This 5-Star Laundry Detergent Is Controversial on Amazon (So I Asked an Expert)

updated Feb 7, 2021
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Not all laundry is created equal. Just think about your sweaty workout leggings vs. that old cotton sleep shirt you put on after the shower. It’s clear that you might need a product or technique to works a littler harder on the former.

To tackle their nastiest laundry, some people swear by a product called Rockin’ Green, a powdered laundry detergent free of all sorts of additives you might find in other laundry care products. You can use it inside your washing machine like any other detergent, but according to some customers, the real magic happens when you use it as a soak.

Remember that towel stripping trend from TikTok? Apparently, Rockin’ Green achieves a similarly satisfying result. Take it from one customer, who was equally disgusted and delighted by the grime-removal process. “I ordered this just to see if it would work and holy cow — turns out I’m disgusting,” writes the five-star reviewer on Amazon. “Basically, I filled up the tub with about 6 inches of warm water, added two scoops of this detergent, and my stinky clothes. I mixed them up and let them sit for an hour. When I came back, the water in the tub was NASTY.”

The product has an overall 4 ½ star rating on Amazon, but not all customers rave about Rockin’ Green — and some are convinced the product is too harsh on their clothes. A few scathing reviews come to the conclusion that the product actually leaches the dye, not the dirt, from their gross clothes.

To get to the bottom of what Rockin’ Green actually does — and whether it’s a safe and effective option for deep cleaning my own leggings — I asked laundry expert Patric Richardson, owner of the Minneapolis boutique Mona Williams, for insight. Here’s what he had to say. 

Does Rockin’ Green Work?

The short answer: Yes. According to Richardson, all it’s doing is oxidizing your clothes, a lot like Oxi-Clean and other bleach alternatives would. Rockin’ Green has three ingredients: washing soda, natural surfactant (basically soap or detergent to wash away grim) and oxygenated bleach (the main ingredient in Oxi-Clean and other bleach alternatives). The washing soda probably doesn’t add much, but Richardson says the other two ingredients work together to make it effective. “It’s basically soap plus oxygen bleach,” he says. 

What’s with the brownish water? Rockin’ Green probably isn’t pulling color from the fabric (Richardson says he couldn’t find any ingredients in the product that would be harmful to clothing dye). But it’s also probably not dramatically sucking dirt out of your clothes. “It could be some dirt leaching out of the garment, but it’s primarily the oxidation process that creates that rusty color,” he says.

The Best Way to Wash Your Activewear

All in all, Richardson says washing or soaking your dirty clothes in Rockin’ Green is unlikely to do any harm. But if it were him, he’d keep it simple with a combination of laundry soap (never detergent, which he says can damage clothes after long-term use) and oxygen bleach

You can pre-soak with the oxygen bleach product, or add it to your load of laundry with the soap. Richardson mixes a formula called Go-Wash (it’s similar to Rockin’ Green, but doesn’t contain washing soda). He also recommends The Laundress’ All-Purpose Bleach Alternative

No matter what you use, always follow the product instructions — and before you leave a scathing review about the brown water, do your homework on oxidation.