How to Pick the Right Kind of Laundry Detergent

laundry detergent

With so many things to think about in today’s world, laundry detergent is probably the last thing on your mind, until you run out. So, you just add it to your shopping list to get the next time you’re at the store. No big deal, right?

Until you turn down the laundry detergent aisle and realize there are dozens of different laundry detergents! Multi-colored jugs and boxes line the aisle, calling out their superior qualities of “ultra”-this and “premium”-that.

Overwhelmed at the sea of choices, your first instinct might be to grab the brand you’ve always used and get out of there quickly without too much thought. But in the back of your mind, is the lingering thought “is this the best choice?”

Most people select their laundry detergent based on habit. But what other things should you consider when making the right choice for your family’s clean clothes?

Cost is definitely a consideration for most people when selecting a detergent but the form and ingredients are also important to consider when deciding on the right kind of laundry detergent for washing your clothes.


Laundry detergent comes in three different forms: Liquid, Powder, and Single-Dose Packets. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of each of them.


Liquid detergent is the most popular form of laundry detergent on the market today, accounting for almost 75% of all sales. It is an efficient way to clean clothes as it can be used at both a detergent and also a pre-treatment for tough stains. Liquid detergent is especially good at cleaning greasy and oily food stains.

The biggest disadvantage is people often overuse the detergent; they are tempted to pour directly from the jug into their washing machine. But this can leave a residue in the clothes if it’s not all rinsed out, leading to skin irritations in people with sensitive skin. So be sure to read the directions and use the cap to measure out the right amount for your laundry load.


Powdered detergents have been around the longest, since the 1930s! They have the longest shelf life and work very well if you’re washing your clothes in hard water. And, while they’re great for cleaning dirt stains it isn’t as effective to pre-treat the stains with a powdered detergent so you often have to buy another product for that which you can find on sites such as The Laundress or in your local stores to get the best for your clothes.

One other disadvantage of powdered detergents is that while they have the longest shelf life, it must be stored in a dry place. If it gets wet, it clumps together and can form a rock-solid-block! Powdered detergents also don’t dissolve well in cold water and best when used in warm or hot water.

Single-Dose Packs

Single-dose packs of laundry detergent are very convenient and easy to use, but you pay for that convenience – they are the most expensive for laundry detergent per load.

They are also not recommended in households with small children or cognitively impaired adults. Cases of poisoning have resulted from people mistaking these packets for candy or a fun, squishy toy that can easily break apart allowing the detergent to spill out, leaving it too easy to be inhaled or ingested.

Some review agencies refuse to recommend any single-dose packets in homes where young children or vulnerable adults reside.


Two of the biggest indicators of clean clothes are no stains and a clean, fresh scent!

Some chemicals are useful to the clothes washing experience. Active ingredients like enzymes remove stains from the clothes and surfactants lift the soil off the fabric and wash it away in the water.

But others like fragrances can be problematic if you suffer from allergies or have sensitive skin.

One option if you are worried about chemicals is to consider an environmentally friendly, non toxic laundry detergent. Eco-friendly detergents are free from synthetic chemicals and are often much better both for your skin and the environment!

Make the Best Choice for You!

By taking a quick moment to consider the different forms and ingredient options, you can avoid being overwhelmed the next time you’re in the laundry detergent aisle. This little bit of knowledge will help you make the right choice for the cleanest laundry in your household.


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