10 Tips For Buying the Best Laundry Detergent

by Calyn Ehid

When it comes to finding the best laundry detergent, there are a lot of things that have to be taken into consideration. You want something that’s going to do the best job of cleaning your clothing without damaging your washer and dryer, your clothing, and your body. But not all detergents are created the same, and some work better for a particular machine than others.

Before you choose a product from the detergent aisle, it’s important to think about the chemicals included in the products and why each brand of detergent isn’t produced the same. It’s also important to consider your clothing and the type of products that can accommodate it rather than just looking at the cheapest brand available.

You may want to be selective when buying laundry detergent if, for example, you suspect your current detergent causes issues with skin irritation with you or someone in your household. It might also be a good idea to learn about different types of fabric softeners and how they affect washers and dryers. Finally, your clothing could be negatively impacted by the type of detergent you use in your washer.

1. Match Detergent to Machine

One of the most overlooked considerations when it comes to laundry detergent is the type of washer you have. It’s important to match detergent to machine in order to ensure clothes are properly cleaned.

The reason certain washers require certain detergents is because not all washers operate the same way. The majority of washers manufactured today are front-loading (door on the front). These are more efficient than traditional top-loading washers in that they use less water to clean clothing. With each washer there is a variance between the ratio of detergent to water and this ratio is considered by the manufacturer when testing the detergent against different washers and types of soiled clothing to see how it will react.

Detergent is a chemical. Like all chemicals, the amount of a chemical and its composition affects how it will react to other chemicals. When you wash clothing with a type of detergent that was not designed to be used with your washer, the ratio of soap to water ends up being mismatched, which not only makes it difficult to wash clothes but, in some cases, can also cause damage to your appliance. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that your clothing is washed by the type of powder your washer was intended to use.

2. Pods vs. Fabric Softener

The type of fabric softener you use can also affect your washer as well. Fabric softener is often added to the wash cycle along with soap, where it can be absorbed into clothing fibers. But like detergent, some types of softeners can actually damage clothing by causing premature fading. This is something to be aware of especially if you have a high efficiency washer that does not consume as much water.

Conventional fabric softener can come in many forms, including pods, dryer balls, and dryer sheets. Consider rotating different brands of softener to see how they impact your washer and clothing differently.

3. Research Labels

Different products have different effects. If there is a negative effect to using one brand over another, this is something you should know before it happens, not after. This has never been more true today: the selection of household products grows every day and you want to be sure you’re purchasing the right brand the first time.

You might want to do some research online to understand each brand of laundry detergent your retailer carries and what goes into it. Actually take the time to compare and contrast different brands, and pay attention to what people are saying on social media. Think about the types of clothing in your household and whether or not certain labels would be appropriate for your needs.

4. Research Brands

You have a responsibility to ensure the product you’re purchasing is the best one that can fit your needs. For this reason, you may want to look into the brands themselves. Some detergents can have different labels for marketing purposes but are still be manufactured by the same company. It would be difficult to find a brand of detergent in a store today that is a standalone entity.

When you look into different variants of detergent, pay attention to the type of cleaning agents used and how they impact the clothing you wear. Are they oil-based? Synthetic? How are they manufactured and tested? Have there been any negative effects from certain labels? Make sure all of your questions are answered before you purchase.

5. Detergent for Delicates

They’re called delicates for a reason. Selecting an appropriate laundry detergent is key for delicate garments because they can be damaged easily by harsh chemicals found in certain brands of soap. So you want to exercise special care with delicates: a good detergent is going to clean them thoroughly without damaging your clothing too harshly.

Some manufacturers make detergents specifically for certain types of clothing, including delicates. If your wardrobe contains a large number of synthetic garments, you may want to consider a dedicated brand of detergent that can accommodate this type of clothing without eating through the fabric or leaving stains behind.

6. FBA Content

When you’re looking to buy laundry detergent, it’s important that you have all of the information you need before you make the purchase. It’s not enough to buy on cost anymore: there can be other factors involved that affect the buying decision.

Research is an important part of the buying process. Educated consumers tend to weigh all of the risks and alternatives of all available products before making a decision, and many things have to be taken into consideration in addition to the product’s cost. Always remember to check the label to see if the brand you’re using is right for your needs.

7. Generic vs. Brand

You get what you pay for. While brand name detergent is more expensive, generic label detergent is attractive to consumers because it comes with certain advantages.

The first is the cost: you typically pay less for generic products than brand name. Generic detergent can also work on a large variety of washers, making it easier to make a purchasing decision. But if your washer requires a special kind of soap, a generic brand may not be the best choice. It might also cost you more money to replace your washer in the long run if the wrong soap damages critical components inside the washer drum.

Check to see if the detergent you’re using is actually the best one for your washer, especially if it’s a generic soap and/or you’re using a high efficiency washer.

8. Powder vs. Liquid

Did you know that powder and liquid detergent work differently? That’s right. Powder is more bare-bones and has to dissolve more before it can reach the entire drum. This is why powder detergents generally don’t perform as well as liquid detergent and can often leave residue stains behind, because the crystals take a longer time to be absorbed into the water volume.

With liquid detergent, the amount of washing time is reduced. Not as much time is required for the soap to break down, since the cleaning agents can mix more easier with water. For this reason, liquid detergents are becoming more and more common at retail outlets.

9. HE Detergent

On the label of most detergent containers you’ll find information about the types of washers that are recommended for that variant of detergent. Some washers, for instance, can only wash clothing using high efficiency (HE) detergent. This is shown on the bottle with a special label.

High efficiency (HE) detergent is a special kind of detergent formulated for high efficiency washers. HE washers require less water and spin time to clean clothing, reducing water and energy costs. In addition, HE detergents don’t foam up as much, allowing more of the detergent to penetrate fabric fibers, thereby cleaning clothes more thoroughly.

You may want to consider avoiding the use of non-HE detergent if you have a washer that specifically requires this kind of soap.

10. Sensitive Skin Detergent

In addition to clothing and machines, detergents can also have different effects on the human body. Traces of detergent are still present in your clothing even after they are fully laundered. But some of the cleaning agents present in detergent can cause irritation to skin, particularly if you have sensitive skin. That’s why some manufacturers have variants of detergent specifically formulated for those with skin problems.

If you’ve encountered skin rashes or other issues with no apparent cause, it might be caused by the brand of detergent you’re using. You should consider switching to a sensitive skin detergent to see if that makes a difference.