There are many good options for laundry detergents, to the point where it can be overwhelming standing in the cleaning aisles at your local grocery store or big box store!
An excellent way to start narrowing it is to determine whether you should buy liquid detergent or powder detergent for your laundering purposes.
So which is better: liquid or powder laundry detergent?
Read on to see how liquid detergent and powder detergent compare side by side based on the criteria of washer compatibility, cleaning power, ease of use, alternative uses, cost, eco-friendly score, and shelf life.
Washer Compatibility: Liquid or Powder?
Your first concern may be a very legitimate one: can my washing machine even use liquid detergent?
It seems that many recent washing machines are more heavily leaning towards the use of liquid detergent as the days of powder laundry detergent have gone and passed.
That is false! Nearly all washing machines are compatible with both liquid or powder laundry detergent.
Round 1: Tie! Both are compatible with all washing machines, so this should not be a concern when deciding between the two.
Cleaning Power: Liquid or Powder?
The primary purpose of using laundry detergent is to clean the clothes.
So which performs better in terms of its cleaning power: liquid or powder?
This depends upon the ingredients in the laundry detergent itself.
The more active ingredients your detergent has, the better it will perform.
This category will also depend on the type of stains on the clothing.
If the stains are due to oil or grease, it is better to use liquid laundry detergent as it penetrates the fabric’s fibers more quickly than powder detergent.
On the flip side, if the stains on the clothing are of the outdoor variety, such as dirt or grass, powder laundry detergent is a better choice.
Also, it can depend on your water.
If you have hard water, it is a better choice to use powder laundry detergent.
Round 2: Tie! This is more dependent on the ingredients or what types of stains you usually are dealing with in your average laundry load.
Ease of Use: Liquid or Powder?
There is no need to sugarcoat it; laundry is a chore, the easier it is to get it done, the better.
Therefore, it begs the question: Which of our two laundry detergents is better for their ease of use?
Most types of liquid and powder laundry detergent require you to measure them unless they are in dissolvable “serving size” packages.
When measuring liquid detergent, it is pretty easy to use as it pours out, but the built-in measuring cup is not always very easy to read; this can cause you to use either too much or too little detergent.
This can negatively affect your pocketbook.
Liquid laundry detergent, however, will be easier to distribute in the laundry and not get stuck in one spot during the wash cycle.
On the other hand, liquid detergent requires you to have an extra measuring utensil to measure out the powder, unlike liquid detergent’s cap.
It can also be a bit more challenging to distribute and dissolve liquid detergent, primarily when used in cold water. Warmer water will suds up better for powder.
Round 3: Liquid laundry detergent.
When comparing measuring and incorporation into the laundry during the cycle, it leans more towards liquid detergent.
Alternative uses: Liquid or Powder?
While there is a clear use for laundry detergent, can you use either liquid or powder outside its intended use in the washing machine?
The answer is yes. Both can be used in place of a spot treatment or pre-treatment for heavily stained spots.
As a spot/pre-treatment, the liquid detergent is much easier as you can use it without doing anything extra; with powder detergent, however, you would need to add some water to first form a paste then apply it to the stain.
Round 4: Liquid laundry detergent.
Using a liquid detergent without having to complete any prep beforehand pulls liquid detergent out in front.
Cost: Liquid or Powder?
Cost is another aspect of your laundry detergent choices that can help decide which is best for you.
Powder tends to cost less per load since it is easier and lighter to transport, while liquid detergent is the opposite.
Since liquid detergent contains water — that is part of what makes it liquid! — it becomes much heavier, as water is the heaviest ingredient!
This increase in transportation cost is transferred over to the consumer.
Round 5: Powder laundry detergent.
Comparing the two, powder detergent comes out on top in its cheaper price tag per load.
Eco-Friendly: Liquid or Powder?
Something also worth considering is which of the two, liquid or powder laundry detergent, is more eco-friendly.
In terms of packaging, powder detergent is much more eco-friendly with its cardboard boxes.
Since most liquid detergents come in plastic containers, which are less eco-friendly, some locations do not always participate even if you recycle them.
When considering the environmental cost of transporting laundry detergent, both liquid and powder laundry detergents do not score well as they are both heavy to transport.
The heavier an item is to transport, the largest the cost on your wallet and the environment.
Round 6: Powder laundry detergent.
Even with the environmental cost of transportation, the packaging comparison leads powder detergent to win this round.
Shelf-life: Liquid or Powder?
A final consideration to make is the shelf life of your laundry detergent.
For some households, this may not be a concern if you do laundry with enough frequency.
For other households, this is an important aspect to consider.
Between the two, powder laundry detergent has a longer shelf life.
The water added to the liquid laundry detergent will shorten the life of the other cleaning agents in the laundry detergent.
With powder laundry detergent, you do not add water until it reaches the washing machine.
As a result, if stored properly, the powder detergent will last longer in terms of the shelf life of its active cleaning ingredients.
Round 7: Powder laundry detergent.
Based on the longer shelf life, powder detergent without water affecting the cleaning agents is comparatively better.
In the end, it all depends on your lifestyle, budget, and preferences.
Reading through the comparisons of liquid and powder laundry detergents based on different criteria, I hope it helps you decide which is best for you.
There is truly no wrong answer in the decision as, at the end of the day (or laundry cycle), the job will get done, and your clothes will be squeaky clean!