The best laundry detergent to buy in the UK, tried and tested by us

Rated and reviewed by the everyday Brit to find the best detergent.

best-laundry-detergent-review-uk-2024

by Ruby Barry |
Updated on

The smallest house cleaning decisions we make day-to-day can massively increase our overall life satisfaction - and surprisingly, finding the best laundry detergent can make you a happier human being.

OK... that sounds like quite a statement, but it's hard to dispute. Finding your perfect formula, that tackles your spills and stains, can result in efficient errand eradication (say that three times fast). Discovering a laundry powder that is ultra-sustainable can make you feel better about the world. And, according to research by Surf, fragrances can actively boost your mood by up to 40 per cent - so that ideal scented detergent can make you happier. See what we mean? But what is the best laundry detergent one can buy in the UK? Team Closer set out to find the answers.

The best laundry detergents in the Amazon Prime day sales

Psst, have you heard? The Amazon Prime Day sale is on right now! Pause your scrolling because from 16th to 17th July, you can snag savings on hundreds of products, including laundry detergent. Check out our top picks below or keep scrolling for the full roundup.

27% off: Persil Non Bio 3 in 1 Washing Capsules, WAS £11, NOW £8

24% off: Ecover Concentrated Non-Bio Laundry Detergent, WAS £24, NOW £32

18% off: Persil Non Bio Laundry Washing, WAS £12, NOW £12

how-to-decide-best-laundry-detergent
©getty images, canva

Interviewing seven of our home writers and editors here at Closer on their go-to favourite laundry detergent, we found the full goss on exactly what brands you should be looking at. There are some familiar faces (Ariel anyone?) but also some lesser-known products that should definitely be on your radar.

Closer's best laundry detergents, at a glance...

Editor's Choice: Surf Tropical Lily & Ylang Ylang Professional Biological Detergent, £16.49 on Amazon

Best detergent for sensitive skin: Ecover Concentrated Non-Bio Zero Laundry Detergent, £7 on Amazon

Best detergent for busy families: Smol Non-Bio Laundry Pods, £5.80+ on Smol

How did we test out the best laundry detergent?

Each writer and editor below has tried and tested their laundry detergent over at least three months, with the majority being long-term favourites used for more than a year, after great success. We tested these products and reviewed them based on stain-removal effectiveness, ease of use, fragrance, and how long a bottle/carton lasts. Find the results of our team-wide research and laundry hacks below. Scrub a dub dub.

SHOP: The best laundry detergents, rated and reviewed by us

Tried and tested by our Content Editor, Jade Moscrop-Hay

editor's choice

One of Jade's new favourite products, she says: "I’m a sucker for a delightful smell and I’ve landed on this tropical lily and ylang-ylang detergent from Surf after testing a selection of the leading supermarket brands. I’ll do anything to trick my brain into feeling like I’m on holiday! I like that the bottle is made from recycled plastic and that it’s available in this huge 5L bottle (as well as several other sizes) and is often on offer making it great value for money. It leaves my washing stunningly clean, but in my experience, it can stain clothes if you use too much so make sure to check the suggested dosage. Top tip: combine this with Fairy Fabric Softener for the ultimate scent sensation."

Pros

  • Available in a selection of bottle sizes, but I prefer the big 5L that lasts me ages
  • Reasonably priced, at just £3.30 per litre
  • Bottle made from recycled plastic and is fully recyclable
  • Great cleaning power thanks to Surf's professional biological formula
  • Smells like holidays!

Cons

  • Can stain clothes if too much is used - use the suggested amounts

Tried and tested by our Home Writer, Piper Huxley

best detergent for sensitive skin

Ecover Concentrated Non-Bio Zero Laundry DetergentPiper Huxley

Perfect for Piper's sensitive skin, she says: "I love my Ecover Non-Bio Laundry Detergent. As someone who wears a lot of delicate eco-friendly fabrics, this detergent handles my favourite garments with so much care. A long-time allergy sufferer, I appreciate the fragrance-less/enzyme-less formula to minimise any risks of flaring up my sensitive skin. You can recycle the bottle - or even refill your supply at a local zero-waste shop. I love Ecover's waste-free, gentle approach to laundry."

Natalie Knowles, also a Home Writer at Closer, agrees, stating she loves it "because I have an allergy to laundry detergents and this one doesn't upset my sensitive skin. Plus, a little goes a long way and it's got great eco-credentials."

Pros

  • Its 0% fragrance and 0% enzyme formula means it is perfect for sensitive skin and those with allergies
  • In comparison to other detergents, I find Ecover leaves no sense of itchiness when wearing clothes
  • Created using plant-based biodegradable ingredients
  • My top tip is to bulk-buy the 5L bottles to save money and packaging

Cons

  • No scent so don't get that fresh smell from your laundry pile unless you use a scented fabric softener

Tried and tested by our Insights Manager, Clare Bradley

best detergent for busy families

Smol Non-Bio Laundry PodsClare Bradley

Being a busy mum on the go, Clare says: "I'll take anything that helps lighten the mental load and Smol does that for me. I use the Smol non-bio plan, 72 tablets delivered right to my door every three months. We switched specifically as my husband and daughter suffer from eczema and I find this detergent soft and gentle without causing any flair-ups. The bonus is that the company is committed to being plastic-free. However, it's not overly scented and hasn't tackled stains to any huge degree."

Pros

  • If you're a busy parent, you don't need to worry about remembering to stock up, as it's sent to your door
  • Sensitive enough for those suffering from allergies or eczema
  • Smol has the first plastic-free packaging for laundry capsules, which is pretty impressive
  • I've found I can use the letterboxes they come in to store household items such as dishwasher tablets, washing up liquid and sponges

Cons

  • You may need to use extra stain remover on hard-hitting spills before popping it in the washing machine
  • Larger machines may need more than one pod (I have a 10L machine and use two pods per load)

Tried and tested by our Fashion & Beauty Writer, Ruby Barry

best detergent on a budget

If you're looking to save some money, Ruby says: "I've recently moved and my nearest grocery shop is Morrisons, so I was hoping to find a stellar home-brand laundry detergent in store, to make life that bit easier. If I feel peckish for a packet of crisps, I can pick up my laundry products in the same shop, and feel better about myself. Well, I picked up the Morrisons Savers Biological Laundry Liquid, packaged in cute cardboard cartons to cut back on plastic production. DO NOT get this carton mixed up with your orange juice. Anyway, I've been using this alongside the Morrisons Lavender Fresh Fabric Conditioner for the past two months, and I've hit the jackpot. They're super cheap, super effective and smell LUSH combined. I have sensitive skin and have had no reactions thus far."

Pros

  • I am paying just £2 a carton for 33 washes - that's what I call a bargain!
  • The plastic-free packaging means less unnecessary waste in our landfills
  • It is even effective at washes as low as 30 degrees, which saves you money on heating bills

Cons

  • You may need to use extra stain remover on hard-hitting spills before popping it in the washing machine

Tried and tested by our Trending Editor, Aimee Jakes

best detergent for luxury

Tallow & Ash Laundry Shampoo & ConditionerAimee Jakes

Add a bit of je ne sai qua to your laundry routine, Aimee says: "Tallow + Ash's roster of laundry shampoo and conditioners not only make my clothes/sheets/flat smell incredible, but they also make me very excited to use the washing machine. The hard-working formulas are proudly skin-safe and non-bio whilst refusing to scrimp on cleaning power. I have recommended them to every one of my friends. They do plenty of different scents including 'Duvet Day' and 'Oud' but my current obsession is 'Date Night', packed with cherry and vanilla notes and smells very similar to Tom Ford's Lost Cherry."

Pros

  • If you're looking for amazing-smelling laundry detergent - this is the one for you. Will not only make your clothes smell great but your living space smell too
  • Its plant-friendly, biodegradable and vegan formula still tackles stains effectively
  • You get a laundry detergent (shampoo) and fabric softener (conditioner) in a bundle delivered to your door, as part of a subscription

Cons

  • The bottles are a bit hard to open (nearly lost a nail once) but they're changing the packaging soon

Tried and tested by our Home Writer, Rosie Floyd

best detergent for low temperatures

Ariel Washing Liquid Gel, OriginalRosie Floyd

For a no-fuss option that'll keep everyone happy, Rosie says: "Ironically, I'm allergic to most of the ones that say are non-bio/for sensitive skin so I tend to just use this Ariel gel. Easy to chuck straight in with the clothes and they always seem to smell nice when coming out of the machine even at 20 degrees. My only annoyance is that every single bottle comes with the green plastic thing to put the gel in but I don't need one every time because I just reuse it from a previous bottle. You can get it in-store and online, it's a bit more expensive on Amazon at £12."

Pros

  • Ariel's formula can effectively clean clothes even as low as 15-20 degrees, saving you money on bills
  • Myself and other reviews praise its fresh smell that lingers
  • The squeezable bottle makes it quick and easy to dispense, with precise dosing

Cons

  • The green lid to measure is not always needed and is extra waste

Tried and tested by our Home Writer, Amy-Mae Turner

best detergent washing powder

Fairy Non Bio Washing PowderAmy-Mae Turner

Used by Amy-Mae for many years, she says: "Classic powdered Fairy is my choice. Used it since my kid was a babe and has always been a great affordable choice for everyday laundry. This has been voted the best laundry brand for sensitive skin. As a family, we've never had any issues with any kind of skin irritation. I also like that this doesn't have a strong smell which means the fragrance of whatever scented fabric conditioner you use gets to shine through." You can get a 6-pack for £24.99 on Amazon if you want to bulk-buy.

Pros

  • If you prefer a powdered laundry detergent, this is my recommended product
  • It has anti-residue technology means truly clean clothes
  • Sensitive enough for even a baby's skin

Cons

  • Some reviews say the 2.4kg box is too bulky to hold

Which laundry detergent is best?

Taking into consideration our findings, we would rank the Ecover Non-Bio Laundry Detergent as the best laundry detergent to shop in the UK. It's got zero fragrance or enzymes, making it safe for all skin types, and its formula and packaging are the most eco-friendly on our list. A bottle is responsibly priced, especially if you bulk-buy the big 5L bottles that you can keep in your storage/shed and top up your regular bottle as needed. Although it's scent-free, you can always pair it up with a scented fabric softener to create that fragrance boost.

Will laundry detergent kill bed bugs?

Laundry detergents, and any basic soap product really (even dish soap), will kill the majority of bed bugs lingering in your bed sheets - but the most effective way to truly eradicate them is with heat. So, when getting rid of bed bugs, wash your bedding on the highest heat possible. The National Institutes of Health states "Lethal time estimates for 50 and 99 per cent mortality of bed bugs exposed to temperatures below the lethal temperature of 48.3 °C for adults and 54.8 °C for eggs". Therefore, 60 degrees in the washing machine is a safe bet. It will also help to dry your sheets in a laundry tumble dryer in the hottest setting.

Remember, you will also need to get your mattress professionally cleaned, and any other furnishings in your bedroom.

Does laundry detergent work as a slime activator?

Because the internet is the internet, one of the most asked questions about laundry detergent is whether it can be used to activate slime. Indeed it can. Simply combine two teaspoons of any laundry detergent (if it's coloured so will your slime be coloured) with 60ml of PVA glue. Mix together with a fork and add one more teaspoon of detergent - by this point, you should be able to start kneading the slime. Voila! You can even add a little shaving foam to make the slime fluffy. The world's your oyster.

Ruby Barry is a Product Writer for Closer Online, specialising in fashion and beauty. The team has nicknamed her "dupe queen", as there's not a product in the world she can't find a cheaper alternative for.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us