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Laundry detergent buying guide

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Get your clothes squeaky clean.

There’s no shortage when it comes to laundry detergent choices. If you’re overwhelmed by your options or are looking for something for sensitive skin or other specific needs, take a look at some of our favorites to find the best fit for your laundry needs.

Compare some of the best laundry detergents

Name Avg. price
(USD)
Type Size Washes Purchase
Tide Original Scent HE Turbo Clean $11.97 Liquid 2.95L 64 Buy now
Persil ProClean Liquid Laundry Detergent $15.97 Liquid 4.43L 96 Buy now
All Mighty Pacs Laundry Detergent $9.48 Pods 67 count 67 Buy now
Gain flings! Liquid Laundry Detergent Pacs $9.48 Pods 67 count 67 Buy now
Arm & Hammer 33200-00109 Powder Laundry Detergent $9.48 Pods 67 count 67 Buy now
Earth Friendly Products ECOS 2X $9.48 Pods 67 count 67 Buy now
Data obtained April 2019. Prices are subject to change and should be used only as a general guide.

Laundry detergent types

There are three main types of laundry detergent: liquid, powder and pods/tablets.

Type Pros Cons
Liquid
  • Effective on grease and oil stains
  • Can be used as a pre-treater for stain removal
  • Many eco-friendly formulas available
  • Easy to over-pour
  • Messy to measure
Powder
  • Cheapest per load
  • Best for cleaning outdoor stains such as mud and dirt, and for use with untreated hard water
  • Recyclable packaging
  • Can leave residue on clothes
  • Doesn’t dissolve completely in cold water
  • Difficult to store
Pods
  • Convenient single-dose size
  • No measuring needed
  • Easy to store
  • Less packaging waste
  • Costs more per wash
  • Can’t adjust dosage
  • Poison hazard for kids and pets

How to compare laundry detergent

The right detergent for your needs will depend on your personal preferences, how much you want to spend and what kind of dirt and stains you need to remove. Consider these key factors when making your decision:

  • Phosphate-free. While phosphates help to soften water and leave less residue on your clothes, they are harmful to the environment and can cause algae blooms. Unless your water is particularly hard, opt for low-phosphate detergents. A “P” label on laundry detergent means that it has low phosphorus levels (P<7.8g/wash). “NP” means a product contains no or <0.5% phosphorus.
  • Greywater safe. For those who are environmentally conscious, picking an eco-friendly detergent lets you recycle washing machine rinse water (greywater) for your garden. Check your detergent’s GreySafe rating to confirm whether it’s safe to use the rinse water on your garden.
  • Sodium level. If you recycle greywater on your garden, pick low-sodium detergents to avoid harming plant life. Liquid detergent is generally lower in sodium and phosphates.
  • Soiled clothing level. For lightly-soiled clothes, using a cheaper detergent with a good stain remover should work well enough. For heavily-soiled clothing, you may need a more expensive, heavy-duty option to effectively get rid of tough grease, oil, food stains and body odor.
  • Hypoallergenic. For those with allergies or sensitive skin, opt for fragrance- and dye-free options.
  • Environmental impact. Opt for concentrated models with more washes per pack to create less waste per package. Check out our tips on how to save energy on your laundry to cut back on your overall environmental impact.

Alternatives to laundry detergent

  • Laundry balls. Made of plastic with mineral beads inside, laundry balls do not contain any added chemicals, and are cheap and recyclable. However, they are generally low-performance in tackling stains and odors.
  • Soap nuts. While this natural alternative costs little and is reusable, its effectiveness is also debatable. As they do not contain surfactants, soap nuts have trouble removing tough stains effectively.
  • DIY detergent recipes. While there are many DIY recipes available online, we recommend experimenting with a small batch first and trialling a variety of recipes. Frequently suggested ingredients include borax, lemon juice, grated soap, baking soda and essential oils. While DIY recipes may be cheaper and potentially more eco-friendly, they vary in terms of effectiveness.

Bottom line

There are lots of laundry detergents to choose from, and the best pick for you and your family will depend on your washing needs, budget and personal preferences.

How did we choose these products?

We compared some of the leading laundry detergent brands, considering factors like price, type, effectiveness and eco-friendliness to create our list of the best laundry detergents.

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