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The best and worst laundry detergents revealed in our lab test

See the top cleaners and the duds barely better than water.

best worst laundry detergents 2021
Last updated: 29 April 2021

Ever wondered if your chosen laundry detergent cleans as well as it claims? We've got the answer. 

The CHOICE laundry lab has conducted its latest round of testing, analysing more than 60 popular products for cleaning prowess (or lack thereof). The results reveal some big surprises, especially when we compare performance against price. 

We even uncovered one pricey detergent that washed the same as water! 

"We test all laundry detergents in both top and front loader machines, as the two machines perform quite differently," explains CHOICE expert Ashley Iredale

"Front loading machines generally wash clothes better, which is why we see higher scores for the detergents in the front loaders."

Want to know if your detergent is a winner or a wash-out? We reveal the best and worst cleaners from our test below. 

ash in laundry lab laundry detergents

Ashley takes doing the laundry very seriously.

Best detergents in our test for front loaders

In last year's front loader test, Dynamo dominated the top three spots. In 2021, there's some new lords ruling the laundry.

"This year, our testing revealed that Omo Laundry Detergent Triple Capsules are the most effective laundry detergent for front loaders, with a CHOICE Expert Rating of 85%," says Ashley.

But the results were close. In a big win for budget buys, two types of cheap Ion laundry liquid (Original and Colours) claimed equal second place with 84%. Available from Coles, Ion costs just 54 to 55 cents a wash, compared with Omo's 73 cents.

laundry detergents front loader high scorers

Omo outcleans Ion just, but costs 18 cents more per wash.

Here are the top performers for front loaders:

  • Omo Laundry Detergent Triple Capsules (85%)
  • Ion Laundry Liquid Concentrate Original (84%)
  • Ion Laundry Liquid Concentrate Colours (84%)
  • Dynamo Professional 7 Actions in 1 Wash Liquid (82%)
  • Omo Laundry Detergent Ultimate Powder (82%)
  • Ion Laundry Capsules Original (82%)
  • Dynamo Professional Oxi Plus Liquid (82%)

Worst detergents in our test for front loaders

If you're using one of the products below, you might want to rethink your next purchase. Especially when you consider that washing with water alone scored 51% in our front loader test – not much worse than many of these products!

Here are the detergents to avoid:

  • Woolworths Essentials Powder (53%)
  • Coles Lemon Fresh Hot & Cold Liquid (54%)
  • Woolworths Essentials Clean Wash Apple Liquid (54%)
  • Tru Earth Eco-Strips Fresh Linen  (56%)
  • Aldi Laundrite Powder (57%)
  • Surf Tropical Tiger Lily Powder (59%)
  • Surf Tropical Tiger Lily Liquid (60%)

Can't see your brand? See the full laundry detergent test results.

Best detergents in our test for top loaders

You'll notice ratings for top loader detergents are much lower than for front loaders. That's because our testing has found top loading machines don't wash as well.

"With that in mind, choosing a top-performing detergent is even more important for top-loader devotees," says Ashley.

While Omo outshone the others in our front loader test, the surprise winner for top loaders is budget brand Aldi's Trimat Advanced Concentrate powder. Not only did it wash the best with a rating of 66%, it's also great value at 27 cents a wash.

Choosing a top-performing detergent is even more important for top-loader devotees

CHOICE whitegoods expert Ashley Iredale

"Aldi Trimat's performance in our tests goes to show that you can get a great wash for a fraction of the cost of the leading brands," says Ashley. 

Three products tied for second place on 60%: Omo Laundry Detergent Ultimate, Coles Lemon Fresh Hot and Cold Wash powder and Coles Ultra Concentrate powder. Mind you, they're not exactly equal – you'll be paying more for Omo at 71 cents a wash, compared with Coles' 17 cents and 19 cents respectively.

laundry detergents top loader high scorers

Aldi Trimat Advanced was the number one wash for top loaders.

These are the top performers in our top loader detergents:

  • Aldi Trimat Advanced Concentrate Powder (66%)
  • Omo Ultimate Powder (60%)
  • Coles Lemon Fresh Hot and Cold Wash Powder (60%)
  • Coles Ultra Concentrate Powder (60%)
  • Omo Active Powder (58%)
  • Aldi Almat Laundry Powder Concentrate Arctic Breeze (58%)
  • Cussons Radiant Brilliant Whites Sharper Colours (58%)

Worst detergents in our test for top loaders

Our testing revealed plenty of dud detergents rating below 50%, including some big name brands. Here are the bottom scorers in our top loader test:

  • Tru Earth Eco-Strips Fresh Linen (43%)
  • Euca Soft Wash Premium Liquid (46%)
  • Coles Lemon Fresh Hot & Cold Wash Liquid (47%)
  • Woolworths Essentials Clean Wash Apple Liquid (47%)
  • Surf Tropical Tiger Lily Liquid (47%)
  • Fab Intense Fresh Liquid (47%)
  • ecostore Eucalyptus Liquid (47%)
  • Cold Power Pure Clean Sensitive (47%)
  • Biozet Attack 3D Clean Action (47%)
  • Omo Dual Capsules Sensitive (47%)
  • Bosistos Sensitive Liquid (47%)

Can't see your brand? See the full laundry detergent test results.

The detergent as bad as water

Many duds came close, but only one product actually rated as poorly as water in our washing analysis. 

Tru Earth Eco-Strips – which delivers detergent in a "a revolutionary new strip form" (according to their website) – rated a paltry 43% in our top loader test, the same as washing with good old water.

The stinger? Not only do you get the weakest wash, you're also paying a hefty 62 cents a load. It also rated fourth lowest in our front loader test with 56%. Ouch.

We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact-checking at CHOICE
We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact-checking at CHOICE