Is Seventh Generation Laundry Detergent Safe? Complete Guide

Seventh Generation laundry detergent toxic guide

Seventh Generation laundry detergents use natural ingredients extensively. They are thus relatively much safer than traditional laundry options for both humans and the environment

Seventh Generation’s ‘Free and Clear’ option is the best among their range for lack of toxic chemicals. In selecting laundry detergents, the garment care instructions of clothes also have to be taken into consideration.

Seventh Generation Laundry Detergent Ingredients

Seventh Generation laundry detergent contains many ingredients, of which 97% is plant-based. It completely lacks the presence of any dyes or perfumes. The product facilitates cleaning stains through plant enzymes than artificial lab-produced chemicals.

To be precise, Seventh Generation uses Laureth-6 and Sodium Lauryl Sulphate as cleaning agents, which is plant-based. The hundred percent biodegradable nature of these contents reduces the extent of environmental pollution.

Part of this approach from the company comes from its position as a B corporation that is committed to sustainable business practices. 

Seventh Generation also strays clear from animal products as many eco-friendly detergents do so these days. 

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Is Seventh Generation Laundry Detergent Safe? 


Yes, Seventh Generation is a safe option to wash baby clothes and diapers. They do not leave residues in the fabric that may irritate your baby’s skin.

For those who believe clothes need to produce a pleasing fragrance once washed, the company offers the Concentrated Baby Laundry Liquid Detergent that utilizes botanical extracts and essential oils for a mild scent.

The contents of Seventh Generation laundry detergents vary from one product to another. It is advisable to go through the ingredients before use for allergy caution, ensuring that the item is suitable for use around babies.


You should be careful with your detergent options if you have pets, for they will be all around the place sniffing, touching, or lying and are perhaps more likely than you to get exposed to harmful chemicals from the laundry experience.

Most of the traditional detergents and cleaning products contain toxic chemicals that may result in an allergic reaction in pets. Chronic infections in the skin and ear are two common ill effects. 

Seventh Generation’s laundry detergents are perfect around pets for their clinically tested hypoallergenic feature. They have a range of products with certified pet-safe ingredients.  

Sensitive Skin

If a product is safe on baby skin, which is among the most delicate, one could consider the same safe for adults with sensitive skin too.

The primary cause of allergic reactions from detergents is due to the presence of dyes and fragrances. Seventh Generation’s ‘Free and Clear’ option does not contain either of the two. More importantly, they do not use masking agents that are chemicals present in detergents to conceal the odor or color of other ingredients.

The shortcoming of the ‘Free and Clear’ option is the neutral smell associated with the washed clothes. There are slightly scented Seventh Generation detergents available in the market, but it will largely depend on the user’s skin and the harmless performance of the product. 


Any detergent with enzymes is a complete no for washing wool. Seventh Generation deploys plant-based enzymes to do the cleaning and is hence not ideal for woollen clothes.

Seventh Generation however requires you to soak heavily stained clothes in water before washing, since it is not as strong as many other enzyme-based detergents.

Even then, it is not advised to wash wool with Seventh Generation.

Seventh Generation’s Dish Liquid is an enzyme-free option that can work well on wool. The company, however, advises sticking to hand washing while using the item instead of a washing machine.


Like wool, silk is a delicate fabric that does not get along with an enzyme-based detergent. Seventh Generation’s Dish Liquid thus works best for silk as well.

If your silk fabric gets routinely washed in machines using regular enzyme-based detergent, the material will show signs of wear over time. 

HE Washers 

High-Efficiency (HE) washers are a total win over traditional ones for their efficient water and energy consumption. All detergents of Seventh Generation work safely in HE washers. 

Look out for a blue oval symbol wording ‘HE’ in the detergent pack that certifies it suitable for use in HE washers.  

Note that the use of non-HE laundry detergents in HE washers may affect the warranty clause with your machine manufacturer. 

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Septic Systems 

Yes, all Seventh Generation detergents are safe for septic systems. Seventh Generation does not contain toxic surfactants such as nonylphenol ethoxylate that pose a severe threat to the bacterial action in septic tanks. Nonylphenol ethoxylate also has a bad reputation of causing endocrine disruption in humans.

What is in Seventh Generation Laundry Detergent? 


Most of the Seventh Generation detergents contain plant-based enzymes for stain removal. This is unless it is stated explicitly in the pack that a product is meant for delicate materials such as wool and silk.  The brand’s use of plant-based enzymes makes its products far less toxic.

Seventh Generation enzymes are similar to those in any other laundry detergent, and only their origin may vary. Apart from the enzymes such as protease, amylase, and mannanase, the ‘Free and Clear’ product contains glycerin and calcium chloride as well. They are enzyme stabilizers and are plant-derived and mineral-based, respectively.

Seventh Generation laundry detergents work well in cold, warm, and hot water. The presence of enzymes facilitates stain removal at all temperatures.


Among the ingredients mentioned in Seventh Generation detergents, sodium chloride and water remain the significant fillers that help maintain the viscous nature of the product. They limit foam production and also help prevent corrosion inside washing machines.

Is Seventh Generation Laundry Detergent Toxic?

According to the ratings provided on the official website of Environmental Working Group, an activist company, Seventh Generation has products in all categories A, B, C, D, and F, depending on the product’s toxicity.

The data may come as a shocker after having verified that the detergent company uses plant-based ingredients in most of its products.

But here is the thing.

Seventh Generation laundry detergents pose fewer threats than traditional chemical detergents. However, plant-based ingredients do not necessarily mean non-toxic.

Seventh Generation claims to avoid using phosphates, optical brighteners, synthetic surfactants, and volatile synthetic solvents in their products.

However, their data sheet reveals the use of plant-based natural substances and essential oils that perform the same function. Some of the essential oils in Seventh Generation release toxic Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).

The company details the function and origin of most of their ingredients on its website. While this is a commendable gesture, there is still a lot of vagueness.

One of the ‘Free and Clear’ ingredients is methylisothiazolinone and has no origin information associated with it. Methylisothiazolinone is associated with allergies and lung toxicity.

Detergents of the past contained various chemicals with associated health risks such as irritation in the skin, eye, and throat, liver and kidney damage, and hormone disruption. 

While Seventh Generation is relatively safe, it may contain ingredients that certain individuals may be allergic to. For instance, eucalyptus and wheat are natural in origin and harmless in general, but they may still pose an allergic threat to you if you have a history.  

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Seventh Generation’s ‘Free and Clear’ detergent is free of chlorine. They contain hydrogen peroxide to clean off tough stains while maintaining the color of the fabric. Thus, the detergent lacks the toxicity and bleachy whiff of chlorine.   


Benzene is a synthetic surfactant that helps break down stains and disperse dirt that do not normally dissolve in water. Seventh Generation’s ‘Free and Clear’ detergent does not contain benzene. The product instead has surfactants derived from vegetable oil. 


Phosphates are present in detergents as a chelating agent for calcium and magnesium ions. They help remove dirt and deposit them in water. Arsenic content in detergents is a result of the phosphates in them. Both elements are attracted to similar materials, and so when one mines for phosphates, small amounts of arsenic will be present too. 

Since Seventh Generation’s ‘Free and Clear’ detergent replaced phosphates with substances such as citrates, carbonates, and gluconates, it does not contain arsenic. Despite the higher cost, the approach is a commendable step in reducing the toxic levels of arsenic in streams and lakes. 


No, Seventh Generation detergents do not contain lead. However, it may react with lead in clothes to form soap scum inside the machine. In case of any event similar, four cups of white vinegar in a rinse cycle with warm water will help remove the scum. 

Is Seventh Generation Laundry Detergent pH Neutral?

Seventh Generation has neutral pH detergent options available. In ‘Free and Clear,’ the company adds citric acid as a plant-based pH adjuster. 

Is Seventh Generation Laundry Detergent Biodegradable? 

Yes, Seventh Generation liquid laundry detergents are all completely biodegradable. By ascribing to the laws of Green Chemistry, the company aims to not cause trouble for the planet through their detergent formulas.

Though there have been efforts to expand the green notion further through biodegradable packaging, many Seventh Generation products still get sold in plastic bottles.  


Anand Srinivasan
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