If you spend ages in the laundry aisle, wondering what to go for, you’ve come to the right place. With an overwhelming amount of detergents on the market, we’ve narrowed it down to the top 10 best laundry detergents.
Now, you’ll get clean, fresh, stain-free clothes every time. Whether you’re looking for laundry pods, something for sensitive skin, or something for your HE washer, we have a recommendation for everyone.
- Six-week freshness
- Removes tough stains
- Cleans pet stains
- 10x more cleaning power
- Amazing odor remover
- Brightens colors & whites
- Free of dyes and perfumes
- Removes stains & brightens clothes
- Works in all water temperatures
- Tough on stains
- No added dyes or chlorine
- Four non-toxic ingredients
- Leaves clothes clean & soft
- Doesn’t leave a residue
- More whitening power than bleach
- Color safe
- Brightens dingy clothes
- Plant-powered ingredients
- Built-in fabric softener
- Preserves your clothes
- Eco-friendly & hypoallergenic
- Removes blood, sweat & poop stains
- Pre-treats stains
- 100 percent organic
- Great for sensitive skin
- Antimicrobial properties
- Great for hard water
- Natural & plant-based ingredients
- Works on all clothes types
Types of Laundry Detergent
Everybody has a personal preference when it comes to detergents. We’ll walk through the key information of each type of laundry detergents.
Powder is a popular choice for many families. It’s one of the cheaper options. It also cuts down on plastic waste as it usually comes in a cardboard or tin box.
- If the cardboard box gets wet, it can start to leak.
- Pre-treating stains takes longer than with liquid.
- Some brands leave behind a filmy residue on clothes.
- Works best in warm cycles.
Laundry soap is another term for a more natural laundry detergent. It usually comes in a liquid form but you can, of course, get natural bars and powders too. If you’re going green, this is a perfect option.
- You can buy it or make it yourself.
- Usually kind on sensitive skin.
- Uses fats and oils to clean clothes (2).
- Might not be as effective on tough stains.
- More expensive.
- Many come in a plastic bottle, which adds to plastic waste.
Liquid is one of the most popular types of laundry detergent. This is largely down to the fact that there are many options. Most brands make liquid detergent. You can find fragrant liquid detergents in a range of scents, purposes and prices.
- It’s easy to pre-treat stains.
- Many options for different types of clothes, including darks, delicates, whites, etc.
- Dissolves easily in all temperatures.
- It’s very effective on grease stains.
- The bottle won’t break or leak if it gets wet.
- They come in a range of scents.
- Liquid is more expensive than powder.
- The bottles are typically plastic.
- They don’t always come with useful measuring units, making it difficult to know how much to use for small, medium and large loads.
Laundry pods are great for laundry newbies, travellers and those who have to commute to a shared laundry space. They’re pre-measured, so all you need to do is pop one or two in the machine.
- Pre-measured for convenience.
- Great for travelling as you can take the amount you need.
- No mess.
- Many have multiple purposes such as stain removal, color brightener and odor removing.
- The coating is biodegradable.
- You can’t pre-treat stains with pods.
- They’re expensive.
- They’re hazardous to ingest. Many childrens and pets might mistake them for food or candy. Always keep them out of reach from young kids and pets.
- You can’t adjust the pod size for smaller loads.
HE Washer Detergents
If you have a high-efficiency (HE) washer, you’ll need an HE washer detergent. Since HE washers use less water, HE detergents have low-sudsing properties. If you use regular detergent, it will create too many suds that your HE washer can’t wash away. Thankfully, most detergents on the market work in HE washers — but always double-check.
- There are many options on the market.
- They work in standard washers, too.
- They reduce mold and odor in your machine (3).
- You need to use less detergent than regular detergents.
- They come as liquids, powders, soaps and pods.
- You need to always check for the HE symbol.
- If the detergent doesn’t clean clothes, you shouldn’t add more. Instead, it’s best to just switch to a better quality brand.
Enzyme-based detergents, otherwise known as biological detergents, are awesome for breaking down tough stains (4). Even if the stains are set in, many biological detergents can completely remove the stain.
- Enzymes can remove stubborn stains.
- Works well at all temperatures.
- Great at removing blood, grass and food stains.
- Brightens whites.
- Not suitable for people with skin allergies or eczema.
- Enzymes aren’t always gentle on a baby’s skin.
- They don’t leave your clothes as soft.
- Harder on colors, so it can cause fading.
- Not suitable for delicate clothes.
How to Choose the Best Laundry Detergents
These factors will help you find the best detergent for your home and clothes.
Most importantly, think of the purpose of the detergent. Consider whether you want it for baby clothes, removing tough stains, deodorizing, brightening clothes, or something else entirely.
Most detergents work in any kind of washer, but if you have an HE washer, look out for the HE symbol.
If you live in a hard water area, you’ll need a specialized detergent that works in hard water. Hard water can reduce the effectiveness of many detergents. We’ve got a few suggestions for hard water homes. If you don’t have hard water, most detergents will work for you.
There’s no such thing as the perfect laundry detergent — yet. But consider the efficiency of the detergent when it comes to specific purposes such as brightening, removing stains, removing odors and generally cleaning your clothes.
Many laundry detergents contain toxic ingredients, such as fragrances, formaldehyde, ammonium sulfate and much more (5). Many people won’t experience any adverse effects, since these ingredients are diluted. However, lots of people experience headaches, respiratory and skin problems.
If you’re on the road to removing all unnatural ingredients, we do have many natural and non-toxic options to share with you.
It’s important to use baby-friendly laundry detergent, especially if you have a newborn. Their skin is sensitive so you want to avoid things with enzymes, fragrances, bleach, parabens and sulfates (6).
If you have allergies, you’ll want a hypoallergenic laundry detergent. It should be free of common skin irritants. We have an option especially for people with sensitive skin, but many other detergents are designed to be hypoallergenic, too. In fact, if you have allergies, you might also love using a baby-friendly detergent!
The Best Laundry Detergents of 2020
We’ve spent hours researching the best laundry detergents. Looking at customer reviews, expert advice, studies, as well as applying our own insight, we’re here to recommend the 10 best detergents on the market.
1. Gain Laundry Detergent Liquid
If you’re sticking to liquid laundry detergent, look no further than Gain. This laundry detergent removes odors and cleans clothes thoroughly. Plus, it leaves behind an original fresh scent.
This product guarantees six weeks of freshness. The detergent leaves perfume capsules into the fibers of your clothes that release during the day so that you smell good from morning to night.
What’s the scent? A blend of orange, lemon, blossoms, fruit, white floral jasmine and woody amber. Sounds amazing!
This detergent works in any washers — HE or not — and at any temperature. Just keep in mind it contains enzymes so it may not be kind on sensitive skin.
- Six-week freshness.
- Removes tough stains.
- Great for cleaning up pet stains.
- Works in all washers at any temperatures.
- Not suitable for people with sensitive skin or allergies.
- Includes synthetic fragrances, which can be toxic.
|Purpose||Clean clothes and add six week’s freshness|
|Water Type||Soft water|
|Toxicity||Includes biodegradable surfactants, but synthetic fragrances|
2. Tide Pods Plus Febreze Pacs
For travellers, people who visit a laundromat or families who love convenience, Tide Pods are a top choice. In fact, if you have bad odors from gym clothes or your kid’s outside antics — then this is Tide’s #1 odor remover.
It’s formulated to remove odors that are up to a week old. So those clothes that have been sitting in the bottom of your laundry basket? No problem.
The freshness lasts up for three weeks, so your clothes will smell good for longer. The scent is botanical rain, and it uses technology to release the scent as you move.
In terms of cleaning, these pods have 10x more cleaning power than leading bargain liquid detergents. You can remove odors and stains in one wash with these pods.
Finally, these pods brighten clothes, too. So if your whites are looking dingy and your colors are looking dull — why not try these pods?
- 10x more cleaning power than leading bargain liquid detergents.
- Amazing odor remover, even for week-old odors.
- Beautiful botanical rain scent.
- Brightens colors and whites.
- A few customers said the pods stained their clothes blue.
- Can’t be used for pre-treating stains.
3. Tide Free and Gentle Laundry Detergent Pods
Tide Free and Gentle Pods are a solution for people with sensitive skin. They’re free of dyes and perfumes. They’re dermatologically tested and hypoallergenic so if you have allergies or skin concerns, these pods should be gentle for you.
Plus, they’re convenient and easy to use. Pods are pre-measured so all you need to do is toss them into the drum before you add your clothes!
These pods have three purposes: cleaning clothes, removing stains and brightening fabrics. So when you pull your clothes from the machine, they’ll look cleaner and brighter than before!
Tide suggests using one pod for light loads and three for large loads — but you should try testing out one pod per load. They might have enough cleaning power for a big, soiled load which will save you money in the long run.
- Free of dyes and perfumes, hypoallergenic for sensitive skin.
- Pods are easy to use.
- Cleans, removes strains and brightens clothes.
- Works in all water temperatures.
- Using too many pods makes it difficult to dissolve them.
- It doesn’t deodorize clothes.
4. Dreft Newborn Hypoallergenic Laundry Detergent
As a parent, it’s natural if you’re worried about what products you use. With the Dreft Newborn Hypoallergenic Laundry Detergent you can rest easy. It’s the #1 pediatrician recommended detergent, specially formulated for newborn babies.
It’s hypoallergenic, so it’s kind on your newborn’s sensitive skin. For over 80 years, parents have loved using this detergent on their kid’s clothes. It has zero percent added dyes, chlorine and phosphates.
Although it’s gentle on skin, it’s still tough on stains. So you can clean spit up, accidents, cloth diapers and much more with this laundry detergent.
- Pediatrician recommended and hypoallergenic.
- Tough on stains.
- No added dyes, chlorine or phosphates.
- Works on adult clothes, too!
- It does contain some harmful ingredients.
- The new formula’s scent is really strong.
5. Nellie's Non-Toxic Powdered Laundry Detergent
Nellie’s laundry detergent is the perfect solution if you want something completely free of toxins. There are only four ingredients in this detergent: Sodium Carbonate, Linear Alcohol Ethoxylate, Sodium Chloride, and Sodium Metasilicate.
It’s completely free from SLS, SLES, gluten, phosphates, fragrance and chlorine. This makes it a wonderful hypoallergenic detergent, great for families!
Despite only four ingredients, this detergent cleans clothes, leaves them soft and doesn’t leave any residue. Of course, it’s unscented so it won’t leave a nice fragrance. But you can add a few drops of essential oil to the detergent drawer or the drum for a nice scent.
This small tin of powder does 100 loads of laundry. When it’s finished, you can recycle the tin or reuse it for storage or plants.
- Four non-toxic ingredients.
- Leaves clothes clean and soft.
- Doesn’t leave a residue.
- 100 loads per tin.
- Might not remove tough odors.
- Might make clothes look dingy. Doesn’t brighten them.
|Purpose||Cleans clothes using non-toxic chemicals|
|Water Type||Soft water|
6. OxiClean White Revive Stain Remover
OxiClean White Revive is an amazing alternative to bleach, especially when it comes to removing stains. Although this is formulated for white clothes, it is completely safe to use on colors.
Keep in mind that it works best alongside a regular laundry detergent. But together, their stain removal power is unbeatable! You can add this to every load of laundry, or just use it on heavily soiled cycles. Otherwise, you can use it as a pre-soak to treat stubborn stains.
In terms of your white clothes, it has 40 percent more whitening power than chlorine bleach! So you can avoid toxic chlorine bleach, while still getting astounding results.
- 40 percent more whitening power than chlorine bleach.
- Works alongside regular detergent to remove stains.
- Color safe.
- Brightens dingy clothes.
- It doesn’t work on cold washes.
- You need to presoak clothes for a while before using it.
7. ECOS Liquid Laundry Detergent
Laundry soap is a natural but effective way to clean your clothes — and the ECOS liquid soap is a popular choice.
It’s ultra-concentrated so you get more bang for your buck. You can use less detergent per load. In fact, one 100 ounce bottle does 100 loads of laundry! The ultra concentration also means that even a little detergent is still tough on dirt.
But because it’s an eco detergent, it’s still kind on your skin. It’s dermatologist-tested and hypoallergenic. If you have sensitive skin or allergies, you’ll love this detergent. It’s free from dyes, optical brighteners, parabens, phosphates or phthalates.
Lastly, it has built-in fabric softener. Not only does this save you money, but it reduces static cling and softens your clothes.
- Plant-powered ingredients.
- Hypoallergenic — great for sensitive skin.
- Built-in fabric softener.
- Preserves your clothes.
- It’s not super effective on heavily soiled clothes.
- You might need to use more detergent for tough stains.
|Purpose||Clean and softens clothes|
|Toxicity||Plant powered ingredients|
8. Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder
There are many laundry powders on the market, but Charlie’s Soap is one of our favorites.
First, it contains green ingredients. So you’re protecting mother nature and your family when you choose this detergent. But that doesn’t reduce its effectiveness. It’s great for a wide variety of dirt and soil on clothes. In fact, if used properly and promptly, this powder detergent can get out sweat and blood stains. It’s also awesome for cleaning cloth diapers.
It’s a hypoallergenic green laundry detergent so it’s perfect if you have sensitive skin or allergies. There are no perfumes, fillers or brighteners in this powder.
Although many powders have a reputation of not dissolving fully, Charlie’s Soap is different. You won’t find a residue build up on your clothes, even if you use this in every single load.
- Eco-friendly — it even helps clean sewer lines.
- Hypoallergenic and kind on sensitive skin.
- Good for removing blood, sweat and poop stains.
- Can be used as a pre-treatment for stains.
- Doesn’t deodorize or have a scent. So workout clothes might still smell.
- Clothes might feel rough, but that’s because it doesn’t include fabric softeners.
|Purpose||Cleans clothes and removes stains|
|Water Type||If you have hard water, it’s best with a hard water booster|
|Toxicity||Natural, eco-friendly, non-toxic ingredients|
9. Cocoboo 100% Organic Soap Nuts
Cocoboo 100% Organic Soap Nuts work in all types of washing machines — and at all temperatures. They don’t suds up so they’re perfect for HE washers! Plus, they’re 100 percent organic.
Soap nuts contain saponin: a natural surfactant found in Nepal. These soap nuts are non-toxic and hypoallergenic which is ideal for families with sensitive skin, eczema and allergies. Plus, there is absolutely no plastic packaging so it’s eco-friendly all round.
What’s also great is that soap nuts are antimicrobial. It destroys microorganisms in the laundry and keeps clothes super fresh and clean.
The soap nuts are reusable. So for a fair price, you can do over 120 loads of laundry with one pack of soap nuts. Use between two and four soap nuts per load, depending on the size and soil level.
- 100 percent organic.
- Great for people with sensitive skin.
- Antimicrobial properties.
- Over 120 loads of laundry per bag.
- The bag falls apart easily — so you might need to buy a separate mesh bag.
- No added scent. We recommend adding a few essential oils.
|Purpose||Clean clothes using 100 percent organic ingredients|
|Water Type||Soft water is best|
|Toxicity||100 percent natural|
10. Rockin' Green Natural Laundry Detergent Powder
Do you live in a hard water area? Then you know it can be hard to find laundry detergent that fully dissolves and leaves clothes feeling soft. The best detergent for hard water, from our research, is Rockin’ Green Natural Laundry Detergent Powder.
It claims to be the best detergent in the world for hard water. They recommend you use it for daily laundry, bedding and cloth diapers.
The detergent uses a unique formula of gentle ingredients and water softeners to get your clothes super clean. This plant-based cleaner is great for kids, parents, folks with allergies. It can clean anything from linen bedding to delicate underwear.
Because of its strong formula, you can use less detergent than normal. Many customers found this detergent tackled 60 percent more stains!
- Great for hard water.
- Natural and plant-based ingredients.
- Works on all clothes types.
- Amazing on cloth diapers.
- You might need to do an extra rinse to get clothes completely clean.
- The scent is very subtle.
|Purpose||Clean clothes in hard water areas|
|Water Type||Hard water — if you have soft water, use less detergent|
|Product||Best||Purpose||Washer Type||Water Type||Hypoallergenic|
|Gain Laundry Detergent Liquid||Liquid||Clean clothes & add six week’s freshness||Any||Soft water||No|
|Tide Pods Plus Febreze Pacs||Laundry Pods||Thoroughly cleans clothes & removes odors||Any||Any||No|
|Tide Free & Gentle Laundry Pods||Sensitive Skin||Cleans, removes stains & brightens clothes||Any||Soft water||Yes|
|Dreft Hypoallergenic Laundry Detergent||Babies||Cleans newborn clothes while being gentle on sensitive skin||Any||Soft water||Yes|
|Nellie’s Powdered Laundry Detergent||Non-Toxic||Cleans clothes using non-toxic chemicals||Any||Soft water||Yes|
|OxiClean White Revive Stain Remover||Stains||Lifts stains & brightens clothes||Any||Soft water||No|
|ECOS Liquid Laundry Detergent||Liquid Soap||Clean & softens clothes||Any||Any||Yes|
|Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder||Powder||Cleans clothes & removes stains||Any||Soft water||Yes|
|Cocoboo 100% Organic Soap Nuts||HE Washers||Clean clothes using 100% organic ingredients||Any||Soft water||Yes|
|Rockin’ Green Natural Detergent Powder||Hard Water||Clean clothes in hard water areas||Any||Hard water||Yes|
Laundry Detergent FAQs
What Is the Difference Between Cheap and Expensive Laundry Detergent?
It depends entirely on the brand. Many laundry detergents are sold at a cheaper price because the company can afford to do so. Whereas, smaller family-run businesses that make eco-friendly products have to sell their products at a more expensive price to cover business costs.
On another note, more expensive detergent might end up being cheaper in the long run. Oftentimes, it’s more concentrated so you can do more loads with one bottle. Always check the amount of loads a detergent can do. The best way to tell if a brand is worth the money is to read customer reviews and check the ingredients.
Is It Better to Use Liquid or Powder Laundry Detergent?
This comes down to personal preference. Many people prefer liquid because it works really well in all temperatures and it’s good for pre-treating stains. Powder detergent is popular because it cuts down on plastic waste and it often contains oxygen bleach, which is awesome for removing stains.
Are Laundry Pods or Liquid Better?
Laundry pods are better for people who are on the move. If you use a laundromat, it’s a top choice. Plus, they’re pre-measured for convenience which saves you a few seconds when doing laundry.
Liquid is better for various load sizes. You can adjust the amount per load, meaning your liquid detergent lasts longer, especially if you do smaller load sizes. Plus, liquid detergent is generally cheaper than laundry pods.
What Happens If You Use Too Much Laundry Detergent?
Using too much laundry detergent can have adverse effects on laundry day, including:
- It can build up on your clothes, leaving a strange texture and irritating your skin.
- The water can’t remove the detergent, so your clothes actually appear dirtier.
- It can lead to bacteria build up on clothes (12).
- With HE washers, it can make your machine dirty.
- Leftover residue can cause bad odors.
How Much Laundry Detergent Do You Really Need to Use?
Each brand is different, so always read the package instructions. It will tell you the exact amount to use depending on the size of your laundry load.
However, when it comes to pods, one is usually enough. Some brands suggest two pods per normal load, but this is often a marketing ploy to increase their sales. Try one pod and see if that works. If not, then increase to two pods.
Something to Note
Clean Clothes Forever
With the best laundry detergent recommendations, you’ll have clean clothes forever. Why not get a few to try out? Each one has different pros and cons — so it might be useful to grab a couple to cover all bases.
Overall, the top recommendation is the Gain Laundry Detergent Liquid which leaves six weeks of freshness on your clothes.
We also love Nellie’s Non-Toxic Powdered Laundry Detergent for soft, clean, residue-free clothes without the harsh chemicals.
Finally — why not try Cocoboo 100% Organic Soap Nuts? It’s something a little different but customers absolutely love them!