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Best Detergents for Hand Washing Clothes of 2022

Updated
For those who love hand-washing clothes, these detergents are game-changers.

We might not notice it, but our constant use of washing machines significantly affects our water and energy consumption. This hurts the environment as a whole.

Whether you’re an experienced hand washer or you want to try it out, you absolutely need a good detergent. To help you find one that works, we’ve spent hours researching various products, expert advice, and customer reviews.

After looking into different products’ cleaning ability, ingredients and form, we put together a comprehensive list. These are the seven best detergents for handwashing clothes.

Our Top Picks

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Image
Model
Product Comparison Table
Features

Product Image of the Fine Fabric Wash (16.9 Ounce): Eucalyptus
Best for Delicates
Eucalan Fine Fabric Wash
  • No rinse needed
  • Environment-friendly
  • Repels moths & fleas
Product Image of the Soak 12oz, Celebration
Best Detergent for Rinse-Free Washing
Soak Laundry Soap
  • No rinse required
  • Environment-friendly
  • No strong fragrances
Product Image of the all Liquid Laundry Detergent, Clear for Sensitive Skin, 2X Concentrated, 110 Loads
Best for Sensitive Skin
All Liquid Laundry Detergent
  • Skincare xpert-recommended
  • Removes tough stains
  • Removes everyday allergens
Best for Silk
The Laundress Delicate Wash Lady
  • Designed for dry-clean-only delicates
  • Environment-friendly
  • 32 washes per bottle
Product Image of the Tide Plus Bleach Alternative Safe on Colors HE Turbo Clean Liquid Laundry Detergent, Original Scent, 1.36 L (29 Loads), 46 Fl Oz (Pack of 1) (037000875482)
Most Powerful Detergent
Tide Plus Bleach Alternative HE Liquid
  • Trusted brand
  • Strong cleaning power
  • Works for hard water
Product Image of the
Best for Bras
The Laundress
  • Plant-based and biodegrable
  • Allergen free
  • Beautiful floral scent
Product Image of the Roux Maison Delicate Laundry Detergent - Odor Eliminator HE Detergent, All Natural Laundry Detergent, Up to 40 Machine Wash Loads or 80+ Hand Washes - Fragrance Free 16oz.
Best for Washing Wool
Roux Maison Laundry Detergent
  • Environment-friendly
  • 80+ washes per bottle
  • Works on dry-clean clothes


Product Reviews

We’ve combed through countless options to choose the best detergents for hand-washing clothes. During our research, we investigated each product’s formula, capability, and ease of use. Read our reviews of the top seven picks to find the one that works for you.

1. Eucalan Fine Fabric Wash

Best for Delicates

Designed by a company in Canada, Eucalan takes the name after two ingredients in its prototype: eucalyptus, and lanolin. It marks itself as a safe and non-toxic product in accordance with strict European regulations.

It’s safe for the skin unless the person is highly allergic to eucalyptus, lavender, jasmine, grapefruit, or lanolin. The detergent also uniquely acts as a flea repellent. There are also variations of the product that use scents to keep the moths away.

In addition, no rinsing is also required with this product since its formulation is low-sudsing. Testing the fastness of colors with the product is also simple and quick.

It only involves moistening a piece of cloth and then pressing it against a less prominent part of the clothing. Then wait for a while to see if the color seeps in.

Pros

  • No need to rinse.
  • Environmentally friendly.
  • Does not contain bleach.
  • Repels moths and fleas.
  • Naturally scented using essential oils.
  • Works on all types of fibers.

Cons

  • Could cause an allergic reaction.
  • The bottle is prone to leaking.
  • Might cause colors to bleed.

Product Specs

Price $
Biodegradable Yes
Volume 16.9 fluid ounces
Fragrances Eucalyptus, Lavender, Grapefruit, Natural, Jasmine
Delicates-friendly Yes

2. Soak Laundry Soap

Best Detergent for Rinse-Free Washing

This laundry product is eco-friendly, which will appeal to users of the same nature. The packaging is made of recyclable material, and only water-based material is used. It also provides a comfortable hand-washing experience that’s gentle on the skin.

The detergent is also a low-suds liquid. As such, no rinsing is required for further cleaning once the water is squeezed out. All that’s left on the clothes afterward is the fragrance.

Additionally, testing for color-fastness is pretty quick. All you need to do is rub some of the product on an inconspicuous part of your clothes and wait for a few minutes.

Pros

  • No rinsing is required.
  • Great for knitted items, quilts, and other delicates.
  • Does not use strong fragrances.
  • Suitable for the washing machine, too.
  • 75 washes per bottle.

Cons

  • It’s a bit pricey.
  • The bottle leaks sometimes.
  • The smell is bothersome for some people.

Product Specs

Price $$
Biodegradable Yes
Volume 12 fluid ounces
Fragrances Yuzu, Fig, Celebration, Pineapple Grove, Lacey Scentless
Delicate-friendly Yes

3. All Liquid Laundry Detergent for Sensitive Skin

Best for Sensitive Skin

A product of Henkel, this detergent is recommended for use on sensitive skin by dermatologists, allergists, and pediatricians. Consequently, the product has the Seal of Acceptance from the National Eczema Association (NEA).

It also has a concentrated formula, giving it twice as much cleaning power as others from the same brand. It removes almost all of the allergens we can get on our clothes, seasonally, or from everyday activities, like playing outside or with animals.

The detergent is also compatible with HE washing machines and has been tested and found to be gentle on the skin. This makes it more than a suitable choice for hand washing. Finally, it’s free of dyes and fragrances.

Pros

  • Recommended by skincare experts.
  • Has the NEA seal.
  • Efficient at removing seasonal and everyday allergens.
  • Does not contain bleach.
  • Removes tough stains.
  • Safe for standard and high-efficiency machines.

Cons

  • The bottle leaks sometimes.
  • It’s easy to overpour into the detergent drawer.

Product Specs

Price $
Biodegradable Yes
Volume 82.5 fluid ounces
Fragrances None
Delicate-friendly Yes, except silk and wool

4. The Laundress Delicate Wash Lady

Best for Silk

Founded and based in New York, the Laundress prides itself on making products with a sense of consciousness towards the environment. Their products are also tested on the founders of the company themselves rather than animals.

Containing plant-derived materials, the detergent is non-toxic and biodegradable. Its coloring is natural and does not contain any bleach.

Additionally, this product is designed to efficiently clean clothes labeled as “dry-clean only”. This makes it an excellent choice for hand-washing delicates, from silk and spandex to nylon and rayon.

The product also contains a high concentration of active ingredients. It can be used for as many as 32 washes despite its relatively low volume. It’s also suited for use in washing machines, including HE machines.

Pros

  • Designed for dry-clean-only delicates.
  • Environmentally friendly biodegradable formula.
  • Highly concentrated to do 32 washes per bottle.
  • Herbal and citrus scented.

Cons

  • Quite expensive per load.
  • You need to pre-treat stains before washing.
  • The scent isn’t long-lasting.
  • Doesn’t work as well in a washing machine.

Product Specs

Price $$$$
Biodegradable Yes
Volume 16 fluid ounces
Fragrances Lady, a mix of rich amber, bergamot, lavender, and musk.
Delicate-friendly Yes

5. Tide Plus Bleach Alternative HE Liquid

Most Powerful Detergent

Tide is one of the most well-known names when it comes to detergents. It’s designed to work in high-efficiency (HE) washers, which enables it to remove stains more efficiently using less water. This makes it a suitable choice for hand washing.

It contains special ingredients that work by removing stains and dirt and suspending them in the water, preventing them from repositioning themselves on the fabric.

You can safely use it with colored clothes since it’s bleach-free. This Tide product also contains an ingredient that neutralizes any chlorine in hard water.

This stands out from other HE detergents; it has suds that collapse quickly. It boasts a cleaning power that’s six times higher and only takes half as long, requiring just one wash.

Pros

  • Part of a trusted brand.
  • Massive 6x cleaning power compared to other leading brands.
  • Protection from hard water.
  • Helps to whiten whites.
  • Brightens colored clothing.
  • Removes over 100 types of stains.

Cons

  • More expensive; three times more than the average detergent.
  • The bottle is prone to leaking.
  • The scent is strong and perfumey.

Product Specs

Price $$$$
Biodegradable No
Volume 46 fluid ounces
Fragrances Original Scent
Delicate-friendly Yes, except silk and wool

6. The Laundress Wash & Stain Laundry Bar

Best for Bras

Unlike other products mentioned in this article, The Laundress’ laundry detergent comes in a solid bar soap form. Made from natural products with essential oils providing fragrance, the product doesn’t contain harmful chemicals.

Since the bar is essentially a paste, a little goes a long way, making it budget-friendly in the long run. It also doesn’t produce any waste products and eliminates the need to use fabric softeners.

After spot-cleaning the soiled area of clothes with this bar, soak it for about ten minutes, then you can proceed with washing it in the washing machine. This product stands out because of how easily you can clean with it. Simply rub the bar on the wet fabric and wash!

Pros

  • Efficient stain remover as it can wash away oil and grease.
  • Plant-based and biodegradable.
  • Allergen-free formula.
  • Made in the USA.
  • Safe to spot-treat stains on dry-clean-only garments.
  • Beautiful lily of the valley scent.

Cons

  • Takes a while to dissolve.
  • The bar emits an overpowering scent.
  • The bar is much smaller than expected.

Product Specs

Price $$
Biodegradable Yes
Volume 0.11 lbs
Fragrances Classic
Delicate-friendly Yes

7. Roux Maison Delicate Laundry Detergent

Best for Washing Wool

A love for the environment drives Roux Maison. They developed this product with the idea that the cleanliness of clothes, as well as the environment, are a top priority.

All its ingredients are entirely natural. Even better, the bottle packaging does not contain bisphenol A (BPA), a common plastic product that causes harm to the environment.

The formulation is also designed to be an efficient alternative to dry cleaning. As such, it works very well on all types of delicate fabric.

It comes in a concentrated form that can handle up to 80 washes, less so in the case of washing machines. It’s compatible with HE. Consequently, this makes the product a sound choice for hand washing your clothes.

Pros

  • Environmentally friendly.
  • One bottle does 80+ washes.
  • It works well on dry-clean clothes.
  • Available in three scent options, including unscented.
  • Safe for wool, cashmere, silk, lingerie, and baby clothes.
  • Tough on food and drink stains.

Cons

  • Packaging can leak.
  • Works out pricey if you use extra detergent per load.
  • Cuts through elastic parts of clothing.

Product Specs

Dimensions $$-$$$
Biodegradable Yes
Volume 16 fluid ounces
Fragrances Ambrosia, Sweet Tea, or Fragrance-free
Delicate-friendly Yes

Product Comparison Chart

Product Best Price Biodegradable Volume Delicates-friendly
Eucalan Fine Fabric Wash For Delicates $ Yes 16.9 oz Yes
Soak Laundry Soap Detergent for Rinse-Free Washing $$ Yes 12 oz Yes
All Liquid Laundry Detergent For Sensitive Skin $ Yes 82.5 oz Yes, except silk & wool
The Laundress Delicate Wash Lady For Silk $$$$ Yes 16 oz Yes
Tide Plus Bleach Alternative HE Liquid Most Powerful Detergent $$$$ No 46 oz Yes, except silk & wool
The Laundress Wash & Stain Bar For Bras $$ Yes 0.11 lbs Yes
Roux Maison Delicate Laundry Detergent For Washing Wool $$-$$$ Yes 16 oz Yes

Is It Really Better to Hand Wash Your Clothes?

Most of the time, washing machines will do the job properly. But there are times when washing by hand is the better choice.

  • Save time: You don’t have to walk to the laundromat if you don’t have a machine or waste electricity.
  • Conserve energy: You’ll use no electricity when hand washing clothes.
  • Preserve clothes: Hand washing is much more gentle on your clothing since there’s less heat and less friction. It’s an ideal choice for delicate fabrics.

But there are times when it’s better to use your machine. For instance, if you’re doing large loads,  your machine will be more economical both in terms of water and energy, especially if you do a cold wash.

Your machine is also quicker and requires much less manual labor.

So overall, the machine is best for large loads, especially when using cool water. Hand-washing is better for smaller loads and delicate garments and essentially costs nothing if you use cool water.

What to Look For (Buying Guide)

Not all laundry detergents are the same. There are several things you should look out for when choosing the appropriate type of laundry detergent for hand washing:

  • Fabric type: Delicate fabrics such as silk or rayon, primarily made of protein and cellulose, are easily damaged. Especially by detergents that contain enzymes or are highly alkaline.
  • Bleach or non-bleach: Bleaching agents such as hydrogen peroxide or hypochlorite salts can negatively affect delicate fabrics like silk and rayon. It can also react with your skin and cause irritation.
  • High-efficiency formula: Formulas designed for high-efficiency washing systems can clean stains and dirt using much less water than others.
  • Allergenicity: Some detergents have the potential to cause skin inflammation due to an allergic reaction to some of their ingredients. This is especially important for those who hand wash their clothes (1).
  • Form: Detergents that come in liquid form are easier to dissolve in water, which means less effort on your behalf. Solid or powdered products are generally cheaper and usually have cardboard packaging, a better alternative to plastic.

What Is the Best Way to Hand Wash Clothes

For your hand washing to work best, there are important things to keep in mind:

  1. Read the label: Fill a tub with water at the proper temperature and choose the best detergent for the type of fabric you’re going to wash.
  2. Proceed carefully: If there is no care label on the clothes, then fill the tub with cool or slightly warm water. Add a suitable amount of detergent for one item of clothing and more for several items.
  3. Separate colors: Wash the white, light-colored, and dark-colored clothes separately.
  4. Soak and wash: Let your clothes soak for a while if they’re heavily stained. Otherwise, you can do some gentle rubbing and swirling. Squeeze the clothes without wringing or twisting them.
  5. Rinse: Rinse and repeat until the water becomes completely clear.

FAQs

Can You Use Regular Detergent to Hand Wash Clothes?

You can use regular detergent to hand wash clothes. However, you may find a dedicated handwash detergent is gentler on your skin.

Why Do My Clothes Stink After Hand Washing?

You clothes stink after hand washing for several reasons. The main culprit is too much detergent and not allowing the clothes to dry properly. When that happens, they smell musty.

Can You Use Washing Powder for Hand Washing?

You can use washing powder for hand washing, provided that the granules dissolve in the water. Washing powder may irritate your skin, causing rashes and red sores.

Can I Use Shampoo to Hand Wash Clothes?

You can use shampoo to hand wash clothes as a last resort. It is a handy washing trick for emergencies and those traveling light. However, don’t put shampoo in your washing machine because it will create too many suds.

Can You Use Tide Pods for Hand Washing?

You can use tide pods to hand wash your clothes, provided the water is hot enough to melt the outer plastic to release the detergent. You may be better using Tide Free and Gentle for hand washing because it is kinder to your skin.


Hand Washing Clothes with Ease

To summarize, it’s important to remember the type of fabric you’re handwashing. Knowing whether the company you’re buying from has a negative impact on the ecosystem is also significant. You don’t want to end up contributing to the ruin of our planet.

Last but not least, price matters; products that provide more washes are more economical. They’re a decent choice if you want to save money. Check the price per load for an accurate idea of each product’s cost.

After reading our list of seven amazing detergents for hand-washing, we hope you found one that helps your clothes shine!

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Headshot of Amy Anthony

About the Author

Amy Anthony

Amy is a stay-at-home-mom, seasoned writer, and a home cleaning and organization aficionado. Amy enjoys having an absolutely spotless home and has worked hard to develop strategies to keep it that way, despite having 2 kids and 3 dogs!