Whether you're a fastidious separator of whites and colours, or a chuck-everything-in-together type, your laundry routine is only as good as the laundry detergent you use.
And since detergent accounts for at least half the running cost of your washing machine, it's worth spending your money on a product that'll give you the best results.
To help you get the whitest whites and the brightest brights, our laundry experts have tested 92 of the most popular laundry detergents – liquid and powder, for both top and front loaders – so you know which ones to look out for.
Best and worst laundry detergents for front loaders
Dynamo took out the three top spots in our front loader washing tests.
"We normally find that powders outperform liquid detergents, but we're pleased to see that Dynamo has brought their A-game to the table this year and raised the bar for what we can expect from liquid detergents," says CHOICE laundry expert Ashley Iredale.
Costing just 16 cents a wash, Aldi's Trimat Advanced Concentrate Laundry Liquid came in fourth, outshining products that cost more than three times the price. This liquid detergent aces stains such as grass, mud, makeup, chocolate ice cream and baby food, and has a CHOICE Expert Rating of 80% – just two percentage points behind Dynamo's top scorer, but costing 40 cents less per wash.
Two Omo products scored 79%, followed by Aldi's Trimat Advanced Concentrate Laundry Powder, which scored 78%. However, the Aldi powder costs a bit more per wash than the liquid at 27 cents, so our money is on the liquid if you're after bang for your buck.
And if you're a Coles shopper, good news: Coles' own-label detergent is up there with the best of them. And at 19 cents a wash, it's great value for money.
Best detergents for front loaders
- Dynamo Professional 7 Actions in 1 Wash (82%)
- Dynamo Professional Oxi Plus (82%)
- Dynamo Professional Deep Clean Odour Eliminating (81%)
- Aldi Trimat Advanced Concentrate Laundry Liquid (80%)
- Omo With a Touch of Comfort Inspired Freshness (79%)
- Omo Ultimate Whitens and Brightens (79%)
- Aldi Trimat Advanced Concentrate Laundry Powder (78%)
- Coles Ultra Concentrate Laundry Powder (78%)
Worst detergents for front loaders
If you want a woeful wash, these products certainly deliver:
- Coles Lemon Fresh Hot and Cold Wash Laundry Liquid (54%)
- Woolworths Essentials Laundry Powder (55%)
- Woolworths Essentials Laundry Liquid Clean Wash Apple Fragrance (55%)
- Plain water only (55%)
- Omo Sensitive (59%)
- Aldi Laundrite Laundry Powder (59%)
- Surf Tropical Tiger Lily powder (60%)
- Surf Tropical Tiger Lily liquid (61%)
See the full list of detergents tested.
Dud detergents wash the same as water
A dishonourable mention has to go to three supermarket own-brand products: Coles' Lemon Fresh Hot and Cold Wash, and Woolworths' Essentials Laundry Powder and Essentials Laundry Liquid Clean Wash Apple Fragrance. They got CHOICE Expert Ratings of just 54 and 55% in our front loader test – the same result as washing with plain water!
Best and worst laundry detergents for top loaders
You may notice that the CHOICE Expert Ratings for top loader detergents are much lower than those for front loaders. That's because our testing has found top loader washing machines don't perform as well as front loaders.
"Given that top loaders tend not to wash anywhere near as well as front loaders, choosing a top-performing detergent is even more important for top loader devotees," says Ashley.
The surprise winner in this category is budget brand Aldi. Not only did it wash the best, but at 27 cents a wash, it's also great value for money.
You may think that paying a premium for detergent means your clothes will be cleaner, but price isn't necessarily an indication of performanceCHOICE laundry expert Ashley Iredale
"You may think that paying a premium for detergent means your clothes will be cleaner, but time and time again we find that price isn't necessarily an indication of performance," says Ashley.
"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."
If you're the top loading type, the brands to go for are Aldi and Omo – but be careful which product you buy, as some Omo and Aldi products didn't perform well in our tests.
Best detergents for top loaders
These are the products to put on your shopping list:
- Aldi Trimat Advanced Concentrate Laundry Powder (66%)
- Omo Ultimate Whitens and Brightens (63%)
- Coles Lemon Fresh Hot and Cold Wash powder (61%)
- Omo with a Touch of Comfort Inspired Freshness (61%)
- Coles Ultra Concentrate powder (60%)
- Aldi Almat Laundry Powder Concentrate Arctic Breeze (59%)
- Cussons Radiant Brilliant Whites Sharper Colours (58%)
Worst detergents for top loaders
You're spoilt for choice when it comes to the worst performers for top loaders. None were worse than plain water, but there were plenty that weren't much better. Considering that all these products scored less than 50%, buying them is just about on par with throwing your money straight down the drain.
- Fab Intense Fresh liquid (47%)
- Biozet Attack 3DCleanAction liquid (47%)
- Woolworths Essentials Laundry Liquid Clean Wash Apple Fragrance (48%)
- Coles Lemon Fresh Hot and Cold Wash liquid (48%)
- Surf Tropical Tiger Lily liquid (48%)
- Fab Perfume Indulgence Sublime Velvet liquid (48%)
- Fab Essential Oils Malaysian Orchid & Sandalwood liquid (48%)
- ecostore Eucalyptus Laundry Liquid (48%)
- Cold Power Pure Clean Sensitive liquid (48%)
See the full list of detergents tested.