The 8 Best Laundry Detergents of 2023, According to Testing

After testing 29 detergents, we crowned HEX Performance Laundry Detergent the winner.

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gain flings laundry detergents

Better Homes & Gardens / Reese Herrington

Unless you’re lucky enough to outsource, laundry is one of those pesky tasks that never seems quite finished. But finding the best laundry detergent is a real game changer.

To make your search easier, we tested 29 different laundry detergents. We tested each detergent for effectiveness, scent, ease of use, and value. In addition, we considered how each material felt after washing and drying, whether any stains remained, and the number of wrinkles present. 

One personal consideration you should make is between powder, liquid, pod, and sheet. “Each will perform well on a variety of fabrics and clothing types, so it will primarily come down to personal preference,” says Alex Wojenski, a Grove Guide at Grove Collaborative, an online marketplace for sustainable brands.

Do you want to throw and go? Pods or sheets are probably for you. If customizing the amount of detergent is important, and you don’t want to deal with potential drips, opt for powder instead of liquid.

Best Overall

HEX Performance Laundry Detergent

Hex Performance Laundry Detergent


Why You Should Get It: This effective stain fighter is also a space saver.

Keep in Mind: There may be a slight chemical scent when you get really close to the product.

Most of the detergents on our list weren’t able to fully remove any stains on their own, and while this liquid detergent didn’t wipe all of them out, it did manage to completely dissolve chocolate, wine, and foundation from different fabrics. This is a big win since not having to pretreat every single stain saves time and money.

Its effectiveness had no impact on the actual feel of the laundry—everything came out feeling light, unwrinkled (except for, understandably, the linen), and without leftover residue. Because it’s concentrated, the container is on the smaller side, saving space and making it lighter and easier to lift than others. Our tester pointed out that it was also easy to pour, likely due in part to the container’s size and shape.

The one con our tester noted was the scent: There is a slight chemical smell to the detergent and the laundered items. That said, it was fairly subtle and unnoticeable further than 6 inches away. If you’re particularly sensitive to scent, this product comes in an unscented formula as well.

Price at time of publish: $24

Product Details: Type: Liquid | Scent: Scented and unscented | Number of Loads: 64 loads

Best Scented Pods

Tide Pods Spring Meadow Laundry Detergent

Tide Pods Coldwater Clean Laundry Detergent


Why You Should Get It: This product is small, lightweight, and easy to use.

Keep in Mind: During testing, none of the stains were completely removed in the wash.

Laundry pods are undeniably convenient, partly because no measurements (or mess!) are required and partly because the container is lightweight, easy to lift, and clearly marked with directions in multiple places. (You can also easily decant the small pods into any number of canisters, bowls, or boxes.)

This Tide option landed on our list of best laundry detergents because of the best-selling Spring Meadow scent. It’s fresh, sweet, and not at all overpowering. It leaves clothes with just enough fragrance to make them smell extra clean.

Beyond that, Tide Pods compared similarly to other top performers. All the tested items (except for a towel) were softer than before washing. Our tester also pointed out that despite the shirts feeling like they had some sort of coating, they washed up to be residue-free.

Not unlike most of its competitors, all of the items we washed still had one or more stains visible to the naked eye, with the chocolate coming out the most. (It is worth noting, however, that these pods include a general stain remover.)

Price at time of publish: $22

Product Details: Type: Pod | Scent: Yes | Number of Loads: 81 loads

Best Liquid

Tide Laundry Detergent Liquid Soap Eco-Box

Tide Laundry Detergent Liquid Soap Eco-Box


Why You Should Get It: Items come out pretty clean, with a pleasantly clean scent to boot—plus, the box is refillable.

Keep in Mind: There’s a learning curve to using the box and spout.

As with all detergents, there are some areas where this product could use some work, but there are a lot of things it gets right. First and foremost is how clean it was able to get the materials—while none of them were completely free of stains, it removed not just the chocolate but also the oil and most of the wine and sauce stains without any pretreatment.

The scent was also a plus: It’s slightly sweet and floral yet subtle and doesn’t smell like chemicals or perfume. After drying, the scent went away and left the items simply smelling clean. Not only was there no residue or stiffness to the dried fabrics, but the towel ended up significantly more fluffy than other detergents left it.

Now for the drawback: the box itself. While we give it points for reusability and sustainability (refills are sold separately), the spout was a challenge. Several testers found themselves reading and re-reading the instructions before finding the perforated twist nozzle that they had to turn at a horizontal angle.

It was also tricky to dispense the right amount of liquid despite clear recommendations based on the load size and marks on the cap because the contents pour out quickly. Though as one tester said, “If you can pour a glass of wine from a box, you can probably handle the Tide in a box, too.”

Price at time of publish: $20

Product Details: Type: Liquid | Scent: Yes | Number of Loads: 96 loads

Best Scent

Gain Original Liquid Laundry Detergent + Aroma Boost

Gain Original Liquid Laundry Detergent + Aroma Boost


Why You Should Get It: This is an effective detergent at a great price.

Keep in Mind: None of the items were completely stain-free after washing.

We’ll cut to the chase in explaining how this made our list of best laundry detergents. In the words of one tester, “The smell is phenomenal and the stain removing power was competitive.” So much so that they’re considering switching the detergent they’ve used throughout adulthood in favor of this one.

Reminiscent of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit gum, the scent is slightly sweet and fruity with nice florals mixed in. Ever the crowd pleaser, thanks to the Aroma Boost, you could still catch a good whiff of it after the materials were dry. Plus, all the items we tested came out clean, light, and fluffy, especially the towel—no residue or stiffness whatsoever. The linen and cotton textiles came out a bit wrinkled, but that’s nothing out of the ordinary.

When it came to stain removal sans pretreatment, the results were mixed—as they were for every detergent tested. In this case, chocolate was nearly or completely removed from the white tee, gray athletic shirt, and napkin. It also got rid of more wine and foundation than almost any other formula. However, grass, sauce, mud, and oil were still prevalent.

The last consideration was the ease of use, which it earned top marks for, with its clear instructions on the small, lightweight bottle and (literally) clear cap with visible measurements.

Price at time of publish: $17 for two

Product Details: Type: Liquid | Scent: Yes | Number of Loads: 90 loads

Best Pods

Gain flings Laundry Detergent Soap Pacs

 Gain flings Laundry Detergent Soap Pacs


Why You Should Get It: This detergent delivers on performance and comes at a fair price.

Keep in Mind: The scent is pretty subtle.

If you like the sound of our Tide Pods review but prefer something with a little less scent, this is the best laundry detergent for you.

Gain Flings ranked similarly when it came to stains, feel, and ease of use (packaging for both was a small, lightweight plastic container). The price for Gain Flings was even a bit lower than Tide, coming in at 25 cents a load—the median cost for detergent overall, making it a good value.

When the tested items came out of the dryer, each one still had at least one stain remaining, though they were all less visible than they were before.

Overall, these pods performed equal to or better than the Tide Pods in our testing. In particular, Gain was able to get rid of more of the foundation stain, which was a struggle for almost all of the detergents we tested. None of the items picked up any residue or felt stiff or scratchy after laundering, and the towel was fluffier than it was before. Except for the linen washcloth, which was fairly wrinkled, the rest of the items came out only slightly wrinkled.

Fragrance, as mentioned before, is where there was more of a difference; while Tide Pods had a fresh, sweet scent that lingered post-wash, Gain Flings had a subtle scent but did leave the clothes smelling clean after washing.

Price at time of publish: $28

Product Details: Type: Pod | Scent: Yes | Number of Loads: 112 loads

Best Natural

Molly's Suds Unscented Laundry Detergent Powder

Molly's Suds Unscented Bulk Laundry Detergent Powder


Why You Should Get It: It’s ideal for sensitive skin.

Keep in Mind: The product’s stain-fighting ability is nothing remarkable.

Many people argue that natural products aren’t as effective, but this one is proof that that’s not necessarily the case. The stain removal wasn’t overly successful (again, not uncommon), leaving the foundation, grass, mud, and oil while getting rid of the chocolate and wine.

This powder detergent is unscented, and while you can technically smell the borax if you get really close to the container, you’re otherwise in the clear—a huge plus for those with sensitivities to scented products. The all-natural ingredients also make this product ideal for those with sensitive skin.

After washing and drying various items with this detergent, none of the items had any leftover residue, and they all felt soft and pliable, especially the towel. Similar to the results with other products, the linen napkin had deep-set wrinkles, but unlike some of the other detergents, Molly’s Suds left the other fabrics wrinkle-free.

The packaging provides a great user experience. The lightweight, resealable bag has specific instructions on the back and a small scoop inside. One other thing that makes this one of the best laundry detergents? The price. At $15 for 70 uses, it costs just a little more than 21 cents a load, which is 4 cents less than the median price of 25 cents.

When you consider the value of an unscented and plant-derived formula, this product is a solid option. The ease of use is a big pro, too, adding even more to the value.

Price at time of publish: $15

Product Details: Type: Powder | Scent: No | Number of Loads: 70 loads

Best for Sensitive Skin

All Free Clear Liquid Laundry Detergent

All Free Clear Laundry Detergent


Why You Should Get It: It’s hypoallergenic, good at stain removal, and reasonably priced.

Keep in Mind: Since there’s no fragrance, it has a slight chemical scent.

If you’ve ever put on freshly washed clothes only to end up covered in a rash, you know how important finding the best laundry detergent for sensitive skin is. This product’s formula is tough on stains, significantly lightening each one we tested (oil, mud, foundation, grass, sauce, and some of the wine) if not removing the stain completely (chocolate and some of the wine).

The results were impressive for no pretreatment. Aside from one slightly stiff shirt, all the other fabrics dried to be super soft. Along with the linen washcloth, the shirt was also a little wrinkly, which was a letdown but in no way a dealbreaker.

This hypoallergenic liquid formula is free of fragrance and dyes, but you’ll notice a slight chemical scent if you smell the liquid detergent up close. Part of this has to do with the concentrated formula, which also makes the container lightweight and easy to pour. And, bonus, smaller containers are also easier to store—no unsightly jug sitting atop the washer.

Not only did this detergent outperform other products, but at 16 cents per load, it was also significantly less expensive. While fragrance enthusiasts may be disappointed with the lack of scent, if that’s the worst con we can come up with, this formula has earned its spot on our list of best laundry detergents.

Price at time of publish: $18

Product Details: Type: Liquid | Scent: No | Number of Loads: 110 loads

Best Eco-Friendly

Earth Breeze Laundry Detergent Sheets

Earth Breeze Laundry Detergent Sheets


Why You Should Get It: It has an upscale scent and is convenient for travel.

Keep in Mind: You’ll need to use a separate pretreatment for stains.

So many of us are taking steps to become more eco-friendly, and finding the best laundry detergent that also reduces waste is an accessible way to do so. Instead of powder, pods, or liquid, this detergent comes in sheet form, making storage easier and more convenient.

Are you traveling and not sure if your vacation rental will have detergent? Will you be staying in a camper or perhaps even a cramped apartment? Just throw a couple of these in your bag. The cardboard container is recyclable and biodegradable, automatically reducing your carbon footprint without any effort.

On the container are directions outlining exactly how many sheets should be used based on the size of the load, plus descriptions of what each size load looks like so there’s no confusion (it’s common to use too much detergent). Let’s hear it for taking out the guesswork!

Where these laundry detergent sheets fell short is in stain removal sans pretreatment. Besides the chocolate, which was mostly removed, all the other stains were still clearly visible. Still, though, all the items came out delightfully soft without any kind of residue.

Coming out of the dryer, two items didn’t have any wrinkles, while the linen napkin had many, and there were some obvious ones on the white tee as well. All of the laundered items held the pleasant citrusy floral scent of the detergent, which doesn’t happen often. Given all the pros and cons, 27 cents a load seems like a fair price for a handy product.

Price at time of publish: $16

Product Details: Type: Sheet | Scent: Scented and unscented | Number of Loads: 60 loads

The Bottom Line

There are plenty of laundry detergents to choose from, but after testing 29 detergents, we found the HEX Performance Laundry Detergent to be the best overall choice for its incredibly effective stain removal and lightweight, easy-to-use packaging.

Our Testing Process

We tested 29 laundry detergents, with our testers providing ratings from one to five based on effectiveness, scent, feel, ease of use, and value.

To determine effectiveness and feel, the same four items (cotton t-shirt, athletic t-shirt, terry cloth towel, and linen napkin) with the same variety of stains (chocolate, red wine, foundation makeup, jojoba oil, marinara sauce, mud, and grass) were washed, dried, and then evaluated for cleanliness, wrinkles, residue, and stiffness/scratchiness.

The scent of the materials after laundering was also considered, as well as the smell of the detergent up close and 6 inches away. To decide on ease of use, the testers had to physically remove the detergent from its container with attention to weight and size, identify the directions and judge how clear they were.

Value was dictated by all the other ratings combined, plus the median price. With these ratings, we were able to determine the nine best laundry detergents.

What to Know About Laundry Detergent Before Shopping


Powder, liquid, pod, and sheet types of detergent can all get the job done when it comes to cleaning, stain removal, and brightening, regardless of the fabric. That said, there are differences in convenience and control. “Pods and sheets contain pre-measured doses of detergent, but liquids and powders can be more easily modified for different load sizes,” explains Wojenski.


Choosing a scent comes down to personal preference. Do you want it to linger after drying, or would you find that too overpowering? Do you like something floral or fruity? Those with sensitive skin may benefit from detergents that don’t contain fragrances or dyes that may cause irritation and rash.

Number of Loads

When it comes to the number of loads a detergent will wash, the packaging can be deceiving. “Liquid laundry detergent can vary from unconcentrated to eight times concentrated,” Wojenski says.

The benefit? “You may be able to get more washes with a smaller concentrated bottle of detergent and not have to store a large bottle or repurchase as often.” Price can trick you as well, which is why you should pay attention to the listed number of loads and calculate the cost per load.

Other Laundry Detergents We Tested

Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin Free & Clear

At 8 cents a load, Arm & Hammer’s Sensitive Skin Free & Clear detergent is a hard bargain to pass on (Save even more money by washing with cold water.), but despite the clean smell sans fragrance, clear directions, and lack of remaining residue, it didn’t qualify as one of the best laundry detergents.

The two biggest issues were that all the stains were still intact to some degree after washing, and all the items dried to be stiffer than they were before.

Purex Mountain Breeze HE Liquid Laundry Detergent

While the Purex Mountain Breeze HE Liquid Laundry Detergent performed about on par with, and sometimes better than, most of the other detergents we tested, there were two downsides. The first is that while none of the textiles came out of the dryer with lingering residue, some of them did feel stiff and/or scratchy.

The second is that the 150-ounce bottle is large and heavy, with no way to dispense the liquid easily, like laying the bottle on its side. 

Seventh Generation Concentrated Laundry Detergent Liquid Free & Clear

Seventh Generation Concentrated Laundry Detergent Liquid Free & Clear resulted in no wrinkles on anything except the linen napkin, and the guidelines for how much detergent to use were clear.

The laundered items came out soft and fluffy, with a present-but-not-overwhelming scent. A couple of stains on a moisture-wicking athletic shirt dissolved entirely, and one stain spread. At just 16 cents per load, this detergent might be worth a try.

Your Questions, Answered

Does laundry detergent expire?

Not technically, but you’ll likely see a recommended shelf life date. According to Wojenski, as this date approaches (typically two to three years out), you may start to see changes in the detergent’s look, smell, and performance. It’ll probably be safe to use, but it won’t be as effective.

“Factors such as heat and light can speed up the aging process as well,” she points out. “If your detergent is stored in a cool, dry place, it may perform well up to and beyond the shelf life date.”

Can you use dish soap as laundry detergent?

Dish soap is a serious multitasker in many ways, but not as detergent. That said, you can still use it on your laundry.

“A small dab of dish soap can be a great way to pretreat grease stains on clothing,” Wojenski says.

The issue is that dish soap and laundry detergent have very different formulations—the former creates a lot of suds, while the latter creates less. “Using a laundry-specific detergent will ensure your clothes are cleaned to their full potential while eliminating the risk of suds overflowing from the washing machine,” she finishes.

Can you mix baking soda and detergent?

The short answer? Yes. “Baking soda is definitely washing machine safe,” shares Wojenski. “It’s a natural brightener and deodorizer, so it may be beneficial to add a half cup to a smelly load of laundry or a load of whites.”

Just make sure to add it to the machine after the wash drum is filled with water so it dissolves properly. Don’t have baking soda on hand? Vinegar can also remove laundry stains and odors.

Who We Are

Quincy Bulin is a writer who covers products and home topics, making this story the ideal intersection of her work. To find the best laundry detergents, she considered ratings from testers and consulted Grove Guide Alex Wojenski from Grove Collaborative for additional insight.

What Is BHG Recommends?

Next to all of the products on this list, you may have noticed our BHG Recommends seal of approval. Products that earn the seal have been put through rigorous testing to make sure they're worth a spot in your home. We buy most of the products we test ourselves, but occasionally we are provided samples by companies if buying isn't an option. In these cases, we use the same testing criteria we use to test the purchased products.

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