Every day, we are faced with choices both trivial and significant; tea or coffee, dine in or takeout, exercise or watch tv – the list goes on. In fact, some sources suggest that we make an average of 35,000 conscious choices per day. That’s a lot of decision making.
One such choice is which laundry detergent to use: liquid vs powder. Aside from the obvious, what are their differences, and which is best for you?
To get to the bottom of this debate, let’s first take a brief look at the history of laundry detergent.
Liquid vs powder: where it all began
Laundry powder was the first substance people used to clean their clothing. In 1908, the first commercial powder, called Rinso, was put on the market.
Powder detergent was the people’s go-to for many years to come. It was during the 1930s that its liquid counterpart was introduced to the market. Its development is largely attributed to American engineer Robert Duncan, who discovered surfactants and their cleaning properties.
The formula was improved yet again by chemist Dr. Otto Rohm, during the World War II era. Rohm introduced enzymes into the mix, which were found to be highly effective in washing fabrics.
How do laundry detergents work?
Laundry detergents are substances composed of several chemicals which include chelating agents, surfactants, enzymes, dyes and fragrances. When combined, these elements remove impurities such as dirt and stains. Both powder and liquid detergents essentially operate in the same way. This is because they both tend to use surfactants as their main ingredient, which do most of the work.
This brings us back to our original question. Which is best?
Without understanding their differences, this question cannot be accurately answered. Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of each and put an end to the liquid vs powder detergent debate once and for all.
Liquid laundry detergent
A popular choice in households nowadays, liquid detergents are convenient and effective. Here are its pros and cons compared to powder detergent.
- Dissolves completely in water and does not leave residue. Liquid detergent is more soluble in water so it’s less likely to leave behind residue on your clothes or in your machine. It’s also suitable for cold, warm or hot cycles.
- Less likely to harm your washing machine. Most of today’s washing machines work better with liquid detergents as they do not contain substances that can build up in the machine and cause physical damage.
- More convenient to use. Liquid detergent is much easier to pour into your washing machine. It means you can skip the hassle of measuring scoops of powder and avoid any spillages. Another plus is that the packaging of liquid detergent is easier to transport and is more durable, unlike cardboard boxes which aren’t splash-friendly and rip often.
- Works better with liquid stains. Liquid penetrates the fibres of our clothes better. For oil and grease spots, it’s recommended to use liquid to lift the stain.
- Usually more expensive than powder detergent
- Can impact the effectiveness of other cleaning agents (e.g. bleach)
- Has shorter shelf life (they usually expire within six months)
- May contain a lot of water which is heavy to transport, meaning higher carbon emissions
- Usually sold in bulky plastic bottles which may end in landfill if not reused or recycled.
Powder laundry detergent
The original laundry solution, powder detergent is still a staple in many homes. Although liquid detergent has risen in popularity since its inception, it hasn’t completely kicked powder out of the limelight. Here’s the scoop on laundry powder.
- More effective in removing outdoor stains. Ideal for parents with young kids or sports players, powder detergent is generally better at tackling stubborn outdoor stains caused by mud and grass.
- Costs less than liquid detergent. One of the main reasons consumers choose laundry powder its affordable price point.
- Longer shelf life. The cleaning agents used in laundry powder are more stable, so it retains its cleaning power for long time. If you are a bulk buyer, powder may be better suited to you.
- Better for the environment. Most laundry powder detergents are packaged in easily recyclable cardboard boxes. This makes powder the greener option of the two.
- Does not come pre-dissolved and might leave residue on clothing
- Its particles can escape into the air which might make it unsuitable for those with allergies and respiratory conditions
- Can become lodged in the corners and crevices of your washing machine, hardening over time and potentially causing damage
- Contains sodium phosphate which is harmful to our waterways
- Can be difficult to transport due to its heaviness, increasing its carbon footprint
Liquid vs powder: which is best?
Both liquid and powder have their upsides and downsides, and your best option will depend on your lifestyle and personal preferences. However, when choosing your detergent, your main concern should be its ingredients. Detergents are packed with various chemicals, from surfactants to sodium bicarbonate. While these ingredients may deliver in terms of stain removal, they may not necessarily be good for our overall health and safety.
With this in mind, the real liquid vs powder detergent debate should be about the quality of detergents rather than their physical form. Study the ingredients before purchasing to ensure you are making the best choice for you and your family.
EUCA Premium Laundry Powder Concentrate
- Comes in three variants – Eucalyptus, Lavender, and Lemon Myrtle
- Concentrated so just a small amount is needed for every load. Less packaging also means smaller carbon footprint
- Low in sodium and phosphate
- HE Washing Machine safe.
EUCA Concentrated Laundry Liquid (Colourless)
- Fast-acting premium concentrate
- Perfume free
- Made with pure Australian eucalyptus oil
- Free from sodium, phosphate and synthetics
- Ideal for top and front load washing machines.
EUCA Soft Wash Premium Laundry Detergent
- No added perfume
- Specifically made for woollens, blankets and towels
- Perfect for hand washing and soaking
- All-natural soap blend concentrate
- Sodium and phosphate free
All three of these laundry products remove stubborn dirt and stains, are ideal for hot and cold washes, are hypoallergenic, and are suitable for septic, bio and grey water systems. Most importantly, the ingredients used are all-natural and sourced locally.
Put an end to the liquid vs powder detergent debate with EUCA. Whether you choose their powder or liquid detergent, you’ll never go wrong as our products are developed with your health and safety in mind.
To shop our range of laundry products, jut visit our website www.eucaonline.com.au. By choosing EUCA, you’re not only making the best choice for your laundry needs, but you’re also supporting our friends at Bangalow Koalas and the Koala Clancy Foundation, helping to rebuild homes for koalas which were destroyed by the bushfires. For every purchase, 5 cents will go to directly to these foundations.