Best washing powders 2023: Top detergents to get laundry gleaming
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Best washing powders 2023: Top detergents to get laundry gleaming

Dec 29, 2023

Keep clean and carry on with the best suds in the laundry game

t's an everyday purchase, but get your choice of washing powder wrong, and you’ll soon notice the difference.

Certain detergents can trigger allergies in some people that lead to intense itching or sudden rashes. Meanwhile others might notice a weird slimy film over their laundry; clothes, bedlinen, towels and cushion covers don't feel as clean and mountain fresh as promised by the adverts broadcast on prime time telly each evening.

For most part, the majority of folks pick a brand off the supermarket shelves and stick with it. When it comes to laundry powder and detergent, it seems we are creatures of habit.

But could you be missing out on something superior by not shopping around? In this instance, could the grass actually turn out to be greener?

According to Consumer Market Insights the UK's home and laundry care market made some €5bn in 2022, with Persil sitting on the throne as bestseller, followed closely by Ariel.

While they have the largest market shares, there are plenty of smaller, specialist and niche brands offering fresh sheets and clean clothes with added benefits that range from eco-friendliness, sensitive skin-suitability, and scents that mimic or echo high-end parfums. Others perform brilliantly at lower temperatures, which could help lower energy bills - something to persuade you to switch in these cash-strapped times.

Then there's the type of detergent: liquid, powder or pod? Bio or non-bio?

Bio options contain certain enzymes which make it easier to obliterate tough dirt and stains. They work at lower temperatures saving both energy and money.

Meanwhile non-bio cleaners are formulated without such enzymes, which makes them friendlier to those with sensitive skin or washing children's and babies clothing.

While using a non-bio is kinder on your skin, the drawback is that deep, stubborn stains will likely need extra firepower in the form of a stain remover on the affected areas.

To help see behind the glossy advertising, we’ve made a list of the best washing powder brands to help you work through your laundry basket.

From posh washes and thrifty buys to subscriptions so that you’re never without washing powder again, there's something for every budget and every household.

See the UK's best washing powder brands below

Bio or non-bio?: both

Form: pod and powder

The UK's current market leader was the world's first company to launch a commercial laundry powder back in 1907. Today, it offers cleaning agents in both bio and non-bio options as well as colour protect to keep your favourite patterned outfits and bold separates looking as good as new. Packaged in 100 per cent recyclable boxes and cartons, formats span everything from traditional powders to liquid soaps and convenient pre-portioned pods that dissolve in the wash.

Persil's formulas are famously tough on stains, even in the non-bio option which makes it an especially good choice for big families with messy eaters.

Find Persil Bio capsules here, and Non-bio capsules here.

Bio or non-bio?: both

Form: gel, washing powder, liquid detergent or pods

It's been around since the late 60s, but Ariel remains one of the most-reached for washing powders in the country today. Its affordability might have something to do with it, but its proven performance gives it top billing too.

Pods come in a Platinum range and All-in-1 options, while washing liquid comes in original and colour washing versions. It's the same choice if you prefer old school powders, while washing gels boast everything from extra stain removal for stubborn grime, colour options to keep washing bright, and infusions of Lenor for can't-stop-sniffing freshness.

Bio or non-bio?: both

Form: pod and powder

Most commonly associated with green bottles for washing dishes, Fairy also offers cleaners to wash clothes. It is very proud of its super-gentle formula, conveyed through a baby mascot on its label, and as such only offers Non-Bio detergent options.

You can bag it in both pod and powder formats, with powder often working out to be the more cost-effective of the two - especially if you find the XXXL Giga packs on offer (140 washes in one box!).

Bio or non-bio?: bio exclusively

Form: pod, powder and liquid detergent

Filling the fragrance-sized hole in the washing detergent market, Surf famously uses strong scents in its formula to fill your home with comforting, clean smells. It's also tough on spills and stains, which the company partly attributes to the "enzymes in our biological formula". They claim removing these would make the cleaner less effective and so no non-bio detergents are offered under Surf's umbrella.

That said, if you like the sound of being enveloped in scents like lavender, coconut, ylang ylang or watermelon, Surf could be perf.

Bio or non-bio?: Bio only

Form: pod, powder, gel and liquid

Bold's USP is that it teams its cleaning formula with a fabric softener to provide a one-stop shop for your entire laundry basket. It partners with Lenor for delightfully fresh scents that you’ll love on your clothes and bedsheets. So it stands to reason, then, that the formula is available as a Bio washing detergent only - sad news for sensitive skin types.

Still, if your skin is unaffected by washing chemicals, using Bold will be like taking your nostrils to an olfactory theme park. From floral-scented collabs with cleanfluencer Mrs Hinch and calming lavender and camomile infusions, to the bright and citrussy Spring Awakening, there are plenty of powerful formulas to keep you looking and smelling as fresh as a daisy.

Bio or non-bio?: Bio only

Form: powder, pod and liquid

A no-nonsense powder that goes hard on stains, Daz uses bleach in its cleaning formula which rules it out for those with sensitive skin. Made by giant Procter & Gamble, it comes in powder, pod and liquid format, offering plenty of variety for households. While it’ll get your whites gleaming to a blinding degree, it won't fade bright colours either.

As far as cost-per-wash goes, this stuff is golden: it's very good value for money but the downside is that there's no scents to choose from, and no non-bio options.

Bio or non-bio?: Non-bio, made with plant-based softener

Form: liquid soap

Offering a triple-action treatment - cleans, colour protects, and defuzzes - with a light peony scent, Method's detergent is gentle on the skin but tough on those tough, stubborn stains. It can be used as a concentrate on particularly bothersome spots, and also as a general washing liquid by slinging in a capful with your next wash.

This bundle is for two bottles, each doing 39 washes, so it should see through a couple of a months at the very least. Other scents are also available: Ocean Violet and Tropical Coconut

Bio or non-bio?: non-bio

Form: liquid soap

The famed fragrance house has extended its orb into the heady world of… clothes detergents, offering an exciting upgrade to your laundry experience. It's made with 95 per cent natural ingredients, which makes it kinder to sensitive skin and can be used across a range of textiles - so no need to separate your wardrobe with linen bed sheets and towels.

The 500ml recyclable bottle offers enough scented formula to see you through 25 washes.

It's probably not one for big families who always seem to have the washing machine on, but if you’re a stylish young thing around town who wants their home to smell as chic as they do, add to basket stat.

Bio or non-bio?: non-bio

Form: liquid soap

Made especially for SLIP's line of silk pillowcases, this is undoubtedly a boujee buy, but worth it if you want to keep expensive fabrics in good nick. The gentle formula has been tested and greenlighted by dermatologists and can be used for hand-washing as well as in a washing machine (though it's wise not to combine with laundry that's not silk).

Bio or non-bio?: Bio

Form: liquid soap

Rituals’ Sakura scent is one of the brand's bestsellers thanks to the delicate perfume of the celebrated cherry tree. Now fans can enjoy the scent all through their home thanks to this 1L detergent in the collection. It will clean whites and coloured items, leaving behind nothing but that wonderful floral scent. Use it in the machine for 33 cycles, or, if you save it for hand washing delicate pieces, it will last up to 66 treatments.

There's also a delicate detergent available, £17 for 750ml.

Bio or non-bio?: Bio

Form: powder

Not exactly a luxury powder, but this packet is said to carry a scent very similar to Prada's Amber fragrance, this bio washing powder is one for those who aren't wild about the floral scents carried by most detergent brands. You can detect the scent from the moment you open the washing machine and it uses special heat-reactive tech to retrigger the fragrance when you’re wearing it or in hot weather. For all the smooth operators.

If you're fighting the battle against pointless single use plastic, you'll like this option from Homethings. The washing pods come housed in an easily recyclable cardboard box (though you may want to decant into a glass jar to ensure they don't get wet near sink or laundry cupboards).

Unlike other laundry pods, these are filled with powder rather than liquid. Simply sling them into your machine before filling with a dirty load and running on a 30-40 degree temperature cycle. The 100 per cent natural powder will effectively clean clothes and completely dissolve so there's no gritty residue left. These are unscented which makes them particularly suited to those with sensitive skin.

A homegrown brand that focuses on eco-conscious cleaning products, EcoZone offers everything from bathroom cleaners to laundry detergent. This bumper five litre tank is vegan, non-toxic and natural, with enough to see you through a stonking 166 washes (parents, rejoice).

The formula is packed with plant-derived ingredients that will erase stains - yes, even on a cooler wash. That said, the formula is gentle enough to use on baby clothes and school uniforms to the point where it's been approved by Allergy UK. How's that for buying confidence?

For those who prefer pods, EcoZone has a box of non-bio capsules for £6.96.

Life is far too short to worry about having enough laundry detergent. Never be caught short again with this handy subscription service that posts a box of pods at a frequency of your choosing, helpful for households of all sizes.

The laundry pods come in bio as well as non-bio with a concentrated formula to get to work on dirt and stains. Whichever option you go for, you’ll get 24 capsules delivered in eco-friendly, plastic-free packaging.

The best bit? You can get a trial box of nine pods for free when you cover the £1 postage. A Smol price to pay, you might say.

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