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Types Of Detergents: Which One To Choose For Washing Clothes

In today's generation, where there is a plethora of options available for a mere packet of chips, the thought of choosing an effective detergent can admittedly seem overwhelming. Some might stick to their mother's choice of detergent, while others go as per the brands that are most likely always on sale.

A good detergent should easily remove stains from your clothes, make them look clean and fresh. The market today is filled with different types of detergents that can meet your budget; laundry needs as well as your family's preferences. Before we dive into the different types of detergents and which ones to choose for washing clothes, let us try to understand the composition of detergent and how it works.

Detergent Composition And How It Works:

Detergent consists of the following primary components

  • Builders - They help in enhancing the cleaning action by deactivating the minerals in hard water.

  • Enzymes - They help in removing protein-based stains like blood, egg, etc. quite easily.

  • Surfactants - They help in dissolving of the detergent more efficiently, loosening the dirt particles and suspending it in water until rinsed away.

  • Optical Brighteners - They help in whitening the clothes.

  • Polymers - They trap dirt and prevent it from being redeposited on the clothes.

  • Preservatives -They help in increasing the shelf life of the detergent.

The effectiveness of a detergent is dependent upon the composition of the above-mentioned chemical components. With the help of these ingredients, detergents should be able to remove the dirt or stain from your clothes effectively without affecting the fabrics.

Detergents are synthetic products that have better cleaning ability than soap bars. Laundry detergents are now available in powder, liquid as well as tablets or pods. You can also opt for organic or bio detergents for effective whitening of clothes. To make things easier for you, we have a list of different types of detergents that can help you choose the right one and meet all your laundry requisites. Let us check them out:

Hand Wash Powder Detergent:

  • It is designed to produce more suds than any other type of detergent.

  • It helps in eliminating stains without much agitation as compared to machine wash.

  • It is not much effective for machine wash as it produces excessive suds which can eventually damage the machine.

Liquid Laundry Detergent:

  • It is expensive but easy to use and dissolves quickly, even in low-temperature water cycles.

  • Owing to its fluid nature, it can also act as a pre-treater for spot stains.

  • It helps in retaining the bright colours of garments while removing the stains without affecting the colour of the fabric.

  • It is useful in the removal of food, oil, or grease stains as it penetrates the fibres of the fabric to release the stain.

  • You can dab the liquid detergent on cuffs and collars and then machine-wash the clothes immediately for effective cleaning.

  • The only limitation one might face using a liquid detergent is overusing it due to unclear measurement marks on the cap neck.

  • Excessive usage of liquid detergent can often leave residues on clothes and the machine. Moreover, if the packaging is not recyclable, it increases land waste.

Powder Detergent:

  • Usually more economical than liquid detergent and has a better shelf life.

  • It is a good option for areas with untreated hard water. The stabilizers in powder detergents help in maintaining the enzymes and suds building ability.

  • Ideal for regular wash and helps in removing everyday stains and ground-in dirt. An excellent choice if the majority of your family's wash load has outdoor stains from grass or mud.

  • The bleach in powder detergent helps in keeping white cotton garments bright and clean.

  • Powder detergents need to be stored in a dry area. They do not dissolve effectively in low-temperature water cycles and can leave residue on fabrics if not rinsed properly.

Powder detergents can now also be categorized as follows:

Biological Detergent:

  • The addition of enzymes enhances the cleaning power of bio or organic detergents.

  • The bleach in bio detergent helps in tackling tough stains even at low temperature water cycles.

  • The optical brighteners in bio detergents help to prevent greying or fading of clothes.

  • However, the enzymes present in the detergent can cause mild skin irritation to people with sensitive skin. In such cases, you can always opt for a non-bio detergent.

Non-biological Detergent:

  • It does not contain any added enzymes and therefore is a mild detergent.

  • Useful for gentle hand or machine wash.

  • It can be used for washing clothes of babies or family members who have sensitive skin.

  • Free from any added fragrance or colourings.

  • Less effective at stain removal as compared to bio detergents.

Colour Safe Detergent:

  • It contains a specially formulated colour protector that helps in preventing the fading of garments.

  • The enzymes in the colour safe detergents help in removing stains; however, this is not always a suitable option to keep your whites white.

High-Efficiency or 'HE' Detergent:

  • It is meant for modern-day front or top load washing machines which do not require much water.

  • HE or high-efficiency detergent produces fewer suds making it easier for machines to rinse out the soap with minimal usage of water.

  • HE detergents can be used for any washer, however, do not buy a regular detergent for a high-efficiency machine.

Machine Powder or 'Matic' Detergent:

  • It is explicitly designed for fully automatic washing machines, which produce fewer suds.

  • Ideal for washing whites and regular laundry load.

  • The drawback with Matic detergents is that they cannot be used for handwashing clothes and in semi-automatic washers as both require more water and lather for rinsing.

Detergent Pod:

  • It is the most expensive one but easy to maintain since it comes in small bio-degradable sealed packs.

  • It is convenient and straightforward to use if you use a community laundry.

  • A single pod consists of a pre-measured dose of detergent and fabric softener, which helps in eliminating overdosing. One pod should help you with regular laundry needs.

  • The pods, however, cannot be used for spot treatment of stains. Heavily soiled clothes would require an increased number of pods, which will increase the cost significantly.

  • The small pods can be hazardous to babies and vulnerable adults and require safety measures while using or storing them.

Always Remember:

  • Check your washing machine manual to see which type of detergent is suitable.

  • Avoid overusing the laundry detergent. A small portion of detergent is usually enough for an effective wash as far as machine wash is concerned, mainly for a front-load machine.

  • Use liquid detergents to tackle tight spots instead of scrubbing, which damages the fibres of the fabric, causing it to fade.

  • Excessive suds are not always beneficial. In high-efficiency washers, the leftover suds can cause the growth of unwanted bacteria and mildew in the machine, thus affecting the entire washing mechanism.

  • Always store the detergents away from the reach of children. Detergent powders should be stored in a dry place to avoid clumping. Liquid cleansers, if used post expiry, can interfere with the mechanism of the washing machine.

  • Different detergents are well suited for different water temperature cycles. To get the best wash, always check the laundry labels.


In the end, the choice of choosing the right detergent is always dependent upon your laundry and personal preferences. Moreover, a good detergent type will clean your laundry effectively and make them look great. While determining the kind of detergent, ensure to consider your clothing type, your washing machine prerequisites, and the frequency of your laundry work, to bring out the best results as well as to provide value for your money. To get the best advice and to buy the best washing machines, visit our premium retail outlets or call us at 8001279999 for any assistance.