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3 Mar 2021

Smol and other laundry detergent subscriptions: are they worth trying?

Find out if you should get laundry detergent delivered to your door. We compare Smol, Splosh and Bower Collective subscriptions on price and green claims.

It's 2021. You can get almost everything through a subscription; wine, meal kits, shavers, perfumes, fruit and veg, plants and now even laundry detergent.

As more of us try to minimise our trips to the supermarket, getting a delivery straight to your door makes sense. And with something like laundry detergent, which you use regularly, subscribing means one less thing to remember to put in your trolley or include in your online order.

Many laundry detergent subscription brands including Smol, Splosh and Bower Collective also claim to offer a more environmentally friendly alternative to what's in the supermarket, where the sustainable option is often only Ecover.

Read on to see how they compare against supermarket brands and each other, and whether their green claims will make a world of difference.

Go to our supermarket laundry detergent reviews to find out which were the best at banishing stains in our tough tests.


Smol laundry capsules

Price comparison

  • £4.50 for 24 tablets (one per wash, 19p per wash).
  • Bio and non-bio tablets available.

Instagram-famous Smol liquid tablets can be popped into your wash in just the same way as regular laundry detergent tablets.

As they aren't sold in supermarkets, and therefore don't have any middleman fees to drive up cost, Smol claims 'you can save up to 50% on your normal brand price.'

The key words here are 'up to'. While something like Waitrose 3 in 1 pods can cost 30p per wash, if you opt for a liquid detergent, Aldi Almat Bio liquid costs just 7p per wash. So, while Smol is on the cheaper side for a laundry tablet, it's certainly not the most penny-pinching option.

If you're not sure you can try out Smol by ordering a nine capsule trial for just £1, which works out to be 11p per wash.

How frequently a new 24 pack is delivered is based on how many you plan on using per wash (you can opt to use two a wash) and how many washes you do a week. As an example, if you do 5 washes a week, with one capsule per wash, a new 24-pack will be delivered every 33 days.

You don't need to be in to collect them when they are delivered. Each is sent in a thin box that can fit through regular width letterboxes.

Green claims

  • Plastic-free, recyclable packaging made from sustainable materials.
  • Cruelty-free and Leaping Bunny accredited.
  • Less added chemicals than other capsules.

All Smol packaging is made from Forest Stewardship Council approved sustainable materials and is 100% recyclable.

All household products sold in the UK can't be tested on animals, due to EU law. But Smol is a British company that currently doesn't have a parent company, so you can be sure that no international versions or sister companies test on animals (as required by law in certain countries) like they do in large internationals Procter & Gamble (who own Ariel) and Unilever (who own Persil).

Smol claims to have lower levels of added chemicals than other capsule brands. But all cleaning capsules have to be safe to be sold in the UK and simply because a product contains more or less chemicals than another does not affect how sustainable that product is.

Smol also sells dishwasher tablets and fabric conditioner subscriptions, as well as cleaning sprays. These come in three varieties, multipurpose, bathroom and glass, and come concentrated in a small tablet that's dissolved in water (similar to an effervescent vitamin drink) to produce a cleaning liquid. The tablets come with 'bottles-for-life' that are made using recycled plastic which you can reuse with many tablets, helping to save plastic.


Splosh laundry detergent refill

Price comparison

  • Bio laundry liquid - £6.25 for 430ml (23 washes, 27p per wash).
  • Non-bio liquid - £5.75 for 430ml (23 washes, 25p per wash).
  • Value non-bio liquid - £4.45 for 430ml (23 washes, 19p per wash).
  • Laundry powder - £5.25 for 430g (22 washes, 24p per wash).
  • 10% off when bought on a subscription.

At about 27p per wash, Splosh isn't for those looking to save. It's roughly the same cost as pricier supermarket options such as Ecover.

A value non-bio liquid is available, but this still costs about 19p per wash, or about the same as Ariel bio liquid detergent.

Splosh also sells fabric stain remover and fabric conditioner, dishwasher tablets, glass cleaner and hand wash, so you can get all your cleaning products delivered regularly.

Green claims

  • Liquid refills reduces plastic waste by 95%.
  • Empties can be sent back to Splosh to be re-used.
  • Cruelty free, vegan-friendly and septic tank-safe.

Splosh products are delivered as concentrates, which you then dilute at home with tap water. As such Splosh claims that they use three or four times less plastic packaging compared to supermarket products.Splosh pouches also weigh about 70% less than bottles and dispensers.

Combined, Splosh claims this means their refill pouches reduce plastic waste by around 95%.

As not to waste the other 5%, you can send your used refill pouches back to Splosh where they can be cleaned, sanitised and refilled. If pouches can't be refilled, they are made into new products.

Just like Smol, Splosh is a British company, so it doesn't test on animals and it isn't connected with any international companies that may do.

Bower Collective

Bower Collective laundry detergent refill pouring

Price comparison

  • £5.75 for one-litre refill (25 washes, 23p per wash).
  • Only non-bio available (in lavender and fragrance-free versions).

At 23p per wash, Bower Collective's non-bio laundry liquids are pricier than using Fairy and many other supermarket brand non-bios. It's more similar in price to Ariel, Fairy or Persil capsules.

Bower Collective also sell a reusable one-litre PET bottle for £2.99 for your liquid refills as well as Bio-d washing powder (which is the brand's non-bio detergent) for £4.35 for 1kg (30p per wash if you use 70g per wash, as recommended for medium hardness water and stains).

It also sells lots of cleaning products, including dishwashing liquid, as well as items designed for food prep and storage, and personal care, most of which can come in your subscription.

Green claims

  • Made using ethically-sourced, vegan and cruelty-free ingredients in the UK.
  • Refill pouches reduce plastic waste.
  • Empty refills can be sent back to be re-used.
  • Donates 20p to Marine Conservation Society.

It says all its products are made using ethically sourced ingredients and manufactured in the UK to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly.

Bower Collective also says that you can fold empty pouches and store them in your pre-paid postal return box. It advises collecting around four pouches in the returns box before sending it back to be more efficient. These used pouches are cleaned and sterilised before being refilled for another round.

On top of this, 20p from every Bower Collective purchase goes to the Marine Conservation Society's 'Save Our Seagrass' appeal to protect one square meter of endangered seagrass meadows in the UK. Once the appeal reaches its target, all subsequent donations will go towards the Marine Conservation Society's ongoing conservation work, wherever the need is greatest, to protect and enhance the health of our oceans.

Bower Collective is a British company set up in 2019, and is not currently owned by an international company, so won't be complicit in animal testing carried out in other countries.

Bio vs non-bio washing powder: what's the difference?