Let’s talk laundry detergents — we all need them, and we all use them. The ever-growing number of products available on the market makes the choice overwhelming, however.

So, if you feel lost every time you pass through the laundry aisle at your local store, don’t worry — you’re not alone. Today I’ll tell you all about the differences between laundry detergent pods, liquid, and powder.

That’s a topic many people can argue over for days. The thing is, you can’t go wrong with any of the three options. They all have their advantages and disadvantages and are suitable for different people. So, let’s take an objective look at each of them individually.

Laundry Detergent Pods/Pacs


Laundry detergent pacs (or “pods,” a term trademarked by Tide) are the newest of the bunch. They were introduced to the market in 2012 and quickly gained popularity thanks to their convenient size and variety of scents.

Pods are super easy to use — you just grab one, throw it in the washing machine, and voilà, it does its magic! Just make sure to follow the instructions on the package.

Another reason for their popularity is that they are compact and don’t take much space. On top of that, doses of detergent are pre-measured. Thus, the risk of overdosing is eliminated and ease of use is assured. That’s especially useful if you trek to a laundromat daily. You just grab a pod and go — no measuring cups or powder to spill everywhere.

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What’s more, pods incorporate different cleaning technologies (there are 3-in-one pods, all-in-one pods, etc.). That makes them even more convenient, as you don’t need to buy anything else to get clean and soft laundry.

Elderly and disabled people can also only benefit from using pods. They are a lot easier to manage and carry than heavy containers of powder or liquid detergents. And as there is no dosage measuring involved, laundry gets that much easier!

Of course, pods have downsides, too. They are about 50% more expensive per load compared to liquids or powders. Therefore, if money is a concern, you should probably stick with one of the other two choices.

Also, pretreatment is not an option with pods. They need to be put directly into the drum of the washing machine. So, if you’re like me and have a tendency to spill things all over your clothes, maybe pods are not for you.

Health Hazard Alert

Due to their small size, bright colors, and fun packaging, many kids have been mistaking pods for candy, consequently exposing themselves to harmful chemicals. For that reason, they are not recommended for households with many children and pets, unless stored with great caution.

Unfortunately, as strange as it may sound, swallowing detergent pods on purpose is a thing too. It’s a viral (and very deadly) challenge, especially popular among teenagers.

I doubt I need to explain why it’s not a good idea, so, please, do not eat your poisonous, full-of-chemicals detergent pods! And if you’re a parent, always keep the pacs out of the reach of your children.

Pros and Cons

Laundry Pacs Pros:

  • Convenient size
  • Variety of scents
  • Pre-measured doses to avoid overdosing
  • Different cleaning technologies
  • Easy to carry from store

Laundry Pacs Cons:

  • The highest price per load
  • No pretreatment option
  • Kids can mistake them for candy

Liquid Laundry Detergents


Liquid detergents are another immensely popular option. They come in a variety of scents and mix well with water, resulting in perfectly clean laundry every time.

Pricewise, they are in the golden middle, being considerably cheaper than single-dose pods and more expensive than powder detergents.

Unlike pods and powders, however, liquids are ideal for pre-treating stains. Besides, they are super effective when dealing with oily or greasy spots.

Furthermore, unlike some powder detergents, liquids won’t clog your washer. That’s kind of a big deal, as nobody has the time (or nerves) to deal with washing machine problems.

Also, as liquid detergents dissolve completely in water, they don’t accumulate in the woolen fibers of your clothes. Therefore, they are very versatile and can be used on a variety of different fabrics.

If you have sensitive skin or allergies, it might be worth taking a look at scent-free liquids, as many of them are specifically made for people with such conditions. They are also a great option for children’s clothes. After all, kids are the most prone to different types of stains.

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There is a downside, however — plastic! The plastic packaging they come in is a major strain on the environment. Most bottles can be recycled, but realistically, a very small number of people do that.

Moreover, water — the main ingredient of liquid detergents — makes the products heavy, resulting in bigger shipping costs. And, you guessed it, that affects the final price.


Dosage is another concern. It is slightly different for each brand of detergent, and, most of the time, the cup that comes with the bottle is a few times larger than the amount of product needed for one wash.

However, many people don’t pay too much attention to the instructions, and fill it up to the top. Consequently, they overdose, leave residue on their clothes, and, worst of all, waste money!

Pros and Cons

Liquid Detergent Pros:

  • Come in variety of scents
  • They mix well with water (better than powder detergent)
  • Ideal for pre-treating stains
  • Cheaper than pods

Liquid Detergent Cons:

  • More expensive than powder detergent
  • Plastic packaging
  • Heavier to carry from store
  • Possibility of overdosing

Powder Laundry Detergents


Powder detergents have been around for close to a century now, and they are the least expensive of the bunch. For many people, powders are the tried-and-true product they’ve been using all their lives.

However, as pods and liquids are gaining popularity, powders are slowly disappearing from the aisles. That has to do with their bulky size that takes up valuable shelf space.

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One of the benefits of powder detergents is that the packaging is recyclable, allegedly making them the more environmentally friendly choice. However, don’t put ‘five boxes of powder detergent’ on your shopping list just yet.

We’ll discuss the ‘eco-friendly’ question in a bit, and — spoiler alert — you won’t save planet Earth by opting for that product.

Powders are the best choice if you’re contending with hard water, though. That’s thanks to the additives that are more easily and cost-effectively incorporated into the detergents.

Now, let’s discuss the drawbacks. First, the bulky and heavy boxes that powder laundry detergents come in take up a lot of space and are hard to handle. That’s why I can’t recommend them for people with disabilities or individuals at a vulnerable age. They need convenience, not back pain.

Of course, there are smaller boxes, too. However, many of them end up being more expensive than the larger options. So, if your goal is to save money, go with the bigger packages.

On a positive note, pretreating stains is doable, but it’s a lot harder than just pouring some liquid detergent on the area you need to treat.

Also, if you prefer to wash your clothes in cold water, powder detergent might not be what you need. Some powders don’t dissolve completely in cold water, which leads to residue on your clothes (and nobody likes that).

Are They Really Environmentally Friendly?

Now, let’s go back to the topic of the environment. Due to the size and weight of the boxes, shipping is expensive and impacts nature negatively. Combine that with the fact that the majority of people are indifferent to recycling, and you’re back to square one on your quest to save the planet from pollution.

Compared to the plastic bottles of liquids, however, a powder detergent is definitely the lesser of the two evils.

Pros and Cons

Powder Detergent Pros:

  • Cheaper than both pods and liquid
  • Great if you’re dealing with hard water
  • Packaging is recyclable

Powder Detergent Cons:

  • May leave residue on your clothes
  • Take up a lot of space and are hard to handle

Pods, Liquid, or Powder: Which One Should You Get?

We’re fortunate enough to live in times where there’s no shortage of products. On the contrary, we have so many options that it’s actually hard to choose. That is why it’s important to stay informed and not fall in the trap of the commercials, many of which make claims and promises that are nothing more than marketing tricks.

Companies are constantly developing new formulas, and honestly, it’s hard to keep track of everything. However, pods, liquid, and powder detergents will always be a safe option, and now you know everything you need to know about them.

But before you buy your new detergent, you should answer a few questions:

  • Is it compatible with my washing machine?
  • Can I store it safely?
  • Is it the right type for my clothes?
  • Am I buying it just because of an ad, or is it what I actually need?

At the end of the day, it’s all a matter of personal preference and needs. If money’s not a concern, and you’re all about the convenience factor, then go with detergent pods. They are great for university students, elderly people, and individuals who neither have time nor desire to deal with measuring cups and dosages.

If you’re prone to staining your clothes, or if you have kids (in which case stains are a guarantee), liquids might be all you need.

Should you need quality at the lowest price possible, opt for powders. They definitely get the job done, and you don’t have to break the bank.

Now that you know the differences, you can trust your knowledge and make an informed choice. That way, you won’t waste your time and money, and you’ll get the right product. Happy shopping!

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