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A comprehensive guide to laundry detergent

Photo by Engin Akyurt from Pexels

Liquid, powder, pods- there are so many different types of laundry detergent on the market right now, that it can be incredibly difficult to decide which one is right for you. Luckily, at Laundryheap, we have devised this comprehensive guide to help you make the right choice for you. 

  • Powder detergent 
  • Liquid detergent 
  • Detergent pods 
  • DIY detergent

Powder detergent 

Powder detergent has been around since the 1930’s, but, recently, has seen a decline in sales. That does not mean, however, that there aren’t an abundance of positives for using powder detergent over any other method.

How cost effective is it?

Out of all of the laundry detergent products available to buy, powder detergent is the cheapest per laundry load. This is because there is not as much chemistry involved in building it compared to other detergents, making it cheaper to manufacture and sell. If you are an individual who likes to buy laundry detergent in bulk, powder is your best option because it doesn’t lose it’s cleaning power over time, and is often available in larger packs compared to other detergents. 

What temperature does it work at?

Powder detergent will work in cold temperatures, but works best in hot water. If you are using powder detergent in cold water, you may notice a residue left on your clothing due to the powder not being completely broken down. 

How good is it at removing stains?

Powder laundry detergent is made with linear alkylbenzene sulfonate, which is particularly harsh on stains. This makes it perfect for removing tough outdoor stains, such as mud and grass. You can also use powder detergent to pre-treat stains, however, it does make the process more timely because you have to create a paste by mixing the detergent with water. 

What are the downfalls of using powder detergent? 

The biggest downfall with powder detergent is its packaging. Powder detergent often comes in big cardboard boxes, which is great for the environment, but incredibly heavy to lift. Asides from this, powder detergent can also leave a sticky residue in the draw of your washing machine which, if not regularly cleaned, can cause problems with your machines performance. 

Liquid detergent 

Liquid detergent is easy to use, comes in a wide variety of fragrances, and has been the most popular form of laundry detergent since it was first introduced in the 1950’s. 

How cost effective is it?

Compared to powder detergent, liquid detergent is slightly more costly, however, is cheaper than using pods. One of the major disadvantages of using liquid laundry detergent, is how easy it is to overpour and use more detergent than necessary. Liquid detergent is not easily found in bulk, so overpouring can be very costly. 

What temperature does it work at?

One of the biggest advantages of using liquid detergent is that it can be effectively used at all temperatures. The liquid form of the detergent makes it easy to dissolve in all water temperatures, including cold washes which are more environmentally friendly than their hot wash alternatives. 

How good is it at removing stains?

Liquid detergents are particularly effective at removing oil based stains. The detergent will penetrate the fibres of your clothing and loosen the oil, making it easier to lift the stain. To pre-treat a stain using liquid laundry detergent, pour a small amount over your stain and leave it to soak for up to 5 minutes. 

What are the downfalls of using liquid detergent? 

The biggest downfall for using liquid laundry detergent it is it’s environmental impact. Liquid laundry detergent is packaged in plastic bottles, which often end-up in landfills and are not biodegradable. You can limit the impact of your plastic laundry detergent bottles by re-using or recycling them.

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Detergent pods 

Detergent pods are the most recent development in laundry detergent. Their ease of use have made them increasingly popular since they first hit the shelves in 2012. 

How cost effective is it?

Per laundry load, detergent pods are the most expensive option for laundry detergent. Positively, each pod contains a pre-measured dose of detergent, which eliminates any potential for over dosing, and guarantees the same results on every wash. That being said, for slightly larger, or heavily stained, loads more than one pod will have to be used. Alternatively, there are no smaller pod options for smaller loads of laundry. This makes these pods less cost effective than their other detergent counterparts. 

What temperature does it work at?

Laundry pods work by dissolving the plastic the detergent is wrapped in and releasing the detergent over your clothing. These pods work in both cold and warm water, with some pods being specifically designed to dissolve in cold water. 

How good is it at removing stains?

As previously mentioned, laundry pods contain pre-measured doses of detergent- this is both a positive and a negative. On the positive side, you are guaranteed to get the same, clean, outcome after every use. On the other hand, if your clothing is heavily stained, you will have to use more than one pod. Another downside to using pods is that you can not use them to pre-treat stains as the detergent is concealed in a layer of dissolvable plastic. 

What are the downfalls of using detergent pods? 

Other than the negatives already discussed, one of the biggest downfalls to using detergent pods is their ability to be mistaken for sweets by children. It is vital to always keep your detergent pods out of reach from children to avoid them attempting to consume them. Other than this, the packaging laundry pods are contained in is seldom recyclable, making these pods not very environmentally friendly. 

DIY detergent

There are several benefits to making your own laundry detergent. You have complete control over what you put inside your detergent, meaning you can limit the harmful toxins that can cause skin irritation. Limiting these toxins is also better for the environment, as is the lack of packaging that making your own detergent causes. 

How cost effective is it?

Making your own laundry detergent is the most cost effective laundry detergent option. When making your own detergent you have complete control over what ingredients you include, meaning you can make it as cheap as possible. Adding to this, you can make your DIY detergent in batches must larger than you can buy detergent in.  

What temperature does it work at?

DIY detergents work the same as powder detergent. They will work in any temperature water, however, if used in cold water it may leave a residue on your clothing

How good is it at removing stains?

You can use your DIY detergent to both wash and pre-treat stains. If you are using it to pre-treat stains, you must make it into a paste using water. This is more time consuming than using liquid laundry detergent, however, will end with the same result. 

What are the downfalls of using DIY detergent? 

DIY detergent comes with many environmental and cost benefits. That being said, you need to take the time to make your detergent, which will take longer than buying it from a shop. As well as this, it’s important that you also take care to adequately store your detergent so it is out of reach from children, and add labels with all the ingredients that you have used. This will help avoid any issues should there be skin irritation. To make your own laundry detergent follow this recipe

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If you are still having trouble deciding which laundry detergent is best for you, let Laundryheap deal with your dirty washing. To book your Laundryheap order, simply head to the Laundryheap website, or download the free Laundryheap app.


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Powder vs liquid laundry detergent

When it comes to doing laundry, one of the biggest questions is: should I use powder or liquid detergent? The answer is, there are pros to using both. Read through some of the pros, and decide which is best for you. 

Pros for powder laundry detergent

  • Cost-effective
  • Recyclable 
  • Works well on outdoor stains

Cost-effective 

Powder detergent is more cost-effective than liquid detergent. To begin with, it costs less to manufacture because it takes less chemistry to build the product. This has resulted in packs of powder detergent often containing more detergent than its liquid counterpart. Additionally, powder detergent has a more stable cleaning agent than liquid detergent, meaning that it doesn’t lose its cleaning power over time. If you prefer to buy your detergent in bulk, powder is the way forward

Recyclable

If you’re looking to make your laundry more Eco-friendly than powder detergent is your best option. More often than not, you will find powder detergent in cardboard packaging. This is a lot easier to recycle as it is bio-degradable, therefore making it the environmentally friendly laundry detergent option. 

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Works well on outdoor stains

For those tough outdoor stains, such as mud and grass, a powder laundry detergent will work much better than its liquid alternative. The main surfactant in powder detergent is linear alkylbenzene sulfonate, which is much harsher on stains, and therefore better at ridding your clothing of deep-set outdoor stains. 

Pro’s for liquid detergent 

  • No bleach 
  • Safe for appliances 
  • Easy for stain pre-treatment

No bleach

Bleach is very effective at keeping your whites white, however it can be very damaging on your coloured clothing. Bleach is not found in liquid laundry detergents but can be found in some powder detergents. If you want to prevent your colours from fading, it’s best to wash them inside out and use a liquid detergent.

Safe for appliances 

 One of the benefits of using a liquid detergent is that it easily dissolves with the water in your washing machine. When using powder detergent, you may find chunks of undissolved, sludgy residue in your washer or your machines draw. This residue can lead to pipes being blocked and a broken washing machine. If you want to take extra precuations, without having to constantly clean your washing machine, liquid detergent is the safest option.

Easy for stain pre-treatment 

Both powder and liquid detergent can be used to pre-treat a stain, but liquid detergent is a lot easier to use. If you want to use a powder detergent to pre-treat a stain, you can add water to create a paste to rub over your stain. If you are using liquid laundry detergent, you simply have to pour a small amount of detergent over the stain and leave it for up to 5 minutes. 

Whether you prefer to use powder or laundry detergent both are effective at cleaning your clothes. If you still can’t decide which to use, why not just book your dry cleaning slot at the Laundryheap website or by downloading our free app. We are operational across the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait and USA.

laundry detergent


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Are You Using The Right Laundry Detergent?

With a huge variety of laundry detergents, it may seem a little overwhelming choosing the right laundry detergent for you. Many decisions are made based on what your mothers use, and some people just go for what’s on sale. Nevertheless, your choice of detergent can really impact the cleanliness of your laundry.

One thing for sure is that ALL forms of laundry detergent will clean your clothes well. The only difference is how each type of detergent is designed specifically to clean.

Let’s take a brief look at the options:

  • Powder: For a one-size-fits-all detergent, powders are suitable for all types of fabrics. With a bleaching and optical brightness agent, they are extremely effective in removing stubborn stains and leave clothes ‘squeaky’ clean. Best for use in high temperatures and long wash cycles.

powder laundry detergent

Quick note: There are powders designed for coloured laundry that do not contain bleaching agents.

  • Liquid and gels: These versatile laundry detergents are bleach free and are great for keeping colours bright! For stain removal, they can be used as a pre-wash spot treatment. These detergents are great for washing at low temperatures, delicate cycles, quick wash cycles and hand washes.

liquid laundry detergent

  • Capsule: This compact liquid detergent comes with just the right amount of liquid for each laundry cycle, so you don’t need to worry about over or under filling your load with detergent. Great for washing at any temperature.

capsule laundry detergent

Other things to consider…

To choose the right detergent, it’s best to consider the cycle type and temperature you’ll be washing the clothes at. Don’t forget to think about the type of fabric you’re dealing with too.

Ask yourself: Is it white? Colourfast? Wool or silk? A good stain removal? What temperature and type of cycle?

We at Laundryheap can imagine the struggles you’re put through in choosing the right laundry detergent, that’s why we do the dirty work for you. Schedule your laundry with us so you don’t have to worry about a thing.