Homes and gardens

Stains are great, chemicals are not: Some natural detergents to help make planet cleaner

BENGALURU - KARNATAKA - 25/03/2017 : Soap nut, displayed at Organic and Millets Mela, by Department of Agriculture, at Government Model Primary School Playground, Malleswaram Circle, in Bengaluru on March 25, 2017. Photo K Murali Kumar   | Photo Credit: K_MURALI_KUMAR

It all comes down to karma, what goes around comes around. Humans have committed mass deforestation, nature has rewarded us with climate change, unexpected storms, wildfires and sea levels.

That’s not just why we must be careful in terms of the lifestyle we choose. What differentiates us humans from other species, apart from the potential for upholding human values, is our ability to make choices, to take control of our destiny.

Today it all comes down to our lifestyle choices, each of which, corporations have ensured have strong repercussions on nature. Unless we go with nature, we won’t be able to survive any longer, in Stephen Hawking’s words, “the next thousand years” on this fragile planet”.

The Back to Earth column is an attempt to offer a guide to make Earth-friendly choices. In this edition, we will look at something that, although simple, has a severe effect on our dangerously low water tables and drinking water resources — detergents (remember the frothy lakes of Varthur and Bellandur?). Detergents have a way of finding their way back to your glass of drinking water.

There are three main aspects one needs to look out for while choosing a laundry detergent:

Chemical content: Among the most strong chemicals used in detergents are phosphates and surfactants. While phosphates are strong chemicals, surfactants help remove soil from garments but are toxic to sea animals and impair their ability to take oxygen from water. Phosphates have been banned for several years.

Biodegradable, petroleum-free: Ensure the detergent is made of natural, petroleum-free (to the extent possible), biodegradable substances that leave no impact on the planet.

Recyclable packaging: The whole idea of buying a biodegradable, surfactant-free detergent is negated if the packaging cannot be recycled or causes more pollution.

And now here is a list of some of the most well-known, eco-friendly Indian detergent labels:

Krya Consumer Products LLP

They make a natural detergent comprising organically produced soap berries. A standard 400 gm pack which will last 40, 5 kg washes costs ₹ 290. The product is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal and is completely biodegradable. For details, visit

Daily Dump

Their product is the Bio-D oil-based bar (a cue to look into the manufacturing process). It is biodegradable and reasonably priced at ₹24 for a 200-gram bar. They also sell soap nuts in a 330 gm pack. The nuts can be tied into a muslin pouch (also available on their website) and used in a washing machine, for a few washes (after soaking in hot water). Further instructions on how to use soap nuts are widely available online. These nuts (also known as reetha and used in hair products) are an all-natural product from the soap nut tree and are allergy-free. They can be used on all kinds of fabrics and at all temperatures. For details, visit

Rustic Art

The brand offers a liquid, foam-free detergent containing glycerin. This is biodegradable and contains saponified non-edible oils, neem and lemon extracts and natural preservative of TCLS. The natural glycerin softens fabrics. It costs ₹150 for a 200ml bottle and the company recommends one capful for four to six garments. They have detergent powders (₹285/1kg) that are eco-friendly, made with processed natural neem soap powder, natural lemon extract, borax, neutralized soda ash and acid slurry. They also have chemical-free, biodegradable laundry soaps (₹300/pack of four). For details, visit

Bubblenut Wash

BubbleNut Wash features a liquid detergent containing ‘aqueous exract’ of soapnuts. (₹149/500ml) They claim it is as good as any detergent in the market without artificial chemicals. They say it is hypoallergenic, eco-friendly and biodegradable and as with any soapnut product, works well on all kinds of fabrics as well as baby clothes. Visit

Azafran Home Care

Azafran Home Care presents a liquid detergent (₹400/1ltr) made with ‘plant material’ including coconut derived ingredients and is known to be biodegradable. They claim it is gentle on cloth diapers, dark colours, delicate fabrics and on the hands and softens clothes. It has not been tested on animals and has a gentle, pleasing fragrance. Visit

Soapy spots

    Our code of editorial values

    Where we offer Earth-friendly alternatives for everyday products
    This article is closed for comments.
    Please Email the Editor

    Printable version | Jul 19, 2021 6:32:23 PM |

    Next Story