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Best laundry detergents according to Mumsnetters

Get your whites whiter and your colours brighter with our guide to the best laundry detergents to buy right now.

By Mumsnet HQ | Last updated May 5, 2022

Woman using washing machine with detergent

Laundry: a topic that divides opinion across the whole of Mumsnet. Does liquid detergent ruin your washing machine? Are washing powders really that bad for your coloured clothing?

We're here to debunk the myths and nail down the best laundry detergents on the market for every Mumsnetter and every machine.

Here's our rundown of the best laundry detergents available, according to Mumsnetters.

1. Best overall laundry detergent: Ariel Original Washing Powder

Ariel detergent

Price: £27.90 (20p per wash) | Buy now from Amazon

“Ariel is the best I’ve found.” OKbutnotgreat

A favourite across generations, Ariel washing powder is renowned for its no-nonsense cleaning power. Checking the forums, it seems like everyone's mum has used it at some point, and with good reason. It keeps whites extra bright, and there are claims it can even get tomato sauce stains out of school shirts – so we're not surprised it's by far the most-loved detergent on Mumsnet.

Pros

  • Great for whites
  • Concentrated so you can use less
  • Also available in liquid form

Cons

  • No scoop in the box

2. Best budget laundry detergent: Aldi Almat Colour Bio Washing Tablets

Aldi Almat washing tablets

Price: £1.79 for 36 tablets (10p per tablet, 20p per wash) | Buy now from Aldi

“I use Aldi Almat powder tablets for the washing machine. I find them excellent.” fussychica

We all know Aldi is good value and tends to have some excellent products up its sleeve to rival major brands. A fair few of them are loved by Mumsnetters, and these Almat powder wash tablets are no exception. They come in a variety of types, including one specifically for stain-lifting, but Mumsnet users' particular favourite is the colour tablets for their colour preservation power.

Pros

  • Great price
  • Aldi recommends two tablets per wash but one seems to do just fine

Cons

  • Some users say they leave a bit of powder in the drawer so they put them in the drum instead

3. Best natural laundry detergent: Ecozone Ultra Concentrated Non-Bio Laundry Liquid

Ecozone detergent

Price: £17.49 for 5.2 litres (10p per wash) | Buy now from Amazon

“I use Ecozone non bio laundry liquid which smells so nice and is available on Amazon as a 5 litre bottle so is an absolute bargain and lasts for ages. I've used Ecover as well, but I find the ecozone washes really well at both high and low temperature.” ChampooPapi

With no harsh chemicals or optical brighteners, Ecozone's liquid detergent will keep colours richer for longer. Its concentrated formula also means you'll need to use less detergent for each wash, and the plant-based and natural formula has no harsh chemicals – but still works wonders on stains.

Pros

  • Concentrated to last longer
  • No harsh chemicals

Cons

  • Not as cheap in bulk as some brands

4. Best laundry detergent for sensitive skin: Ecover Lavender and Sandalwood Non-Bio Concentrate Laundry Liquid

ecover washing detergent

Price: £9.60 for 1.5 litres (22p per wash) | Buy now from Amazon

“I like Ecover. The products work and the company researches into farming methods and sustainability.” stripeypillowcase

Although it may be on the pricier side, Mumsnetters promise the initial expense is worth it for the inner glow of goodness you get from investing in Ecover products. Good for sensitive skin, great for kids and good for the environment too, it's clear to see why it's a firm favourite. For ultimate sensitive skin care with no fragrance or colouring, there's a Zero version of the detergent also available on Amazon.

Pros

  • Better for the environment
  • Kind to sensitive skin

Cons

  • More expensive than some brands

5. Best non-bio laundry detergent: Fairy Non-Bio Washing Capsules

Fairy non bio capsules

Price: £19.06 for 108 capsules (18p per wash) | Buy now from Amazon

“It’s the only one that works for all of us. I use it with a drop of the softener and find it cleans well and smells nice.” QueenBarb

Another household name that has been helping us with the laundry for decades, Fairy products are renowned for their gentle formulas suitable for the whole family. These wash capsules are a convenient and simple option for your wash (as the detergent is already measured out for you), and are ideal for sensitive skin too. If it's good enough for babies, it's good enough for us.

Pros

  • Great for babies and others with sensitive skin
  • Pre-measured capsules are easy to use

Cons

  • Because the capsules are pre-measured, you can’t make this detergent go any further

6. Best laundry detergent for pregnancy: Surcare Non-Bio and Fragrance-Free Laundry Powder

Surcare washing powder

Price: £15.50 (62p per wash) | Buy now from Amazon

“I think it's marvellous stuff. I'm old and have sensitive skin, and a sensitive nose (dislike the smell of most laundry products ) and it works equally well for a grandchild with sensitive skin.” Footle

For the best in gentle formulas, look no further than Surcare. With no enzymes, no dyes, no acids, and no fragrance, they've really pared back on their ingredients, leaving a really simple detergent. Although this may mean it doesn't leave your clothes smelling quite as nice as some of the other detergents in our edit, it does mean it's really unlikely to irritate your skin – and Mumsnetters even recommended this for use during pregnancy.

Pros

  • Great for sensitive skin
  • Fragrance-free
  • Good for babies and in pregnancy

Cons

  • If you like a strong laundry smell, this doesn’t have one

7. Best smelling laundry detergent: Surf Tropical Lily and Ylang-Ylang Biological Liquid Detergent

Surf laundry detergent

Price: £12.79 for 2.9 litres (15p per wash) | Buy now from Amazon

Currently enjoying Surf Tropical as I love the smell and it's often on offer. Also, I can get a giant bottle of the liquid or a huge box [...] at a really good price.” LadyOfTheFlowers

We’d all prefer a week on a desert island, but if you want to be mentally transported to an exotic paradise each time you run a load of laundry, look no further than Surf. Mumsnetters particularly love that the fragrance sticks in your clothes for a long while after your stuff has dried. Bonus: it's also not that pricey in comparison to a lot of other detergents.

Pros

  • The scent lingers on clothes
  • Offers often available

Cons

  • The smell is quite strong if you’re not keen on highly scented detergents

8. Best concentrated laundry detergent: Persil Powergems Non-Bio Washing Detergent Gems

Persil Powergems

Price: £8.99 for 960g (29p per wash) | Buy now from Amazon

“Persil Powergems work a treat for me. No other stand-alone detergent does what they do, and I only use the non-bio.” DionetheDiabolist

These little nuggets of goodness are a combination of stain removal, fabric care, and fresheners. They're easy to use because they're not as messy as liquids and are simpler to measure and store than powders. Mumsnetters say they smell nice and fresh, even on washes without fabric softener or conditioner.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Tough on stains
  • No fabric softener or stain remover required
  • They're also available in a bio version

Cons

  • Pricey

9. Best liquid laundry detergent: Method Peony Blush Concentrated Laundry Detergent

Method detergent

Price: £9 for 1.56 litres (23p per wash) | Buy now from Amazon

“I’ve started using Method, trying the different ones but they all smell really nice.” Hoppinggreen

Method cleaning products have a veritable fan club on Mumsnet – they have a whole host of beautifully scented products (including a much-lauded glass cleaning spray and selection of hand soaps) which are not only great at cleaning but are also eco-friendly and not tested on animals. Their laundry detergent smells divine and is concentrated so you don't have to use much to get top-quality results.

Pros

  • Better for the planet (98% biodegradable materials)
  • Smartclean technology
  • Good on stains

Cons

  • Expensive to buy in some supermarkets

10. Best value laundry detergent: Daz Washing Powder for Whites and Colours

Daz washing powder

Price: £15.20 for 6.3kilos (17p per wash) | Buy now from Amazon

“I use Daz powder. It cleans better than anything else, it's very good value for money and I love its old-fashioned clean smell. I get a giant box.” 99icecream

Cheap and cheerful, Daz is renowned for getting the job done (and which of us wouldn’t want to take on the Daz Challenge, we ask you?).

Food stains on your kids’ tops? Grass stains all over their PE kit? Wine stains down that lovely new jumpsuit you bought? For a one-size-fits-all, it's pretty darn good and comes without all the fancy bells and whistles which can sometimes cause more faff than anything.

Pros

  • Inexpensive and can be found really cheaply if you shop around
  • Huge box lasts ages
  • Because it’s loose powder, you can use a little less and make it go the distance

Cons

  • No scoop in the box and not in pre-measured tablets

11. Best eco-friendly laundry detergent: Bio-D Non-Bio Washing Powder

Bio D

Price: £4.45 for 1 litre (26p per wash) | Buy now from Abel & Cole

“The only thing I use is Bio D. For scent, I sometimes add in essential oils but only if I can be bothered!” Bookworm19

Made by a family-owned business, Bio-D washing powder is a true source of goodness. Approved by the Vegan Society, hypoallergenic and even sold in recyclable packaging, you'll be able to wash your clothes completely guilt-free. They are also Leaping Bunny-approved, meaning they're cruelty-free.

Pros

  • Hypoallergenic
  • Fragrance-free
  • Suitable for vegans

Cons

  • Not as widely available as some

12. Best detergent-free option: Ecozone Ecoball Wash Ball

Laundry ecoballs

Price: £20 (2p per wash) | Buy now from Amazon

“We always use Ecoballs - excellent on a quick wash with a full load. Not great on oil, and probably not grass stains etc (they do come with an additional stain remover). [But they] save us time and water.” mrwalkensir

Although there's a larger initial cost, Mumsnetters reckon one Ecoball lasts around 1000 washes, working out at around 2p a wash. That's even better when you consider you won't need to use conditioner either. With only one set of packing to throw away that whole time, rather than the usual stream of plastic bottles, the Ecoball is an affordable option if you're environmentally-conscious.

Pros

  • Environmentally-friendly
  • No chemicals
  • Great for eczema sufferers

Cons

  • Not effective on tough stains

13. Best laundry detergent subscription: Smol Laundry Capsules

Smol capsules

Price: £4.50 for 24 washes (18.8p per wash) | Sign up to try nine washes free with Smol

“I’ve been getting the washing tabs and dishwasher ones for over a year now and I really like them. They wash well and smell lovely, and I’ve had no problems with them arriving on time. You can easily adjust your order on the website as well, if you start to run out or want to slow down the delivery.” 40SomethingJBJ

To alleviate any chance of realising you've run out of your trusty detergent just when the kids get home from a particularly muddy sports day, a subscription service could be your new best friend. Smol's capsules are highly concentrated, meaning they're very small and come in a package which will fit through your letterbox. All their products are also cruelty-free and their packaging is entirely recyclable.

Pros

  • Delivered through your letterbox
  • Eco-friendly packaging

Cons

  • You need to keep an eye on when you’re getting low in order to adjust your deliveries in time

14. Best alternative to laundry detergent: Ecozone Soap Nuts

Ecozone soap nuts

Price: £12.08 for 1 kilo (3p per wash) | Buy now from Amazon

“I've used soap nuts lots of times. I find things come up looking just as clean as with detergent (including washable sanitary pads). The only thing I miss is the laundry powder smell.” JaneEyre21

These little nuggets of soap have as many lovers as loathers on Mumsnet, but hear us out. While they may not be quite as good at removing stains as some of the more technical brands, they are a really great, completely naturally-sourced alternative to your usual powders and liquids, and will definitely do the trick on your day-to-day washing. They're also organic, biodegradable and hypoallergenic.

Pros

  • Very cheap
  • Completely natural

Cons

  • Not always tough enough on stains

15. Best laundry detergent for stain removal: Biotex Stain Removing Powder

Biotex washing powder

Price: £5.49 for 500g | Buy now from eBay

"Soak in Biotex - this breaks down the protein in the sweat stain." Berthatydfil

Sometimes you need a little extra oomph in your wash, and that's where Biotex comes in. It's bleach-free, but uses enzymes to lift all sorts of stains out of clothing, including grass stains, grease, and chocolate. Simply soak the stain in the powder before adding your clothing to the wash.

Pros

  • Excellent at removing stains
  • Bleach-free

Cons

  • May be tricky to get hold of

16. Best laundry detergent for delicates: Woolite Laundry Detergent Liquid for Delicates

Woolite detergent

Price: From £4.50 for 750ml (38p per wash) | Buy now from Amazon

“I have a bottle of Woolite liquid for delicates and woollen items. It's not a good stain remover if I'm honest, but obviously it's not harsh, which is what I wanted.” Fucck

Some items of clothing just need a little bit of TLC. For bits that need special treatment (think wool, lace and silk) pair this detergent with the handwash setting on your washing machine or hand wash them to keep them in the best possible condition. This definitely won't remove stains, but it will freshen up your prized possessions.

Pros

  • Can be used for handwashing
  • Smells lovely

Cons

  • Some users report bottle leakages

How do I choose a laundry detergent?

Many things will influence your choice of laundry detergent and sometimes you’ll just happen across something you really like. It might be as simple as really loving the scent of a particular product, or the fact that it’s an eco-friendly choice.

But practicalities might inform your decision: if you have nappies to wash or a child with eczema you’ll want something without dyes and fragrance or for sensitive skin, for example. Or you might have football kits and mucky nursery clothes to deal with, which may mean you want a fairly robust non-bio to get the job done. 

Type

You’ll also need to choose between liquid and powder detergents, which both have pros and cons. Liquid detergents (particularly liquid capsules) are often thought to be bad for the long-term health of your washing machine, but powders don’t dissolve so well and occasionally leave streaks on clothing. On the other hand, liquids tend to be better for coloured and dark washes and powders for brighter white. 

There are other options, however, such as soap nuts and ecoballs, which aren’t really detergents at all but will still get your clothes clean.

Bio or non-bio

You’ll also need to decide between bio and non-bio products (more of that below) as well as natural detergents, and those choices will all depend on your laundry needs.

Hard or soft water?

It's also useful to look into the kind of water you have in your area, as those in particularly hard water areas (hello, Milton Keynes and Bath) may need to choose their detergent more carefully. You can find more information on this here. It's also very common to use a different kind of product for different items of clothing – as your gymwear or the kids' school uniforms may just need that little extra cleaning oomph.

Bulk buying

Finally, consider storage. Being able to buy in bulk will make laundry detergent much cheaper, but if you don’t have somewhere to store it, it will become a huge pain. Equally, having it delivered is all very well, but if you’re out all day that can be a nuisance too. You could try one of the new letterbox ‘subscription’ services such as Smol.

What is the most effective type of laundry detergent? 

As we said, liquid detergents tend to be better for coloured and dark clothes and powders better for whites, so you might want to have a bit of both in. It’s probably fair to say that, generally speaking, products like soap nuts and ecoballs are less effective on stains.

But that’s not to say all eco products are less effective. Some, such as Method products, which we included in our list, are now just as good at getting your whites whiter. And, of course, if you want to go for ecoballs or something similar, you can do your bit for the planet by doing that and then just get in a packet of stain remover for anything that needs a bit more va va voom. 

What is the difference between bio and non-bio?

Put simply, bio laundry detergents contain a biological enzyme which actively works to break down stains and remove them from fabric. While this is obviously great news for the more (ahem) sullied of clothes, it is by definition that little bit harsher, so has the potential to be damaging to delicate clothing (wool and silk, for example) and to more sensitive skin. This has also been disputed, however, so it's best to try different types and see what works for your family.

So it follows that non-bio washing detergent is detergent without this biological enzyme, meaning it's a little bit gentler on your clothes and your skin. Because of this, it's not quite as good for getting dirt out of clothes, but it will generally be more forgiving. If you want a really neutral detergent, natural, non-bio detergent is your best bet.

Which laundry detergents are eco-friendly?

If you're still unsure, you might also want to take a look at the environmental impact of the laundry detergent you're choosing. Think about the ingredients and chemicals in the detergent and also the packaging it comes in – the cardboard used to store powders is better than the plastic bottles liquids come in, but if you can find refillable packs, even better. Some companies also test on animals.

Laundry detergents such as Bio-D Non-Bio Washing Powder and Method Peony Blush Concentrated Laundry Detergent are eco-friendly. 

How much laundry detergent should I use? 

How much laundry detergent you use depends on how soiled the clothes are, how big your drum is and how hard your water is, but a basic rule of thumb is as follows:

  • Tablets and liquitabs - 1 per wash
  • Powder - 110ml per wash
  • Liquid detergent - 30-35ml per wash

You can always add a little more if you think the wash needs it but bear in mind that most of us are using too much detergent on a regular basis and actually water does a pretty good job on its own so you really don’t need to overdo the detergent. 

What is the best laundry detergent?

Obviously, the best laundry detergent for you won’t be the best for someone else, but overall the best all-rounder is Ariel Original Washing Powder

How we chose our recommendations

We scoured over 200 mentions of products across the Mumsnet forums from the last year or two in order to compile one easy-to-use list including powders, liquids, capsules and more.

Mumsnetters get through a LOT of laundry, whether they’re facing mountains of babygros, tackling multiple sports kits and school uniforms, or getting several weeks of washing done for their first-year university student children while they’re home for the weekend. So it’s fair to say they have strong and well-informed opinions of laundry detergents.

We made a note of all the products that they rated (and those they were left unimpressed by too) and then took the most mentioned products and researched online customer and consumer reviews on them. Those that made the grade with experts and shoppers as well as Mumsnetters went onto our shortlist, and we then whittled that down to the products you see here. We hope there’s something for everyone. 

Why you should trust us

We spend hours researching, speaking to parents, analysing data and listening to experts about all the products we list in our reviews.

Transparency is really important to us and that's why we're always upfront about how we have chosen the products we recommend. We know that parents who are using the products themselves are often the best people to give honest reviews so we always consult Mumsnet users and take note of their advice and recommendations as well as taking into account expert and customer reviews.