I hate to do it. I really do. But I just can’t live like this any longer. I cannot keep using all-natural laundry detergents.

I wish that I could. I love the idea using biodegradable organic soaps that leave my clothes smelling like a field of lavender. But after a year-long test of trying every natural product on the market, I have decided to go back to Tide.

All natural detergents just don't get diapers clean!

Unfortunately, the all-natural products just do not clean the same way as Tide does. I’ve tried them all: Greenworks, Biokleen, Sun and Earth, Mrs. Meyers, Baby Ganics, Seventh Generation, and Method. I desperately wanted them to work.  Especially the new Method super concentrated laundry detergent.  I loved the new Method laundry detergent because it came in a small bottle with a convenient pump.

But none of them did the difficult job of cleaning our family’s laundry.  Apparently, two teenage boys and two toddlers are no match for environmentally-friendly detergent. The spit-up, grass stains, dirt, and who the heck knows what else were just too much – even when used with a stain remover.

Before I decided to go back over to the dark side, I decided to do a little research.  I wondered two things:

1. Just how bad is Tide for the environment?

2. How good can it be to use organic laundry detergent if I have to wash things multiple times, or replace items that have been ruined because they don’t come clean? (Rhetorical question, I know.)

Well, after doing some research, I found that the three biggest problems with non-organic detergents is that they may contain phosphates, fragrance, and petroleum.

Phosphates become a problem when they get into the water system.  They cause a bad kind of algae that actually smothers other plants and animals in the water. No Tide products contain phosphates. Phew! One down, two to go.

The petroleum question was more complicated. Petroleum is a double-edged sword. Not only is it difficult to manufacture, but it also can cause problems in the water system once it is used. Most water treatment facilities today are capable of minimizing the risks of petroleum.  Tide uses petroleum as a surfactant.  Surfactants are like little bugs that attack and release stains. Hmm. Looks like I’m one for one.

The last biggie is fragrance. The problem with fragrance is that there are no real guidelines as to what constitutes a fragrance. Because there are no guidelines, it’s hard to say for sure what the fragrance is or what it is made of. Thankfully, Tide has fragrance-free detergent.

At the end of the day, I decided to compromise. I use Method detergent and cold water when washing things like sheets or towels. For clothes, I use Tide in hot water. I also hang my clothing out to dry instead of using the dryer when possible.  I also still use all-natural dishwasher detergent (which I love!) and do plenty of other things to help the environment – like recycling. Maybe in the future, all-natural laundry detergents will do a better job removing stains. Until then, I’m going to have to return to Tide.