Laundry Detergent Without UV Brighteners

Updated: October 11, 2019

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Top-Rated Laundry Detergent Without UV Brighteners

  1. Tide Pure Clean is one of the most popular eco-friendly detergents on the market. Their laundry liquid formula is non-toxic, biodegradable, free of phosphates and optical brighteners, and is plant-based (rather than petroleum based). Tide purclean™ is the first plant-based liquid laundry detergent that has the cleaning power that you expect and deserve from Tide, even in cold water
  2. Biokleen(U.S only) is a company that produces concentrated cleaning formulas in order to minimize packaging, fillers, and energy used in transportation. Their detergents are free of fragrances, dyes, brighteners, and chlorine. Biokleen was founded by Jim Rimer, a former sales rep for a commercial cleaning company. After becoming aware of the toxic effects of the products he was selling, Rimer decided to take a stand and develop his own environmentally friendly cleaning products.
  3. Earth Friendly Products  (Canada and U.S) has developed a line of laundry products called Ecos. This detergent is 100% biodegradable, contains no chlorine, petroleum, or phosphates, and is made from sustainable ingredients. Earth Friendly Products is a family-owned company that aims to do business in a “socially responsible way that safeguards the earth.”

What Are UV Brighteners?

There are many types of “brighteners,” but those that are included in most laundry detergent and clothing are outlined and explained below.

Photochromic Dyes

Photochromic dyes are sensitive to UV light or sunlight and impart special color effects color range of end-user products.

When correctly formulated, the products are colorless until exposed to sufficient UV light or sunlight. On exposure, they become brightly colored and then fade back to colorless once they are removed from the source of irradiation.

Photochromic dyes find use in a wide range of end uses. Ophthalmic lenses are the largest application, but other major applications include children’s toys, agricultural films, novelties, packaging, security markers, clothes, and cosmetics. Many other applications are currently being investigated.

UV Brightening Dyes

UV Fluorescent Pigments are used for security, identification, coding, and anti-counterfeiting applications.

These pigments are neutral in color, with a white to off-white powder appearance, and are not noticeable when incorporated into security inks, fibers, and papers. When irradiated with UV light, these pigments emit fluorescent radiation of yellow, green, orange, red, blue and violet colors and so are immediately identifiable.

Some of the common applications are in postage stamps, currency notes, credit cards, lottery tickets, security passes,  clothes, etc

Optical Brightening Agent

Optical Brighteners are also known as fluorescent whitening agents (FWA) and are useful in masking the inherent yellowness in plastics, lacquers, paints, inks, photographic solutions, and fibers such as those in clothing. Optical brighteners function by absorbing light in the invisible UV spectrum and emitting light in the visible blue region (400 – 500 mm) via a fluorescent mechanism. The result is a brighter and fresh appearance also known as whiter than white or ultra white. These are also useful in the brightening of other color pigments and increasing the jetness of black pigments.

Optical Brightener Manufacturers and Trade Names

  • Blankophor
  • Dikaphor
  • Intrawite (textile use)
  • Kolocron
  • Optiblanc
  • Tinopal
  • Tuboblanc
  • Uvitex
  • Akzo Nobel
  • BASF
  • Deepak Nitrite
  • Eastman Chemical Company
  • Huntsman International


What’s On The Label?

  • Disodium Diaminostilbene Disulfonate
  • DMS
  • Fluorescent Brighteners
  • Fluorescent Brightening Agents
  • Fluorescent Optical Brighteners
  • Fluorescent White Dyes
  • Fluorescent Whitening Agents (FWAs)
  • Optical Brightening Agents (OBAs)
  • Optical Whiteners
  • Organic Fluorescent Dyes


Military Combat Uniforms

9/4/2007 – EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska — Laundry additives known as “optical brighteners” should not be used for washing the Airman Battle Uniform.

Laundry instructions for ABUs specify not using any laundry detergents that contain optical brighteners.

Optical Brighteners make the ABU more detectable by night vision equipment and make the ABU more visible in a low-light environment of any kind, by reflecting more of any available light.

Optical brighteners are chemicals that absorb the ultraviolet and violet region of colors in a piece of fabric. They trick the eye into seeing a brighter shade and reflect more light.

Near Infrared (nIR) capability of the ABU is degraded when washed with detergents containing optical brighteners. Because most commercial detergents contain optical brighteners, there is generally no indication on the packaging.

The impact of optical brighteners is permanent; it cannot be washed out.

The only hack I am aware of is to use a UV-KILLER to remove the brighteners from clothing.


Helpful Video


Detergents Without UV Brighteners

Active Wear Detergent (Optim)


  • Free and Clear Liquid – Military

Allens Naturally






Charlie Banana

Charlie’s Soap


Citra Suds

Crunchy Clean

  • Cloth Diaper Super Blend Soap

Claudia’s Choices 

Clorox Green Works

Country Save

Dead Down Wind

  • Unscented
  • Natural Woods Really? Sure Deer won’t know the difference between real wood smells or man-made synthetic smells?!? Unscented is your best bet! Deer won’t be fooled by the “woodie smell”


Earth Friendly Products


  • Liquid
  • Powder






Honest Company Laundry Detergent

Kirkland Signature Environmentally Responsible


Maggie’s Pure Land Products


Mountain Green

Molly’s Suds

Mrs. Meyer’s Laundry Detergent

  • Basil
  • Lavender
  • Lemon Verbena
  • Geranium
  • Baby Blossom

Nature Clean

Natural Value

  • Naturally Gentle





Rockin Green

SA8 Legacy of Clean

  • Delicate Fine Fabric


Seventh Generation


Sun and Earth

Thirsties Super Wash

Tide PureClean

Tiny Bubbles

Trader Joe’s



  • Hypo-Allergenic











Products & Applications – Optical Brightener – (n.d.). Retrieved from

Pfli Inorganic Uv Invisible Pigments – Risk Reactor, Inc,








My Citra-Solv – Citra Suds Laundry Detergent Review

Detergents contain a host of chemicals harmful to both body and environment. Luckily, there are many options out there to make the green transition easier on consumers. Non-toxic, biodegradable soaps are definitely important to cleaning up the environment. Green, forward-looking companies, are seeking to develop products that do just that–cleaning up the environment, while they clean our houses and clothes. One company CitraSolv is creating products that meet that goal.

My Experience Using in the Laundry

I used CitraSuds Natural Laundry Detergent (this one and this one) for the first time today. I washed a normal load in a normal (not high-efficiency) washer. I did not use fabric softener, as I wanted to test if CitraSuds would work all by itself. I am extremely pleased! It worked fantastically! My husbands’ very dirty work socks, a load of towels, and a nasty bathroom rug all turned out very clean. Everything came out soft and smelled great. 

Like Fresh-Squeezed Oranges
CitraSuds Natural Laundry Detergent, the Valencia Orange Fragrance, has a delicious aroma, straight out of the bottle! It kinda reminds me of freshly squeezed oranges.

(CitraSuds Natural Laundry Detergent is also available in powdered form, although I haven’t tried that yet.)

Citra-Solv Cleaners Citra Suds Laundry Detergent Review

CitraSolv’s Green Products

To be “green” a soap or cleaner must be biodegradable, in other words, quickly break down in the environment rather than staying in a separate form. For instance, plant-based cleaners usually made from the oils of plants, break-down or disintegrate, just like fresh vegetable scraps will break down in a compost pile forming rich earth for a garden.

Petroleum-based cleaners or cleaners with synthetic chemicals often do not biodegrade at all or will take many years to biodegrade, leaving a chemical residue in the environment, leeching into the soil and water.

CitraSolv, the makers of such products as CitraSuds, a natural laundry detergent and CitraDish, a natural dishwashing soap, are cognizant of the environment and specifically have designed their products to be plant-based, biodegradable, and non-toxic.

Less Water & No Chemicals

CitraSuds is specifically designed to be concentrated, so that the consumer uses less water and less plastic packaging, helping the environment. Consumers can support companies such as CitraSolv, by purchasing their products and thereby supporting the true “greening” of the soap and detergent industry.

Rather than using products with chemically-based, artificial fragrances to wash dishes and clothing with, shoppers can choose natural products that have aromas direct from nature created by essential oils from herbs and fruits. A huge plus is that these all-natural essential oils often have their own cleansing abilities, fortifying the cleaning power of the soap itself.

Aromatherapy While Cleaning!

Lavender, Bergamot, Orange, and Grapefruit are all common essential oils used as fragrances in CitraSuds and in all CitraSolv products. These natural fragrances are each known for their individual cleansing capabilities. Aromatherapy and herbal medicine have been used for thousands of years in every culture. Families now have the pleasure of easily washing their clothes and homes with real-scented herbs that are known to rejuvenate and relax.

This is a far cry from the labels filled with warnings of toxicity on most chemical detergents that consumers have grown up within the United States and around the world. It is a pleasure to inhale an all-natural cleaner and not choke! All Natural Cleaners are often less toxic in case of accidental ingestion by a child or dog. Kudos to all the Green Cleaning Manufacturers like CitraSolv who are “cleaning up” the cleaning trade.

Fragrance Choices
Valencia Orange: Wonderfully rejuvenating! Lavender Bergamot: Very Soothing.


Do Soap Nuts Work In Cold Water

Do Soap Nuts Work In Cold Water

I did a test load on a couple of loads of heavily-soiled items like dirty cloth diapers and teenager’s athletic socks. The soap nuts worked great to remove the bad and musty smells. To disinfect and whiten I found that adding ½ cup of borax worked better.  I was amazed after starting to launder my granddaughter’s dirty diapers with soap nuts the lingering urine smell was gone.  Also, the natural saponins in soap nuts worked to strip the old detergent residue from the cloth diapers, making them more absorbent again. My daughter, a self-proclaimed crunchy mom of 4, was thrilled at my discovery!

As a person with severe allergies to scents and chemicals, I have scoured the shelves for a wash product that did not invoke an asthma attack. Yippeeee Soapnuts! For the first time in many years, I can wake up in the morning with fresh sheets and still breathe! My clothes are cleaner and softer, and we figured out the cost per load of clothing (including the dryer, no more fabric softener), approx. 22 cents per load. I love this product. And earth friendly too!


Do Soap Nuts Work In Cold Water

Yes. Soap nuts work in cold water. Saponins are released slower in cold water. If you wash in cold water, you may want to soak the nuts in a cup of warm water for 5 minutes to release the Saponin. Pour the water and the bag of soap nuts in your washer.


How to Use

Tie 4-6 soap nut shells in a muslin bag or sock and put it in the wash load. You can use the same pouch for 4 to 6 loads of laundry. If not reused on the same day, dry soap nuts in the dryer with your clothes. You can leave the soap nuts in the washer for the rinse cycle.

Natural boosters such as borax are recommended for whites. When the shells become grayish and mushy, they are ready to be replaced and added to your compost.

3.5 oz of soap nuts can be used for approximately 40 medium loads of laundry. The price per wash is about the same as commercial laundry detergent. What a bargain for an all natural product!




How To Remove Optical Brighteners From Clothes (aka UV Brighteners)


The photo above is what hunting gear looks like when you turn off all of the lights and shine a UV flashlight on it. Notice the “glow”! This garment had been previously washed in a detergent that contained Optical Brighteners! Want to know how we removed them so the entire garment looked dark afterward? Well, here’s what happened:

I have a friend, Melinda who recently moved to the northeast with her hubby Mark and three kids. Last week Melinda called me all upset and said she needed to know what she could do to wash the optical brighteners out of her clothes. Hmmm?

It would seem that whitetail deer hunting is a big thing in the area where she moved to and her husband was invited by a group of co-workers to go with them on a hunting trip. While Mark was purchasing his new hunting gear, the salesman told him to be sure and wash the optical brighteners out of everything he would be wearing while hunting. The salesman did not elaborate, and Mark did not ask for further directions because apparently, it’s much like getting lost and asking for directions, it’s just not something a guy admits to not knowing!

Well, I can’t stop thinking about this UV thing so I did a bit of research, and the following is a result of what I found.


The only thing that will eliminate them is a UV Killer. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Wash your camo in SPORT-WASH laundry detergent. (Get it here)
    SPORT-WASH is made from a straight carbon chain and it will open the dye sites.
  2. Apply the UV Killer per the directions. This should be done outside. (Available Here)
  3. Use a UV light to make sure you don’t miss any areas – (Get one here)




  • Typically one bottle of UV Killer will treat 2 sets of camo.
  • UV Killer is a one time deal. It’s a permanent bond that will last the life of the garment.
  • You only need to treat your camo once.
  • As long as you don’t re-introduce brighteners to your camo again by washing them in Tide or something, your good to go. If this happens, you need to re-apply UV Killer all over again.


Clothes on the left NOT treated with UV Killer. (Notice the glow)
Clothes on the Right treated with UV Killer. (Notice no “glow”)



The short of it is there are no laundry detergents that will “wash out” UV-Dyes. You can, however, use the “kill” treatment, which I described above. You will also need to continue to use a laundry detergent that does not contain optical brighteners.

Washing your camo only once, in a laundry detergent that has UV-Brighteners in will make your camo glow. Most grocery store detergent has UV-Brighteners in it. Deer see these brighteners as Blue. Once your camo is washed with it you’re UV HOT. Deer will see you as a Glowing Blue figure.



About 25 years ago most US-based camo companies insisted that textile mills not put UV-Brighteners into the base cloth that camo was printed on. In today’s market, the textile industry has moved to China. Nearly all camo is made in China and they commonly add permanent UV-Brightening dyes to all base cloth. As a result, much of the camo reaches our stores with brighteners in it!

Left Paint with Optical Brighteners, Right No Optical brighteners



There is a lot of debate on deer hunting forums as to whether this is all just a marketing hype. The excuse most of the nay-sayers give is, Well the ole’ timers didn’t need it.  Mr. Brownstone over at Archery Talk Forums had this to say “I have taken many deer without these magic potions and fairy dust. If it makes you “feel” better go ahead and use it.”

After much research though, I have to agree with those that understand the science behind it all. I found out that the reason ole’ timers didn’t need it is that they mostly wore wool, which doesn’t hold UV brighteners and back then it was rarely used in commercially manufactured clothing.

Also,  the US Government insist on combat uniforms being “washed with a mild detergent that does not contain optical brighteners.”



Optical brighteners found in most laundry detergents cannot be used when laundering your ACU’s (Army Combat Uniform). Military personnel have been instructed that the uniform must be washed with a mild detergent that does not contain “optical brighteners.”

Detergents with optical brighteners would result in possible unwanted detection of personnel using the uniforms in combat. Some detergents have phosphorescent properties which enhance an enemy’s ability to see the soldier when viewed with Night Vision Devices, making the brightened uniform a visible target.

The photo below is what clothing looks like that has been washed in regular detergent that contains optical brighteners viewed under a black light. This means night vision can see you and so can the wildlife!




Optical brightener -A compound that absorbs the invisible ultraviolet component of sunlight and re-emits it as visible light at the blue end of the spectrum. It is also called fluorescent whitening agent, optical brightening agent, fluorescent brightener, etc. Usually, it’s called OBA/FWA. The laundry detergent industry uses fluorescence to their advantage by use of agents (optical brighteners) that absorb invisible ultraviolet and emit visible blue light. These optical brighteners cover the yellowish color in old whites by completing the spectrum. You see white light, i.e., white clothes.





Note: You don’t want to wash Goretex in liquid detergent, it will ruin it.