Buying laundry detergent can be a bit overwhelming. Not only are there tons of laundry detergent brands to pick from, but each brand also has lots of different varieties, which all have their own additional features.
Perhaps you love the scent of the detergent your family has been using for a long time, or sometimes you like to buy a brand that’s just on sale. Some people think they will save money by buying less expensive products, but in most cases, they only end up spending more because they have to use more of the cheaper detergent. Or, even worse, they damage their expensive clothes with the harsh chemicals those poor-quality brands often use.
So, which laundry detergent is the best?
To find the answer, our team did the dirty work for you, quite literally, as we took several market-leading laundry detergents and put them through a barrage of rigorous blind tests, including stain removal, color washout, fabric softening, and more, to see which products really got the job done. Then we looked at other important aspects of laundry detergent performance, such as long-term color maintenance and overall cost per load.
And at the end, we have been successful at narrowing down the options for you and got you covered with the top-ranking five best laundry detergents of 2023 in this comprehensive review. So let’s just dig in.
Best Laundry Detergents
- Top Pick: Tide Coldwater Clean Original Scent (Best Overall)
- Budget Pick: Arm & Hammer Clean Burst Liquid (Best Value for Money)
- Best Eco-friendly Pick: Tide Purclean
- Our Pick For Sensitive Skin: Persil ProClean Sensitive Skin
- Best For Babies: Dreft Stage 1 Newborn Laundry Detergent
Top Pick: Tide Coldwater Clean Original Scent (Best Overall)
No matter how much you love doing laundry, there is one thing you might hate more: waiting for the wash cycle to finish. So we decided to do something about it and chose the new Tide Coldwater Clean Original Scent formula, which is specifically designed to remove food and dirt stains, brighten colors, and protect pre-washed and color-treated clothes in cold water. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends cold water as a better option than warm or hot water for energy use and fabric care reasons. Say hello to faster laundry days.
You may have been told that you could never get clothes clean in cold water. But the new Tide Coldwater Clean Original Scent is designed to be as effective in cold water as it is in warm water. We put it through its paces, washing our dirty t-shirts in varying temperatures of water and seeing how well it performed in each condition. The results were clear – for everyday grime, the detergent worked just as well, and most of the time even better than its higher-priced rivals.
If you are washing cloth diapers, you know the importance of a detergent that can get out stubborn stains and odors. The product meets these requirements with new Tide Coldwater Clean technology, which relies on fast-dissolving suds that effortlessly wash away in cold water. With super concentrated liquid containing a measured dose of HE TurboClean formula, this detergent can be used in all types of machines. However, if your machine has an issue with sudsing, use the regular strength variety (Tide Coldwater Clean comes in two types).
Although it’s not the most economical cold-water detergent out there, it performed the best overall of all the detergents we tested. Plus, among the top-rated laundry detergents at Amazon.com and Walmart.com, it has a five-star rating on both sites.
Why do we rank it at top
- The performance delivered in cold water is comparable to what the competitors did with warm water.
- While it’s not the most affordable one, the product costs reasonably, and since it doesn’t require hot water – you save in energy bills as well.
- The proprietary HE TurboClean formulation helps to dissolve suds quickly
- Cleans challenging stains effectively
What we found not much to talk about
- Could have been a little less expensive
Best Budget Pick: Arm & Hammer Clean Burst Liquid (Best Value for Money)
If you are seeking bargain detergent, look no further than Arm & Hammer Clean Burst. Priced at only eight cents each load, this highly-rated detergent is tough to beat when it comes to offering the most value for your money. and has just about everything you could ask for in a liquid fabric cleaner. Add in a fresh, clean fragrance, and you have a laundry product that has just about everything you could ask for in a liquid fabric cleaner.
For less than the cost of a drink at your local coffee shop, Arm & Hammer Clean Burst lets you take the power of baking soda into your laundry room. Its unique baking soda formula tackles tough odors and stains without breaking a sweat while still leaving clothes smelling great. Safe for all colors and fabrics, Clean Burst is gentle enough to use on baby clothes and powerful enough to deal with some of the toughest stains we experience on a daily basis.
This low-cost detergent is non-toxic and safe to use on colors, whites, and delicates. While other bargain detergents can fade your color over time or cause the fabric to wear down during regular use, this powerful stain fighter is designed to keep your colors vibrant and whites brighter for longer. Unlike most bargain detergents that can cause bacteria to build up over time, Arm & Hammer does not trap odor-causing residue inside the washer. The product is safe for septic tanks and emits no harsh dyes or perfumes.
Why you should pick it
- Best value for your bucks, the perfect option for homes with more people requiring multiple loads weekly
- Leaves fabrics smelling fresh
- Works great in removing stains, especially the protein-based ones
- Excellent coldwater performance
What should you think about
- Might not be able to remove the toughest of the stains completely
Best Eco-friendly Pick: Tide Purclean
What happens when one of the world’s most popular detergents, Tide, goes green? The results are impressive. Tide Purclean is a detergent that looks, smells, and cleans just like conventional Tide but with less impact on our environment.
As a hybrid detergent, Purclean contains 75% plant-based active formula, and the rest 25% of ingredients are petroleum-derived. The blend strikes a nice balance between cleaning power and eco-friendliness.
Despite all their claims, some plant-based detergents simply don’t hold up to their non-eco alternative counterparts when it comes to cleaning stains. However, we found it to be different this time with Tide Purclean.
So, how well does it clean? We compared it to the detergents that make up the majority of our green laundry detergent reviews, and Tide Purclean came out superior at removing tough stains like grass, bloodstains, mustard, egg yolk, the remnants of spaghetti sauce, and copper-colored nail polish from 100% cotton sheets. Also, in our stain-removal tests on a mixture of old and new stains, Tide Purclean got 36 on a scale of 0 to 40 (with 40 being the best performance across all brands), the best score in the specific test group.
It’s free of dyes, phosphates, and chlorine bleach but offers almost identical results as its trusted counterpart – Tide Ultra.
In a nutshell, with Tide Purclean, you won’t sacrifice performance for your ecological conscience. And we found it to be the clear winner in removing stains during our rigorous testing.
You should choose it for
- The less toxic formulation is ideal for homes with kids and pets
- 75% plant-based ingredients make it one of the best eco-friendly laundry detergents
- Impressive stain removal performance
- You can choose between scented and unscented varieties
The factor you need to consider before buying
- Expensive per load
Our Pick For Sensitive Skin: Persil ProClean Sensitive Skin
There are many detergents to choose from on supermarket shelves that are specially formulated for people with sensitive skin, but the one of which did best in our battery of cleaning tests was Persil ProClean. Also, we preferred the milder fragrance of this sensitive skin product over the regular ProClean; and we also like the fact that you can use it with cold water.
This is an excellent choice for those with baby-soft skin, and when it comes to cleaning up protein and oil stains, red wine, and other tough messes, it delivers great results.
We used it to clean a pair of jeans that were stained with oil and soil, and they looked just as good as new once cleaned. After testing this detergent on ourselves as well as some volunteers, including those with sensitive skin and eczema, we found that it is gentle enough to use even on your most delicate items. With ingredients like vitamin E and aloe vera, it not only cleans well but also leaves the clothes smelling fresh. If you want to clean your clothes without the chemicals found in most detergents today, then this is for you.
While we loved the fresh scent and its all-around cleaning ability, some customers raised their concerns about the product’s formulation, which includes Sodium Borate (aka borax) and Propylene Glycol. It can cause issues like skin irritation and lead to contact dermatitis in some rare cases of long-time exposure.
The reasons we loved it for
- Mild enough for sensitive skin, yet powerful enough to fight stains
- Leaves freshness that lasts longer
- Knocks out odor effectively
- Outstanding fabric color maintenance even after repeated use
You should think about
- Some residue can be noticed
- You might rinse twice
Best For Babies: Dreft Stage 1 Newborn Laundry Detergent
Dreft is a baby brand that has been around for a long time, and moms like the product because it effectively removes protein stains and is gentle on the baby’s skin. It contains gentle, hypoallergenic ingredients that are free of chemical fragrances, harsh dyes, and brighteners.
We tested it here in our labs, comparing it to traditional adult detergents, and the result was no less than outstanding.
In fact, this versatile detergent cleaned and removed stains as efficiently as conventional detergents. This is crucial because although protein stains are pretty common on baby clothes, they can be rather irritating when it happens multiple times in a day. Plus, it has no harsh residues left behind.
If you have a super-sensitive child and prefer a detergent without fragrance, consider Dreft Pure Gentleness, a Plant-Based laundry detergent available with an unscented version (made without any perfume ingredients) for extra sensitive skin.
Our reasons for loving it
- Excellent stain removal power
- Number one product in the market for baby’s delicate skin
- A mild scent that doesn’t overpower to make your baby feel uncomfortable
- Available in multiple stages to meet your baby’s requirements as they grow
- Significantly pricier than competitors in the segment
- Although gentle, some parents may still not like any added scent
How we selected the five Best Laundry Detergents: our detailed testing method to recommend you only the best
So, how do we find the best laundry detergent? It’s a combination of our stringent, impartial lab tests and ratings, expert recommendations from the most reliable sources, product reviews by leading publications and bloggers, and ratings from our trusted users.
We have tested and rated all of our detergents thoroughly in our lab to ensure they are formulated to work with different fabrics and contain the requisite amount of ingredients needed to perform as advertised.
We also tested how much cleaner each detergent will safely add to a water-to-detergent ratio before it deteriorates the performance of your laundry and made sure to shortlist only the ones that are the best at removing all kinds of common stains, including those set in overnight on an old pair of jeans or that were added to spotted cotton fabrics. Our detergent experts sniff and test every load, so you don’t have to.
Products have been tested in multiple locations across North America under different load sizes, temperatures, and water conditions to measure appropriate sudsing, cleaning ability, and whether product residue remains after washing.
All these mean not only clean clothing but also safe clothes. All of our detergents meet the U.S. Government’s stringent safety requirements.
If you’re looking for the best laundry detergent, you have come to the right place. Our meticulous tests compare the performance of different brands and formulas, so you know what’s worth your time and money.
After hours of research, hands-on testing, and an in-depth look at hundreds of feedbacks left in popular e-commerce stores by genuine buyers, our review of the best five laundry detergents found Tide Coldwater Clean Original Scent to be the best overall performer. A major reason is that it left behind very few stains, even on colors and delicate fabrics, while offering a pleasant aroma. Even though this formula isn’t concentrated, it was among the reasonably priced ones we tested.
We obsess over the merchandise we recommend. Our staffs regularly use these products, review them, and look for new favorites to share with you. We are never satisfied until we find the best of the best that can be found on the market. We also publish buying guides to help you with major purchases like washing machines, dryers, irons, and other household stuff.