Last updated: 16/10/2022

How we pick our products

32Products analysed

39Hours spent

24Evaluated articles

112User reviews

Welcome to our big liquid detergent test 2022. Here we present all the liquid detergents that we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information for you. We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best liquid detergent for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should be aware of if you want to buy a liquid detergent.




Summary

  • It was not until the seventies of the twentieth century that laundry detergent was invented in the form we still use it today. Most detergents are based on a coal or petroleum base.
  • Depending on the type of wash, the garments and how much detergent you use, one detergent may be more suitable for you than another. If you have allergies or intolerances, you should read the ingredients carefully.
  • We also point out to all manufacturers whether their products can promote and ensure a vegan and ecologically sustainable lifestyle.

The Best Liquid Detergent in the United Kingdom: Our Choices

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a liquid detergent

What are the advantages of liquid detergent compared to other products such as powder detergent?

The special advantage of liquid detergent is that it does not leave any annoying detergent residues on black and coloured textiles. Which makes it possible to use it even at low temperatures. One disadvantage of liquid detergents is that they are often overdosed, because without a dosing aid it is difficult to estimate when the right amount has been reached.

This not only leads to an increased environmental impact, but also hurts your wallet, as you have to buy new detergent more often. An absolute advantage of liquid detergent is that, unlike powders, it leaves no traces.

This is especially important for fine, dark clothes. The same applies to coloured and also fine laundry, which can only be washed at low temperatures. In contrast to powders, which often contain softening substances, you often have to buy an additional softener when using liquid detergent. This causes additional costs and dosing effort.

However, this way you can only make the textiles cuddly soft where this is also desired, such as the cuddly jumper and not the business shirt. Every detergent is added to the environment after it has been used. This burden varies from detergent to detergent and is higher in the case of liquid detergents, as overdosing usually takes place here. It is therefore essential to pay attention to the correct dosage.

Did you know that liquid detergents have a greater impact on the environment? It contains many surfactants, which are supposed to replace the missing bleaching agents and serve as liquid softeners. It is true that these have had to be fully biodegradable since 2005. However, they have to decompose within 28 days. During this interim period, these substances still pollute the environment.

Powder detergents are more suitable for textiles that have to be washed at higher temperatures, as they contain bleaching agents in addition to the softening substances to a higher degree than liquid detergents, which kill not only stains but also fungi and bacteria more reliably.

Advantages
  • Leaves no residue
  • Better, higher fragrance experience
Disadvantages
  • Harder to dose, thus possibly higher in consumption
  • Additional use of fabric softener necessary

Liquid detergents, especially in the form of fabric softeners, provide a more pleasant fragrance experience than their powdered counterparts.

How much does liquid detergent cost?

Liquid detergents are available in almost all price ranges. Discounter detergents, for example, are available for as little as 2 euros. Most brand-name detergents are priced between 3 and 6 euros.

Many liquid detergent manufacturers also offer stock packs of up to 5 litres, which cost correspondingly more. These are particularly interesting for families with a lot of laundry and commercial users.

Is an additional water softener necessary?

As a rule, no additional water softener is necessary as long as you follow the correct dosage, because the detergents already contain the appropriate substances. Dosing aids, such as this one, can help you with the dosage. If there is very hard water in your region, it is still advisable to add an additional machine care product.

Jemand gießt Flüssigwaschmittel in eine Kappe

Unlike powder detergents, liquid detergents do not leave any annoying residues on freshly washed laundry. The advantage is that they can be used in washing processes with lower temperatures. If you do not have a special washing machine insert for liquid detergent, you should place the detergent directly in the washing drum with a dosing aid. (Photo: Andriy Popov / 123RF)

Do I need a fabric softener?

Unlike some powder detergents, liquid detergents do not contain substances that also soften the laundry, so an additional agent is unnecessary. The disadvantage is, of course, that the softening effect always occurs, even when it is not necessary or desired. In addition to their softening effect, fabric softeners also provide an extra portion of scent. So if you have used a neutral-smelling liquid detergent, you can compensate for this.

Where is the best place to fill the liquid detergent?

Unlike powder detergent, liquid detergent does not belong in the detergent drawer of the washing machine, but directly in the drum with the laundry. This ensures that the detergent does not simply run into the rinse chamber and seep away before you start. Many washing machine manufacturers offer an additional insert for liquid detergent.

This is inserted into the compartment provided for powder detergent and prevents it from running through before the washing process starts. This does not apply to fabric softeners, as the compartment is already designed so that the detergent is not added until the last wash cycle. So it is not put directly into the drum.

What is the shelf life of liquid detergent?

There is no best-before date for detergents, as is the case with food, for example. However, incorrect storage can cause the detergent to go bad. The biggest enemy for the shelf life of liquid detergent is temperature. If the detergent is stored at too low a temperature, for example in the garage, or at too high a temperature, for example near the heating system, it can lose its effectiveness. You can tell whether your detergent is still usable by the three factors of smell, appearance and texture.

If your detergent smells musty, has changed colour (usually towards brown) or is no longer liquid but may contain lumps, please dispose of it properly. If your detergent still appears unchanged, you can continue to use it without hesitation. Only the dosage should be adjusted. It is advisable to select the dosage for heavily soiled laundry for each wash, as some ingredients such as bleach and enzymes lose their strength over time.

Decision: What types of liquid detergents are there and which one is right for you?

Basically, you can distinguish between five different types of liquid detergents:

  • Heavy-duty detergent
  • Coloured detergent
  • Delicates detergent
  • Special detergents
  • Modular detergents

Due to different uses, a certain liquid detergent is best suited for you and your laundry. The different compositions and areas of application result in different advantages and disadvantages for each of these types of detergent. In the following sections, we will introduce you to these five different types. We will also briefly explain the differences between them to help you decide which liquid detergent is right for you. We will also compare the advantages and disadvantages of each type.

How does a heavy-duty detergent work and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

A heavy-duty detergent is a powder or liquid detergent that is best suited for cleaning white laundry. This liquid detergent, which is also called a general-purpose or boiling detergent, can be used at all temperatures from 20 °C to 95 °C and in most washing processes.

The addition of bleach ensures that white textiles do not turn grey and retain their bright whiteness. For this reason, you should never wash coloured laundry with a heavy-duty detergent, as this could cause your garments to lose their colour.

Advantages
  • Suitable for cleaning white laundry
  • Almost all washing temperatures possible
Disadvantages
  • Unsuitable for coloured laundry
  • Softeners and bleaches are often overdosed

How does a colour detergent work and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

As the name suggests, colour detergent is best suited for cleaning coloured laundry. You can use the liquid detergent at all washing temperatures from 20 °C to 60 °C and at all rotation speeds.

Did you know that liquid detergents do not contain bleach? This means there is no residue on the laundry. This is the reason why the colour strength is preserved for a long time.

To avoid strong discolouration of your garments, you should only wash one colour per cycle. Special colour transfer inhibitors are used in some coloured detergents to prevent mutual discolouration of your garments.

Advantages
  • Suitable for cleaning coloured textiles
  • Very low wash temperatures possible
Disadvantages
  • Causes a grey haze on white clothes
  • Without inhibitors, only one shade per wash cycle is possible

How does a mild detergent work and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

A mild detergent is mainly used for washing soft fabrics, such as wool or silk. You can use it both for the washing machine with temperatures of maximum 40 °C and for hand washing your garments. To ensure the gentlest possible washing process, mild detergents are free of bleaching agents and optical brighteners.

However, most detergents contain higher amounts of soap and enzymes, which is why only resistant fabrics can be cleaned without worry. However, for washing certain cellulose fibre garments, you should buy a detergent without added enzymes to protect the fine fabric from cellulase degradation.

Advantages
  • Suitable for cleaning sensitive textiles
  • Hand wash possible
Disadvantages
  • No normal garments
  • Often unsuitable for cellulose fibre

How does a special detergent work and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Special detergents are used to clean specific garments and to remove heavy stains and perspiration odours. Garments that absolutely must be cleaned at low temperatures are, for example, wool, silk, down, sports and membrane textiles. Special detergents are mainly developed for very specific textiles.

Fabrics such as Gore-Tex, microfibre and mixed fabrics, which are often used in sportswear, require complex care. Special odour-binding substances ensure that strong odours are neutralised. The composition and individual ingredients are similar to those of a mild detergent. The ability to bind sulphur and nitrogen molecules ensures thorough cleaning of sweat-soaked functional clothing.

Advantages
  • Especially for sportswear
  • Removes perspiration odours
Disadvantages
  • Only suitable for functional clothing
  • Relatively expensive

How does a modular detergent work and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

A modular detergent is actually a set consisting of three different components. These are also used in a heavy-duty detergent. They are a basic detergent, a bleaching agent and a softener. Sometimes, however, a stain remover is also included in the set. The great advantage of a modular detergent is its individuality and adaptability for each individual washing process.

The individual components allow you to put together your own detergent and adapt it to your laundry. If the water contains lime, for example, you can simply increase the softener dosage. This not only cares for your laundry and reduces the burden on your wallet, but also protects the environment, as the amount of basic detergent and bleach remains the same.

Advantages
  • Individual washing processes
  • Saves money and protects the environment
Disadvantages
  • Dosage must be done every time
  • Components must be purchased separately

Buying criteria: You can use these factors to compare and evaluate liquid laundry detergents

In the following, we would like to show you which factors you can use to compare and evaluate liquid detergents. This will make it easier for you to decide whether a detergent is suitable for you or not. In summary, these are:

  • the type of laundry
  • the yield of the detergent
  • your lifestyle
  • Sustainability criteria
  • Presence of allergies and other intolerances

In the following paragraphs you can read about the individual purchase criteria and how you can classify them. Tip: Take a look at our liquid detergent comparison tables. In this easy-to-understand overview, we have compared the currently most important detergents with each other on the basis of the detergents presented here.

Type of laundry

We have already briefly discussed the type and nature of your laundry, i.e. coloured, white or black textiles, fine fabrics and wool. Nevertheless, we would like to point out that the properties of your laundry are probably the most important criterion when buying liquid detergent, as the cleaning result is significantly influenced by this. So first ask yourself what kind of textiles you want to wash and in what colour shades.

If you have a lot of light-coloured fine clothes, then a detergent for fine laundry is indispensable. If most of the clothes in your wardrobe are dark, a detergent specially formulated for dark colours should not be missing from your household. If you have smaller children who like to get dirty and probably wear a lot of different colours, you should go for a full detergent. In the following table we would like to give you an overview of the types of laundry and the appropriate detergent:

Type of laundry Detergent
White and easy-care laundry Heavy-duty detergent
Coloured clothing Coloured detergent (colour detergent)
Sensitive textiles Delicates detergent
Wool Wool detergent
Heavily soiled textiles, Gore-Tex, microfibres Special detergent

Since most of us use many different textiles, i.e. not only clothes but also bed linen, blankets and stuffed animals, you should have a number of different detergents at home. It is helpful here that manufacturers often offer their products in different pack sizes.

Yield of the detergent

The yield of the detergent is not only important for your wallet, but also for the environment. The yield is not only determined by the amount of detergent in the bottle, but also by the amount of detergent you need to get your laundry clean.

If a 1 litre bottle of liquid detergent only gets 5 to 6 loads clean, you will have to buy new detergent very often. Even if you buy cheaply, it’s still a significant financial burden. It is therefore important that your detergent cleans efficiently and is still economical. But the environment will also thank you if you use less detergent.

Detergents contain many substances that are not beneficial to nature. These include bleaching agents and bleach stabilisers, which prevent the decomposition of bleaching agents during storage, water softeners and preservatives.

The less of your detergent you have to use, the less often and in smaller quantities these substances end up in the environment. You also save on the plastic waste needed for packaging.

Your lifestyle

More and more people are living a more conscious and vegan lifestyle. It is increasingly important to them to know where their food comes from and under what conditions it is produced. This attitude is also reflected in the purchase of other products such as liquid detergent. For most, being vegan means more than just abstaining from animal products in food.

For example, no animals should suffer or even be killed for clothing. The same then applies to goods for body care (care products and cosmetics) and cleaning products. Many liquid detergents contain surfactants of animal origin. These are obtained from animal fats. The same also applies to some binding agents.

Furthermore, it is important to many people, regardless of their diet, that cleaning products are not tested on animals. In the European Union, animal testing has been banned since 2013, but since many suppliers sell in China, where animal testing is a prerequisite for market approval, it is still carried out. So before buying liquid detergent, you should ask yourself whether it is important to you whether your detergent is vegan or not.

Sustainability criteria

As mentioned above, detergent contains ingredients that are rather detrimental to the environment. Therefore, detergent should be examined from a sustainable point of view. Here is a brief overview of the conventional ingredients in liquid detergents and their effects.

Ingredient function
Surfactant washing-active – dissolves dirt
Water softener prevents damage to fabrics by calcium and magnesium salts (colour intensity decreases), reduces limescale residues in the machine
Washing alkalis swell the fibres and facilitate washing out dirt
Enzymes to remove dirt containing protein, starch and fat (e.g. egg white, sauces, blood)
Dirt carriers such as carboxymethyl cellulose prevents dirt particles from reattaching to clothing
Curd soap, silicones regulate the formation of foam
Fragrances so that clothes no longer carry body odour
Alcohols dissolve the surfactants
Preservatives to curb bacterial infestation of the clothes

Many manufacturers, above all Frosch, have been using vegan ingredients for some time. This reduces CO2 emissions, for example. Meat production produces more climate-damaging carbon dioxide than the production of plants and grains. However, these detergents also contain ingredients that are harmful to the environment, but are not yet replaceable today. Therefore, the consumer, i.e. you, must start elsewhere.

Presence of allergies and other intolerances

Buying liquid detergent can be a challenge for people with allergies and sensitive skin, because many detergents contain substances that make the laundry super clean but can cause itching and redness when worn on the skin. Babies and small children in particular need to be careful. Their young skin is often particularly sensitive to chemicals.

And since babies not only have rompers, but also many cuddly blankets and stuffed animals that need to be washed regularly, many manufacturers offer extra baby detergents. These not only have a particularly good cleaning quality, but also have a hypoallergenic formula and do not contain any preservatives or dyes.

The fragrances used are of natural origin (e.g. camomile) and do not push themselves to the fore. But not only baby’s laundry, but also yours, can be cleaned gently. Aloe vera sensitive detergents are a good choice here. They are kind to the skin and still clean your clothes efficiently.

Facts worth knowing about liquid detergents

How long have people been using detergents?

Man has been concerned with washing clothes, albeit in a very primitive form, since ancient times. The ingredients used today have been in use since the early 1970s. In ancient times, people used water in combination with rubbing, beating and kicking to cleanse themselves. The ancient Romans fermented urine and used the ammonia formation for cleansing.

The Sumerians were the first civilised people to produce a soap-like substance by mixing wood ash and oil. Later, the Egyptians, Gauls and Germanic tribes also used fats and oil to clean their clothes. With the discovery of the olive tree, soap became an important new raw material, which, however, continued to be considered a luxury good and only became cheaper with the discovery of the technical production of soda in the 18th century.

At the beginning of the 20th century, other substances besides soda ash were added to detergents. Water glass (sodium silicate), and sodium perborate made it possible for people to do without the lawn bleaching that had been necessary until then. In lawn bleaching, the textiles are laid on the lawn after the washing process, where the sun should bleach out the stains.

The detergent Persil, introduced in 1907 by the manufacturer Henkel, refers to these very ingredients in its name: Per stands for perborate and Sil comes from the word silicate. In 1914, the chemist Otto Böhm developed a detergent by adding enzymes that cleaned clothes even at lower temperatures and without the use of strong mechanical influences.

It was therefore no longer necessary to remove stains by vigorous rubbing. This saved physical strength. The lowering of the required temperatures enabled people to save money, as they needed less fuel and soap. In the 1960s, technical progress and the economic miracle made it possible for more and more households to switch from hand washing to machine washing. This also changed the demands on detergents.

The formation of lime soaps, among other things, reduced the washing power, which resulted in faster wear of the laundry. In addition, the deposits made the laundry hard. The raw materials needed for the production of detergents were then adapted.

Thus, the tallow and later oils that had been used for a long time were increasingly replaced by products based on coal and petroleum. The modern detergent as we know it today was born.

Picture source: Sergey Lapin / 123RF

Reviews