Powder vs. Liquid Detergent: The Best Option for You

Published April 1, 2021
Woman buys washing powder

When you are trying to decide on liquid or powdered laundry detergent, it's best to weigh all the pros and cons. Get a quick breakdown of liquid vs. powdered laundry detergent to find out where each one shines.

Pros and Cons of Liquid vs. Powdered Detergent

When it comes to the great laundry detergent debate, it can be easier to compare the two using a quick and easy-to-follow chart. See how these two detergents measure up before getting into the down and dirty of liquid vs. powdered detergent. And since pods are all the rage, they've been thrown those in there too. The table below notes the type of stain, whether you can use it to pre-treat, difficulty of meauring, cost per load, eco-friendliness, and how completely it dissolves in cold water.

Liquid Powdered Pods








Pre-treat yes hard to use no
Measure easy hard easy
Cost cheapest more expensive most expensive
Eco-friendly yes no no
Dissolve yes no sometimes

Now that you know the basics of each type, it's time to dive deep into each one to find the best laundry detergent for your washer and family.

Best Detergent for Fighting Stains

Liquid detergents can be powerful stain fighters. However, in this arena, each detergent has its own strength and weakness. Now that you know the basics of each type, it's time to dive deep into each one.

  • Liquid - The liquid formula is amazing at breaking down and removing greasy stains. The way this formula penetrates the stain, it works to break down the bond the grease has on the fabric, effectively removing it.
  • Powdered - If you have a child in sports or prone to grass stains, then reach for powdered detergent. The powdered detergent's chemical composition makes it the sure winner for grass, clay, and mud stains.

Liquid or Powdered Detergent for Pre-Treating Stains

If you are looking for a detergent that does double duty as an easy-to-use pre-treater, then liquid detergent is the best choice here. To understand why, see how they both measure up.

  • Liquid - Given that liquid detergent is water-based, it's exceptionally easy to add to a stain and work it around with your fingers. It's a one-stop-shop.
  • Powdered - To be able to use powdered detergent as a pre-treater, you need to add water to it. Therefore, it takes an extra step when it comes to pre-treating.
detergent for a laundry washer

Which Is Easier to Measure

It's time to discover one of the sure-fire cons of liquid detergent, getting the right amount. While liquid detergent does come with a "simple" cap system, it's anything but simple to use. In fact, the American Cleaning Institute noted that people are using about twice the necessary amount of liquid detergent. Not only is this bad for your washer, but it can lead to detergent stains on your clothes. Powdered detergents require much less deciphering to get the amount just right. Not only is this good for your wallet, but your laundry too.

Cost of Liquid vs. Powdered Detergent

The importance of saving money is a big factor when you are contemplating switching from liquid to powdered detergent. On average, powdered detergent is cheaper per load than liquid. Why? There are a couple of reasons. The biggest one Shoaib Arif, of Pilot Chemical, points out is that liquid detergents take more work to make.

Is Liquid or Powdered Detergent Better for Washing Machine?

Knowing which laundry detergent is better for your machine can be a tricky question. Both detergents have pros and cons for both front loaders, top loaders, and HE machines. Looking at each one can help you to make the right choice.

  • Liquid - Liquid detergent works in both hot and cold water and is less likely to leave residue on your machine or clothing. However, given it's hard to measure, using too much can gum up your machine.
  • Powdered - Powdered detergent needs to dissolve in water, and it has a hard time doing this in cold temperatures. Therefore, you can get residue in your machine and on your clothing. You can combat this with an extra rinse, however.
Pouring liquid detergent

Best Detergent for Hard Water

Hard water is the bane of most households. It can cause a lot of problems and affect your laundry detergent. When looking at both detergents, liquid works better with hard water. It's full of water, so it has what it needs to work. Powdered detergent doesn't. So, it's relying on your water to get the perfect clean. Therefore, it's not going to be as effective in harder water households.

Environmental Consciousness: Liquid or Powdered Detergent

Keeping your carbon footprint low is important. And when it comes to eco-friendly, powdered vs. liquid detergent makes a difference.

  • Liquid - It takes more energy to create liquid detergent and packaging. Additionally, the packaging itself is less eco-friendly since it needs to house liquid.
  • Powdered - Not only does powdered detergent have a longer shelf life, but you can get more with less packaging. Additionally, the packaging can be made of different materials that are friendlier to the environment.

What About Detergent Pods?

Detergent pods are the newest edition to the laundry game. These one dose wonders do it all. They save you time and thought, making them easy to use on all stains and nearly zero risk of using too much. However, in addition to being a hazard to children, they are pricy. If ease of use is your biggest concern, give them a go!

Which Is Better Liquid, Powdered, or Pods?

When it comes to finding the best detergent, there is no definite winner. Each different type has its own pros and cons that you need to take into consideration with your home. If in doubt, try making your own laundry detergent or laundry detergent substitute. Now that you're considering which type you want to use, get some tips about which ones are the best smelling laundry detergents since scent may also be an important factor in your decision.

Powder vs. Liquid Detergent: The Best Option for You