Types of Detergents – You Need to Know About

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Learn the types of detergents to choose the one that works best for your needs and wants! Fabric detergent is the most important cleaning agent when laundering items; you can even use it to help clean surfaces. It comes in many brands, and each brand has a wide selection of detergent products, differing in composition, form, and more.

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Types of DetergentsTypes of Detergents According to FormTypes of Detergents According to CompositionTypes of Detergents According to ProductionTypes of Detergents – The ConclusionRELATED ARTICLES ON WASHING

Types of Detergents

When you walk around the supermarket`s aisle meant for fabric detergents, you’ll notice that you have a tough decision to make since there are multiple varieties.

We can categorize the types of detergents into three sections, according to:

FormPowderLiquidPodsTabletsSoapCompositionBiologicalNon-BiologicalEco-FriendlyHigh-EfficiencyColor-SafeDelicate-SafeProductionCommercially PreparedDIY or Homemade

Types of Detergents According to Form

When we talk about different types of detergents, the first thing that comes to mind is their physical form.

Types of DetergentsTypes of DetergentsPinTypes of Detergents

Types of Detergents – Powders

The detergent powder is the second oldest and remains to be the most affordable option. It has a lengthy lifespan when stored correctly, which is in a dry and moist-free environment. It’s also a more economical option when compared to liquid detergents.


These types of detergents are perfect for areas with untreated water, thanks to the stabilizers added to the product. It’s also an ideal choice for removing regular and outdoor stains. Powder detergents are also known for their ability to maintain the brightness of white fabric.


The only issue with powder detergent is the chalky residue deposits it leaves on fabrics since the product doesn’t dissolve well, especially on low-temperature water. To resolve this issue, you can use warmer water, but only at a temperature recommended by the fabric manufacturer. If you can’t do so, just make sure you rinse the detergent thoroughly.

Types of Detergents – Liquids

Liquid detergent is the most popular types of detergents nowadays because it’s available in so many different varieties. Not only that; it also mixes well with water, whether it’s cold, warm, or hot. Similar to powder forms, liquid detergent also works well on stains but particularly oil, food, beverage, and grease, at the right concentration.


What’s even better is it’s a great agent for spot treating stains, making it a two-in-one product. Additionally, liquid detergent leaves a lasting fragrance and retains the color and brightness of washed fabrics. It also doesn’t produce too many suds, so it’s perfect for front-loading washers.


Do note, though, that it’s quite challenging to measure the right amount of liquid detergent you need to use. That’s because the product doesn’t usually come with a separate measuring cup or spoon, only the cap of the product itself. Although most have markings, they’re often unclear.

The problem with using too much liquid detergent is it can leave detergent residues on fabrics and the machine itself. Another thing to keep in mind when choosing liquid detergent is that there are color-safe, white-only, and machine-use-only varieties, unlike powder detergents, where most of them have all-purpose use.

Types of Detergents – Pods

Laundry detergent pods are an innovative product made of detergent, softening agents or fabric conditioners, and more. They also usually have a gel or liquid inside. They not only help clean your fabrics but also removes stain and odor and maintains color brightness.


Being pre-measured, it eliminates the guessing as to how much you need to use for each load of regular laundry. It also makes it the perfect choice for people who wash their laundry at laundromats or want to bring their detergent when traveling.


It’s also worth mentioning that detergent pods are an eco-friendly option, even their packets. They usually don’t contain dyes, masking agents, phosphates, and chlorine. It’s also one of the most hypoallergenic or sensitive-skin-friendly detergents.

Laundry pods, though, are a bit costlier than powder and liquid detergents, and you can’t use them for spot treating. Since they come in individual pods or packets, you would have a problem determining how much you need when you only need to wash a small load of laundry. You would also need to use more pods when washing heavily soiled or stained fabrics, increasing the cost.

In relation to their packaging and form, some kids, vulnerable elderlies, and even pets might mistake the pods for candies or treats. Thus, make sure you store them well.

Types of Detergents – Tablets

Laundry tablets can be considered a sub-category of laundry pods, but they don’t contain gel or liquid and don’t have a protective packet or coating. They are more of a powder detergent made into individual tablets.


Since they’re also pre-measured, they’re convenient for traveling and laundromat usage and not messy to use. You can also find a lot of hypoallergenic options.


These types of detergents also come with the same disadvantages as pods. That said, unlike pods, you can’t break apart laundry tablets to use at a lower amount. Lastly, being purely powder, you also won’t expect the product to dissolve effectively in cool water.

Types of Detergents – Soap

As the oldest form of detergent, laundry soap isn’t as popular as the other types since you can only use it for handwashing. Nonetheless, it’s still one of the most effective cleaning agents that can remove old grease stains.

Types of Detergents - Liquid, pods, powder, soapTypes of Detergents - Liquid, pods, powder, soapPinTypes of Detergents – Liquid, pods, powder, soap

Types of Detergents According to Composition

Although detergents have common ingredients to work effectively, there is a bit of variation to create different types and meet particular and special needs.


These types of detergents have enzymes meant to help breakdown the most challenging stains, even at the lowest temperature setting. It also contains brighteners to prevent fabric color fading and ensure the fabric doesn’t turn gray.

As strong and effective as biological detergents are, they can cause irritations, making them unsuitable for people with sensitive skin and washing baby items.


In contrast to biological detergents, non-bios are milder, so you can use them when washing baby clothes, blankets, and more, as well as for people with sensitive skin. That’s because it lacks enzyme, fragrance, and coloring.

Non-biological detergents are also useful for handwashing and machine-wash tasks, but they’re not powerful enough to remove tough stains.


As the world becomes more conscious about the environment, detergents containing plant-based ingredients have been developed. They’re not only good for the air, water, and soil, but they’re also mild enough to be safe to use on households with children and people with asthma and allergies.

Do note, though, that not all eco-friendly detergents are 100% plant-based since some manufacturers add preservatives to prevent mold and bacterial growth. Additionally, these types of detergents have a high price tag.

High-Efficiency (h.e)

With the growing number of automatic, front-loading, high-efficiency washers that require less water than traditional washing machines, some detergent brands introduced h.e detergents. These types of detergents produce fewer suds to ensure the machine rinses them out effectively and thoroughly. It also has ingredients that can help remove tough dirt and grease stains.

Although it’s meant for HE machines, you can also use this detergent in your regular washing machine. Keep in mind, though, that high-efficiency detergents are quite expensive.


You can use some forms of detergents on whites and colored fabrics, but others are available in varieties: white-only and color-safe. Aptly named, color-safe detergents have ingredients that help maintain the fabric material’s color and make them brighter. They’re also capable of effectively eliminating dirt and stains.


Some fabric types, such as silk and lace, get easily damaged even if you wash them properly. You also need to use cleaning products without harsh chemicals, including chlorine and sulfates, which what delicate-safe detergents are meant for. Scented varieties are formulated with essential oils instead of synthetic fragrances.

Types of Detergents According to Production

Apparently, you don’t always have to purchase commercially prepared laundry detergents. You can also create one at the comfort of your own home.

DIY or Homemade

Creating a homemade fabric detergent will help you save money and ensures you’ll use a product free of harmful chemicals. However, expect that DIY detergents are less effective than commercially prepared ones. You also need to wash or soak your fabric longer than usual.

Commercially Prepared

Of course, nothing beats fabric detergents manufactured commercially since they’re formulated with the right types of ingredients.

Types of Detergents – The Conclusion

Fabrics come in different types and get dirty and stained with various items. Washing them with the right types of detergents is one of the secrets to ensuring they stay clean without any form of damages. That’s why getting to know what each of them can and can’t do is essential.

Available in different forms, compositions, and production techniques, choosing between several detergents boils down to your personal and laundry preferences. You must consider the fabric types, your washer’s pre-requisites, laundry work frequency, and whether you’ll hand or machine wash your fabrics.


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