Unilever claims that its new Persil Powergems provide superior cleaning power in a mess-free, concentrated format. But are these ‘laundry crystals’ really a unique breakthrough on the path to pristine clothing? We tried them out at home to see how they fared against everyday stains.
While Persil Ultimate Powergems certainly sound glamorous, they are actually small, lentil-shaped pieces of what looks like compressed laundry powder which you put directly into the washing machine drum in a cap, just like you would with a liquid or gel detergent.
Unilever says that Powergems combine the freshness of a liquid with the stain-busting power of a powder, without leaving any white residue on clothes, and that they are the result of a decade’s worth of research and a £16 million investment.
We took them for a spin in advance of our next test on laundry detergents to bring you our first impressions.
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Which? tries Persil Powergems
You can get both bio and non-bio versions of the Powergems. We tried out the bio version, pitting it against a variety of tough stains similar to the ones used in our full lab tests.
We bought a couple of plain white t-shirts and splattered them liberally with ketchup, chocolate spread, lipstick, make-up, coffee and a dash of motor oil. We then popped these in the wash with towels and other mixed laundry on a standard 40 degree wash cycle.
Stained t-shirt: before and after washing with Persil Powergems
As the image above shows, the Powergems didn’t get rid of all the stains in our wash. Ketchup and chocolate spread were easily dispatched, but the gems struggled to shift tough lipstick and make-up stains.
Persil Powergems: first look verdict
When we washed a similar load with a standard bio washing powder, the stains were merely spread across the t-shirt, rather than cleaned off. So, overall, we thought the Persil Powergems did a good job of tackling stains. We’ll have to wait for our lab tests later in 2017 to give a definitive verdict on stain removal, keeping whites bright, and how colour fading compares to rival products, though.
Compared to powder or liquid detergent, we liked how easy it was to measure out the Powergems using the cap. It was less messy and spills were easier to clean up. Our laundry smelled good when it was done too – fresh but not overpowering.
Our Which? laundry detergent expert, Kishan Chauhan, says: ‘We’ve found that washing powders tend to offer better stain removal than liquids and gels overall, though they can fade colours more. On first impressions we thought Persil’s Powergems were easy to use and good at lifting some stains. It will be interesting to see if they can achieve both outstanding stain removal and gentle care when we test them in our lab later this year.’
To find out more about which types of laundry detergents are best for different washes, head to our page on laundry detergents compared.
Are Powergems worth buying?
Flashy new washing technology doesn’t come cheap. A pack of Powergems with enough flakes for 12 washes will set you back £5, a 19 wash pack is £8 and a 30 wash pack costs £11.
You might be tempted to opt for the mid-sized pack, but we found it’s actually the worst value when you pay full price. It costs 42.1p per load, compared to 36.6p for the largest pack and 41.6p for the smallest pack.
However, the 19-wash pack is currently on offer for £4 across supermarkets including Waitrose, Asda and Morrisons, making it a much more appealing 21.1p per wash.* Over a year, the difference in cost can really add up – so it’s worth shopping around to get the best deal if you’re keen to try the Powergems out.
We’ll be testing Persil Powergems fully in Autumn 2017 alongside other popular washing powders. In the meantime, we’ve found some cheap Best Buy laundry detergents which clean brilliantly for less than 20p per wash. Check our full laundry detergent results for reviews of liquid, gel, capsule and powder detergents to see how much you could save.
*Prices gathered from mysupermarket.com on 15 August 2017.