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Best laundry detergents 2023: Top products to keep your whites and colours bright

Get rid of tough stains and keep your clothes looking fresh with our guide to the best laundry detergents on the market

Nobody wants to be walking around in dirty or smelly clothes. That’s why laundry detergent is one of life’s little essentials. The best laundry detergents tackle stains with ease, don’t smell offensive, and do a great job of getting everything clean.

But buying a laundry detergent isn’t as simple as it used to be, as there’s a huge variety of products to choose from. You’ll find powders, gels, liquids, capsules and even washing sheets, with some detergents designed to wash specific types of clothes. It can be difficult knowing where to start.

Fortunately, help is at hand with our roundup of the best laundry detergents you can buy. We’ve got detergents designed for whites and colours, sensitive skin, and more. You’ll also find a handy buying guide below, which explains all about the different types of laundry detergents. If you already know all you need to about laundry detergents, you can skip straight down to read our recommendations.

How to choose the best laundry detergent for you

How we test

We use each laundry detergent on a full wash in an area with hard water. The laundry detergents are tested on their smell, texture, how well they clean and whether they are gentle on skin or not.

Bio vs non-bio – what’s the difference?

Put simply, biological laundry detergents contain enzymes, which target and remove stains from your clothes. They also contain a bleaching agent for more stubborn stains, although there’s no bleach in colour biological detergents. You can also use bio detergents at lower temperatures, which reduces the risk of clothes shrinking and helps trim your household bills.

Non-biological detergents don’t contain enzymes, so they are gentler and better for sensitive skin. They aren’t as effective at removing stains, though. Nonetheless, if you have babies, small children or adults with sensitive skin, they’re the ideal choice.

In addition to bio and non-bio, you’ll also find specialist detergents for colours, sensitive fabrics (such as wool and silk) and handwashing.

READ NEXT: The best washer-dryers you can buy

Types of laundry detergent

You’ll find laundry detergents in a number of different formats. These include:

  • Washing powder – Traditional powder is economical as it tends to be cheaper than liquids. Powder generally comes with a small measuring scoop and goes directly into the detergent drawer. This can lead to clogging of the drawer, so make sure you clean it regularly.
  • Liquids and gels – Generally more expensive than powder, liquids and gels don’t contain bleach so may struggle with heavily soiled clothes. Nonetheless, they’re great for keeping colours bright and for everyday washing, plus they go straight into the washing machine drum (either in the detergent lid, or a specific capsule), minimising mess.
  • Capsules – Liquid capsules are incredibly simple – just pop one into your machine. There’s no mess or fuss and the capsules simply dissolve in the wash to form soap suds. Be aware, though, that some capsules struggle to dissolve at lower temperatures.
  • Sheets – The latest innovation in laundry detergents is laundry sheets. These dissolve in the washing machine like capsules, but most can be used at low temperatures and are extremely eco-friendly.

How much should I spend?

Supermarket own brands can be as cheap as around 10p a wash, with premium brands going up to around 50p. But laundry detergents are frequently on offer and it’s worth shopping around a little to find the best deals.

Water hardness

Because the UK is primarily composed of chalk and limestone, around 60% of houses in the country have a hard water supply. Laundry detergents don’t work as well in hard water areas as they struggle to lather up as much. In general, you’ll need to use slightly more detergent in a hard water area, and it’s also vital to remember to run limescale remover through your washing machine on a regular basis.

READ NEXT: Our pick of the best toilet cleaners available

The best laundry detergents you can buy in 2023

1. Sainsbury’s Colour Bio Liquid Laundry Capsules: Best for colours

Price when reviewed: £3.60 | Check price at Sainsbury’s

These reasonably priced own-brand capsules from Sainsbury’s do an amazing job of keeping your colours bright over time (one of our testers has been using them for years). You’ll get up to 38 washes from one box, although if you have very heavily soiled items and/or live in a hard water area you may need two capsules per wash. They couldn’t be simpler to use: just chuck in the washing machine and add your washing on top.

You can’t use these capsules at temperatures below 30˚C, and the box lid is a little awkward to open and has a tendency to snap off. Packaging aside, though, these colour capsules do an excellent job for a great price.

Key details – Size: N/A; Number of washes: 19; Type: Capsules

Check price at Sainsbury’s

2. Bio-D Fragrance-Free Non-Bio Laundry Liquid: Best eco-friendly detergent

Price when reviewed: £6 | Check price at Bio-DAccredited by Allergy UK, Bio-D’s detergent is gentle on skin but cleans clothes very well. Surprisingly for a liquid, it’s also effective at lower temperatures and can be used to handwash delicates.

As it’s a concentrated formula, a litre bottle will give you 25 washes. In keeping with its eco-friendly approach, Bio-D is also vegan and cruelty-free, and the bottle is made from 100% recycled materials. You can buy Bio-D directly from the company’s website, but it’s also stocked at a number of independent shops around the country, many of which offer a refill service to reduce the use of packaging.

The laundry liquid is also available with natural lavender or juniper scents, if you prefer a fragrance with your detergent. We were really impressed by how well Bio-D performed, plus it’s one of the best environmentally friendly detergents out there.

Key details – Size: 1l; Number of washes: 25; Type: Liquid

Check price at Bio-D


3. Miele UltraWhite Powder Detergent: Best for whites

Price when reviewed: £18 | Check price at MieleMiele is well known for its excellent washing machines (and other household appliances), but it also makes a range of laundry detergents designed for use in its own machines – or, indeed, any other brand.

With a pleasant, fresh scent, Miele’s powder does what it says on the tin. Whites are bright after just one wash and stains are easily shifted. However, it will lift colours, so make sure you only use it with plain whites. Miele says that its powder is suitable for use at 20˚, 30˚, 40˚, 60˚ and 95˚C, so it should work with a huge range of programmes, as well as at energy-saving low temperatures. Expect to get around 42 loads from one box.

Key details – Size: 2.7kg; Number of washes: 42; Type: Powder

Check price at Miele

4. Dr Beckmann Magic Leaves Laundry Detergent Sheets: Best for low temperatures

Price when reviewed: £4.75 | Check price at AmazonAvailable in bio and non-bio formats, these eco-friendly laundry sheets are the last word in convenience. They simply dissolve in water to create a soapy detergent that’s effective even at 20˚C. We tested a sheet in a beaker of completely cold water and it still dissolved and frothed up.

Vegan, free from microplastics and preservatives, and dermatologically tested to be kind to skin, these sheets are a great eco-friendly choice. We were particularly impressed with their performance at low temperatures, where they still got clothes clean.

Magic Leaves are available in two fragrances: Spring Fresh and Fresh Blossom. We did feel they had a slightly synthetic smell, but this doesn’t linger on your clothes. You can also use the sheets for hand washing, and as the packaging hardly takes up any space they would be easy to take on trips.

Key details – Size: N/A; Number of washes: 25; Type: Sheets

5. Ocado Silk and Delicates Handwash Laundry Liquid: Best for delicates

Price when reviewed: £4.50 | Check price at OcadoDelicate fabrics such as silk, wool and cashmere need to be washed in a gentle detergent. Laundry liquids are perfect, as they dissolve into a soft foam. This specialist Silk and Delicates liquid from Ocado is suitable for handwashing and machine washing, with up to 38 washes from one bottle.

Ocado’s laundry liquid has a delicate, flowery smell that isn’t overpowering and does an excellent job of gently cleaning delicate fabrics. We think it performs just as well as more expensive branded products. It’s non-bio, so safe to use on children’s clothes as well.

Both the cap and bottle are recyclable and the product is cruelty-free. This isn’t the most eco-friendly detergent, but it can be used at lower temperatures, which helps to make it more environmentally friendly.

Key details – Size: 1.5l; Number of washes: 38; Type: Liquid

Check price at Ocado

6. Bold 2-in-1 Washing Liquid Gel Lavender & Camomile: Best 2-in-1

Price when reviewed: £6 | Check price at AsdaFor those who like the convenience of an all-in-one product, Bold’s cheap and cheerful 2in1 laundry liquid is a good choice. Combining detergent and fabric softener, it can be used at low temperatures and is colour-safe as it’s bleach-free. Bold’s detergent is combined with Lenor softener, and we do think that the fragrance is quite strong (and a little artificial). It will linger on your clothes even when they’re dry.

It’s a popular choice for those with sensitive skin, though, as it doesn’t irritate at all. Again, this isn’t the most eco-friendly product on the market, but we do like the fact that it cleans clothes well even on a cold wash. One thing to note is that although it does an excellent job on colours, it’s not a particularly effective detergent for whites.

Key details – Size: 888ml; Number of washes: 24; Type: Liquid Gel

Check price at Asda

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