Many a detergent that gets the laundry clean is poison for the environment. Ökotest magazine examined 25 color detergents and evaluated not only their washing performance but also their environmental impact. Some well-known brands proved to be particularly problematic.

Ökotest rated the washing powder Ariel Color, Coral Color detergent Optimal Color and Lenor Color detergent Amethyst Blossom Dream the worst. The washing performance of the three products was “good” or “very good” – as was the case with all other detergents tested. But in the test item “ingredients and ecotoxicity” Ökotest missed the trio in each case “unsatisfactory”. In the overall assessment, the three detergents are each “sufficient”. At Ariel and Coral, Ökotest criticizes, among other things, the use of the fragrance isoeugenol, which can trigger allergies.

However, it is not only the three test losers that have problematic ingredients: According to the Ökotest, all conventional detergents tested contain persistent substances such as phosphonates and plastic compounds, whose long-term environmental consequences are still little known. Even if the substances are filtered out in the sewage treatment plant, they settle in the sewage sludge and can end up back on the fields as fertilizer, writes Ökotest. Also included in all of the conventional test powders was the surfactant sodium dodecylbenzene sulfonate. From Ökotest’s point of view, it should not be used in detergents because it is not biodegradable in the absence of air.

The testers rated the eco-detergents from Ecover, Frosch, Sodasan and Sonett the best. All four received the overall rating “good”. Despite slight weaknesses with dirty seams, the washing performance is still good and it contains fewer problematic chemicals than the competition.

In order to be able to do without particularly aggressive agents, Ökotest advises not allowing stains to dry in the first place and rinsing them out directly with clear water. In addition, heavy soiling can also be effectively pre-treated before the wash with household remedies such as cornstarch (against greasy stains) or carbonated mineral water.

According to the Federal Environment Agency, private households with detergents and cleaning agents discharge around 560,000 tons of chemicals into the wastewater every year. According to UBA, the proportion of components that are not easily degradable is around 7 percent.