Washing Machine Powder vs Liquid detergent | Which is better?

First time washing machine users face a dilemma as to the kind of detergent they should use in their washing machines.

You seek advice, and you get a variety of them. It can complicate matters instead of solving it.

This post will discuss the different options you have on hand and suggest the best detergent for your washing machines as well.

Powder detergent or liquid detergent

Should it make a difference whether you use powder detergent or liquid detergent in your washing machines?

Yes, it does make a significant difference. We shall see how it is so.

When you wash clothes using your hands, powder detergents and soap bars are the best.

However, it is not the case when you graduate to fully automatic washing machines. Fully automatic washing machines use less water as compared to washing clothes by hand.

Hence, you find that the powder detergents do not dissolve entirely into the water. They form soapsuds that stick to the clothes, especially the colored fabrics in the form of a white residue.

How do you deal with such a situation?

The obvious solution is to rewash the clothes. Alternatively, you can use liquid detergents instead of powder detergents.

How is a liquid detergent better than the washing machine powder?

Liquid detergents come with multiple advantages over soap powders.

Liquid detergents dissolve quickly in water as compared to soap powders. They do not create white residues that stick to your clothes.

When you use liquid detergents, you save on soap as well as water. Soap powders require larger quantities of water to dissolve completely as compared to liquid detergents.

Try dissolving soap powder such as Ariel or Surf into the water using your hands. You will be a burning sensation as soap powders contain chemicals that generate heat when you dissolve them in water. You do not have any such problem with liquid detergents.

The present-day washing machines come with special types of soap dispensers that favour the use of liquid detergents over the soap powders.

Liquid detergents do not contain bleach. Hence, they are ideal for washing silk and woollen clothes. Bleach can damage the delicate fabric and affect the colouration as well. Soap powders come with a built-in bleach formula.

It is easy to scrub clothes using a liquid detergent before putting them into the machine. Soap powders can leave many residues that could end up damaging the appearance of your clothes.

Washing machines come with different types of washing cycles. You have the rapid cycle, cold water cycle, hot water cycle, super soak cycle, and so on. Liquid detergents are better because they dissolve quickly in both hot and cold water.

Liquid detergents are concentrated solutions. Hence, you do not have to use a lot of soap for washing your clothes. With experience, you will learn to wash clothes properly using the minimum amount of liquid detergent. Thus, you end up saving soap in large quantities.

As soap powders do not dissolve completely, you need to rinse the clothes repeatedly for removing the residue entirely. Hence, you end up wasting more water and electricity when you use soap powders. In comparison, there is no need for using a large quantity of liquid detergents because of their concentrated nature.

As liquid detergents dissolve entirely in water, they do not harm the different parts of the washing machine by sticking to it. Cleaning the washing machine becomes easy.

When are soap powders preferable to liquid detergents?

You have many white clothes to wash. Now, children are playful. Usually, children soil their white clothes more than they do their coloured school uniforms.

It is a challenge to remove the mud and grease from these white clothes using liquid detergents.

Under such circumstances, you might have to use your hands to clean the mud before you put the clothes in the machine.

Soap powders serve you better as they are capable of removing large quantities of mud and grease with minimum scrubbing.

What are the different types of detergents for your washing machine?

Apart from the washing machine powders and branded liquid detergents available in the market, you have DIY liquid detergents, soapless detergents, and detergent pods. Each of these types has its advantages.

DIY detergents constitute mixing of different detergent liquids together at home. The advantage is that you can choose the type of soap you need.

The fragrance is also a crucial element in DIY detergents. You are free to experiment with different scents.

Soapless detergents are ideal when you have a supply of hard water in your homes.

Such soapless detergents do not cause flaking thereby protecting your expensive washing machine parts.

Detergent pods contain detergents and softening ingredients in a polyvinyl film packet.

You can place these pods directly into the machine. In this way, you save a lot of soap and water.

Leading brands of liquid detergents in the market

Some of the leading liquid detergents are Ariel, Surf Excel, Tide, Genteel, and so on. These detergents are available in both powder and liquid form. Depending on your requirements, you can choose the type of soap you want.

Geetha Srinivasan
Geetha Srinivasan
Geetha Srinivasan, a retired homemaker, holds a Bachelor's degree in Food Science and Technology From Anna University. She is a culinary and kitchen appliance expert with an impressive 30 years of experience in testing kitchen appliances like Mixer Grinders, Juicers, Food Processors, Air Fryers, and Ovens, Beyond appliances, she excels in kitchen organization, cleaning, and cooking, delighting family and friends with her culinary skills. At 55, her passion for all things culinary burns bright.


  1. Thank you for this article. Which detergent would you suggest for washing daily wear clothes which are not much soiled, but are dirty primarily due to sweating?


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