Media Release: The Laundry Detergents Worth Their Salt

16 February 2012
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Householders looking to make their choice of laundry detergent more environmentally friendly without compromising wash performance can do so with confidence with the release of an online video detailing the latest research findings

The Laundry Detergent study was conducted by CHOICE, City West Water, and the Water Services Association of Australia.

On you will find the full study, as well as a video, a simplified guide based on the study that looked at almost 50 laundry detergents and identifies which products performed best in terms of wash performance and released the lowest levels of salts into the sewer system, as well as intermittent use on gardens.

City West Water Managing Director Anne Barker said that with recycled water now a permanent source of water for Melbourne, the need to minimise salts in the sewer system was important to minimise the need for costly water treatment.

"The use of recycled water has delivered real benefits in recent years, saving precious drinking water supplies, providing a secure source of water for irrigation and industrial uses, as well as saving billions of litres of effluent being discharged into Port Phillip Bay," Ms Barker said.

"Laundry detergents make up approximately one third of all salts from households which end up in the sewer system. With the growing use of recycled water for irrigation across Melbourne, these salts need to be removed before treated water can be used."

Ms Barker said that to remove the salts, waste water needs to desalinated - a very energy-hungry and expensive process.

"To ensure recycled water meets required public health standards and is fit for the purpose it is used, treating water for reuse is a complex and often costly exercise, and salt removal is a large part of the treatment process, and laundry detergents are key contributor to salt levels in sewage"

"Laundry detergents are just one of one of the sources of salt in sewage, and by changing the detergents people use in their laundries, we can make that treatment process less intensive.

"By partnering with CHOICE to conduct this research, we’ve identified the best products that have lower salt levels as well as giving good wash performance."

Ms Barker said the research had sought to find the best liquid and powder detergents for both top and front load washing machines, detailed in the table.

"While the main aim of the research was to identify the detergent with the lowest salt levels, importantly, we factored in wash performance to ensure householders could have confidence that the detergent would do a good job of washing lightly soiled clothes.

The research also revealed that liquid concentrates often contain less salt than powders, which makes them less harmful to waterways, and better for water recycling.

Detailed information relating to the research can be found also be found at