If you’re trying to lower your impact on the environment, you might have considered composting, bringing reusable bags to the grocery store or buying a reusable water bottle. However, if you haven’t taken a look at your laundry room yet, it’s about time to figure out how you can reduce waste there too.
We asked experts how to lower your impact while washing your laundry, and one thing they suggest is ensuring you’re using the right soap. One brand that’s pushing for more sustainable alternatives to not only laundry but all things cleaning is Dropps. Instead of offering big plastic jugs that are difficult to recycle and filled with detergent that’s mostly water, Dropps sells ultra-concentrated laundry pods packaged in a cardboard box.
We’ve used Dropps for years and have loved how easy and sustainable it makes washing the laundry and dishes, which is why we talked with its founder and CEO, Jonathan Propper, to chat through Dropps’ expanding product line and its behind-the-scenes sustainability efforts.
A sustainable laundry detergent alternative
Dropps pods are safe, effective, more sustainable and just plain better than traditional detergents if you want to reduce your plastic waste in the laundry room.
Dropps actually started as a cotton spinning business that Propper and his mother ran. In an effort to make a detergent that wasn’t as harsh on the hand-knit sweaters they spun yarn for, the Propper duo created a gentle yet effective detergent named Cot’n Wash.
As the years went by, Propper kept tweaking the detergent. He noticed that most liquid laundry detergents are mostly water anyway, so he made his product ultra concentrated so it can use the water that’s already in your machine. “In a typical jug of laundry detergent, the active ingredients are less than 50%,” Propper says. “So therefore you’re shipping mostly water to a destination that has water. So why bother?”
Propper eventually came up with the idea to put the concentrated concoction into a dissolvable pod (Dropps was actually the first laundry pod on the market), taking all the measuring and fuss out of the laundry experience and creating more or less what you see in Dropps today.
Dropps aims to be as sustainable as possible, so whether it’s the ingredients list, packaging or even the site where the detergent is manufactured, you’re sure to see efforts to be environmentally friendly.
The detergent inside of those little pods is made with plant-based ingredients that are all listed on CleanGredients, a third-party database of chemical ingredients that have been preapproved to meet the US EPA’s Safer Choice Standard. The formulas are never tested on animals, and Dropps even has goals to get Leaping Bunny and National Eczema Association certifications in the future.
The detergent pod has an ultra-concentrated formula without any extra water. That means you get the same cleaner power in a much smaller space, making Dropps easier to ship, store and use than traditional detergents. The pod itself is made with a polyvinyl alcohol (PVOH) film, which Propper says is readily biodegradable. That means it will degrade more than 60% within 28 days, and Propper says the brand has gotten this designation through third-party testing. However, there’s still some mixed research about the true biodegradability of PVA and PVOH overall. Propper says Dropps is searching for even better ways to package its pods and looking into developing a plant-based cellulose that could replace the current PVOH wrappers.
Dropps products are also shipped without plastic packaging and instead arrive at your door in a 100% recyclable box. We love the design of the box for the laundry detergent and dishwasher tabs, because they’re resealable with a built-in child lock so you can use them to safely store the pods as well.
The brand is also looking into other ways to reduce waste in your kitchen and laundry room, which is why it offers foaming hand soap and dish spray in glass bottles so you can cut the plastic out of your kitchen for good.
Behind the scenes, Dropps is working to reduce waste and energy in the manufacturing process as well. Propper says the brand reuses tons of materials, such as the giant totes that the detergent liquid is made in. He also says the majority of the production of Dropps is based in Chicago, which means there’s no need to be shipping different ingredients and materials all over the country just to put the product together.
While there are tons of sustainability efforts within the company, there’s a clear push to get even better. If you take a look at Dropps’ 2021 impact report (its first ever), you’ll see the brand has goals to achieve more landmarks, such as gaining the certification from the US Department of Agriculture’s BioPreferred Program, getting its formulations fully certified biodegradable where applicable and becoming a B Corporation, among others.
The sustainability of Dropps is nice, but for most people, the pods wouldn’t be worth it if they don’t actually clean. Thankfully, after testing the dishwasher tabs, laundry detergent, hand soap and dish spray, we can safely say they clean just as well as their traditional counterparts.
The unscented laundry detergent does a great job cleaning clothes, towels, bedding and whatever else we’ve thrown in the washer. We’ve used them for years now and have never run into any issues. We also have zero complaints about the dishwasher tabs, which easily clean a fully loaded dishwasher.
The foaming hand soap and dish spray both come with a glass bottle and a few refills so you don’t have to buy plastic bottle after plastic bottle. The hand soap was easy to set up, plus it cleans and smells great.
We’d never used dish spray before, but we were pleasantly surprised at how easy and effective it was. All you have to do is scrape big chunks of food off your dirty dishes, spray them, wait a little, then wipe and rinse and your dishes will be nice and clean. To be clear, the spray doesn’t make food and grease magically run off, but it does make cleaning them with a sponge or brush drastically easier and quicker.
No matter what Dropps product we’ve tried, we’ve loved the sustainability and effectiveness. If you’re interested in more of what the brand has to offer, check out our larger breakdown below.
From $19.50 at Dropps
The traditional laundry detergent from Dropps is great, but if you have sensitive skin or young children, you can opt for this formula, which is even gentler on the skin.
From $18.75 at Dropps
This chlorine-free, color-safe bleach alternative gives your wash an extra boost of stain-fighting power.
From $21 at Dropps
Specially formulated to deep clean activewear, you can keep your leggings, sports bras and all other workout clothes feeling and smelling fresh with these pods.
From $21 at Dropps
While the dish spray doesn’t clean your dishes all by itself like you might think, it does make washing dishes by hand a faster and easier process. Plus, if you soak your dishes in the spray beforehand, you can wash and rinse with less water.