Skip to content
A scoop of washing powder in front of a pile of folded towels.

What Type of Laundry Detergent Should I Use?

Have you ever browsed the different laundry detergents in your local store? There are almost endless possibilities and the choice can be quite overwhelming! This is why many mums stick to the detergent they know – even if it’s not the best soap for their clothes, or for their machine.

If you want to lengthen the life of your machine and your clothes, you should really take a look at the type of detergent that you use and see if there is a better option out there for you. Here is a guide on how to choose – and use – the best type of laundry detergent for your machine.  

Washing Detergents for Top and Front-Loading Machines

If you’ve got a front-loading washing machine, you should be using a different type of detergent than you would be if you had a top-loading machine. Laundry detergents for top-loading machines are developed to work effectively in a high-water environment.

This type of detergent produces a lot of foam – which is perfect for top loaders, but all of this foam could actually damage your front loader! If you have a front-loading machine, it is best to use a dedicated front-loading machine detergent. There is very little price difference between the two types, so it really is worth making the effort to buy the right product.  

Dosing Guide

In order to get the best results from your washing, it is important to the use the laundry detergent correctly and to add the right amount:

  • Using too little detergent can cause poor cleaning results, and dirt or hard water deposits may build up in your machine.
  • Using too much is uneconomical and increases the risks of poor rinsing of clothes and 'over-sudsing' or foaming in front loaders.

Both how dirty your washing is, as well as the hardness of the water in your area, can determine the amount of detergent that you will need to use.  

Dosing for Top Loaders

Powder Detergents:

Add the powder either to the machine bowl or down the centre of the agitator for most standard washing machines. Then add the clothes.

Liquid Detergents:

Measure using the cap and then pour either into the machine bowl or down the centre of the detergent drawer for most standard washing machines. Then add the clothes. Tip:  In top loaders, do not put powder or liquid on top of clothes.  

Dosing for Front Loaders & High Efficiency Washing Machines

Powder Detergents:

Add the powder to the dispensing drawer, put the clothes in the machine and start the machine.

Liquid Detergents:

Pour into the dispensing drawer, or into the dosing ball provided and put into the drum, put the clothes in the machine and start the machine.  

Different Detergents for Different Fabrics

Items such as cotton bedding, bath towels, and everyday underwear can be washed with a normal detergent and will still come out of the washer looking like new. However, some more delicate garments and fabrics – like silk, wool, or lace – need to be washed with an appropriate laundry detergent.

These delicate materials can really suffer if they are laundered with a harsh detergent – they can fade, become discoloured, or even shrink! When washing delicate clothing, use a mild detergent, which will help to protect your clothes but will still get them clean. It will also help if you choose the hand-wash, gentle, or delicate setting on your machine when washing these types of garments.  

Treating Stains

You can treat stubborn stains with either a liquid detergent or a washing powder – all you really need to do is make sure that the soap you choose has stain removal properties. Be sure to read the label of your detergent to see the suggestions for fighting stains! If you’re using liquid detergent, follow these directions:

  • Pour a small amount onto the stain and let it sit for a few minutes.
  • Massage the detergent gently into the material.
  • Place the item in the wash with your normal detergent.

If you’re using a washing powder, simply mix it with a little bit of water so that it dissolves, and follow the same process as mentioned above.  

Washing Powder vs. Liquid Detergent

There are pros and cons to both powdered and liquid detergents, so it’s really down to personal preference – and the type of machine that you have! So, the next time you go shopping, spend some time looking at the different types of detergent available rather than automatically picking up the type that you’re familiar with. Determine what sort of laundry detergent would benefit you, your family, your clothes, and your machine. You definitely will be able to find a product that meets your needs!