The 5 best laundry detergents you can buy

·3 min read

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Even though Americans spend billions of dollars every year on laundry detergent, most folks stick with the same brand they've always used, and they may not be buying the best detergent to clean their clothes.

We rounded up the top-selling laundry detergents in the country and put them to the test in our laundry labs to find out which one was best.

We cleaned a variety of items on the normal cycle of a high-efficiency front-load washing machine, including T-shirts with real-world grass and dirt stains, stain strips that were mechanically coated in a variety of standardized messes, and towels stored with a smelly, smoldering cigar. Then, we used a photospectrometer to measure stain removal, a calculator to determine value, and our testers' eyes and noses to rate scent and freshness.

Our tests and testers agree: These are the best laundry detergents right now.

Persil ProClean: Best overall

In our testing, Persil came out on top.
In our testing, Persil came out on top.

Persil has long been a best-selling laundry detergent in Europe, but it's only been on sale in the U.S. since 2015.

In testing, Persil removed an average of 2 percent more stains than Tide detergents. While that's a small amount, it makes a difference over repeated washings — and that's how Persil beat the longstanding U.S. favorite.

Some online commenters said Persil smells "sweet," which may be a turnoff. However, if stain removal is critical, Persil is the undisputed winner.

Where to buy:

Tide Original: Best value

After testing, we believe Tide Original is the best value.
After testing, we believe Tide Original is the best value.

Tide is the best-selling laundry detergent in the U.S., and it's available from nearly every major retailer.

We tested was Tide Original, a product that's for high-efficiency washers. While it ranked slightly behind Persil in our stain-fighting test, it stood toe-to-toe or bested it in all other categories.

Tide out cleans other detergents by as much as 14 percent. It is widely known for its cleaning power and provides the best value among laundry detergents available to Americans today.

Where to buy:

Persil ProClean Sensitive Skin: Best laundry detergent for sensitive skin

Persil ProClean Sensitive Skin removed the most stains of detergents designed for sensitive skin.
Persil ProClean Sensitive Skin removed the most stains of detergents designed for sensitive skin.

Persil ProClean Sensitive Skin came out on top in our cleaning tests for detergents for people with sensitive skin.

Persil ProClean Sensitive Skin, which is formulated to work in cold water, has a very mild scent.

Testing showed that it’s a great cleaner, but we did have some concerns about some of the ingredients, including sodium borate and propylene glycol. Sodium borate, also known as borax, can cause skin irritation. Prolonged exposure to propylene glycol could cause contact dermatitis.

Persil Sensitive Skin sits on the fence between hypoallergenic laundry detergents and the standard set we’ve been familiar with for years. In exchange for having more harsh chemicals than most free-and-clear detergents, you’re getting a superior clean.

Where to buy:

Tide Purclean: Best eco-friendly laundry detergent

Tide Purclean cleaned the best of all the eco-friendly detergents we tested.
Tide Purclean cleaned the best of all the eco-friendly detergents we tested.

Tide Purclean was far and away the best-cleaning eco-friendly detergent we tested. We even found that Tide Purclean cleaned as well as conventional Tide.

Purclean can be described as a hybrid detergent — only 75% of its ingredients are plant-based and some of the rest are petroleum-derived.

When compared to other eco-friendly laundry detergents, it's less green, but it's the best choice without sacrificing performance.

Where to buy:

Kirkland

Kirkland Signature Ultra Clean Liquid Laundry Detergent
Kirkland Signature Ultra Clean Liquid Laundry Detergent

Kirkland combines a great balance of affordability and performance. In fact, it was neck-and-neck with Tide for our best value choice.

Kirkland removed 6 percent fewer stains than Persil and 4 percent fewer than Tide. It has a scent that is fresher and lighter than what you'll get with Tide.

We also really liked its container design — it comes with a no-mess dispenser.

Where to buy:

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This article originally appeared on Reviewed: The 5 best laundry detergents you can buy