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Powder Detergent vs. Liquid Detergent

Did you know that, according to, the average family does 400 loads of laundry per year? That calculates out to 7.69 loads per week.  When you think about it – doing laundry is time consuming. Not only do you have to sort, pre-treat, wash, dry, fold, and put away your laundry, you also need to make sure you are using the right detergent for both your washing machine and your family’s needs. There’s been a long-standing debate on which type of laundry detergent performs better – powder or liquid.  We did our own investigation, and we found that there’s a lot of conflicting and incorrect information out there. Here are a few things we learned:

  • Liquid detergent is not more effective on food and greasy or oily stains.  Oil-based stains are almost impossible to get out at home.  Grocery store pre-treaters and laundry detergents won’t break down oily stains.  Oil and grease readily dissolve in the dry cleaning process, not in water.
  • Liquid detergent can sometimes double as a stain pre-treater but only with certain stains – like tannin or water-based stains.
  • Powder detergent isn’t more effective for lifting out every day stains and ground-in dirt. Both powder and liquid detergents use the same basic chemistry to wet out fabric and suspend soils.
  • Some inexpensive powder detergents, especially those with lots of fillers, don’t dissolve well and can leave a residue on clothes.  This is especially true if you have a high-efficiency (HE) washing machine that uses little water.

After a fair amount of investigating and talking to experts, we found this common consensus: both powder and liquid clean quite effectively.  There is really no measurable difference.  If you are happy with your current laundry detergent, then we would recommend that you just stick with it.

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