We get asked a lot whether it’s better to use liquid or powder detergent. We sell both, and that’s because liquids and powders don’t differ much in performance. The main ingredients are the same; the main difference is whether they are provided in powder or liquid form. So, for the most part, it’s a matter of personal preference and convenience.
Still, there are performance differences between the two that can make one a better choice over the other, starting with cost. Powders usually cost less per load than liquids. They also typically use paper-based packaging, often using recycled materials, so they are more eco-friendly than the plastic bottles used for liquids.
On the other hand, even though today’s powders are made to dissolve quickly and completely, they still can leave residue on clothes after washing, from the powder itself or from the powder combined with hard water.
Liquids, being already dissolved, reduce the chance of leaving residue behind. They also are good for pre-treating heavily soiled areas, saving the cost of a separate pre-treatment product. The bottle seals tightly and easily survives being tipped or dropped without breaking or spilling. Liquid detergents also help keep water pH neutral, making them more effective on food and oil-based stains.
For all that, though, liquids tend to be more expensive than powders. This is compounded by the fact that those convenience bottle-cap measurers aren’t the most accurate, so it’s easy to use too much liquid. Liquids also have sudsing agents than powders. Using too much means they won’t rinse out properly, leaving dulling residue in fabrics.
And for all the good points of a plastic bottle over a paper box, that bottle still is not as environmentally friendly as the box. While not as big an issue with concentrated liquids, it does take a lot of water to make liquid detergents, adding to the cost to the environment as well as your pocketbook.