Why the &$*# are there so many chemicals in everything?” That’s the question Lauren Singer asks as she turns consumerism upside down, gives it a shake, and reshapes the way we can live. Lauren is the founder of The Simply Co., a New York-based company that came into fruition when she left her job as Sustainability Manager at the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, launched a Kickstarter, and started to make the world a safer and healthier place- one load of laundry at a time.

The Simply Co., sells a natural laundry detergent at select locations nationwide, as well through thesimplyco.com. I recently stumbled upon this revolutionary company after reading about Singer’s zero waste lifestyle on the news. As a leading member of the zero waste movement, her waste-nothing DIY mantra, and website trashisfortossers.com, had me fixated. When I found out that she was also also ultra chemical-aware and concerned with what we are putting into, and onto, our bodies, I had to dig deeper.

simply co depanneur brooklyn
Bulk Simply Co. at Dépanneur in Brooklyn, NY.

The average household in America washes eighty pounds of laundry a week, and in the process we use 17.5 billion cups of toxic chemicals a year- wearing, breathing, and putting that poisonous sludge down the drain and into the environment. Because most laundry detergent manufacturers don’t put their ingredients on their packaging, they slip in a slew of carcinogens and other caustic chemicals. There are hundreds of chemicals used by detergent companies including carcinogenic fragrances, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)/sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), 1,4 dioxane, NPE (nonylphenal ethoxylate), and phosphates. What are those things? Why are we putting dangerous chemicals into our bodies? What does wearing toxins 24/7 our whole lives do to us? How and when did we start trusting chemicals we can’t even pronounce, let alone know what they are, to be safe enough to put on our bodies, and the bodies of our children?

The answers to these questions not only make one say, “WTF!”, but they also made Singer know it wasn’t at all OK. Not for her, not for any of us. In an “in-your-face”, “I don’t know why big business is bending us over attitude“, The Simply Co. detergent has only four ingredients:

  • Baking soda
  • Washing soda
  • Organic vegan Castile soap
  • Organic essential oils

This week I decided to do some research and was dismayed at the ingredient lists in all of the store brand “natural” detergents. Most remove one or two nasties, slap on a smaller brand name (almost always owned by a larger chemical-using brand), and call their product a natural and safe alternative. The Simply Co. detergent is straight up the real deal. Four ingredients, no bullshit.


Sounds great right? But you are probably wondering how well it works. I know I was super curious to see if we could go from twenty or more ingredients to just four and still end up with clean clothes. Let’s talk results. The Simply Co. was kind enough to send me a 32 oz. jar of unscented detergent to put through boot camp. A little bit of this stuff goes a long ways, with the directions calling for two tablespoons for a “big load”, and one tablespoon for a small load. We did three big loads, two with hot water, one with warm- each with two tablespoons. The outcome was impressive! The load with our rugs made them look new again- no easy fete, and all of our clothes and linens were clean and fresh. Also, I found it refreshing to not have a scent on my laundry, although the lavender scent, derived from organic lavender essential oil, is an option if scentless isn’t your thing.

I am sold. Lauren Singer nailed the formula, and The Simply Co. has produced the real deal. The 32oz. size is $20 and does up to sixty loads, with a 4oz. travel size available for $12 that does up to eight loads. You could also easily make your own travel size, so it seemed to me that the 32oz. is the way to go, but options are always nice.

The detergent has versatility as it can be used in standard or HE washing machines. The machines in our apartment building didn’t have a powder tray, or other feature to dispense powder, so we just put the powder into the water, let it dissolve, and tossed in our laundry. And those four ingredients? They pass the “irie test”. The base is 100% USDA organic vegetable-based soap, and they even go so far as to have organic sourced baking soda- sustainably mined and pure. If you get hooked on this stuff and don’t have a retailer selling it near you, you can even create an account on The Simply Co. website and subscribe for regularly scheduled deliveries so you don’t need to remember to reorder, a convenient offering.

The detergent came in a solid all purpose reusable utility ball-type jar. The packaging was recyclable cardboard and paper wrap, with paper tape, no plastics. All said and done, The Simply Co. lives up to their slogan, “Live your life; we’ve got your laundry covered!” Singer has put every ingredient “under the microscope” and the more I found out about the product, the more I have become excited to see what else The Simply Co. is going to brew up for us in the future. Good stuff indeed, available at thesimplyco.