The best laundry detergents, according to Mumsnet users
Laundry: a topic which divides opinion across the entirety of Mumsnet. Does liquid detergent ruin your machine? Are washing powders really that bad for your coloured clothing? We're here to debunk the myths.
What is the difference between bio and non-bio?
Put simply, bio 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, and therefore 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 is potentially 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 probably your best bet.
Should I choose liquid or powder detergent?
Whether you go for liquid or powder detergent is entirely your choice. Depending who you speak to, it's often noted that liquid detergents can be bad for the health of your washing machine (particularly the ones which come in capsules), but powders can have a harder time dissolving and can occasionally leave streaks on clothing.
Generally, though, Mumsnetters seem to prefer liquid detergents for their coloured and dark clothes (as they don't contain bleaches which fade colours), and powders to keep their whites and lights a little bit brighter.
So, which type of laundry detergent is best?
While it's mostly down to personal preference, it's important to consider the above-mentioned key differences between detergents out there. 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.
If you're concerned about skin sensitivities such as eczema, it is also worth exploring unscented options, as often perfumes and other additions like dye can irritate skin.
Here's what Mumsnetters have to say:
“Bio powder is supposed to be the best, in terms of cleaning your clothes and keeping the machine clean and free from gunk. It works out cheaper than capsules and there are no plastic bottles to dispose of.”
“Powder is better. Liquid and gel can make machine slimy. My sister had loads of disgusting goo oozing out at I've point and it was supposedly a build up. Bio is better at cleaning but can irritate skin.”
“Liquid works out cheapest. I use liquid or powder, never tablets or gel things as they are so much less flexible. I tend to use half the recommended dose.”
“Liquids don’t contain any bleaching agents so they’re good for dark colours but not so great on whites, lights or anything that needs the extra hygiene like bedding and towels.”
Which laundry detergents are also eco-friendly?
If you're still unsure, you might also want to take a look at the environmental impact of the products you're choosing between. 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 – again something it's good to be aware of so you can make an informed decision.
The best laundry detergents
Armed with everything you need to know about the different options and what they do, now you can take a look at our wide range of Mumsnetter-recommended laundry detergents. We scoured over 200 mentions of products across the Mumsnet forums from last year in order to compile one easy-to-use list including powders, liquids and capsules.
Here's our rundown of the 21 best laundry detergents available, according to Mumsnet.
Best for whites
1. Ariel Washing Powder Original
Passed down 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 – we're not surprised it's by far the most-loved detergent on the forums.
“My mum (who was a washing fanatic in that her white sheets and crisp laundry were her pride and joy – she even ironed underwear) swore by Ariel. She wouldn't use anything else.”
“Ariel powder, as it keeps DD's white school polo shirts and socks sparkling, and also eats tomato sauce stains. I love the smell and my mum uses it too, so it also makes me think of her."
“My kids have the whitest polos in the school yard – you know how? Ariel Original Powder.”
Also available in liquid form.Buy now from Waitrose
Best for colours
2. Ecozone Non-Bio Liquid Laundry Detergent
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.
“Ecozone Non-Bio Liquid is good as it contains no bleach or optical brighteners, so colours don't fade as much. Bear in mind that no matter what you use, colours will always fade over time in the wash, but always follow the dosing instructions as that will help.”Buy now from Amazon
3. Aldi Almat Colours Washing Tablets
We all know Aldi is a dab-hand at providing (ahem) lookalike products to rival some of our favourite 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. Mumsnet users' particular favourite is the colour tablets for their colour preservation power.
“I use Aldi Almat Powder Tablets. I think they are great, they do one for coloured specifically. My DS has just switched to them as he was impressed by his washing when he came to stay. I always use less than the recommended dose even though I'm in a hard water area, and don't dry in direct sunlight to stop colours fading.”Find your nearest Aldi here
Related: the best washing machines money can buy, according to Mumsnet users
Best for sensitive skin
4. ecover Lavender and Sandalwood Non-Bio Concentrate Laundry Liquid
Although it may be a bit on the pricier side (gulp), Mumsnetters promise the initial expense is worth it for the pure-of-heart goodness you get from ecover products. Good for sensitive skin, great for kids, and even good for the environment (the list goes on), it's clear to see why it's a firm favourite. For ultimate sensitive skin care, there's a Zero version of the detergent also available on Amazon.
“I love ecover's detergents. They're concentrated so you use less than with other brands (which makes up for the initial extra outlay) and they work really well at thirty degrees first time, even for really mucky stuff.”
“ecover Zero: my one-year-old's skin has been noticeably better since we started using it.”Buy now from Waitrose
5. Fairy Non-Bio Washing Capsules
Another household name, Fairy laundry products are renowned for their gentle formulas suitable for the whole family. These wash capsules are a convenient, simple option for your wash (as the detergent is already measured out for you), and are ideal for sensitive skin. If it's good enough for babies, it's good enough for us.
“I only use non-bio as my whole household including me has sensitive skin. I love Fairy 2-in-1 capsules, as you don't usually get Non-Bio in capsule form.”
“Fairy, it makes me think of lovely squidgy babies.”Buy now from Wilko
6. Surcare Non-Bio and Fragrance-Free Laundry Powder
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 on this page, it does mean it's really unlikely to irritate your skin – and Mumsnetters even recommended this for use during that stage of pregnancy.
“I have always used non-bio anything, but then suddenly being pregnant I got super sensitive and that didn't work. Surcare is the only thing I can use now, it is miraculous.”
“We can only use Surcare powder (non-bio) due to DH's allergies. There is no perfume with the powder and we can't use fabric softener either but it's fine. If something has a stain then doing a bit of a rub with a vanish bar before washing usually does the trick.”Buy now from Waitrose
Related: The tumble dryers Mumsnetters rate for any budget
Best for fragrance
7. Sainsbury's own Non-Bio Laundry Powder
When you think of luxurious smells, supermarket own-brand detergents may not be the first option you consider. However, this powder from Sainsbury's is heavenly scented, all for half the price of your more well-known brand names. Just make sure you call up to get your free measuring scoop. Good ol' Sainsbo's.
“Sainsbury’s non-bio powder smells great and is dead cheap. Plus, my machine doesn’t go all manky now I've stopped using the liquid stuff.”Buy now from Sainsbury's
8. Surf Tropical Lily and Ylang-Ylang Biological Liquid Detergent
If you want to be 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.
“So I recently bought Surf with fragrance release (Tropical Lily and Ylang-Ylang) – I can honestly say it's the nicest product I have ever used. The smell of the washing is gorgeous and sticks around. Every time I pull my jacket on over my head I get the glorious smell, and I washed it three weeks ago! Even the kids have remarked on how lovely their clothes smell and it cleans well too.”
“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 from local Poundstretcher shop at a really good price.”Buy now from Amazon
9. Persil Powergems Non-Bio Washing Detergent Gems
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 conditioner.
“Persil Powergems. They're fab. Smell great, clean stains away really well and don’t take up a lot of space.”
“I’m using Persil Ultimate Powergems at the moment. They smell great! I ran out of fabric softener last week so I did a few loads without any and most clothes still smell nice.”
They're also available in a bio versionBuy now from Waitrose
10. Method Peony Blush Concentrated Laundry Detergent
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.
“It has to be Method Peony Blush. I love it when I take something out of the wardrobe and it still smells fresh. People in work always ask what I can wash my clothes in as they always smell nice.”Buy now from Amazon
Related: scented candles to keep your home smelling fabulous
Best for budget
11. Daz Washing Powder for Whites and Colours
Cheap and cheerful, Daz is renowned for getting the job done. Food stains on your DC's 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 good.
“I use Daz as it's £8 for a box I can barely lift and actually gets the grease out of my boy's clothes after he's wiped his foody hands all over them. I only use liquid detergent for delicates.”
“I just buy the biggest box of Daz powder I can find. Current one is 10p per wash. Everything smells fresh, minimal plastics involved and no gunk in my machine.”Buy now from Wilko
12. Asda's own-brand Moonflower & Lavender 2-in-1 Tablets
These tablets offer 2-in-1 value, as they have fabric softener in them as well as detergent. While this means they may not be the best for irritation-prone skin, it does mean they smell great and there's no need to add extra scent-boosting liquids or crystals to the wash. One mathematical Mumsnetter has worked out that they cost just 10p per wash – not bad for tablets which can be added to your supermarket trolley.
“I'm a big fan of Asda's own brand washing powder tablets, they come in packs of 20 washes with two tablets per wash. You just unwrap and put them straight into the drum. It's £2 for a box of 40 tablets, so two per wash works at 5ish pence each – that's around 10p per wash-load. I use the scented one, and feel that no fabric conditioner is needed.”Buy now from Asda
13. Lidl Formil Non-Bio Washing Powder
Another excellent budget option, Lidl's non-bio powder is rated highly by Mumsnetters for being pretty darn inoffensive. It doesn't have too many frills so is a little bit gentler on sensitive skin, and isn't scented too overpoweringly, which suits a lot of families. At only £1.99 for 25 washes, it'll suit a lot of purses, too.
“I use Lidl's Formil non-bio powder. Whilst I love the cheapness, it is also actually one of the few powders I can use that doesn't aggravate mine or DD's overly sensitive skin. I always stick to the same detergent for this reason.”
“Lidl Formil powder: it usually rates quite highly in Which? tests, it's cheap, and comes in cardboard boxes rather than plastic bottles and containers. I like that it doesn't have a strong scent. I also don't use fabric conditioner.”
Also available in bio version.Find your nearest Lidl store
Best for the environment
14. Bio-D Non-Bio Washing Powder
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 will be able to wash your clothes completely guilt-free. They are also Leaping Bunny Approved – meaning they're animal cruelty-free.
“Bio-D washes brilliantly, does not aggravate DH’s skin, is made in the UK, has cardboard packaging, and uses low-impact ingredients."
“I like Bio-D, they rank highly for being ethical and eco-friendly, and it makes my washing smell fresh.”Buy now from Abel&Cole
15. Ecozone Ecoball Wash Ball
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, too. With only one set of packing to throw away that whole time, rather than the usual stream of plastic bottles, the Ecoball a pretty great, ultimately affordable option if you're environmentally conscious.
“My DS has eczema, and so I use an Ecoball – they last for ages and have no nasties.”
“Ditch the soap and use these – they're a big initial outlay, but last for ages.”
“Ecoballs are excellent, our youngest specifically asked me to use them for his bedding! Also, you can use shorter wash cycles as you don't have to rinse all the soap out.”Buy now from Amazon
16. Splosh Concentrated Refillable Laundry Powder
Splosh has a pretty novel way of approaching household cleaning. First off, you buy your first tin of laundry detergent powder (or bottle of liquid detergent), and then once you run out, you simply buy refill packs to fill up your original container (meaning you're not throwing away any plastic bottles). Although slightly pricier than standard detergents at around 23p a wash, Mumsnetters think it's worth it for that extra step toward helping the environment.
“You buy a set of plastic bottles, and then they send you refills (some need you to add water to at home), so are environmentally friendly. They're not animal tested and have no animal ingredients. I like the lavender/chamomile laundry detergent and fabric conditioner, and also use the washing up liquid, kitchen and bathroom sprays.”
“I use Splosh powder and find it really good. I have bad eczema and for years was told I should use non-bio. But since there didn't seem to be any evidence for that, I have found bio powder so much better in terms of actual washing and for my skin too.”
They also do starter bundles with a selection of three, five or eight cleaning products to kick of your collection.Buy now from Splosh
17. Smol Laundry Capsules
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 made from recycled materials and entirely recyclable.
“I've been trialling Smol gel tabs, you can get a free pack to try with £1 postage. They are delivered through the letterbox, and the company work out how many you need depending on how many washes you do. I like them but it's just me and DH, I don't have huge amounts of laundry and the most it has to deal with is DH's sports kit!”
“I tried a free sample of Smol capsules through Mumsnet and have never looked back.”Sign up to try nine washes free with Smol
18. Ecozone Soap Nuts
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.
“I use Soap Nuts for all our washing, including nappies. They do clean stuff properly – the only exception I have to that is white bedding and I usually use either some bicarb in or some soda crystals.”
“I've been using Soap Nuts for years, no problems at all! I do still use the occasional bit of vanish on stubborn stains and an occasional bit of anti bacterial laundry liquid in some washes.”Buy now from Amazon
Related: Mumsnetter-recommended SLS-free shampoo bars
Best for stain removal
19. Bio Tex Stain Removing Powder
Sometimes you need a little extra oomph in your wash, and that's where Bio Tex 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.
“If I need a stain remover I use Bio Tex, which I've found to be quite good (small turquoise box if you're looking for it).”Buy now from Waitrose
20. De-Solv-it Stain Remover Spray
For the more hardcore stains (on your truly prized possessions), this heavy-duty aerosol is said to work miracles. Not for the faint-hearted, Mumsnetters say the smell is just about worth it for the great results, and that this will even get off chewing gum (impressive). Simply spray it on the stain before putting the clothing in the wash as usual.
“For tomato or oily stains I always use a proper stain remover too though. The best I've tried is an aerosol spray called De-Solv-it (blue and orange can). It's magical. Only stain I've had which it couldn't remove was lily pollen."
“I second De-Solv-it. I only use it sparingly as it has quite a strong chemical smell, like pear drops. I reserve it for stuff that I really like or was expensive (very few items like that here though).”Buy now from Amazon
Related: the best carpet cleaners to tackle any stains
Best for delicates/woollens
21. Woolite Laundry Detergent Liquid for Delicates
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 washer
or we suppose you could actually 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.
“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.”
“I have a bottle of Woolite and wash knitted items on the very gentle/handwash cycle. The bottle lasts for ages if you only use it occasionally.”Buy now from Ocado