SmartKlean: A New Natural, Safe Laundry Detergent Alternative (Review & Giveaway)

When Tristan’s skin was at its worst, laundry detergent, even the green/eco-friendly detergents, further irritated his skin – probably due to their ingredients (SLS/SLES to name a few) and the chemical residue buildup. I tried making my own laundry soap, but I just couldn’t find the right recipe. After a few fails at making my own, we moved to soap nuts and used them for at least one year before hearing about SmartKlean on a green living blog. While soap nuts were great, and about as natural as you can get, I didn’t find their odor all that pleasant. My laundry never came out smelling clean, so I had to add a few drops of tea tree oil to the wash, which helped. With soap nuts, since you’re dealing with a “soap” straight out of the tree, there are some extra steps you have to take before using the nuts and then you can only use them for about 5 wash cycles before replacing them, which I had a hard time keeping track of personally.

So, while I love soap nuts because they really helped us in our hour of need, I was always looking for an easier, but also safe/natural alternative.

I contacted SmartKlean with some initial questions and asked if I could review their product for the blog only…..but then I then fell so deeply in love with it, that I have decided to offer it as our first laundry product at The Eczema Company (see it here.)

smartklean laundry ball

This is why I love SmartKlean:

1) It’s EASY to use.

I keep the SmartKlean ball in my washing machine and never remove it. I add clothes to the wash, then remove the clothes when they’re clean, always keeping the ball in the wash. Sure, the company says to take the ball out every now and then to let it sit in the sun for an hour to regenerate the mineral pellets, but I haven’t done this and it still works great!

2) It’s GENTLE and great for those with eczema, other skin disorders, and sensitive skin.

  • 100% hypoallergenic
  • No detergent or soap residue (Did you know: 2% of a garment’s weight comes from laundry detergent residue. Ick!)
  • Removes harsh chlorine from your washing water.
  • Doesn’t contain SLS (sodium lauryl sulphate) or SLES (sodium laureth sulfate/sodium lauryl ether sulphate), both chemicals and studies have proved how harsh they are on our skin.
  • No added fragrance or brightening agents, also harsh on skin.

3) It makes my laundry smell FRESH.

SmartKlean makes my laundry smell clean, but not that artificial fragrance kind of clean, but more like pure, fresh spring water. It’s lovely.

4) It’s ECOLOGICAL.

  • 1 SmartKlean Ball is equivalent to 20-40 containers of laundry products. You’re not buying/using case after case of bottled or boxed detergents – which may be tossed in the garbage or recycled (Did you know: Only about 30% of plastic bottles are eligible for recycling). Adding to our garbage is bad, but even recycling takes energy. I’m much happier just consuming less.
  • Both the ceramics and magnets contained inside of the laundry ball are natural and 100% biodegradable. The exterior shell case is made up of recyclable thermoplastic elastomer, which is a number 7 plastic, so you can recycle it at most community recycling centers.  Inside the ball, you have mineral based, non-toxic ceramic beads and magnets. SmartKlean’s active ingredients are 100% free of harsh chemicals including surfactants, toxins, ABS, LAS, SLS, SLES, formaldehyde, ammonia, chlorine, glycol solvents, phthalates, artificial colorants, petroleum distillates, pesticides, fragrances, phosphates, parabens and allergens.
  • Cold or warm water wash only – the ball works most effectively in these temperatures, so you’ll save money and energy by skipping the hot water wash.

5) It SAVES money.

  • If you can believe this, one ball lasts through 365 washes! Given the retail price of $44.99, this may be the lowest cost option (around $.13 per load), next to just washing your clothes with water and baking soda.
  • Your clothing will last longer since using detergents leaves residue buildup, which is hard on clothes.
  • Skip the fabric softener – you won’t need. My clothing came out nice and soft.
  • No need to wash in hot water – listing this one again since it’s both an ecological and economical advantage.

Negatives: The only negatives I found are pretty common complaints with any natural, non-toxic laundry product. And they are…

1) WHITES lost luster.

Over time the whites will become less so and will need a bit of a freshen-up. This is very common for natural laundry products and wasn’t a surprise for me. I did find my whites stayed whiter longer with SmartKlean than with soap nuts, so that was a bonus. To freshen up my whites,  I like to use sodium percarbonate, also known as powdered hydrogen perioxide, but SmartKlean has a few natural ideas of their own on their blog.

2) STAINS need assistance.

There are no miracle, chemical based stain removers inside the ball, so I find I do need to use a stain remover of my own. I like the one they sent me to try, SmartKlean Stain Remover, as it contains great non-toxic ingredients with lovely essential oils, and it works! (I don’t sell the stain remover yet, but hope to soon!)

smartklean laundry stain remover

3) HARD WATER alert.

We don’t have hard water, but I have read that the ball may be less effective in hard water and a booster like baking soda may be necessary to use along with the ball.

So, just how does the SmartKlean ball work? I found this overview from their website:

“The laundry ball is filled with four types of mineral-derived ceramic beads and two magnets, each performing different cleaning functions. When these components come in contact with water, they form ‘oxygenated’ water with an increased pH level and an ability to eliminate germs and bacteria. The result is fresh, safe and clean laundry! “

If you’re interested in the science behind the SmartKlean ball, take a look a look here.

*****GIVEAWAY******

SmartKlean is giving away one (1) SmartKlean ball and one (1) SmartKlean stain stick. One winner will be selected. Contest is open to US and Canadian residents (except Quebec).

**Enter the giveaway HERE.**

Good luck everyone!

5/31/13 Update: Congratulations to our winner Shannon Hurley!

61 Comments

  1. Amanda on May 14, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    I like Molly’s Suds too but am always open to trying new products that won’t irritate my skin! 🙂 I’m entering the giveaway also!

  2. Courtney on May 14, 2013 at 10:19 am

    Wow, I’ve never heard of this before. Very cool!!

    I have had MAJOR issues with laundry soaps in the past, too. It got to the point where my go-to “Arm and Hammer Free and Clear” started making me feel itchy. I now use a laundry detergent called Molly’s Suds and it has been wonderful!! My mom actually started using it, fell in love with it, met the owner, and now sells Molly’s Suds down in Florida!

    While I love my current laundry routine, I’m still really interested in trying this ball out. It sounds so easy and cost effective. I entered the giveaway! 🙂

    • Jennifer on May 14, 2013 at 10:30 am

      Hi Courtney – We saw the same with my son – most detergents, even the natural ones made him itchy. And the laundry soap products had ingredients I wasn’t he could tolerate although they were natural. We’ve been very happy with the SmartKlean ball. Good luck in the contest! Jennifer

  3. sara lippold on May 14, 2013 at 10:34 am

    I had no idea this existed!! I have got to check this out!

    • Jennifer on May 14, 2013 at 1:58 pm

      Yes! It’s a very cool product.

  4. Sarah Y. on May 14, 2013 at 11:55 am

    We use Soap Nuts, and like you, I have a problem keeping track of the whole “5 loads thing”. I also haaate digging thru the wet clothes to find the little pouches! 🙂 SmartKlean sounds like a great alternative!

    • Jennifer on May 14, 2013 at 1:59 pm

      Oh yes, trying to find the pouch – like a needle in a haystack. Someone recommended I tie on a long piece of ribbon to the cord on the bag. That would help. Good luck with the contest!

  5. Karen C. Hill on May 14, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    I’ve never heard of this before – it sounds great! I currently use Nellie’s all natural but would love to be able to try out this alternative! What a great concept!

    • Jennifer on May 14, 2013 at 3:41 pm

      I know, isn’t it a cool idea? I love how easy and green it is!

  6. Lisa on May 14, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    I used the SmartKlean for about a year — but then I was wondering, at what point does it not work anymore?

    • Jennifer on May 14, 2013 at 3:42 pm

      Hi Lisa – I was wondering the same, but according to their FAQs you can see it’s time for a new one when the little beads get stuck in the little holes in the ball. It means the minerals size has reduced and may not work as well. Jennifer

  7. Chandra Christine O'Connor on May 14, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    I usually just use sunlight laundry soap, but I really want to win this for my brother who has developed extreme allergies to anything that has certain chemicals or perfumes in them.

    • Jennifer on May 14, 2013 at 3:42 pm

      I’m sure he’d love this one – it removes all impurities and chemicals from clothing. Good luck!

  8. tessadomesticdiva on May 14, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    I have been wanting trying several top rated EWG.org laundry products to find the one I think works best. This would be great to try! Some out there really stink!

    • Jennifer on May 14, 2013 at 3:43 pm

      Good luck Tessa! I hope you get to try it out too! Jennifer

  9. diane king on May 14, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    love to try it out–never heard of this

    • Jennifer on May 14, 2013 at 8:12 pm

      Thank you for your comment! Happy to introduce you to a great new laundry product.

  10. michelle tremblett on May 14, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    So awesome! I have heard about this and wanted to try it for awhile now. My son has very sensitive skin and it has been a battle trying to find something that wont bother him :/

    • Jennifer on May 14, 2013 at 8:13 pm

      This ball would be great for his sensitive skin. Good luck!

  11. Charmaine T on May 14, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    I’d love to win the SmartKlean because my youngest child has extremely sensitive skin. We currently use Seventh Generation and its okay but the SmartKlean ball looks to be more natural and waay better economically and convenience wise! We live in an apartment and share a laundry room so lugging the bottle downstairs is a pain in the butt!

    • Jennifer on May 14, 2013 at 8:13 pm

      Seventh Generation is ok, but still harsh on the skin. I think you’d love the SmartKlean ball. Thanks for your comment!

  12. Danielle on May 14, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    Currently making my own soap after my premie son developed horrible dry skin and severe cradle cap. (Using green detergents prior to this based on the EWG). 5 months later we think the rash may be due to 5 of the common 8 food allergies (no food allergies in our family otherwise). This would be great to try out!!

    • Jennifer on May 14, 2013 at 8:14 pm

      Wow, good for you for making your own – as you read in my post I tried that, but it was so hard and I just couldn’t find the right recipe. We’re dealing with food allergies in our home too. Good luck to you with the giveaway!

  13. epipenprincess on May 14, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    Neat!

  14. FreshGreenKim on May 15, 2013 at 8:37 am

    I’ve been using a very similar product since January and overjoyed with it. These wash balls are fantastic. They work by ionizing the water and removing the dirt that way. Highly recommend this sort of laundry product.

    • Jennifer on May 15, 2013 at 8:46 am

      Yes, I love this one too! Kim, curious, which type do you use? I haven’t seen any other brands. Thanks! Jennifer

  15. kathy on May 15, 2013 at 10:23 am

    I’d love to win the SmartKlean because my daughter has extremely sensitive skin.

    • Jennifer on May 15, 2013 at 12:02 pm

      That’s a great reason to switch to a more gentle, natural laundry product. Good luck in the contest!

  16. Susan on May 15, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    make my own detergent but really want one of these

    • Jennifer on May 15, 2013 at 1:32 pm

      Yes, this is much simpler. Hope you get to try it!

  17. kelly mcgrew on May 15, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    i do about 3 loads of laundry once a week — need to buy detergent that is gentle but effective. would love to try this laundry ball. thanks!

    • Jennifer on May 15, 2013 at 1:33 pm

      You’ll love this ball – so easy!

  18. Lisa S. on May 15, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    We do a lot of laundry at my house and I would love for the clothes to last longer. This sounds like a great alternative to the harsh treatment that normal cleaners give.

    • Jennifer on May 16, 2013 at 12:50 pm

      Yes, this is much more gentle and the residue of the detergent doesn’t remain – which is great!

  19. Brittany on May 16, 2013 at 11:54 am

    I made my own laundry detergent from one of the Pinterest recipes. It works okay, but I don’t think it’s any less harsh than normal detergent.

    • Brittany on May 16, 2013 at 11:55 am

      I forgot to say — I want to try smartklean because I LOVE resuable products and I think the idea is really unique. Plus, like I said, my homemade stuff isn’t any less harsh and I really don’t like soapnuts.

      • Jennifer on May 16, 2013 at 1:04 pm

        Soapnuts are really different and some people love them, others hate them. You have to find what works best for you. SmartKlean is a really cool concept that we’re happy with. I hope you get to try it out!

  20. Samantha on May 17, 2013 at 11:00 am

    Oh this will save tons of money!!

  21. Dawn Daabul on May 17, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    I would love the chance to try this! We have gone through so many laundry detergent but each one seems to cause a flare up eventually for my son (17 months) this sounds like a great option!

    • Jennifer on May 18, 2013 at 11:29 pm

      Hi Dawn – yes, I’m sure this could really help your son! Detergent is so harsh on their delicate skin.

  22. Noreen on May 18, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    I currently use all clear but but need a new routine

    • Jennifer on May 18, 2013 at 11:28 pm

      Noreen, thanks for your comment. Good luck with the contest!

  23. Michelle Stice on May 22, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    My daughter and I are sensitive to many detergents and I like to try different products to see what works the best. SmartKlean is something I would love to try out.

    • Jennifer on May 22, 2013 at 7:31 pm

      Hi Michelle – I hope you find SmartKlean at the top of your list – it’s really great.

  24. Samantha K on May 22, 2013 at 10:57 pm

    I do two loads of laundry once a week and buy whatever detergent is on sale. I’d like to try this product cause it looks gentle but powerful.

    • Jennifer on May 23, 2013 at 1:15 pm

      Very powerful and gentle and probably much safer than what you’re using now – for about the same price per load I’d imagine. Good luck in the contest.

  25. Jessica on May 24, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    I want to try SmartKlean because I have been looking for an all natural laundry detergent. It looks fabulous!

    • Jennifer on May 27, 2013 at 9:19 am

      It is fabulous! I’m sure you’ll love it like we do.

  26. Marla on May 25, 2013 at 1:57 am

    I currently make my own laundry soap (washing soda, borax, and a vegetable based soap) and I also use Ecos Laundry detergent to wash my cloth diapers. I would love to try the SmartKlean ball because my son has very very sensitive skin! So do I! I would love to see if this cuts down on his eczema!

    • Jennifer on May 27, 2013 at 9:20 am

      HI Marla –

      I’m sure you’d find this is really gentle on your son’s eczema and it’s so easy!

  27. Betty Dennis on May 27, 2013 at 11:18 am

    My daughter is sensitive to the perfume additives in many laundry detergents. I’ve been using the free and clear versions for her. We have hard water so thanks for the warning about needing to use washing soda in addition

    • Jennifer on May 27, 2013 at 11:43 am

      I think SmartKlean would work really well as a substitute – it is naturally free an clear.

  28. Miranda Carter on May 27, 2013 at 11:19 am

    I recently started using mollys suds after a mishap making my own det. and leaving whelps on my daughter! 🙁 And using charlies soap for over a yr then realizing its not as eco friendly as i thought! Thanks for indroducing me to this I am open to trying new stuff and i would like to try it 🙂

    • Jennifer on May 27, 2013 at 11:43 am

      Oh no! What are you using now? I sure hope you get to try the SmartKlean ball as I’m sure it would be great for your daughter’s skin.

  29. Helen on December 18, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    I’ve got a laundry ball already and it seems to work well. We’re expecting our first baby in a few weeks and are going to give cloth diapers a try. When you use your laundry ball on your diapers, do you use cold water? Everything I’ve read so far says you need to wash diapers in hot water…

    • Jennifer on December 20, 2013 at 9:16 am

      I’m sorry, but I didn’t try it with cloth. You can use hot water with the ball, but it won’t last as long.

  30. Ava on April 18, 2014 at 11:53 am

    I know the give away is over but I was just wondering how you like the ball now and why you haven’t used it on your cloth diapers. I am interested in purchasing but wanted to use them on my cloth diapers.

    • Jennifer on April 19, 2014 at 11:22 am

      Hi- my kids are out of diapers, but the ball is safe for cloth diapers and would be a great choice.

  31. Kiran (@kiranshys) on July 24, 2014 at 8:13 am

    It must be good no doubt. Even i would also like to go for it as i am using some other organic laundry detergent from last 2 years. The products i am currently using is also good at results.

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