8 BEST LAUNDRY DETERGENTS FOR A THOROUGH, GREAT-SMELLING CLEAN EVERY TIME

8 BEST LAUNDRY DETERGENTS FOR A THOROUGH, GREAT-SMELLING CLEAN EVERY TIME

Laundry detergent might not be the most exhilarating household product, but it’s one of those things that you simply can’t live without. Yet, as essential as it is, most people only think about laundry detergent when it comes time to replace their current bottle.

Instead of reaching for the first brand of detergent that you see at the store, you should really be looking for one that’s formulated for both your specific needs and washing machine, and that comes in a form that’s comfortable to use. And sometimes, the best laundry detergents only be found online. Shopping online for a laundry detergent is not only incredibly convenient (especially if you buy everything else online anyway), but there’s a ton more variety since many indie, eco-friendlier brands aren’t as widely available in stores.

We’re here to fill you in on everything you need to know about choosing the very best laundry detergent for you, one load at a time.

THE BEST LAUNDRY DETERGENTS

WHAT TO CONSIDER

Everyone’s priorities are different, even when it comes to laundry detergent. When looking for the best laundry detergent, your considerations may span from convenience, cost-effectiveness, or simply wanting to do right by the planet by choosing a plant-based formula. Here are a few other things to keep in mind:

Washing Machine Type: If you have a high-efficiency (HE) washing machine, you may want to consider checking that your detergent is compatible with a machine that uses less water to clean clothes. Many of the most widely available brands are now formulated to be used in older and in HE washing machines.

Skin Sensitivities: If you have sensitive skin or have experienced contact dermatitis from detergents in the past, you may want to narrow your search to detergents labeled “free and clear,” which are dye-free and unscented formulas. According to Max Appel, the creator of OxiClean and a veteran of product development in the home-cleaning category, it doesn’t hurt to check the ingredients list a little more closely before you buy these. “It may be best to avoid fragrances, natural or otherwise,” he says. “Other surfactants to avoid with sensitive skin are LAS (linear alkylbenzene sulphonate)SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate), and SLES (sodium laureth sulfate) … However, dye typically doesn’t have any allergenic or negative impact to the consumer due to low use levels.”

Detergent Form: You’ll increasingly see detergent available in forms beyond the usual liquid, like pods and sheets. While the efficacy of all these forms is virtually the same, the main difference here is the weight of these products. People who have a dedicated laundry room in their home may have no trouble using liquid detergent, but if you have to travel to a laundromat to do laundry (or schlep your loads to a shared laundry room in your apartment building), packing a lightweight pod or pack of detergent sheets seems like a more appealing alternative. Some reviewers with vision impairment say that detergent pods guarantee a precise measurement every time liquid detergent does not.

Our guide to the best laundry detergents covers affordable formulas in a range of forms from liquid to pods to sheets, with plenty of unscented and eco-friendlier choices in the mix, too. Read on to see what we’re spinning!

1. BEST SCENTED DETERGENT PODS

• Approx. number of loads: 81

Tide Pods 3-in-1 Laundry Detergent Pacs

$18.39

 

This user-favorite pick is one of Amazon’s best-selling laundry detergents. Its 3-in-1 formula is a detergent, stain remover, and color protector, making it perfect for all types of loads. Though Tide’s potent cleaning formula may not be the best for sensitive skin as it contains fragrance and some of the aforementioned surfactants, these Pods are undeniably convenient.

Many reviewers love these for washing grimy clothes thoroughly and always imparting a “fresh, clean” scent. For those who transport their laundry outside the home or have trouble determining how much liquid detergent to use on any given load, Tide Pods are a simple, single-serve product that helps alleviate these issues.

And to ensure that households with children stay safe, Tide Pods now have childproof packaging that helps prevent young kids from breaking into it.


2. BEST UNSCENTED DETERGENT PODS

• Approx. number of loads: 160

Dropps Sensitive Skin Laundry Detergent Pods

$52.00

$38.39 (26% off)

Just like Tide Pods, these dissolvable detergent pods from Dropps can also be popped right into your laundry load. They’re packed with the same stain- and odor-fighting potency as regular detergents but do not contain the same potentially skin-irritating ingredients.

While Dropps do come in two other lightly scented varieties like citrus-pine and lavender-eucalyptus, we like this clean-and-clear version for leaving out the fragrance and dye, making it better to use with delicate fabrics and baby clothes.

This laundry detergent is ideal for anyone who prefers buying cleaning products with short and simple ingredient lists and who wants a waste-free product that comes in a recyclable cardboard container. It costs a little more than the drugstore stuff, but we say it’s worth it.

3. BEST SCENTED LIQUID DETERGENT

• Approx. number of loads: 33

Grove Collaborative Ultra-Concentrated Liquid Laundry Detergent

 

Grove Collaborative’s laundry detergent is a delight to use. The dye-free formula cleans every type of laundry load thoroughly, and the scent — specifically the lavender and rosemary — makes it feel like a way fancier product than it is.

I’ve used this detergent over the course of several months and really love both the scent and the pouch it comes in, which is much easier to transport to the laundromat than a large plastic container of liquid detergent. The pouch can be sent back to the brand to be recycled through their partnership with TerraCycle.

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4.BEST UNSCENTED LIQUID DETERGENT

All Free & Clear Liquid Laundry Detergent

 

• Approx. number of loads: 110

All’s Free & Clear Liquid Laundry Detergent is a concentrated formula, so a small capful of it goes a long way. Though potent, it’s a good choice for those with skin sensitivities — our art production manager Bridget Clegg can also vouch for it.

She says, “I have sensitive skin and allergy issues year-round, so I’ve opted to get rid of scents in products where I can. While I love the smell of a classic laundry detergent, I had to find one that wouldn’t make me itchy, and this one is widely available and affordable. There’s no scent or dye, which is great for me.”

If you miss the scent but want something that’s non-irritating for other members of your household, you can always spritz your fresh-from-the-dryer clothes down with a linen spray.

5. BEST PLANT-BASED DETERGENT

• Approx. number of loads: 32

Cleancult Natural Liquid Laundry Detergent

Once you start reading the ingredient labels on your cleaning products, you might find that it’s quite addictive. That’s just how the Cleancult brand was founded and why the products themselves are plant-based.

As a result, their saponified coconut oil laundry detergent is gentler on skin and the environment while still being an effective cleaner. It contains no red-flag surfactants or dyes and also is available in a fragrance-free version. (Although we can attest that the honeysuckle scent is amazing.)

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6. BEST BLEACH DETERGENT

• Approx. number of loads: 43

Purex Liquid Laundry Detergent Plus Clorox

 

Keep your colors bright and your whites looking as fresh as the day you bought them with Purex’s laundry detergent, which is enhanced with Clorox’s stain-removing enzymes. It contains no chlorine bleach, making it safe for colors and mixed loads.

If your dirty, stained clothing loads need a stronger formula that’s dialed up from some of the gentler types on this list, this is the one to get. It neutralizes odors while lifting stains, and reviewers tout it as being a reliable standby for their messier loads.

7. BEST BOXED DETERGENT

• Approx. number of loads: 96

Gain Liquid Laundry Detergent Soap Eco-Box

$23.99

$13.44 (44% off)

When you think of that unmistakable “fresh laundry” smell, the scent of Gain’s detergent likely comes to mind. According to our executive director Christine Anderson, who uses these, “You either love the scent, or you hate it — and I’m a lover. Gain smells amazing, and the scent sticks around.”

The detergent’s extra-large Eco-Box is both economical and eco-friendly, costing about 27 cents per load and packaged in a box and bag that are completely recyclable, according to the manufacturer. Reviewers love that this box seems to last forever, and its tap makes it easy to measure detergent amounts more precisely.

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8. BEST LAUNDRY SHEETS

Dreambly 6-In-1 Organic Laundry Detergent Sheets

$17.99

$15.05 (16% off)

 

• Approx. number of loads: 40

Another one of our favorite multitasking laundry detergents is the Dreambly sheets. The formula in these wood-pulp-derived sheets is comprised of all-natural, cruelty-free, and EPA-certified ingredients and is USDA-certified 100% biodegradable.

This 40-pack of moistened sheets functions as a detergent, a stain remover, a fabric softener, a whitener, a color brightener, and an anti-static solution at once. That means you can add a sheet to your washer and then carry it over to your dryer to help prevent your clothes from clinging together.

For laundromat users, it’s a great choice because it’s no heavier than carrying a pack of wipes in your bag. And in our experience using it, we’ve found that the Clean Lemon Sage scent is also botanically, herbaceously delightful.

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