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The 5 Best Laundry Detergents (2021 Review)

Laundry detergent works with your washing machine to thoroughly remove odors and stains from your clothes. In this review, the This Old House Reviews Team researched the five best laundry detergents on Amazon to help you find the product that’s right for you. The products included in this article are available at various home improvement stores, local home centers, and online retailers like Amazon.

Best laundry detergent This Old House Production

There are few household appliances that will get more use than your washing machine. Finding a laundry detergent that works with your washer to keep your clothes fresh and stain-free is essential. To help you select the detergent that’s right for you, the This Old House Reviews Team researched the best laundry detergents on Amazon. Here are our top five recommendations.

Best Laundry Pods: Tide PODS Laundry Detergent Soap

This laundry detergent comes in the form of pods, which is less messy than liquid or powder alternatives. You also don’t have to measure how much detergent to add to your load. Featuring a three-in-one formula as a detergent, stain remover, and odor fighter, this product contains 90% active ingredients to give you clean clothes every time.

Key Features

  • Comes with 96 pods
  • Dissolves in hot and cold water
  • Contains stain and odor fighters
  • Has a concentrated formula

What Customers Are Saying

With about 23,500 reviews, the Tide PODS Laundry Detergent Soap has an average rating of 4.9 stars out of 5 stars. Among reviewers on Amazon, 98% gave this detergent a rating of 4 or 5 stars, while 0% gave it 1 or 2 stars.

Reviewers who liked the pods said that they were convenient and had a pleasant smell. Negative reviewers said they didn’t clean clothes thoroughly. Some customers even said that they got stuck to their clothing.

Best For Families: Gain Laundry Detergent Liquid Plus Aroma Boost

This product can be used with any type of clothing or linen item and run in any washing machine. It also comes with two large 2.2-liter bottles, making it great for families who expect to be washing clothes often.

Key Features

  • Comes with two 2.2-liter bottles of liquid detergent
  • Works in all washing machines, including with cold water
  • Offers six weeks of freshness from wash to wear
  • Contains perfume microcapsules

What Customers Are Saying

The Gain Laundry Detergent Liquid Plus Aroma Boost has nearly 37,000 reviews and holds an average rating of 4.8 stars out of 5 stars. It received 4- or 5-star reviews from 96% of customers, while 1% rated it 1 or 2 stars.

Customers who liked this detergent said that it was long-lasting, had a pleasing scent, and didn’t cause skin irritation. However, other customers said that the product was too watery and that its bottle leaked easily.

Best For Babies: Dreft Stage 1: Newborn Hypoallergenic Liquid Baby Laundry Detergent

The Dreft Stage 1: Newborn Hypoallergenic Liquid Baby Laundry Detergent is designed to wash baby clothes and bedding without causing skin irritation. Recommended as the #1 detergent by pediatricians, this product will ease new parents’ minds.

Key Features

  • Comes with two 1.5-liter bottles of liquid detergent
  • Doesn’t leave behind harsh residue
  • Contains protein-removal enzymes
  • Recognized as the #1 pediatrician recommended detergent
  • Has a hypoallergenic formula

What Customers Are Saying

The Dreft Stage 1: Newborn Hypoallergenic Liquid Baby Laundry Detergent has been rated nearly 30,000 times with the average rating being 4.8 stars out of 5 stars. Among reviewers, 95% rated this detergent 4 or 5 stars, while 3% rated it as 1 or 2 stars.

Happy customers liked this detergent because it provided freshness, accommodated sensitive skin, and removed tough stains. Those who were dissatisfied didn’t like its strong scent or its leak-prone lid.

Best For Sensitive Skin: Tide Free & Gentle Liquid Laundry Detergent

The Tide Free & Gentle Liquid Laundry Detergent is gentler on skin than standard detergent, but it still provides the fresh feeling and smell of clean clothes. Dermatologist recommended, this detergent is best for customers who have sensitive skin and want to keep allergy-proof homes.

Key Features

  • Comes with one 2.7-liter bottle of liquid detergent
  • Recognized by the National Eczema Association and National Psoriasis Foundation
  • Has a hypoallergenic and dye-, perfume-, and phosphate-free formula

What Customers Are Saying

With over 9,800 reviews, the Tide Free & Gentle Liquid Laundry Detergent has an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars. The product received 4- or 5-star reviews from 95% of users, with 2% giving the product 1 or 2 stars.

Customers who left positive reviews said that the product had eco-friendly packaging, didn’t cause skin irritation, and was easy to use. However, some customers said that there wasn’t enough detergent in the bottle considering its hefty price.

Best For Odor Elimination: Arm & Hammer Plus OxiClean Odor Blasters Fresh Burst Laundry Detergent

The Arm & Hammer Plus OxiClean Odor Blasters Fresh Burst Laundry Detergent removes bad smells that are caused by body odor, sweat, musty towels, pet fur, damp clothes, and more. Built with baking soda and OxiClean stain fighter, this laundry detergent can eliminate odors as well as smells.

Key Features

  • Comes with on 3.6-liter container of liquid detergent
  • Contains stain and odor fighters
  • Cleans over 101 stains

What Customers Are Saying

Over 11,500 customers have reviewed the Arm & Hammer Plus OxiClean Odor Blasters Fresh Burst Laundry Detergent on Amazon, with the average rating being 4.7 stars out of 5 stars. Of those reviews, 94% were 4- or 5-star reviews, with 3% being 1- or 2-star reviews.

Many reviewers liked this detergent’s long-lasting scent, ability to eliminate stains, and value. However, dissatisfied customers said that its smell was too strong and that its formula caused mild allergic reactions.

Buyer’s Guide

There are many factors to consider when deciding which laundry detergent is best for your everyday needs. Keep reading to learn about them.

Type of Detergent

There are three types of laundry detergents.

Liquid

Liquid detergents are preferable for removing stains, such as oil and grease, and washing fabrics in cold water. However, they can be tough to measure, and they’re difficult to transport because their bottles are bulky.

Powder

Powder detergent is normally the cheapest and most environmentally friendly option. Powdered detergent is also preferable for customers who plan to wash clothes with untreated hard water or those who need to remove basic stains, such as grass and mud. However, powdered detergents often don’t dissolve fully in cold water, which can leave residue on your clothes.

Pods

Pod detergents are lightweight and premeasured. The cons of pods include that they’re more expensive than liquid and powdered detergents and that they’re designed for average-sized loads.

Type of Washing Machine

Almost all detergents work with standard washing machines. However, if you have a high-efficiency (HE) washer, make sure the detergent you buy is compatible with it. Oftentimes, detergents will be compatible with non-HE washing machines or both non-HE and HE washing machines.

Eco-Friendliness

Liquid detergents often come in large plastic bottles that add trash to landfills if your area doesn’t accept them as recyclable items. Detergents that use an excessive amount of chemicals can also be bad for the environment. Plant-based detergents are becoming more common, but they can sometimes be less effective.

Frequently Asked Questions

How should I determine how much detergent to use?

Consider the type of washing machine, the size of the load, and the concentration of the detergent when determining how much detergent to use. For HE washers and 2X-concentration detergents, use two tablespoons. Use one tablespoon of 4X detergent and a quarter of a tablespoon of 10X detergent with HE washers. The typical rule of thumb with non-HE washers is to use half of the amount recommended by the manufacturer, as manufacturers typically overestimate how much is needed to clean your clothes.

What is the difference between unscented and fragrance-free detergents?

Unscented detergents sometimes use additional ingredients to mask the smell of their ingredients. However, fragrance-free detergent doesn’t have additional ingredients to mask its smell.

How dangerous is it to ingest laundry detergent?

Laundry detergent is filled with chemicals that can cause stomach pain, vomiting, wheezing, and other symptoms that could lead to hospitalization. Be sure to keep your detergent in a safe place that’s only accessible to adults to avoid potential sickness. If the detergent is ingested, call Poison Control immediately.

To share feedback or ask a question about this article, send a note to our Reviews Team at reviews@thisoldhousereviews.com.