Best Laundry Detergent

If washing your clothes is starting to get problematic, then having the best laundry detergent that’s great at removing stains may help get some weight off of your shoulders. This is especially useful if you need to deal with a ton of laundry, or get out tough stains and want something that’s easy to use and gets the job done without adding any extra hassle.

We made a list of high-efficiency (HE) washing machine-compatible laundry detergents that are commonly available in most stores and picked the seven brands that stood out the most. Among all of our favorites, Tide PODS detergent took the #1 spot because of its great cleaning power and 3-in-1 technology. It’s also highly efficient when it comes to both performance and cost. Read on to find out more about it and our six other picks.

Top 7 Best Laundry Detergent Compared

 #1  Tide PODS 3-in-1 Laundry Detergent

Award: Top Pick

WHY WE LIKE IT: Tide PODS contains 90% active ingredients in each pack of detergent for 10x the cleaning power. Forget about buying anything else; each pod acts as a detergent, stain remover, and color protector, making this product extremely cost-efficient.

Pros
  • 3-in-1 detergent
  • Contains 90% active ingredients
  • Cost-efficient
Cons
  • Doesn’t dissolve on rare occasions

Tide is one of the leading brands in the laundry detergent market, and with good reason. PODS is a convenient 3-in-1 product that’s 10x more effective than generic brands. A single pod can clean a medium load of laundry by itself without needing a stain remover and color protector. It also comes in a spring meadow scent, giving your clothes hints of fresh and floral notes.

Tide PODS is an excellent product overall. It’s at the top of its class as far as pod/pack-type detergents go, but it isn’t perfect. Although said to be dissolvable in both hot and cold water, we noticed that some pods would sometimes refuse to dissolve completely, which forced us to rewash a few loads during testing. Thankfully, this happened rarely. Your detergent should be as strong as the best all purpose cleaner.

 #2  Tide Liquid Laundry Detergent

Award: Honorable Mention

WHY WE LIKE IT: Tide Liquid Detergent, with its 6x cleaning power, is great for efficient laundry cleaning just like our top pick. A single dose of Tide can effectively clean more clothes in an HE-washing machine than generic brands, saving you time and money.

Pros
  • 6x cleaning power
  • Convenient packaging
  • Washes up to 93 loads
Cons
  • Packaging can be damaged easily

Tide’s Liquid Laundry Detergent is simple and straightforward yet highly effective when it comes to washing grime, dirt, and stains off of your clothes. Much like Tide PODS, the liquid detergent is efficient when cleaning. One dose of Tide Liquid Detergent is enough to clean up to 6x the volume of clothes that other brands can. Unlike Tide PODS, the liquid detergent doesn’t have any insolubility issues, which is great if you don’t want to worry about anything while doing your laundry.

Tide Liquid Detergent has no major issues in itself as we were using it. The detergent is packed in pouches that have a small, capped spout that makes it easy to transfer into soap bottles. However, the packaging itself feels rather fragile. Handle them with care if you decide to buy them from your local supermarket, or hope that they arrive intact if you decide to have them delivered to your doorstep. They clean the best cleaning cloths well, meaning the things that get the dirtiest.

 #3  Arm & Hammer 2-in-1 Laundry Detergent

Award: Best Budget

WHY WE LIKE IT: The Arm & Hammer 2-in-1 Laundry Detergent packs contain a unique microcrystal formula with 99% active ingredients to get rid of even the toughest stains and ensure your white clothes are as bright as possible. Its mixture of detergent, baking soda, and two OxiClean stain fighters makes it unique among our favorites.

Pros
  • 99% active ingredients
  • Unique microcrystal formula
  • 2-in-1 detergent and baking soda
Cons
  • Packs can fuse while stored
  • Packs may fail to dissolve

The Arm & Hammer 2-in-1 Laundry Detergent is the second pack-type detergent in our list, and it performs just about as well. Arm & Hammer features 99% active ingredients with its unique microcrystal formula to wipe away even the biggest of stains.

One pack of Arm & Hammer contains all that you need for doing your laundry in one go: detergent, baking soda, and stain fighters. Like Tide PODS, however, the packs of this detergent also tend to fuse when stored. And on rare occasions, the packs would be half-dissolved after washing. The best bathroom essentials, like towels will thank you for the cleaning.

 #4  Solimo Laundry Detergent

Award: Largest Quantity

WHY WE LIKE IT: The value of this product lies in its quantity; every purchase comes with 120 packs of detergent—that’s 25-30% more than our other picks.

Pros
  • Contains 120 detergent packs
  • Cleans effectively
  • 1-year satisfaction guarantee
Cons
  • Prone to fusing
  • Somewhat insoluble

The Solimo Laundry Detergent packs contain pre-measured amounts of soap that can clean one medium load of clothes with just one pack. It doesn’t have any fancy formulas nor is it as strong as some of our other favorites, but the fact that each canister comes with 120 detergent packs makes it valuable in its own right.

It’s a very cost-efficient purchase if you’re not too particular about what you use on your laundry. Just keep in mind that these detergents are more prone to not dissolving properly when washing unlike the other pod-type detergents in this list. You can also check out the best mop for your floor cleaning needs.

 #5  Persil ProClean Liquid Laundry Detergent

Award: Best Efficiency

WHY WE LIKE IT: The Persil ProClean is a very efficient laundry soap that can wash large loads of clothes with just a few drops. It offers premium cleaning with its strong concentrated formula, guaranteeing enough cleaning power for up to 4 months of laundry.

Pros
  • High cleaning efficiency per drop
  • Strong cleaning formula
  • Washes up to 110 loads
Cons
  • Strong scent

Like some of our other favorites, the Persil ProClean gives more attention to efficiency to offer more value. It uses an improved formula based on the one that’s present on older Persil detergents. The new formula uses Pro-Power Technology for stronger cleaning power for 2x less the amount of detergent.

Persil ProClean washes dirty clothes very thoroughly with minimal suds produced. It boasts of washing up to 110 loads and can last up to 4 months when used as instructed. It’s more efficient than some of the other liquid detergents on our list, but its strong scent may be too overwhelming for some. Your home may also need the best toilet bowl cleaner.

 #6  Tide Purclean Plant-Based Laundry Detergent

Award: Best Eco-Friendly

WHY WE LIKE IT: The Tide Purclean is the first bio-based laundry detergent that has the same cleaning power that the rest of Tide’s products have. It’s 65% bio-based and made via a process that’s completely environmentally friendly.

Pros
  • USDA-certified
  • Strong cleaning power
  • No dyes, phosphates, and chlorine
Cons
  • Produces a lot of suds

The Purclean is the first bio-based laundry detergent from Tide. This liquid detergent is 65% plant-based, and the manufacturing process itself is also quite eco-friendly. The detergent is USDA-certified and made through renewable means that produce zero waste products. The Purclean seems to be just as powerful and efficient at cleaning as our other Tide picks, but if you’re concerned about the environment, this may be the best option for you.

The Purclean produces a lot of suds while washing, though, which might cause problems with some washing machines. Purclean’s honey lavender scent may also be too strong for some, but this is purely subjective. For more clean things in the home, the best window cleaning kit makes it easy.

 #7  Magnetic Laundry System

Award: Best Detergent Alternative

WHY WE LIKE IT: MLS isn’t exactly a detergent brand, per se—it uses a pair of strong magnets to separate dirt and grime instead of using soap, and it works surprisingly well. MLS is a very unique laundry cleaner that can save you tons of money in the long run.

Pros
  • Effective and easy to set up
  • Cost-efficient
  • Limited lifetime warranty
Cons
  • No fragrance
  • Requires hot water

The MLS (or Magnetic Laundry System) is an alternative to the traditional soap-based laundry detergent. It’s actually a pair of two very strong magnets that are placed inside a washing machine along with your laundry. They work by changing the surface tension of water to filter out dirt from clothes just like soap-based detergents. The MLS is a bit pricey as far as the initial purchase is concerned, but it can last for months on end without needing any replacements.

The MLS works with any type of washing machine, and it can clean clothes just as well as traditional laundry soap. However, it won’t infuse any special scents on your clothes since they’re just magnets. Also, you’ll need to strictly use hot water when using the MLS so bacteria can be eliminated properly since there aren’t any chemicals involved. It will do a great job of cleaning the best shop cloth. And here is a tip about cleaning things like small area rugs: Use the best handheld vacuum on it first.

How We Decided

Laundry detergents are very homogenous, but some brands do offer some unique traits that many people tend to overlook. Our favorites were chosen from a wide list of brands and based on their actual value. We made sure to only select products that are compatible with HE washing machines. We also considered each detergent’s cleaning power, the number of loads washed, stain removal, and scent.

To determine the best overall laundry detergent, we compared the cleaning power of our top picks against generic brands by conducting a test on how they can clean muddy, white clothes. After using the recommended minimum load of each detergent, side-by-side comparisons showed our favorites managed to produce brighter whites than the other brands. Out of the many detergents we tested, we also selected cost-effective products, favoring those that could wash up to 60 loads and beyond.

The brands we picked have at least one thing that makes them stand out from the rest of the market, like the 3-in-1 technology used in Tide PODS or the unique microcrystal formula used by Arm & Hammer.

Buying Guide

The Most Important Features to Consider

  1. Washing Machine Compatibility
    Not all soaps are compatible with high-efficiency washing machines. Non-HE detergent may result in excessive amounts of suds when used on HE washing machines, which may cause the machine to stop functioning.
  2. Cleaning Power
    Detergents with maximum cleaning power are equipped with cleaning agents that effectively separate the dirt from your clothes. The greater the cleaning power, the more efficient it is at making your clothes brighter and whiter.
  3. Loads Washed
    If you do heavy laundry every week, it’s essential to get the detergent that can deliver the most number of high-quality loads in one pack.
  4. Scent
    The detergents in our list vary in fragrances. Some have floral scents, like spring meadow or honey lavender, while others have fresh, mild scents only. Select your laundry detergent based on your preferred scent.

FAQs

  • What’s the difference between liquid detergent and detergent packs?
    Both can clean your clothes effectively, but liquid detergents have the added benefit of doubling as stain removers. Meanwhile, detergent packs offer more convenience since all you’ll have to do is drop them in your laundry. Detergent packs like Tide PODS contain measured amounts of soap, while liquid detergents will have you manually measuring the amount needed before pouring. Either way, both are better options than powder detergent. Powder detergent can struggle to mix with water on colder settings and over time can leave chunks of undissolved detergent in your machine.
  • Can laundry detergents cause allergic reactions?
    They can. Laundry detergents can cause a skin condition called contact dermatitis. Symptoms include the formation of red rashes, bumps, swelling, mild to severe itching, dry or scaly skin, and blistering. For a gentler detergent, opt for non-bio. Non-bio doesn’t contain any enzymes making it a better choice for sensitive skin.
  • What happens if I use non-HE detergent on my HE washing machine?
    Non-HE detergent can create extreme amounts of suds in an HE washing machine, causing soap bubbles to overflow. There’s also the possibility of mold to grow in the machine when non-HE detergent is used.

Laundry Detergent FAQs

What’s the difference between liquid detergent and detergent packs?

Both can clean your clothes effectively, but liquid detergents have the added benefit of doubling as stain removers. Meanwhile, detergent packs offer more convenience since all you’ll have to do is drop them in your laundry. Detergent packs like Tide PODS contain measured amounts of soap, while liquid detergents will have you manually measuring the amount needed before pouring. Either way, both are better options than powder detergent. Powder detergent can struggle to mix with water on colder settings and over time can leave chunks of undissolved detergent in your machine. 

Can laundry detergents cause allergic reactions?

They can. Laundry detergents can cause a skin condition called contact dermatitis. Symptoms include the formation of red rashes, bumps, swelling, mild to severe itching, dry or scaly skin, and blistering. For a gentler detergent, opt for non-bio. Non-bio doesn't contain any enzymes making it a better choice for sensitive skin.

What happens if I use non-HE detergent on my HE washing machine?

Non-HE detergent can create extreme amounts of suds in an HE washing machine, causing soap bubbles to overflow. There’s also the possibility of mold to grow in the machine when non-HE detergent is used.

How should I remove a red wine stain from clothes?

There are several DIY home tricks for getting out accidental wine spills from carpet and clothes. For more detailed instructions and how to tackle wine stains on a number of surfaces, make sure you search online by typing in 'red wine stain removal.' For clothes, a mixture of Dawn Dishwashing Detergent and hydrogen peroxide is recommended.

What does free and clear detergent mean?

When a laundry detergent claims to be Free Clear, it is usually referring to being free from artificial dyes and fragrance. It some cases, it can also mean being completely free of fabric softeners and optical brighteners. One of the best laundry detergents for sensitive skin is: all Liquid Detergent, Free Clear for Sensitive Skin.

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Geri Mileva

Based in Prague, CZ, Geri is a freelance writer with nine years of experience. Technology, marketing and finance are among her favorite topics to write about. She's also a strong advocate of plant-based and ethical living.

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