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Best washing powders for pristine school uniform

Are Persil and Ariel best at shifting stains?

Boy wearing school uniform

The best laundry detergents will preserve brightly-coloured school jumpers and keep white shirts bright

The first day back at school brings pristine white shirts, stain-free sports kits, crisp new blazers – and piles of laundry at home-time. We’ve tested over 40 laundry detergents to reveal the best for keeping school uniform bright and stain-free all term.

Mud, grass, drinks and school dinner splashes and stains on new school uniform can soon make it look tired – especially if white shirts turn grey and brightly-coloured jumpers lose their brilliance. 

Our tests use these everyday stains to find out which laundry detergents really do clean up in the wash, and also keep whites white and colours bright.

Which? test results can save you money, too. We’ve found Best Buy washing powders, liquid capsules and laundry gels that cost half as much per wash as rival products. Head to our Best Buy laundry detergents to find them. 

The best stain busters

If you often wash grubby sports kit, how effectively detergents remove grass and mud is important. So we test how well each product shifts these, as well as other everyday stains including sweat, blood and ink. 

School dinner splashes are also a challenge for detergents – especially if they involve tomato sauce. The images below show the difference between the best and worst washing powders on test at removing tomato purée stains – and keeping dark colours vibrant.

Stains such as meat grease, chocolate and grass and mud are best removed by biological detergents because they contain enzymes that break down the stains. But if you’d rather not use bio, we’ve tested 12 non bio laundry detergents too.

Save money on washing powder

Keeping school uniform pristine need not be costly. We’ve found Best Buy washing powder and laundry gel for 10p per wash, while the priciest products on test cost more than double this.

Switching from a branded to a supermarket own-brand laundry detergent can save you money. But if you prefer to stick to brands, such as Persil and Ariel, keep an eye out for special offers. We found that washing powders from both of these brands were on discount or multibuy offers for at least 10 weeks in Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons in the last year*, so there’s no need to pay full price.

*We tracked the prices of Ariel Actilift Bio Powder (22 wash pack) and Persil Bio Powder (23 wash pack) at Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons from March 2014-March 2015 using price comparison website mysupermarket.

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