Following on from Molly's post about climate change and the things she is doing to safeguard her garden and family, I thought I'd revisit some research on washing detergents.
Lanfax Laboratories have done some great independent research on washing powders and liquids and the amount of sodium, potassium, sulphur, etc that they contribute if the grey water is used on the garden. You can visit their Laundry Products Research pages and have a good read about what comes out of your washing machine when you use different detergents. You can compare top loaders with front loaders and powders with liquids.
I first found their research a few years ago and because I was particularly concerned about sodium load, I started at the bottom of the list (ie, lowest load) and worked my way up until I found a detergent that actually worked. At that time, I chose Green Care as my main detergent and Earth Choice as my detergent for woollens and delicates. Powders generally have a much higher sodium load than liquids, so just by using a liquid you are probably on the right track, but some liquids still have a pretty hefty sodium load.
Now that the research has been updated, my choices still look reasonably good, but I am thinking of trying a couple of different liquids with lower sodium loads. Unfortunately, manufacturers can vary their formulations without notice, so you need to review your choices from time to time.
As they point out on the site, there is no eco-friendly washing detergent - all of them have an impact on the environment. The key is to make the most responsible choice you can within the constraints of cleaning ability, cost and your geographic location, ie, according to your own unique needs.
love and light