Liquid, Pods, or Powder Detergent: What’s Best?

Liquid, pods, and powders…the assortment of detergents you can choose from in the laundry aisle can seem dizzying at times. As you browse online or walk down the laundry aisle, each detergent promises the same thing—to make your dirty clothes clean and fresh. So, which type should you choose? What was once a straightforward and easy decision, now has become quite complex. With so many options available, does one detergent outperform the others? If you’re scratching your head on which one to choose, we’re here to look at the benefits and drawbacks of each and share the most effective form of laundry detergent available today.


Laundry Detergent Options 

Today, liquids, pods, and powders can all be used almost interchangeably. Each detergent can be used in any water temperature and almost every brand is formulated to be compatible with high-efficiency front or top load washing machines. With the combination of detergent, water, and your machine’s inner drum or agitator, dirt, grime, and debris can all be lifted away, leaving your clothes clean and smelling fresh. But when it comes to weighing the pros and cons of each detergent, cost, convenience, and cleanliness are all important factors to consider. We’re breaking down the differences—pods vs. liquid detergent and powder detergent vs. liquid—and helping you decide which one’s best for your pile of dirty clothes.


laundry detergent being poured out

Pros and Cons of Liquid Detergent

In our quest to determine the most effective form of laundry detergent, we begin by looking at the benefits and drawbacks of the most popular detergent format, liquid. Since the 1950s, when this laundry option hit the shelves, it has become increasingly popular, representing about 75% of overall sales.



  • Easy to use
  • Great for spot treating stains
  • Works well on greasy soils from food and body oils
  • Comes in many different scents
  • Often cheaper than pods



  • More expensive than powder
  • Most plastic bottles aren’t landfill-friendly
  • Water-based so doesn’t mix well with fragrances and other cleaning agents
  • Easy to use too much


Bottom line, if you’re dealing with grease and oil stains, a liquid detergent may be your best choice. If your laundry requires the use of other cleaning agents to remove stains, then another format may be a better option.


pouring of powder detergent

Pros and Cons of Powder Detergent

Rewind to the 1930s and powder detergents were the latest and greatest laundry product to hit the market. Since then, this detergent has been touted as less expensive than pods or liquids per load. But currently, we see less and less of this product on grocery store shelves as manufacturers move away from this traditional detergent to create liquids and pods.



  • Less expensive than pods and liquids
  • Cardboard boxes are more environmentally friendly
  • Longest shelf life
  • Great for removing grass, dirt, and bloodstains
  • Most effective detergent for hard water
  • Can be mixed with stain removers



  • Large boxes take up a lot of space and can be difficult to carry
  • Pre-treating stains can be difficult
  • May not fully dissolve in cold water cycles
  • Can leave residue in the detergent drawer


Bottom line, if you live in a hard water area or have kids who love to play outdoors, powder detergent might be the best option for you.


blue pod detergents

Pros and Cons of Pod Detergent

Arriving on store shelves in 2012, laundry packs or pods, have been one of the biggest and most convenient changes in the laundry world in the past 50 years. Laundry packs contain detergent and sometimes another cleaning agent in a small, water-soluble, polyvinyl film packet. These little “pods” (trademarked by Tide) have become the fastest-growing detergent and already outsell powder detergents after less than ten years on the market.



  • Small, convenient, and easier to manage than jugs or heavy boxes
  • Pre-measured doses so you won’t overuse
  • Pac design allows different technologies to be used together, like fragrance and stain removers



  • About 50% more expensive than powder or liquid detergent
  • Not ideal for families with small children, as the pods closely resemble candy
  • May not fully dissolve
  • Can leave some residue on clothing
  • Can’t be used to pre-treat stubborn stains


Bottom line, if you’re not worried about cost or safety considerations with your little ones, pacs might be your best option.


Regardless of which detergent you choose, pods vs liquid detergent or powder detergent vs. liquid, remember to look at the list of ingredients on the label. Ingredients like enzymes and surfactants work to break down stains and lift away dirt and grime, leaving your clothes clean and smelling fresh. When you come into our 24-hour laundromat, ask one of our friendly staff members to help you choose the best detergent for your laundry.