How Laundry Detergent Works

Powder vs. Liquid Detergents   PREV NEXT  

Laundry detergent manufacturers have come a long way since the first box of Tide was produced more than 60 years ago. Currently, the two main types of laundry detergent are powders and liquids. For the most part, powder and liquid detergents share the same active ingredients except for the filler used. Additionally, powder and liquid detergents both have pros and cons, and since they have similar cleaning power, people usually choose which type to use based on personal preference.

Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of using powdered detergents:

  • Pro: They’re generally cheaper.
  • Pro: The cardboard packaging is more eco-friendly.
  • Con: Some people think they don’t dissolve as well in water. This may have been a problem with some of the first powdered detergents, but these days, most powders are designed to readily dissolve in water.
  • Con: Sodium sulphate can wreak havoc on septic systems.
  • Con: Powders contain more chemicals compared with liquids, due to the filler.

People may or may not use liquid detergents for an entirely different set of reasons:

  • Pro: The detergent is already pre-dissolved.
  • Pro: You can pre-treat stains by pouring it directly onto clothes.
  • Con: They’re usually more expensive than powdered detergent.
  • Con: They have plastic packaging, which is less eco-friendly.


Although detergents are made with harsh chemicals, it is debatable whether these chemicals expedite the breakdown of fabrics. As discussed previously, the detergent’s job is to help pull away the dirt and grime from the clothing and rinse it out with water. The actual “wearing” out of clothes is more likely due to the rubbing of clothes in the washing machine (i.e. the agitation), not from the detergents themselves.

Author: sumitsharma

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