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Laundry detergent reviews

We've tested powders, liquids, pods and gels to find which laundry detergents perform the best.
 
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01.Introduction

Laundry powder

We review 64 laundry detergents - 32 front loader and 32 top loader detergents. Here:

  • we test and compare which detergents are better for removing general soiling as well as specific stains 
  • we also calculate the cost per wash to find which product gives the best value for money, as laundry detergent is the largest expense when running your washing machine. 

On this page, you'll find:

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In our new warm water comparison table, you'll also find:

  • The results of a warm wash on both lower scoring products and higher scoring products.
  • The results of not using any detergent at all.

As well as a test for general detergency - how well a product removes normal soiling - the stains we use to score detergents' performance include grass, natural oils (sebum), rice starch and vegetable oil motor oil. While some detergents we tested had difficulty with certain stains, some really shine through. 

In this test, we've also collaborated with City West Water (a government-owned Melbourne water retailer) who supplied environmental data for the tested detergents which indicate the suitablity of the resulting waste water for recycling , and used Lanfax Labs' (which specialises in soil, water and waste water analysis) methodology for determining whether your greywater is OK for your garden.

As always, follow the laundry item requirements for washing, usually attached to the item with a tag.

Brands tested

We picked the top-selling brands of laundry detergents, and tested a selection suitable for the two different types of washing machines.

Front loader detergents

Almat 2 x Concentrate Laundry Powder 2kg FL
Biozet Attack Ecosmart bottle Front and Top Loader
Biozet Attack Front Loader Ultra Concentrate
Cold Power Maximum Front Loader
Cold Power Regular Liquid Front
Cold Power Regular Powder Front
Cold Power Smart Shot Front Loader
Drive Ultra Concentrate Front Loader
Dynamo Maximum Front Loader
Dynamo Regular Front liquid
earth choice 2 x Ultra Front Loader Laundry Concentrate (A)
earth Choice Bulk Laundry Liquid 4L Front and Top Loader
earth Choice Laundry Liquid 2L Front and Top Loader (A)
earth Choice Natural Front Loader Laundry Concentrate (A)
Fab With a touch of fabric softener Frangipani Front Loader
IGA Signature Laundry Powder Front Loader
Omo Small & Mighty Front Loader
Omo Small & Mighty Sensitive Front Loader
Omo Small and Mighty Front Loader
Omo Small and Mighty PODS Active Clean
Omo Small and Mighty PODS Sensitive
Omo Small and Mighty Sensitive Front Loader
Omo Ultimate Front Loader
Radiant Advanced Laundry Liquid Front and Top Loader
Radiant Advanced Liquid Capsules Front and Top Loader
Radiant Laundry Gel High Performance Front and Top Loader
Spree Summer Breeze
Spree Ultra Concentrate Front Loader and High Efficiency Top Loader Lavender Fresh
Surf PODS Tropical Flowers and Ylang Ylang
Surf Tropical Oasis Ylang Ylang and Lily Liquid (B)
Surf Tropical Oasis Ylang Ylang and Lily Powder (B)
Trimat Advanced Concentrate Front Loader

Top loader detergents
Almat 2 x Concentrate Laundry Powder 2kg TL
Biozet Attack Ecosmart bottle Front and Top Loader
Biozet Attack Top Loader Ultra Concentrate
Cold Power Maximum Top Loader
Cold Power Regular Liquid Top Loader
Cold Power Regular Powder Top Loader
Cold Power Smart Shot Top Loader
Drive Ultra Concentrate Top Loader
Dynamo Maximum Top Loader
Dynamo Regular Top Loader
earth choice 2 x Ultra Top Loader Laundry Concentrate (A)
earth Choice Bulk Laundry Liquid 4L Front and Top Loader
earth Choice Laundry Liquid 2L Front and Top Loader (A)
earth Choice Natural Top Loader Laundry Concentrate (A)
Fab With a touch of fabric softener Frangipani Top Loader
IGA Signature Laundry Powder Top Loader
Omo Small & Mighty Sensitive Top Loader
Omo Small & Mighty Top Loader
Omo Small and Mighty PODS Active Clean
Omo Small and Mighty PODS Sensitive
Omo Small and Mighty Sensitive Top Loader
Omo Small and Mighty Top Loader
Omo Ultimate Top Loader
Radiant Advanced Laundry Liquid Front and Top Loader
Radiant Advanced Liquid Capsules Front and Top Loader
Radiant Laundry Gel High Performance Front and Top Loader
Spree Summer Breeze
Spree Ultra Concentrate Lavender Fresh
Surf PODS Tropical Flowers and Ylang Ylang
Surf Tropical Oasis Ylang Ylang and Lily Liquid (B)
Surf Tropical Oasis Ylang Ylang and Lily Powder (B)
Trimat Advanced Concentrate Top Loader

(A) Discontinued, but may still be available in some stores.
(B) Unilever claims the only difference between the other three Surf variants is fragrance, so results should be similar. Variants include Spring Meadow White Lillies and Cherry Blossom, Sunshine Orchard Lemons and Mandarin Flower and Secret Garden Lavender and Jasmine.

How we test

Our testers measure out the recommended detergent dose for a soiled load (or lightly soiled if a normal recommendation is not given), and use it to wash specially soiled swatches attached to laundry items in cold water (20°C).

In this round of testing we also retested two of the better-performing detergents (both top and front loader) in warm water (40°C) to see what effect a warm wash would have.

We do each test twice, and if results vary by more than 10%, we run it a third time.

We test:

  • Stain removal In addition to a general detergency swatch used to measure general soil removal (stained with nut oil, milk and a colour pigment), we include swatches with common stains: sebum (natural oils found on human skin, collar and cuff stains), vegetable oil (cooking oil), rice starch (amylase sensitive), grass (which tests detergents for their action on general stain removal and enzymes that target proteins) and motor oil (a test of mineral oil removal).
  • Waste water recycling The lower the amount of total dissolved solids (TDS) a product has, the better it is for recycling.
  • Whether a product is OK for the garden It’s safe to only use rinse water from any detergents, but for some products the combined wash and rinse water can be used intermittently your garden or lawn. We check levels of salinity, sodium, pH phosphorus content to determine which are safe to use on your garden - see our table for more information. 
  • Total suspended solids, a measure of the amount of insolubles in the detergent. A detergent with more of these is more likely to leave residue on your clothes.
  • Dirt Using a spectrophotometer, which measures how much light reflects off the swatches after filtering out any effects of optical brighteners, they measure how much dirt is removed. These readings are more accurate than the human eye – differences of about six per cent are noticeable.

For more information on Washing and drying, see our Laundry and cleaning section.

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