Brand Break Down: Dirt

Updated: Mar 16

*This feature is not sponsored or paid for in any way by Dirt or any other invested party


Laundry is one of life’s constants. And because we always do it, it follows that we’re always generating waste from it. That’s the problem that Australian made eco-friendly laundry detergent company Dirt aims to address - their website says that their mission is to make products that do less harm. Dirt was founded 4 years ago “on the belief that we could make sustainable household products, that work, something people could fall in love with.”


Dirt claims to be “sustainable by design” from its packaging to the product itself. It’s quite the minimalist’s dream - a relatively small dispenser bottle that contains a clear liquid detergent. Simple and pretty. The idea is that the highly concentrated product is powerful enough that you won’t need as much, meaning less packaging. It also means you get more loads of washing despite the small bottle. Also, with a bulk pack that’s good for 210 loads costing $59.95 on subscription, your cost per laundry load is just $28c.


Those who have tried or have switched to Dirt for their laundry needs seem to absolutely love it. The brand has a 4.93 average rating and a lot of reviewers rave about everything from how well it performs and how good it smells to how impressed they are with customer service. So, we spoke to a representative from Dirt to get the lowdown on the brand. Here’s what we know.



OWNERSHIP

Dirt is founder-owned and has no parent company. It is also Australian made and mostly Australian owned. One of the founders is from New Zealand, but residing in Melbourne when Dirt was born.


Dirt is owned by founder Frankie Layton and has three other co-founders, with one of them named as the company’s CTO on their website’s About page. You can read more about how Frankie started Dirt here.

INGREDIENTS & RAW MATERIALS

Companies that make cleaning products are not required by Australian law to disclose their full ingredient list with consumers. Dirt, however, decided to say, “screw that” and did it anyway. A full list of their ingredients and more information about key ingredients can be found here.

Basically, all of their ingredients are all naturally derived - including surfactants (the bits that remove the dirt from your laundry), they use natural fragrances in the form of essential oils, and use zero phosphates and parabens which as well-known nasties. This means Dirt is 100% biodegradable making it safe for septic tanks. It also maintains pH that plants can handle so you can go ahead and run greywater from your wash straight onto your garden.

They are also cruelty-free, testing only on humans and never on animals because, as they say, “it’s not like we wash their clothes.” They are also vegan and have PETA certification. This also extends to their raw materials and suppliers - those are cruelty-free as well. Additionally, Dirt is not sold in mainland China where products can be tested on animals by law.

Dirt, however, has an ingredient that comes from palm oil - a highly controversial ingredient because of how it is sourced. They have, however, said that they have found a way to sustainably source this ingredient. More on that later.


SOURCING & PRODUCTION

When asked whether their ingredients are organic, sustainably sourced, or fair trade, and if they have any certifications, here was Dirt’s response: “Our laundry detergent is cruelty-free made from plant-based and organic cleaning ingredients that are 100% biodegradable. Our suppliers are Australian or Australian agents, but more than 50% of the ingredients do come from overseas because they are not available here.” So, as far as we know, Dirt sources a lot of their ingredients overseas, and although all are certified cruelty-free, they have no organic certifications.

Also, as previously mentioned, Dirt contains an ingredient made from palm oil - something that would put some people off. However, they state on their website that their supplier uses RSPO certified palm oil which means their supply is “being monitored against issues such as deforestation and poor workers' rights.” They also explain at length why they feel that using this ingredient over one made of palm oil alternatives is the most sustainable option they can take.

There are, however, environmentalists and scientists who argue that there is no such thing as sustainable palm oil. You can read a little bit about that here and here. There are also a lot of other online resources that argue for and against certified sustainable palm oil. So, if this is something you feel strongly about, we highly suggest having a look at those.



PACKAGING & RECYCLING OPTIONS

Dirt’s dispenser bottle is made of glass, a 100% natural material, and is designed to last for a very long time. When shipped, the bottle is protected by two drop-proof silicone sleeves, which are 100% non-toxic and BPA, BPS, and PVC free. 


As for their refill packs, the main component is aluminium, which is infinitely recyclable, but it does have a soft plastic component that cannot be recycled. Aluminium provides the refill packs with the strength to get through post and the plastic provides the packs with a leak-proof seal. This design has allowed them to reduce the amount of plastic they use for their packs to about 2g, 90% less than what an average laundry detergent bottle would use. Their website says that as the long-term goal is to cut out plastic completely, they are working on finding some alternative packaging solutions. And we’re happy to say that upon speaking to a representative from Dirt, we now know that they are currently experimenting with making their refill packs out of recycled plastic, which is pretty exciting!

Their postage packaging and postcards are all natural and made from recycled materials and 100% biodegradable, as well as locally sourced in Melbourne.

One of the things that make Dirt unique is their Refill, Return program which allows consumers to dramatically reduce the amount of waste they produce from laundry. This program allows customers to send back their empty refill packs to be sanitized, refilled, and sent back out to other customers. You can find out more here.



GIVING BACK & ADVOCACY

Dirt donates 50% of their profits to The Ocean Cleanup (total tally to be announced in the coming weeks). In 2021 they will be donating 1% of their revenue to research partners who help clean the ocean.



DIVERSITY & INCLUSIVITY

We asked the Dirt team about the diversity of their workforce and while we now know that they have quite the diverse team working in and around the company, they have expressed their discomfort in parading this fact to consumers as it may seem like like-bait. We respect this decision, which is why we will not be publishing any further information regarding Dirt's workforce diversity.


You can, however, find information about some members of the Dirt team here, otherwise, they have said that they welcome anyone who has any concerns or interest in this area to contact them and they will gladly answer any questions you may have.

Life is busy for all of us, and it's these everyday things like laundry that we sometimes forget to think about when we start making more sustainable changes in our lifestyle. Dirt is trying to address that. So, if you want to make a small change that can have a big impact, we suggest trying Dirt out. Buy the products individually first before going for the subscription and see how you go! By the looks of their reviews, it's unlikely you'll be disappointed.


Dirt is available everywhere in Australia