Do you choose your laundry detergent by smell or effectiveness?

Sure, you want the laundry to smell good and make your clothing soft, but there are other key components in detergent that must be present to deliver an effective clean.

The most important ingredients in standard detergents are chemicals known as builders and surfactants.

Builders (a.k.a. water softeners) work to keep metals found in water (like calcium and magnesium) from interfering with the washing process. This ingredient is especially important for people with hard water.

Surfactants achieve three major goals: penetrating and wetting the fabric, loosening soils, and emulsifying solids to keep them suspended in the wash solution.

Therefore, surfactants are the ingredients that physically remove the stains from your clothes. Some common surfactants include linear alkyl sulfonates, dodecyl benzene sulfonate, and alcohol ethoxylates (a low sudsing agent).

A really great laundry detergent that is effective at removing stains will have a powerful balance of these ingredients. While there are liquid and powder detergent options, we recommend using powder detergents. When too much liquid detergent is used in your loads, it can cause mildew to grow in your washer. Save yourself that risk by using powder detergents. Here are a few of our favorites:

Best Laundry Detergent

Gain With FreshLock Original Powder Detergent: When it comes to finding the best laundry detergent for keeping your clothes smelling fresh and keeping clothes bright, this product from Gain is the way to go. The FreshLock formula locks in the freshness, even after two weeks! Designed for use in all types of washers.

Tide Mountain Spring HE Turbo Powder Laundry DetergentDesigned specifically for use with HE (high-efficiency) washers, this Tide product is among the best laundry detergents for removing stains. Its powder formula contains Acti-Lift crystals that attacks even 7 day-old stains. With 6 times the cleaning power in half the time (compared to leading liquid detergents), it’s easy to see why 84% percent of Amazon reviews gave this product 4 or 5 stars!

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Best Natural Laundry Detergent

Charlie’s Soap – Eco Friendly Laundry Powder: If you prefer a detergent with more natural ingredients, we recommend this product from Charlie’s Soap. It’s ingredients are non-toxic, biodegradable, and HE compatible. In addition, it’s ideal for those with sensitive skin.

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Perhaps you’re looking for the best DIY laundry detergent solution? Try this natural, easy, and very cost effective formula:

Mix together the ingredients together and stir thoroughly. Just be sure to store in a sealed container. You’ll add 1-3 tbsp to your laundry, depending on the size of the load and how soiled the clothes are.