Good laundry detergent is effective at removing stains and odors from clothing with minimal effort on your part. Tide's Free & Natural Liquid Laundry Detergent is the best choice for most people because it's unscented, effective at cleaning, and not as hazardous to children as pods.
Laundry day probably won't ever be the highlight of your week, but the alternative — an empty underwear drawer and re-wearing your socks from yesterday — is far less appealing. And happily for us, today's technology provides far easier methods for cleaning our clothes than our great-great-grandparents used. Instead of pounding our dirty unmentionables on a rock, or submerging them in a mixture of skin-burning lye, we have shelves full of laundry detergents to choose from.
A good laundry detergent removes dirt, oil, and sweat from your clothing, leaves behind a fresh scent, doesn't fade or alter fabric color, doesn't break you out in an itchy rash, and doesn't empty your wallet. The problem is, store shelves are full of laundry detergents that meet all of these requirements, so how are you to choose the best product?
We've assembled this guide to the best laundry detergents that not only meet the basic requirements but also go the extra mile. So whatever type of laundry detergent you prefer — natural, unscented, sensitive formula — we have a pick for you.
Here are our top picks for the best laundry detergent: Best laundry detergent overall: Tide Free & Natural Liquid Laundry Detergent Best laundry detergent pods: Tide Pods 3 in 1 Turbo Best natural laundry liquid: Puracy Natural Liquid Laundry Detergent Best natural laundry powder: Charlie's Soap Laundry Powder Best laundry pods for sensitive skin: All Free & Clear Mighty Pacs Best laundry detergent for babies: Molly's Suds Laundry Powder Best laundry detergent for the laundromat: Lucky Fiji Power Sheets Best laundry detergent soap bar for handwashing: Zote White Laundry Bar Soap
Updated by Caitlin Petreycik on 10/21/19. Updated prices, links, and formatting.
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Best laundry detergent overall
Tide's Free & Natural Liquid Laundry Detergent is unscented, cleans effectively, and doesn't cost a crazy price.
Tide Free & Natural Liquid Laundry Detergent is hypoallergenic, with no dyes or perfumes that might irritate sensitive skin, but it still pulls no punches when it comes to getting dirt, stains, and odors out of your laundry.
Just use the measuring cup inside the cap to pour the right amount of liquid detergent into your washing machine, and let the cleaning begin. Your clothes will come out smelling fresh but without any strong fragrance. That's a good thing for people with allergies or skin sensitivity.
Amazon customer TMam sums up the comments of many pleased buyers in a review, writing, "I have some pretty severe allergies, and at times, contact dermatitis. I had to avoid Tide for decades because it was one of the primary allergens that triggered this reaction in my skin. Thankfully, they developed this formula that works well for me. I can't promise you won't have a reaction, but I use this on towels, sheets, and undergarments, and so far, I have been issue-free."
Pros: Fragrance and dye-free, easy-pour bottle, very effective in any temperature of water
Cons: Some complaints that the liquid runs down the side of the bottle after using the measuring cap
Best laundry detergent pods
Tide Pods 3 in 1 Turbo leave your clothes super-clean and smelling fresh, plus they help remove stains without fading fabric.
Toss one of these pods into your washing machine, turn on the water, pile your dirty laundry on top, and let the spin cycle work its magic. Tide Pods 3 in 1 Turbo combine detergent, stain remover, and color protectant in one small pod. Pods make laundry day a snap. No need to measure, pour, or deal with a soapy, slippery bottle.
The formula is safe for HE washers, and won't leave soap residue or require extra rinse cycles. There are several pleasant fragrances to choose from, but they are all fairly strong, so keep that in mind.
Amazon customers who wrote reviews on the Tide Pods 3 in 1 Turbo mostly praise its effective cleaning action, ease of use, and reasonable price. A few complained that they had pods fail to dissolve in the wash, however, and some other customers said the fragrance irritated their skin.
Another key thing to note is that any household with young children or elderly people with dementia shouldn't buy pods due to the poison hazard. We only recommend pods to households with grown adults who are not likely to pop a pod in their mouths. These things are toxic, and many people have died or become seriously ill from ingesting these pods.
Take care, use common sense, and keep pods away from those who might mistake them for food or a toy, and you'll be fine.
Pros: Powerful formula really gets clothes clean and stain-free, childproof container
Cons: Fragrance is quite strong, so not suitable for those with sensitive skin, dangerous if ingested, not for homes with kids
Best natural laundry liquid
Some natural laundry detergents don't really get your clothes very clean, but Puracy's Natural Liquid Laundry Detergent gets your laundry clean and fresh.
No phosphates, sulfates, petrochemicals, animal by-products, chlorine, perfumes, gluten, tree nut-based ingredients, dyes, or allergens are in Puracy's Natural Liquid Laundry Detergent.
Instead, the company uses plant-derived enzymes to remove sweat, oil, dirt, and other grunge from your laundry, leaving behind fresh, clean fabric that won't irritate sensitive skin — even the delicate skin of newborns.
You don't need to use a lot of this highly concentrated formula — Just two pumps are enough for the average load, making this an economical as well as effective detergent. It's safe for HE machines, and works equally well in cold or hot water and on all washable fabrics.
Amazon shopper Kat sums up the sentiments of many, saying, "I have all boys — stains come with the territory. For regular everyday stains, I don't even bother pretreating and they come right out with this detergent."
Pros: No potentially irritating or environmentally unfriendly ingredients
Cons: Some customers complain that the pump leaks
Best natural laundry detergent powder
If you prefer powder detergent and you want a natural formula that won't irritate your skin, the environment, or your bank account, get Charlie's Soap Laundry Powder.
The biodegradable formula is easy on the environment and safe for septic tanks. Charlie's Soap Laundry Powder is also hypoallergenic, with no brighteners, perfumes, dyes, or phosphates.
But that doesn't mean it's weak on cleaning. This laundry powder quickly and easily washes away all manner of odors and dirt, leaving behind clean, fresh fabric with no detergent residue.
You only need a tablespoon of the powder for most loads, so you'll get 100 loads of laundry out of the 2.6-pound bag. That's pennies per load, making Charlie's Soap Laundry Powder as gentle on your wallet as it is on your clothing.
Pros: No fragrance or other irritating ingredients, very economical, safe for HE machines and all types of washable fabrics
Cons: Some complained it didn't work well on cloth diapers
Best laundry detergent pods for sensitive skin
All Free & Clear Mighty Pacs are as easy on your skin as they are tough on laundry grime.
Laundry detergent pods are undeniably easy to use — Just toss one into your machine, followed by your laundry. No need to measure or pour. But too many laundry pods are filled with strong fragrances and other sensitive skin no-no's. That's where All Free & Clear Mighty Pacs are different.
These hypoallergenic laundry pods are 100% free of fragrance and dyes, but they are still mighty effective at cleaning even your stinkiest gym clothes.
Just note that any household with young children or elderly people with dementia shouldn't buy pods due to the poison hazard. We only recommend pods to households with grown adults who are not likely to pop a pod in their mouths. These things are toxic, and many people have died or become seriously ill from ingesting these pods.
Take care, use common sense, and keep pods away from those who might mistake them for food or a toy, and you'll be fine.
Pros: Hypoallergenic, safe for HE washer and all types of washable fabrics, safe for septic systems
Cons: Some felt the pods didn't clean as well as they expected, others said the pods did not fully dissolve in the wash, dangerous if ingested, not for homes with kids
Best laundry detergent for babies
If you want the purest, most natural ingredients in your laundry detergent, but don't feel like making your own, Molly's Suds Laundry Powder is the next best thing.
Forget about a lengthy list of ingredients you can't even pronounce, much less understand — Molly's Suds Laundry Powder has only five ingredients, and every one of them is natural: sodium carbonate, sodium bicarbonate, magnesium sulfate, unrefined sea salt, and peppermint oil.
The result is a laundry powder that doesn't create suds in the wash, but does get your clothes, sheets, towels, and reusable diapers clean, fresh, and oh-so-faintly scented with peppermint. It's great for the delicate skin of newborns, as well.
You can use this laundry powder in your HE machine, on all types of washable fabrics, and in hot or cold water. Pour the scoop of detergent directly into your washing machine drum, not into the dispenser, for the best results.
Amazon shoppers really like Molly's Suds Laundry Powder. It has nearly 1,200 reviews and an average of 4.5 stars. Many praise the hypoallergenic, natural formula, saying it doesn't cause flare-ups on even the most sensitive skin, or skin suffering from eczema or other allergic conditions. Others like the way it only takes a little bit of the detergent to clean an entire load of clothes.
Pros: Limited, natural ingredients for a hypoallergenic formula safe for even the most sensitive skin
Cons: A few buyers felt the detergent didn't get clothes entirely clean
Best laundry detergent for travel or laundromat
If you schlep your laundry to the laundromat, or need to wash clothes on a lengthy vacation, you'll want the convenience and minimal weight of Lucky Fiji Power Sheets.
Forget about lugging that heavy jug of liquid or powder laundry detergent to the laundromat, or filling your vacation toiletry kit with laundry essentials. Instead, tuck a few sheets of Lucky Fiji Power Sheets into a Ziploc bag, toss the bag into your hamper of dirty clothing or your carry-on bag for easy transport, and enjoy being able to get laundry done while on the go.
Each laundry sheet is soaked with plant-based cleaning enzymes, and dissolves completely in water. No harmful chemicals, such as brighteners, parabens, sulfates, or irritating surfactants are included. The sheets contain a pleasant smelling, natural detergent that gets your clothes clean without leaving residue.
Best of all, there's nothing to pour, measure, or fill. Simply drop one sheet into the washing machine or your sink, and then launder your garments as usual.
Diggy, one of many pleased Amazon buyers, summed up the Lucky Fiji Power Sheets by saying, "My family absolutely loves this detergent. The fragrance is fresh and light. The fact that they are sheets instead of a liquid decreases the weight and makes them perfect to take on trips. When doing a super-size load, tearing a second sheet in half to throw in with a full sheet is easy. Cleans our clothes thoroughly. Highly recommend."
Pros: Lightweight and very easy to pack, safe for sensitive skin, good for handwashing as well as travel
Cons: A few people complained about the detergent's scent, somewhat expensive
Best laundry detergent soap bar for handwashing
If you like to hand wash or pre-treat clothes, Zote's White Laundry Soap Bar will remove most stains, oils, and odors from fabric with scrubbing.
Lots of clothing requires handwashing, and there's no better laundry detergent for handwashing than Zote's White Laundry Soap Bar.
Made by Mexican company Fábrica de Jabón la Corona, Zote is popular among Latin Americans and those who may not have immediate access to a washing machine. It's excellent at taking stains, oils, and odors out of fabric without damaging delicate items.
Zote is ideal for handwashing laundry or pre-treating nasty stains before you throw everything in the wash. The ingredient list is fairly decent. The soap contains sodium tallowate (beef tallow), sodium cocoate (coconut oil), citronella oil for a lemony scent, and optical brighteners.
I use it to handwash a lot of my clothing, and it works surprisingly well. A bar of Zote soap lasts quite a long time, too, so you'll spend less on laundry detergent in the long run. — Malarie Gokey
Pros: Lasts a long time, great for handwashing, pre-treats stains, gets oil out
Cons: Not for the washing machine unless you alter it
Check out our other buying guides for cleaning supplies
The best bathroom cleaning products you can buy
Your bathroom always needs a good cleaning, and having the right tools on hand is essential if you want it to be squeaky clean. We've tested tons of cleaners to find the best bathroom cleaning products you can buy.
Whether you need disinfecting wipes, a new scrub brush for the tub, an excellent shower cleaning spray, or an effective mop, we've got you covered. Our bathroom cleaning product recommendations include:
Best wipes: Clorox Disinfecting Wipes Best toilet cleaner: Clorox ToiletWand Disposable Toilet Cleaning System Best tub cleaner: The Bucko Soap Scum & Grime Cleaner Best scrub brush: OXO Good Grips All-Purpose Scrub Brush Best mold remover: Mold Armor Instant Mold & Mildew Stain Remover Best shower cleaner: Method Daily Shower Spray Best squeegee: OXO Good Grips All-Purpose Squeegee Best all-purpose cleaner: Puracy Natural Multi-Surface Cleaner Best cleaning cloths: Zwipes Microfiber Cleaning Cloths Best mops: Swiffer SteamBoost Steam Mop and Bissell PowerFresh Steam Mop The best dish soap you can buy
A top-quality dish soap has a pleasant scent if it has a scent at all, cleans the most stubborn pots and pans, and is eco- and hand-friendly. Puracy Natural Liquid Dish Soap is our top pick because it's effective on grease, safe for the environment, and gentle on your hands. These are the best dish soaps you can buy:
The best dish soap overall: Puracy Natural Liquid Dish Soap The best dish soap on a budget: Seventh Generation Liquid Dish Soap The best multi-purpose dish soap: Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds Biodegradable Cleaner The best dish soap for your hands: J.R. Watkins Liquid Dish Soap The best dish racks you can buy
A top-quality dish drying rack has a large capacity without taking up too much space, is designed for easy water run-off and efficient drying, and is easy to clean. The Premium Racks Professional Dish Rack is our top pick because it is customizable and can hold all of your odds and ends. Here's a full list of our favorites:
The best dish rack overall: Premium Racks Professional Dish Rack The best roll-up dish rack: Surpahs Over the Sink Roll-Up Dish Rack The best foldable dish drying rack: OXO Good Grips Convertible Foldaway Dish Rack The best dish rack for small households: Chef'n CleanGenuity Garden Dish Rack The best high-end dish rack: Simplehuman Kitchen Steel Frame Dish Rack