Brooklinen makes laundry detergent now — our cleaning expert tried it out
Brooklinen, beloved maker of sheets, towels and other premium household linens, introduced its first-ever suite of laundry and fabric care products in March.
The Laundry Care line of concentrated products includes liquid laundry detergent, oxygen bleach alternative, fabric softener, fabric refresher spray, stain remover and wool dryer balls, all formulated without dyes or artificial brighteners. Brooklinen says its suite of hypoallergenic, cruelty-free, eco-friendly laundry products is plant-based, biodegradable and available in recyclable or compostable packaging.
Brooklinen sent me a set that included a bottle of the Essential Detergent in the Herbal Clean scent, Fabric Softener in the Dream Clean scent, fragrance-free Stain Remover, and Fabric Refresher spray also in the Dream Clean scent. I tried them all to see whether they’re worth adding to your laundry room.
At the risk of appearing shallow, the thing that this laundry detergent has going for it is that this is very attractive laundry detergent.
Brooklinen is bringing its line of premium laundry products to market at a time when there’s a massive hole for what we in the business colloquially refer to as “fancy laundry detergent.” In December 2022, The Laundress, the ne plus ultra of fancy laundry detergent brands, faced a recall of its product line, resulting in an effective shuttering of the brand. (A notice on their website reads, “We deeply apologize for this situation and thank you for your patience. We look forward to reintroducing The Laundress with products that reaffirm our commitment to the highest standards of consumer safety and quality.”)
While the style and presentation of Brooklinen’s laundry line is less Upper East Side doyenne and more “I have a second home in Ojai,” the concept is the same as what The Laundress brought to the washday experience — fanciness and, even more to the point, exclusivity.
Individually or as a set, these products would be nice to give as a gift to a clotheshorse who is persnickety about how their fashions are laundered, or to someone moving into their first apartment or home. The display-worthy minimalist design of the bottles is gender-neutral and not nearly so fussy as The Laundress.
For people who regularly hand-launder clothing and accessories, the Essential Detergent’s pump-style dispenser is a nice feature; squirting a pump or two instead of having to measure out liquid laundry detergent is convenient and mess-free.
The fabric spray was fine; in informal testing, it wasn’t as effective at neutralizing odors in clothes as other fabric sprays, but for people who like its Dream Clean scent, it could be nice to use to lightly freshen up bed linens between washings.
The Essential Detergent comes in three formulas, Herbal Clean, Dream Clean and fragrance-free. It is good that a fragrance-free option is available because the scents the brand developed in partnership with world-class perfumers are not for everyone. (They were decidedly not for this reviewer.)
The Herbal Clean scent, which has notes of white lavender, sandalwood and shea blossom, is described as, “Refreshing and woody, this soothing scent will transport you to nature in the springtime.” The description of the Dream Clean scent, with notes of citrus, vanilla and amber, is, “Bright yet inviting, this grounding scent exudes warmth and comfort.” As a person who is quite sensitive to smells, I found the Herbal Clean scent, which is akin to a strong men’s cologne, totally overwhelming — I could feel a sneeze forming even before I’d removed the outer packaging and opened the bottle. Dream Clean is less aggressive but, with its strong vanilla base, it is a gourmand fragrance that to many people will feel out of place in the laundry room.
Speaking of the laundry room! The detergent and fabric softener, which are in bottles with pump dispensers, are not convenient for those who use shared laundry facilities because the pump doesn’t easily close for transportation.
And finally, there is the price point: These are expensive laundry products.
By avoiding petroleum, artificial dyes, parabens, phthalates and phosphates, Brooklinen is pushing eco-friendly and hypoallergenic angles to differentiate their line of laundry products from competitors.
However, another important point of differentiation is price. The Essential Detergent contains 32 1-ounce doses in each bottle, which retails for $22; that comes out to $0.68 per load, if correct dosing guidelines are followed. For comparison, here is how four detergent brands that represent different segments of the market — Tide, Seventh Generation, Dropps and Le Blanc Original Linen Wash — stack up, pricewise.
• Tide: $0.20/load
• Seventh Generation: $0.28/load
• Dropps: $0.28/load
• Le Blanc Original Linen Wash: $0.56/load
Given the price point of this collection, and the squeeze that inflation has put on consumers’ wallets, it is hard to recommend it as an everyday option.
There is certainly a place in the market, and in many people’s homes, for a fancy laundry detergent, and so while Brooklinen’s Laundry Care set is not something you need to have, it may be something you’d like to have. This is especially true if you find the brand’s bespoke scents appealing, or if you are a person who frequently hand-launders clothing and accessories.
The set also works beautifully as a gift for someone who is especially into clothes, and who would like to elevate their wash day experience. It would also be a lovely gift to give to someone moving into their first apartment or house to bring a dash of style to their laundry room.
Essential Detergent in the Herbal Clean scent