Discover the best products for the freshest laundry
Choosing a laundry detergent isn’t an easy task. How do you find one that removes stains from clothes, works in cold water, is gentle on skin, and leaves a lovely odor at the same time?
And most of us want to whiten our whites and brighten colors without damaging the fabric. So it’s a lot to think about for something you use all the time.
Luckily, we’ve trialed and researched loads of products to see how they perform. Keep reading to discover the best laundry detergents on the market right now.
Our Top PicksThehousewire earns a commission through the following independently chosen links at no additional cost to you.
1. Best Overall (Liquid): Persil Proclean + Stain Fighter Liquid Laundry Detergent
It’s packed with enzymes to boost stain-fighting power, so we could literally throw our messiest clothes in the machine and let the detergent get to work.
Grass stains on our favorite jeans? It wasn’t a problem for us.
We also tested it at low temperatures. And this liquid detergent got deep into the fibers to remove most stains. And best of all, it cut through odors and left our laundry smelling super fresh.
Get ready to enjoy bright whites, crisp colors, and fresh-smelling laundry. Those stubborn stains won’t know what’s hit them!
Gets Rid of Blood and Other Protein StainsBlood stains are famously tricky to get out of fabrics. But the Persil Proclean manages heavily soiled loads with ease.
Users love how easy it is to restore their clothes back to their fresh state with a simple wash. No need to worry when your dog cuts their paw and leaves its favorite blanket peppered with bright red stains.
Clothes Feel SoftWe love when our clothes feel soft against our skin, and that’s how Persil Proclean leaves fabrics. Whether it’s the comforter from your bed or your fluffiest bathroom towel, it’s like wrapping yourself in a cloud.
Fresh, Natural ScentPersil has a lovely natural and light scent. It’s so refreshing and much nicer than the smell of chemicals you get with other detergents.
You can pick the level of scent you prefer, as there’s an intense range or even a fragrance-free detergent if you wish.
The Bottle LeaksLeaking is always a risk with liquid laundry detergent, and some users experienced issues with this. It’s mainly an issue when it’s delivered, so check the package when you receive it.
2. Best Overall (Single Dose) - Tide 3-in-1 Laundry Detergent Pods
Read Full Review: Tide Pods Liquid Laundry Detergent Pacs Review
Is there any better feeling than popping on freshly washed clothes that look as good as they smell? In our tests, we were seriously impressed with the performance of these Tide Pods.
Colors look bright and crisp, and the smell is amazing. The whole kitchen was perfumed with the Spring Meadow scent as items were left to air dry.
Tough stains disappear in warm water without the need for expensive hot washes. And they’re super simple to use.
There’s no need to measure out liquid or scoops of powder. Chuck a pod or two into your washing machine and you’re done.
You Can’t Use Too MuchSince the pods contain a pre-measured dose of detergent, you can’t put too much in by accident. So you don’t waste money by over-using, or leave your clothes clogged down with residue
The Packaging is SafeOk, some people find the packaging a little tricky to open. But that’s good! It means it’s a safe choice if you have children or pets in your home.
You Don’t Need to Pre-Treat Most StainsThe stain removal power of Tide pods is strong. The detergent removes stubborn stains in one wash without them needing special attention.
You may sometimes find pre-treating stains is necessary if you’ve got something like an oil stain, but this isn’t a regular occurrence.
The Pods Don’t DissolveSome users had issues with the actual pod not dissolving and found the casing stuck on their dried clothes. Make sure you follow the instructions to avoid this.
3. Best Powder : Molly’s Suds Laundry Detergent Powder
It uses natural ingredients, but don’t let this fool you into thinking it won’t handle tough stains. Because Molly’s Suds still packs impressive cleaning power.
It just happens to be kind to sensitive skin at the same time as leaving your laundry clean and fresh. And it’s safe to use on most delicate fabrics seeing as there aren’t any harsh chemicals or fragrances.
This mega pack handles up to 120 laundry loads, so you won’t run out anytime soon.
It’s Cruelty-FreeUsers love this eco-friendly detergent that is 100% cruelty-free. It’s kind to the planet and all the creatures living on it, so you can enjoy clean clothes and peace of mind.
It Clears Mold and Mildew SmellsSo many of us suffer from musty smells in our washing machines, but this powder detergent helps to get rid of them. So your machine leaves laundry feeling and smelling cleaner without the need for whipping out the chlorine bleach for some mold removal.
Works Well for Eczema SufferersIf sensitive skin is an issue in your home, it’s worth keeping a stash of this in the laundry room. Loads of reviewers say this is one of the best laundry detergents for people with eczema thanks to the natural ingredients.
Not the Best for Grease StainsWhile Molly’s Suds does leave clothes clean, some users had issues with removing body oil and greasy stains. It’s not easy to remove them with the powder alone, so you may find you have to add an extra splash of stain removal solution.
|Free From||Paraben, phosphate, chemicals, gluten, dyes, and perfumes|
Each bottle handles a whopping 120 washes, so you can take on more stains than ever before. And seeing as it’s one of the least expensive detergents, it’s worth keeping a bottle to hand.
Especially if you like your clothes to have a lovely light fragrance to them. The fresh scent wraps into fabrics, giving off a delicate perfume that smells like spring flowers.
It’s one to consider if you’re budget-conscious but don’t want to lose out on cleaning power.
Gentle on Sensitive SkinIf you struggle with skin irritation, this detergent is a good pick. Loads of reviewers like how the gentle formula doesn’t aggravate sensitive skin.
That said, if you’ve had reactions in the past then make sure you trial a small or medium load first to see how you get on.
No Compromise on QualityCheap doesn’t have to mean poor quality! The Kirkland range is still effective at removing dirt while allowing shoppers to save a bit of money.
If you’ve got a busy home with a washing machine that never seems to stop, you know how important it is to strike the right balance between cost and quality!
The Smell Isn’t OverpoweringWe rate liquid laundry detergents that leave a beautiful fragrance without assaulting your nostrils. And that’s a balance that Kirkland has got right.
The Scent lingers on clothes in a way that leaves them smelling fresh without taking over the whole room.
Works Best With a Fabric SoftenerIf rough fibers aren’t your bag, it’s worth looking at getting some fabric softener to go with your Kirkland detergent. Some users were disappointed by the lack of softness when using the regular detergent on its own.
|Form||Liquid laundry detergent|
|Scent||Fresh Clean Scent|
5. Best for Deep Cleaning : Tide Hygienic Clean Heavy Duty Laundry Detergent
It’s specially formulated to squeeze in between fibers, and it really does remove embedded stains. And not just visible stains, like the drips of salad dressing from a messy lunch.
We were impressed with how Tide washed away hidden dirt, too. Things like body oil and other marks that only show up under a UV light.
And it’s even available as Power Pods if you want a more convenient stain fighter.
Users Love ItWith over 13,000 positive reviews, you know Tide products stand the test of time. Some people have used them for over 30 years!
Effective Stain Removal in Cold WaterIf you’ve got delicate fabrics that you need to wash in cold water, I’ve got some great news for you. Users love how Tide is effective at removing tough stains when used with a cold wash.
No Dull ColorsWith all the dyes and perfumes in liquid detergents these days, it’s easy for clothes to dull after a few washes. But it seems people stick to using Tide because it doesn’t cause colors to fade.
One of the More Expensive DetergentsThe price tag for Tide is a little higher than most detergents, so it’s not ideal if you’re on a budget. But it does give you bright colors while removing dirt, so lots of users think it’s money well spent.
|Scent||Original floral scent|
6. Best Woodsy-Smelling : Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Liquid Laundry Detergent
Infused with essential oils and a honeysuckle scent, it felt like it brought sunshine to our homes.
The concentrated formula may smell sweet, but it still packs a punch on dirty laundry. As it tumbled through our washing machine, it left clothes smelling fresh while also removing stains.
Red wine on your favorite pants? No problem. Body oil making your shirt feel grimy? Consider it done.
Swap the stains for sweet smells with one of our favorite plant-based detergents.
You Don’t Need to Use MuchReviewers loved how easily this removed stains without needing to use loads of detergent. With liquids, even the best detergents are easy to over-pour and use too much. So it’s best to start small and build up the quantity if you need to.
You Can Pick Your Favorite ScentWe’re focusing on the Honeysuckle scent, but there are other fragrances to choose from. All of them take inspiration from the garden, so look out for things like Basil and Lemon Verbena.
It’s Plant-BasedMore and more people are choosing plant-based products over their chemical counterparts. If that wasn’t enough, it’s also entirely cruelty-free! No bunnies were harmed in the washing of these clothes.
Lingering Musty SmellIt seems some people experienced a musty smell from their washing machines and clothes after using this. Make sure clothes are fully dry before hanging them in your closet, and wipe the rubber seal around the machine after each use.
|Free From||Parabens, phthalates, optical brighteners, artificial colors, cruelty|
7. Best for Babies : Dreft Newborn Liquid Baby Laundry Detergent
The hypoallergenic formula is super gentle, so clothes feel soft and clean without causing irritation. Plus, they’re left with a gentle floral smell that makes babies even more snuggable!
And seeing as babies somehow magic up more washing than any adult, the cap makes it easy to measure how much you need without any faff.
For extra peace of mind, it’s one of the laundry detergents recommended by pediatricians and Pampers. So wash away without fear.
Clothes Keep Their SmellClothes don’t always keep that freshly-washed smell for long, which is disappointing. But the Dreft scent stays put, making the closet and dresser smell beautiful!
It’s GentleBabies need gentle products, and Dreft is free from added chlorine, dyes, and phosphates. So it’s suitable for the most sensitive skin.
You Can Get Different TypesThe regular detergent is ideal for newborns, but you can get Dreft to suit different ages and stains. At the point of weaning? Try the food stain removal product. Or swap over to a plant-based formula if you love eco-friendly detergents.
Different ScentThe newer formula has a different smell, which some users don’t like as much. It’s more floral than the older baby powder scent and isn’t as gentle on the nose.
|Scent||Original baby fresh scent|
|Free From||Added chlorine, dyes, and phosphates|
8. Best Eco-Friendly : Method Concentrated Laundry Detergent
Why choose between awesome smelling clothes and eco-friendly detergent when you can have both? Method has found the sweet spot that gives you the best of both worlds.
And by sweet spot, we’re not just talking about the incredible range of scents they have available. We’re also talking about what a great stain fighter it is.
Sure, the fragrances transported our minds around the globe, but the detergent also left our clothes clean. It passed all of our stain removal tests with flying colors.
But if you are faced with a particularly stubborn stain, you can up the cleaning power with the stain remover from their impressive range of products.
The Best Range of SmellsThere are seven delightful scents to choose from with Method detergents. And each one sounds more tropical than the last!
If you prefer fragrance-free detergents, the Free + Clear isn’t loaded with any smell at all.
Pretty PackagingNot only does the detergent work well, but it looks good too. Users love how appealing Method looks in their home thanks to the modern packaging and range of pretty colors.
It’s a Green ProductIf you want to steer away from harsh chemicals and focus more on “green” products, Method is one to try. Loads of users love the natural element of this detergent.
And as an added bonus, you don’t need to use much for a medium load, so one bottle goes a long way.
Leaky LidNot everything has come up smelling roses for Method, with the leaky lid coming top of the grumbles list. The detergent itself is a thick liquid, so a lot of it lingers in the lid and drips down the bottle.
|Scent||Lavender and Cypress|
|Free From||Parabens, phthalates, cruelty-free|
What to Look For in a Laundry Detergent
Before we go too far, let’s run through some of the main things you should consider when choosing a laundry detergent.
Powder detergents are an affordable all-purpose choice, so it’s no surprise they’re widely used. While they can handle a range of stains, watch out for a build-up of powder in your machine.
It’s a good idea to check the detergent drawer and give it a clean to keep your machine in good working order.
This Tide Plus Bleach is a powdered detergent.
Liquids and Gels
Liquids and gels are more gentle than powders or capsules seeing as they don’t use a bleaching agent. It means they’re ideal for delicate clothes and work well on both whites and colors.
They don’t clog up the detergent drawer either!
But they have their downsides. They’re more expensive than other detergents, and it’s hit and miss with how well different products remove stains.
This Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day is an example of a liquid detergent.
Capsules, pods, tablets, or whatever else you call them are the new kids on the laundry block. They’re super convenient since they have the optimal amount of detergent you need for a wash.
Another bonus is that you can’t use too much by accident, so it helps to prevent waste. But you do pay a premium for this added convenience!
Still, they’re effective on both whites and colors. They don’t always work too well at lower temperatures, though.
Dropps Sensitive Skin and Baby Detergent is an example of these liquid pods.
- Surfactants. These make it easier for water to get into the fibers of fabrics, so they can remove oil, dirt, and grease. You can get special surfactants or silicon compounds to minimize the amount of foam in front-loader detergents.
- Enzymes. These proteins work best for removing stains like milk, grass, and blood. They’re super effective but can irritate skin. So it’s best to avoid this if you have skin troubles.
- Optical Brighteners. These are designed to keep whites as bright as possible and reduce that grey tinge clothes develop over time. They don’t play any part in removing dirt. Like enzymes, it’s best to avoid these if you have sensitive skin.
- Builders. We’re not talking construction, these agents soften hard water and raise alkalinity. This makes surfactants more effective, as they ensure grime is removed in the dirty wash water rather than sticking to your clothes.
- Fillers. These don’t help with cleaning as such, but they stop powders from clumping together. And this makes it loads easier for you to pour into your machine.
- Fragrance. Again, the smell doesn’t affect the cleaning power. But we all love our clothes to smell fresh and adding fragrance masks the whiff of the ingredients. You can find all sorts of scent combinations, so choose one that you love the most.
If you wear perfume or cologne, or use a body wash that lingers for hours, the smell of your detergent may not matter to you. But it’s worth considering a scented option if you have pets or are conscious of your body odor.
The smell can stay in place for a few weeks after washing. But if the smell is still on your clothes, so is part of the detergent. So keep this in mind if you want something gentle.
If you love a natural woodsy fragrance, this Hero Clean has a Juniper Scent. And Gain is a brand that’s well-known for its fresh scent.
Safer Choice products are better for human health and the environment, so keep an eye out for this label.
The scheme is an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Pollution Prevention Program (1). So this means minimal pollution was caused to make the detergent, too. It’s a great way to highlight how you can make the safest choice for your family.
You can always search for detergents with this certification on the EPA website.
You won’t find this stamp of approval on any liquid packets that are wrapped in a soluble film though. These wrappers pose a hazard to young children, so keep that in mind when picking your product.
USDA Organic Seal
Loads of brands use words like “eco”, “green”, or “natural” without needing to verify their claims. So how do you know it’s legit?
The word “organic” has much tighter restrictions for use than the others. So if you see this word, it means the product has the USDA Organic Seal and is certified by them (2).
It’s only given to products that are made with 95-100% organic products. To achieve this status, the detergent is also made following methods outlined by the Department of Agriculture.
At most, 5% of ingredients in “organic” products are not organic. But even this small percentage cannot pose any risk to human or environmental health.
- What sort of washing machine do you have?
- Do you do any hand washing?
- Do you need to wash delicate items or sports kits?
- Are you washing baby clothes or items for people with skin sensitivities?
- Is there a mixture of colors, darks, and whites?
- Do you prefer washing with hot water or cold water?
Many detergents are versatile and are suited for loads of different uses. If this works for you, you’re also saving money by only buying one item.
But there are times you need to choose a more specific product, like for delicates or baby clothes.
Noodle & Boo Ultra-Safe Laundry Detergent is a specific product for babies. And users rate Arm & Hammer Clean Burst if you’re sensitive to allergies.
Finally, check what washing machines the detergent works with. If you use a high efficiency machine, opt for a product labeled for this sort of washer.
Look out for the HE symbol on the packaging, like on this Gain Botanicals Laundry Detergent.
- Arm & Hammer
- Seventh Generation
- Earth Friendly Products
- Mrs. Meyer’s
These tried and tested brands are highly rated by reviewers, so they’re a good place to start if you don’t know which laundry detergent is right for you.
Our Laundry Detergents Testing Process
We put detergents through some vigorous testing to bring you the very best products on the market. So here’s what we do.
Firstly, we check out the labels to make sure all the required information is on there. Think safety labels, directions, and how easy it is to find all the details.
We then put the detergents to use in our homes and trial a mix of stains. Mud, coffee, and greasy fingerprints are just a few we go through! And these are on various garments, like towels, bedding, and clothes.
We wash swatches using differing amounts of detergent based on how soiled it is. And then air dry them rather than tumble drying.
After all of this, we think about how easy the detergent is to dispense, how well it cleans, and how items feel afterward. We then compile all of this together to bring you our very favorite products!
Laundry Detergents Comparison Chart
|Product||Form||Weight||Free from||Our rating|
|Persil Proclean||Liquid||2.5 pounds||N/A|
|Tide 3 in 1||Pods||65 ounces||Phosphate|
|Molly’s Suds Powder||Powder||4.45 pounds||Paraben, phosphate, chemicals, gluten, dyes, and perfumes||N/A|
|Kirkland Signature||Liquid||13.7 pounds||N/A||N/A|
|Tide Hygienic Clean||Liquid||6.44 pounds||N/A|
|Mrs. Meyer’s Liquid Detergent||Concentrated liquid||4 pounds||Parabens, phthalates, optical brighteners, artificial colors, cruelty|
|Dreft Newborn Liquid Detergent||Liquid||3.1 pounds||Added chlorine, dyes, and phosphates||N/A|
|Method Concentrated||Liquid||3.5 pounds||Parabens, phthalates, cruelty-free|