When you shop for laundry detergent, you might wonder if there's a big difference between different detergent types. Actually, depending on how you do laundry and what kind of stains and dirt you have, there is somewhat of a difference. If you're using a high-efficiency washer, make sure you're using a HE detergent. Beyond that, let's look at your options:
Single pack, liquid or powder?
Liquid detergents tend to be more effective on greasy or oily stains. However, it's easy to use too much per load in your washing machine. Powdered detergents are typically the least expensive and very effective on mud stains or ground-in dirt. If you use cold water to wash clothes, powder may not dissolve completely. The single-dose packs are convenient, but more expensive.
What about your own needs?
If you have sensitive skin, or are sensitive to certain scents, you may need to choose your laundry detergent accordingly. Fragrances are common allergens. Choose a detergent that is free of those products. You may even need to rinse twice, to make all residue from the detergent is rinsed out of the clothing before placing them in the dryer.
Which detergents are most effective?
Check out a reputable website, such as Consumer Reports or Good Housekeeping, to get comparisons on how different detergents work. Or independently test different detergents to see which one cleans your clothes the best. Price isn't a factor in detergent quality. Look at the ingredient list for:
- Alkalies - borax, washing soda or baking soda
- Surfactants - alkyl sulphates, ethers of fatty alcohol, alkyl ethoxylate sulphates
- Water conditioners
- Suds control
- Optical brighteners or a bleach alternative
Laundry success doesn't only rely on the right detergent, but also the right water temperatures, pre-treating stains and loading washers correctly. When you bring all those elements together, your clothes will last longer, look their best and keep their shape and feel.