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Home & garden.

Updated: 22 Mar 2022

Best and worst washing powders and laundry detergents

The best washing powders and laundry detergents blitz stubborn stains. We compare the best and worst to help you find your ideal laundry detergent.
Patrick Gallagher
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Using the very best laundry detergents means your laundry will emerge from the machine spotless, with pristine whites and vibrant colours. 

No one else tests as thoroughly as we do. Our independent lab tests mimic the everyday dirt and stains you get on your clothes and linen, so you can be confident that Best Buy laundry detergents really will get your grubbiest washing clean. 

We've put bio and non-bio washing powders, liquids and capsules through our tough cleaning tests so we can reveal the best - and the worst. Our latest tests included brands such as Ariel, Ecover, Fairy and Method, and own-brand detergents from supermarkets such as Aldi, Lidl, Sainsbury's, Tesco and Waitrose.

What type of laundry detergent is best?

For the best results, it's worth considering buying different types of detergent to tackle different laundry loads, as powders, liquid detergents and capsules each have their own strengths. Use our handy visual guide below, based on our extensive experience testing laundry detergents, to decide what you need.

  • Liquid and gels - keeps colours bright but not great for extra bright whites
  • Capsules - great for speed and convenience but struggle with heavily soiled clothes
  • Powder- great for extra bright whites and heavily soiled items but tends to fade coloured clothes

Before you buy, make sure you check our test results for individual products below, as choosing the wrong brand could mean that you don't get the cleaning power you were after, whichever type you choose.

Laundry detergent test results

Below you can see a preview of our results tables. Which? members can log in to unlock the tables below and see the full results of our laboratory tests for bio and non-bio washing powders, capsules and liquid capsules.

Our results may surprise you – the most expensive cleaning products aren't always the best. And as we reveal which laundry detergents are the best value, we can help you save money.

If you’re not yet a member, join Which? to get instant access to this and all the reviews on our website

Liquids and gels test results - August 2021

ProductOverall stain removalWhitenessColour-fadingScore
Aldi Almat Bio Laundry Liquid
Ariel Original Bio Laundry Gel
Ariel Original Washing Liquid
Ecover Bio Laundry Liquid
Fairy Non-Bio Laundry Gel
Fairy Non-Bio Laundry Liquid
Lidl Formil Bio Laundry Liquid

Laundry capsules test results - March 2021

ProductOverall stain removalWhitenessColour-fadingScore
Aldi Almat Premium 3 in 1 Bio Laundry Capsules
Aldi Almat Premium 3 in 1 Non-Bio Laundry Capsules
Ariel All-in-1 Pods + Active Odour Defence
Ariel All in 1 Washing Pods with Oxi Stain Removers
Fairy Non-Bio Pods
Lidl Formil Bio Caps
Lidl Formil Non-Bio Caps

Washing powder test results - August 2021

ProductOverall stain removalWhitenessColour-fadingScore
Aldi Almat Bio Washing Powder
Ariel Original Bio Washing Powder
Fairy Non-Bio Washing Powder
Sainsbury's Bio Laundry Powder
Sainsbury's Non-Bio Laundry Powder
Tesco Bio Detergent Powder
Waitrose Essential Non-Bio Powder

Save money on laundry detergent

Use our results to save money by switching from a pricey branded detergent to a great-value own brand that doesn’t compromise on cleaning power.

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Switching from a big brand laundry powder to a cheaper Best Buy could save you almost £20 a year. You can also save as much as £22 on liquid capsules and £15 on liquid or gel by switching from the highest-scoring brand to a great-value alternative.

But watch out for pricier products that don't wash as well. One of the Don't Buy tested powders will cost you over £19 more a year than a great-value Best Buy.