Bio & Non-Bio Washing Powder - The Differences & Which to Choose

Bio & Non-Bio Washing Powder - The Differences & Which to Choose

Are you bamboozled by bio? Or nonplussed by non-bio? Throw into the mix whether *this* bio washing powder is vegan, or *that* non-bio washing powder is plant-based, and you’ve got a recipe for confusion! If you’ve ever stood in the supermarket laundry aisle simply feeling overwhelmed by shelf-upon-shelf of detergents, fabric softeners, and stain removers, then read on. 

Today, we’ve got the lowdown on bio and non-bio washing powder and how you can pick the right laundry detergent for you and your family. 

What is Bio Washing Powder?

What is Bio Washing Powder?

Bio washing powder, AKA biological washing powder, contains organic, biodegradable enzymes. In Science terms, enzymes are usually a type of protein that acts as a catalyst for a chemical reaction. In washing terms, the enzymes in bio washing powder speed up the process of breaking down grease and dirt on your clothing. 

OK, so… what does Non-Bio Mean?

Simply put, a non-bio washing powder is free of biological enzymes. Wait, but is that a good thing? Surely, we like naturally occurring, organic ingredients in everything? 

The answer is “yes, most of the time”. Of course, we want our washing powder to be as natural as possible. The enzymes in a bio washing powder are great at breaking down proteins, which is one of the key factors of an effective washing powder. Many of the stains that end up on our clothes are protein-based – food, grease, and sweat, to name a few! Unfortunately, the enzymes can’t really tell the difference between dirt and any other kind of protein. This can be a problem for natural clothing fibres, such as wool. 

Non-bio washing powders avoid enzymes altogether, making them a great choice for delicate fabrics and also for people with sensitive skin. 

Does Bio Washing Powder have better Cleaning Power?

The first question we all ask about washing powder is “how well will it clean my clothes?”. There’s not much point in buying a washing powder – bio or non-bio – if it doesn’t actually get things clean! 

Traditionally, bio washing powders are thought to be better at cleaning stubborn stains than their non-bio counterparts. The enzymes in bio washing powders literally digest the dirt on your clothes, breaking it down into smaller pieces. Having said that, technological advances mean that non-bio washing powders are catching up in terms of cleaning power. 

For a great bio washing detergent, try:

1. Method - Concentrated Laundry Detergent


Method - Concentrated Laundry Detergent, 1.56L


Method’s Concentrated Laundry Detergent is a brilliant bio washing detergent that does all the heavy lifting and removes deep stains from your clothes. It uses Smartclean® technology to lift stains effortlessly and comes in three amazing scents, guaranteed to keep your clothes smelling fresh. 

If you need the gentleness of a non-bio detergent, then try:

2. Faith in Nature - Super Concentrated Laundry Liquid

Faith In Nature - Super Concentrated Laundry Liquid - Aloe Vera & Rosemary, 5L

Delivered in a huge 5l bottle, which lasts approximately 150 washes, Faith in Nature’s Super Concentrated Laundry Liquid is effective on stains and leaves clothes gently scented with aloe vera and rosemary essential oils. It’s even Vegan Society approved, meaning its completely cruelty-free. 

3. Sodasan - Ecological Stain Removal Gel

Sodasan - Ecological Stain Removal Gel, 200ml

If you find that a non-bio washing powder really doesn’t clean as well as a bio washing powder, then it may be worth trying a stain remover. A stain remover such as Sodasan’s Ecological Stain Removal Gel can really help your non-bio with the most stubborn stains. Natural and organic, Sodasan’s Stain Removal Gel is brilliant at removing tough stains like grass, mud and oil!

Is Bio or Non-Bio Washing Powder More Cost-Effective? 

With no material price differential between the bio and non-bio versions of same-brand laundry detergents, you’d be forgiven for thinking that they deliver the same value for money. However, once you take into consideration the washing temperature and how long it takes the wash to complete, it’s a bit of a different story. 

One of the main advantages of bio washing powder is that the enzymes contained within them are effective in warm water. That means you can wash your clothes at 30℃–50℃ and still get spotless clothes! Non-bio washing powder relies on hot water to deliver results, and then there’s every possibility you’ll need to re-wash heavily soiled clothes to get them clean. 

So, in the long-term, you may find that you’re using less energy and saving some money when you use a bio washing powder. 

Which Washing Powder is better for Me?

While the enzymes in bio washing powders do a great job at removing dirt from your clothing, they have also been known to cause mild skin irritation in people with sensitive skin. However, despite numerous studies, a conclusive link between bio washing powder causing or exacerbating skin sensitivities has not yet been found.

Even so, many people with sensitive skin and parents of young babies tend to favour non-bio washing powders as they’re thought to be more gentle and less likely to cause skin irritation

1. Bio-D - Concentrated Washing Powder

Bio-D - Concentrated Washing Powder

Bio-D’s Concentrated Washing Powder is made in the UK from naturally-sourced raw materials and is gentle enough to take care of all your laundry needs, particularly if you have sensitive skin. In fact, it’s so good that it’s been accredited by Allergy UK, as being unlikely to cause a skin reaction. 

Which Washing Powder is Better for My Clothes?

So we’ve established that bio washing powders contain powerful enzymes that make them better at cleaning stubborn stains and removing odours. But will they cause damage to your clothes? Well, nobody wants to put their favourite top in the wash, only to pull it out like a faded, worn-out shadow of its former self!

The slight hiccup with the enzymes in bio washing powders is that they can’t tell the difference between proteins that they’re supposed to attack, AKA dirt, and proteins that they’re not supposed to attack, like wool or silk. For delicate fabrics like these, you may prefer to use a non-bio washing powder or laundry liquid.

We particularly love:

1. Ecover’s Delicate Laundry Liquid

Ecover - Delicate Laundry Liquid, 750ml

Ecover’s Delicate Laundry Liquid uses a plant-derived formula, which is tough on stains, yet gentle on delicates. It also has a subtle, but irresistible scent of waterlily and honeydew that leaves clothes smelling wonderfully fresh. Ecover has been making ecological cleaning solutions since 1979 and is pioneering the way for eco-friendly ways to clean our homes. 

Finally, Which Washing Powder is Better for the Environment?

There’s not a clear-cut answer to this one, as it really depends on the ingredients used. The enzymes in bio washing powders mean that bio detergents and laundry liquids take longer to degrade than their non-bio counterparts. That said, non-bio washing powders can equally contain ingredients that won’t degrade easily.

For the best chance of choosing a laundry detergent that is better for the environment, look for detergents with eco-friendly ingredients, that are 100% biodegradable and free of phosphates

Phosphates are added to detergents to make them more efficient. However, when the water is drained from your washing machine, the phosphates remain in the wastewater and eventually, they’ll find their way back to a natural body of water. While phosphates in themselves are not a problem, the high volume of phosphates being added back to the natural environment can cause a change in habitats. In particular, the phosphates feed algae, which leads to eutrophication and algal bloom. 

Luckily for us in the UK, phosphates have been banned from detergents since the EU Detergents Regulation of 2012, which came into effect in 2017.

But There Are So Many Brands – Which One is For Me?

At PlantX, we’ve got you covered with a huge range of bio washing powders, as well as fantastic non-bio washing powders. Here are a few of our favourites…

1. Ecoleaf

Ecoleaf - Laundry Liquid

For a gentle non-bio laundry liquid that’s great for sensitive skin, try Ecoleaf’s Laundry Liquid. It’s a plant-based liquid detergent that’s gentle on both your clothes and the environment, and certified animal cruelty-free and vegan. It also comes in two sizes including a handy 5l bottle, which can help reduce your plastic usage. 

2. Ecover

Ecover - Washing Powder - Zero Non-Bio, 1.875kg

If you prefer your detergent to come in powder form, then why not give Ecover’s Washing Powder – Zero Non-Bio. Made from plant-based ingredients, this non-bio washing powder is formulated for sensitive skin and is also approved by Allergy UK. It’s scent-free and 100% biodegradable to prevent pollution to the UK’s waterways. 

And if you’re clothes tend to be more heavily soiled, you may like to try Ecover’s Bio Laundry Liquid, which is made from plant-based ingredients and is tough on stains. It’s also suitable for use at 30℃–60℃.

3. Method

Method - Fabric Softener Ocean Violet, 1.56L

To make your clothes extra soft and cosy, add Method’s Fabric Softener Ocean Violet. To cap it all off, the Ocean Violet fragrance is packed with the heavenly aromas of jasmine, violet and cyclamen. Your clothes will smell divine! 

4. Bio-D

Bio-D - Concentrated Washing-Up Liquid Refills

Bio-D’s laundry detergents are tough on stains and gentle on the environment, like Bio-D’s Laundry Liquid. Not only does it clean superbly, but its bottle is also made from 100% recycled materials. Big impact on cleaning, minimal impact on the environment. Since 1989, Bio-D has been making ethical cleaning products for use in all aspects of housekeeping, including its hypoallergenic Concentrated Washing-Up Liquid


Like most things in life, there’s no right or wrong choice when it comes to choosing between a bio washing powder and a non-bio washing powder. Life would be pretty boring, otherwise, right?

But, as we’ve highlighted here, some of the things to consider include what you’re washing, any skin sensitivities or allergies in your household, and long-term cost considerations. At PlantX, our range of premium quality, vegan laundry products cover all the bases, how-so-ever you decide between bio and non-bio washing powders.