothes looking and smelling fresh.
We tested a scoop on a load of laundry containing a soiled bathroom towel and dirty pants overdue for a wash.
As you can see, the towel is clearly clean and much brighter, and the pants look spotless and more vibrant as well. Overall, we’re happy with the results.
We feel good recommending this product for its washing performance.
The company looks good, the product washes well, is there a catch?
The product contains only four ingredients. And the company proudly tell you what these ingredients are.
I love that there are so few ingredients added. Less is more. We’re all aware of the damage washing detergents can do to us, our family and the planet (that’s why you’re here right?) so using fewer well-chosen ingredients is a winner in my world.
We also love that Nellie’s is fully transparent about the ingredients in their products. Most manufacturers still don’t disclose all of their ingredients due to incredibly poor industry regulations.
For the most part, we like their ingredients. Here’s a more thorough explanation of each:
- Sodium carbonate, also known as washing soda or soda ash, is a natural ingredient found in many all natural cleaning products. It is safe and gentle, and not known to be harmful or irritating to the skin.
- Sodium chloride, table salt, is also a safe and gentle ingredient used in natural products that doesn’t come with warning about allergens and toxicity. It’s safe for use on skin and in cleaning products.
- Linear Alcohol Ethoxylate. A large class of non-ionic surfactants that are commonly used in laundry detergents and other household cleaners. While there is some evidence that alcohol ethoxylates can cause irritation, it has also been found through studies that alcohol ethoxylates are not contact sensitizers, meaning they aren’t found to cause an allergic reaction following skin contact. We’re talking irrtant not allergen. And when alcohol ethoxylates are used undiluted, they can be irritating to the eyes and skin. However, when used diluted within a formula, the potential concern goes away almost completely. That’s because there isn’t enough of the ingredient to cause irritation nor to be a respiratory concern. Overall, alcohol ethoxylates have been found to be safe when used in laundry detergents and do not cause concern with regards to consumer use.
- Sodium Metasilicate is an inorganic salt and acts as a chelating agent and buffering agent. It is classified as an irritant by the European Union (which has much better and stricter standards than the U.S.). We think this is another case where concentration and dilution are very important. When used in a low concentration in a laundry detergent, it may not be irritating at all. But, we don’t know the level of concentration in the Nellie’s All-Natural Laundry Soda, so it’s hard to say whether or not it is a concern.
Two of the four ingredients are safe and gentle, but two require this product to be fully rinsed once washed. These aren’t ingredients that you’d want any residues left on your clothing. The potential for irritation is real.
It’s worth noting that all of these ingredients are fully biodegradable and cruelty-free!
So in conclusion…
We love the messaging, look and effectiveness of the All-Natural Laundry Soda from Nellie’s. And while we also love that they disclose their ingredients. It’s great that the product is biodegradable and not tested on animals. Use some caution with this product, especially if you have sensitive skin or are planning to use the detergent on baby clothes or cloth diapers. For those without any sensitivities or allergies, you will most likely do fine with this product.
However, we always steer towards safety and can’t say with total confidence that this is a flawless natural product. It may be non-toxic (which is great and far better than any conventional cleaning product), but it may potentially irritate the skin if not rinsed fully.