The best washing powders and laundry detergents blitz stubborn stains. We compare the best and worst to help you find your ideal laundry detergent.

 laundry detergents

 

 

Using the very best laundry detergents means your laundry will emerge from the machine spotless, with pristine whites and vibrant colours.  No one else tests as thoroughly as we do.

Our independent lab tests mimic the everyday dirt and stains you get on your clothes and linen, so you can be confident that Best Buy laundry detergents really will get your grubbiest washing clean.

We’ve put bio and non-bio washing powders, liquids, gels and capsules through our tough cleaning tests so we can reveal the best – and the worst. Our latest tests included brands such as Ariel, Ecover, Fairy and Method, and own-brand detergents from supermarkets such as Aldi, Lidl, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose.

What type of laundry detergent is best?

For the best results, it’s worth considering buying different types of detergent to tackle different laundry loads, as powders, liquid detergents and capsules each have their own strengths. Use our handy visual guide below, based on our extensive experience testing laundry detergents, to decide what you need.

Liquid and gels – keeps colours bright but not great for extra bright whites

Capsules – great for speed and convenience but struggle with heavily soiled clothes

Powder– great for extra bright whites and heavily soiled items but tends to fade coloured clothes Before you buy, make sure you check our test results for individual products below, as choosing the wrong brand could mean that you don’t get the cleaning power you were after, whichever type you choose.

Our years testing all the different types of laundry detergent have proved that washing powders tend to be better at keeping whites dazzling. Liquid capsules and liquid and gel detergents, meanwhile, are often better at keeping colours from fading.

So to get the best results, it’s worth buying both a powder for your whites and a liquid for your colours.  Three washing powders, three laundry capsules, and four laundry liquids hit our Best Buy gold standard in our rigorous tests.

Some of our Best Buys are pricier branded products, but you can save money by choosing Best Buy supermarket own-brand powders from Aldi, Morrisons, Tesco or Sainsburys. These are less than half the cost per wash of branded versions, plus they’re sometimes best on certain stains.

Liquid and gel detergent results explained

Our tests revealed four Best Buy laundry liquids that are better than their rivals. Aldi Almat Bio Concentrated and Ariel Original Bio Washing Liquid are both good stain removers, proving particularly effective against greasy marks and everyday stains, such as sweat, mud and ink.

Although liquids and gels don’t always do a brilliant job of keeping whites pristine, these two buck the trend. They are the joint-best at this, and the only liquids or gels to score five stars for keeping whites gleaming. What really separates these two top scorers, though, is price. Aldi’s Almat Bio costs just 6p per wash, whereas the big brand Ariel liquid will set you back 13p per wash.

Assuming four loads of washing a week, you could save almost £15 a year by opting for the Almat Bio. Definitely worth keeping in mind if you have an Aldi store close by. Ariel’s Bio Gel also impressed, earning good scores across the board.

Method’s Wild Lavender Bio laundry liquid was the big surprise among the liquid and gel detergents we tested, and it’s the first ‘eco’ detergent to earn our Best Buy recommendation.

If you’re looking for a product with plant-based ingredients and greener credentials, then Method is your best option. Other laundry liquids from Fairy, Lidl, Sainsbury’s, M&S and Waitrose didn’t clean up in our tests. All are poor stain-busters.

Liquid capsule results explained

For the first time in years we have Best Buy laundry capsules to recommend, with Ariel Pods with Oxi Stain Removers, Morrisons Bio capsules and Tesco Bio 3 in 1 capsules all making the grade. There was very little to separate the three in terms of performance, but there’s a big difference in price.

At 15p per wash the Morrisons capsules are our cheapest Best Buy, while Ariel Pods are 28p per wash. A simple switch from big-brand to own-brand could net you a decent saving across the year.  If you prefer non-bio detergent then Lidl Formil Non-Bio Caps are the best choice.

They do a very good job of removing grease marks and drink stains, such as red wine and tea. Three capsules were so poor that we’ve labelled them Don’t Buys. They all struggle to remove stains, and the lowest-scoring capsules will also leave your whites looking dull.

Best and worst capsules for different stains

Capsules differ in their ability to tackle different types of stain. Here’s a breakdown of the best and worst capsule brands for each individual stain, so you can choose the best detergent to clean up after you and your family.

Drink: BEST Ariel All in 1 Washing Pods with Oxi Stain Removers WORST Aldi Almat Premium 3 in 1 Bio Laundry Capsules, Aldi Almat Premium 3 in 1 Non-Bio Laundry Capsules, Fairy Non-Bio Pods, and Tesco 3 in 1 Non-Bio Capsules

Food: BEST Ariel All in 1 Washing Pods with Oxi Stain Removers, Morrisons Bio Laundry Capsules, Tesco Bio 3 in 1 Detergent Capsules, Tesco Bio Capsules, Lidl Formil Bio Caps, Lidl Formil 3 in 1 Bio Caps WORST Aldi Almat Premium 3 in 1 Non-Bio Laundry Capsules, Fairy Non-Bio Pods, and Tesco 3 in 1 Non-Bio Capsules

Make-up: BEST Ariel All in 1 Washing Pods with Oxi Stain Removers WORST Aldi Almat Premium 3 in 1 Non-Bio Laundry Capsules, Fairy Non-Bio Pods, and Tesco 3 in 1 Non-Bio Capsules

Everyday: BEST Ariel All in 1 Washing Pods with Oxi Stain Removers, Morrisons Bio Laundry Capsules, Tesco Bio 3 in 1 Detergent Capsules, Tesco Bio Capsules, Lidl Formil Bio Caps, Lidl Formil 3 in 1 Bio Caps WORST Aldi Almat Premium 3 in 1 Non-Bio Laundry Capsules, Fairy Non-Bio Pods, and Tesco 3 in 1 Non-Bio Capsules

Grease: BEST Ariel All in 1 Washing Pods with Oxi Stain Removers, Morrisons Bio Laundry Capsules, Tesco Bio 3 in 1 Detergent Capsules, Tesco Bio Capsules, Lidl Formil Bio Caps, Lidl Formil 3 in 1 Bio Caps   WORST Aldi Almat Premium 3 in 1 Bio Laundry Capsules, Aldi Almat Premium 3 in 1 Non-Bio Laundry Capsules,  Ariel All-in-1 Pods + Active Odour Defence, Fairy Non-Bio Pods, and Tesco 3 in 1 Non-Bio Capsules

Washing powder results explained

Biological powders top our tests, but we also uncovered some bios that are poor at shifting stains.  If you prefer non-bios, the Sainsbury’s own-brand non-bio powder is the best, and it’s the only powder on test to score a maximum five stars for removing make-up stains.

On the whole, supermarket own brands tend to cost much less than big brands. All three of our Best Buy laundry powders are supermarket own brands – Aldi Almat Bio (8p a wash) and Sainsbury’s Bio and Non-Bio (both 9p a wash). All were good or excellent at removing almost all types of stains in our tests.

Unfortunately, some big brand powders such as Persil were being reformulated at the time of our 2021 laundry powders test, so we were unable to include them this time around.

Save money on laundry detergent

Switching from a big brand laundry powder to Aldi Almat Biological powder (74%, Best Buy) could save you almost £20 a year. You can also save as much as £22 on liquid capsules and £15 on liquid or gel by switching from the highest-scoring brand to a great-value alternative.

But watch out for pricier products that don’t wash as well. Fairy’s Non-Bio Powder (40%) will cost you over £19 more a year than a great-value Best Buy.