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Liquid vs. Powder vs. Pod Detergent: A Laundry Guide

by Pam Silvia

When you really think about it, laundry day is not as straightforward as you might have originally assumed. Between choosing an accurate load size, the right water temperature, and the appropriate duration cycle, the state and life of your laundry hangs in the balance according to these careful selections.

One factor that you probably didn’t think warrants as much deliberation is your choice of laundry detergent, especially since we don’t switch it up often—if at all. But in all actuality, the type of detergent you use can make all the difference in prolonging the life of your favorite sweater.

Liquid vs. powder vs. pod detergent: It’s a laundry day showdown! Stay awhile and check out how these cleaning agents stack up.

laundry room with liquid, powder, and pod detergent option

Liquid vs. Powder vs. Pod Detergent


The most popular form of cleaning agent for laundry day, liquid detergent is easy to use and distributes well in all temperatures of water. This tried-and-true version is also effective for pre-treating stains, and for wash cycles, it is preferred for its ability to penetrate deeply into fabric fibers to release oil and grease stains.

Among its drawbacks, liquid detergent involves some guesswork, as its use relies on the measurement lines on the bottle cap—which often enables us to use too much detergent, leaving pesky residue on clothes and washing machines. In addition, liquid detergents limit the effectiveness of other cleaning ingredients, like oxygen bleach, and are a known strain on landfills due to their packaging.

a pair of hands pours liquid detergent in cap in front of washer


You might be interested to know that powder detergent is less expensive to use than liquid or pod versions per load. Powder detergent is also the most effective for areas with untreated hard water, thanks to additives that are more stable and easily added to powdered formulas—not to mention that it boosts the performance of added ingredients to fight outdoor stains, like grass or dirt.

On the other hand, powder detergents can be problematic in wash cycles with very cold water, since they have a hard time dissolving completely under this temperature; this may result in residue on your clothes, towels, and home furnishings. Pretreating stains with powder detergent is possible but not as convenient since the powder must be mixed with water to form a paste.

closeup of hand pouring powder detergent in dispenser


When it comes to laundry day, detergent pods are the height of convenience. They are lightweight to carry, require minimal storage space, are easy to use, and represent a pre-measured dose of detergent—thereby eliminating the possibility of overdosing your laundry. In the interest of saving the planet, there is also less packaging waste involved with this detergent option. Not only that, but the detergent pods themselves are manufactured to contain less water, allowing this cleaning agent to remain stable for longer periods and produce better results.

That said, detergent pods are the most expensive option per load of laundry. And among other disadvantages, these pods are designed according to an average soil level and load size, meaning it is difficult to adjust the dose for smaller loads and for handwashing single items. In addition, pods cannot be used for pretreating stains and can pose a poisoning hazard for young children since they’re easily swallowable.

closeup of hand holding a couple of pod detergents in palm

As you reassess the type of detergent you use, we implore you to check out the state of your laundry appliances. You can give your laundry room a clean slate by checking out our digital catalog or browsing our in-store inventory. Call or visit us today!