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Do "green" detergents really clean?

Best Health staff tested three laundry detergents to find out: Can green really clean?

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doing laundry

Laundry service

So-called “green” detergents claim to be healthier for you and the environment. But do their eco-friendly ingredients really get your clothes as clean as traditional detergents? Best Health editors tested three different brands to find out.

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Green works laundry detergent

Green Works Laundry Detergent, $10, 1.33 L (30 loads)

This is made from plant-based ingredi-ents and is not tested on animals.

Tested on: pillowcases, ring-around-the-collar and tomato-sauce stains

I find that even my regular detergent requires a stain-remover spray to get rid of tomato sauce, so I did pre-treat the T-shirt before washing-and it came out clean. In another load, this detergent alone removed ring-around-the-collar, and left my pillowcases with a fresh scent. -Bonnie Munday, Editor

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PC coldwater laundry detergent

PC Green Coldwater Laundry Detergent, $10, 980 mL (28 loads)

This helps reduce how much energy you use because it does not need hot water.

Tested on: muddy track pants and a dog’s pillow

The dog’s pillow came out clean and considerably brighter, plus it smelled fresh. The mud stains on the knees of my son’s pants came out, but some of the oily stains didn’t. Next time I’ll spot-treat oily stains with the detergent first.-Jennifer Walker, Senior content editor

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Sunlight detergent

Sunlight Green Clean Cold Water Power, $8, 946 mL (32 loads)

This contains biodegradable, plant-based cleaning ingredients, and works in cold water. It contains no chlorine or dyes.

Tested on: dried-on refried beans, a mustard splash and a dark chocolate smudge

I used this for a couple of weeks and didn’t notice any difference from my usual detergent, so I was happy to try it out on tough stains. It lifted the dried-on beans and the mustard, but it didn’t entirely succeed in getting rid of the chocolate. -Margaret Nearing, Senior editor

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