Liquid, Powder, or Single Dose Pack?

With so many choices on the market, you’re sure to find a laundry detergent that fits your budget and meets your laundry cleaning needs as well as your family’s preference of fragrance and environmental responsibility.

It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it! If you’re the one on laundry duty, you’ll want some serious detergent to get those soiled clothes clean. With the help of water, and the rotation of the washer’s inner drum (in a front-load machine) or spindle-like agitator (in a top-load machine), detergent lifts dirt, stains, and odors away.

But when it comes to convenience, cost, and cleaning power, not all detergents are equal. The two main types, powder, and liquid are suitable for use in standard or high-efficiency top-load or front-load washers at any water temperature. So which should you choose? We will break down their differences with a few key comparisons—liquid vs. powder detergent—to help you decide which is best for your family’s laundry. And remember, if you need a break, OrangeBag laundry service in Los Angeles is a great way to outsource your laundry and dry cleaning (and they offer hypoallergenic detergent at no extra charge). Now, let’s take a look at the best laundry detergent options for doing laundry at home:

Modern washing machine with stack of towels, detergents and laundry basket near white wall. Space for text

Why Choose Powdered Detergent

Powder detergent is cheaper

One of the most alluring reasons to opt for powder detergent is its price tag. It costs less because it takes more chemistry to build liquid detergents.

Powder detergent works better on outdoor stains

The main surfactant in powder detergent is linear alkylbenzene sulfonate, which is highly effective on outdoor stains like mud, clay, or grass. You can also follow this guide on how to remove stains.

Additionally, powdered detergent is packaged in cardboard boxes which can be recycled more easily compared to plastic containers – making it the more eco-friendly choice among laundry detergents.

Powder detergent has a longer shelf life

Powder cleaning agents are more stable than their counterparts, retaining their cleaning power much longer. Liquid cleaning agents lose their strength when mixed with water. If you’re the type of person who likes to buy in bulk, powder detergent is the better choice.

Plain detergent bottle on wood over defocused laundry room interior

Why Choose Liquid Detergent

Liquid detergent is more convenient

It’s generally considered easier to pour out a small amount of liquid soap into the washing machine in comparison to scooping out a portion of powder. And if you’re not skilled at transferring the powder, it’s a pain to clean up any droppings. Lastly, powdered laundry detergent comes in a cardboard box that’s heavy, hard to carry, and rips easily, especially if it gets wet.

Liquid detergent mixes with the wash water better

Powder detergent is finicky with water temperature. Some brands don’t dissolve in cold water setting, most notably in high-efficiency (HE) washers. If you have a lot of clothes that are cold-water wash only (to avoid shrinkage and dyes from bleeding) or you’re trying to lower your electric bill, this is a big issue.

And if you do choose to use the cold water setting when using powder detergent, you could be in for extra laundry time, with chunks of undissolved detergent leaving residue on your clothes. Meanwhile, liquid detergent works well in cold, warm, and hot water. You’ll never shrink a beloved top or fade a pair of black pants again once you know these common laundry mistakes.

Liquid, Powdered, or Single-Dose Pack Laundry Detergent?

For all purposes, laundry detergents are available in liquid, powdered, or single-dose form. All forms of laundry detergent will clean clothes well, however, liquid detergents are particularly effective on greasy, oily stains and can be easily used as a pretreater for stain removal. The most common problem with liquid detergent use is using too much per load or overdosing. Detergent bottle caps are often difficult to read and consumers use too much wasting money and leaving residue in clothes.

Powdered detergents are usually less expensive. They are most effective on mud stains and ground-in dirt. Powdered detergents can be a problem if you have extremely cold water or only use cold water for washing because they may not dissolve completely. A good tip is to always add powdered detergent to the wash before clothes and water are added. If you experience problems with residue, mix the detergent with a quart of hot water and add that directly to the washer drum before doing a load of laundry. 

Single-dose packs are popular because they are the most convenient and simple to use, especially if your using a community laundry room or laundromat. Unfortunately they are also the most expensive to use per load of laundry and may take two packs to handle really dirty clothes or extra-large loads. Single-dose packs are pre-measured for an average soil and size load. You may need to use two if you do large loads of laundry or heavily soiled laundry. Take a look at your family’s needs and that will help you make a decision about using single-dose products. It is essential to learn to use laundry detergent packs correctly and safely.