I can smell the washing powder isle a mile away in the supermarket. It really gets up my nose and makes me sneeze. There are a lot of synthetic fragrances in commercially available washing powders, plus the thousands of other chemicals that aren't good for your body or the environment.
You can look up the safety of a lot of common household items on the EWG website (https://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners/). Unfortunately, this is an American based website and does not include a lot of the products we have here in Australia. You can look up individual ingredients, and you get a pretty quick indication as to how toxic a lot of these products can be. One of the best things this website has going for it, is that it's scores are based on research evidence of toxicology and environmental impact. All of the references are right there for you to do other deep diving if that's your thing.
Another alternative is the Think Dirty App (https://www.thinkdirtyapp.com/). It's not perfect as it's rating system is a little skewed but it is definitely better than nothing, especially when you are out shopping. It's really user friendly so even if you use it to start your thinking about alternate products it's worth your time.
For most people, deep diving into specific ingredients on many of our products is not how you probably want to spend your Sunday afternoon... me I wish I had more time to do these things. There are some pretty basic principles. If you can't pronounce it, chances are it may be something that is highly synthetic and not great for you. There are always exceptions, with many companies now using ingredients that sound like their nasty synthetic counterparts but are plant derived. I personally believe, when in doubt, make it yourself.
Making your own simple washing powder is really simple way to reduce the toxic load in your home and on your body. I have to admit it took me quite a few different trials to find a washing powder recipe that I felt like does the job. This one has more sodium bicarbonate than a lot of recipes and uses coconut soap rather than buying a commercially available soap and grinding it up. I find this mix actually reduces the build up in my front loader washing machine, that's the sodium carbonate at work. You can use this as a pre-wash stain remover, mixed with a little water to make a paste, but you need to ensure you don't leave it on for an extended period of time as the washing soda may affect the colour of some clothing. You are better off using some Castile soap, mixed with Tea Tree Essential Oil or the OnGuard Cleaning Concentrate is another favourite in our house.
You may not have time or the desire to research every single ingredient on your laundry detergent, trust me you do have the time to mix up some laundry powder. It takes no longer than mixing yourself a martini or a refreshing soda water with lime.
1 & 1/2 cups fine salt (I like Himalayan pink salt, you can use epsom salt)
2 cups sodium bicarbonate (Bi Carb)
1 & 1/2 cups ground coconut soap
20-30 drops of essential oils (optional - see below for suggestions)
If your ingredients are already quite fine, you can just combine in a bowl and store in an air tight container
Blend ingredients together and store in an air tight container
Essential Oils - I tend to put in whatever oils I seem to have quite a lot of. I love citrus oils in my wash as it leaves my clothes smelling delicious and have some additional de-greasing properties. I also tend to pop in a couple of extra drops when I wash of Tea Tree if I feel like the clothes are particularly smelly. It doesn't have to be some big thing adding essential oils, anything is great, just get your hands on some good quality natural essential oils not ones that are synthetic.
Add approximately 1/4 cup to your washing load.
Please ensure you read your manufacturers warranty in regards to washing powder. Some have pretty strict rules. Do what feels right for you.