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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 purcleanâ„¢ 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











The Danger of Optical Brighteners

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

Pfli Inorganic Uv Invisible Pigments – Risk Reactor, Inc,