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The difference between the types of detergents


Finding the right washing detergent may seem confusing or difficult at first, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the different detergent types. Read on to find out all you need to know about different detergents, so you can pick the right one for your machine, the fabric you’re washing, and the types of stains you’re dealing with.

What’s the difference between hand wash powder, machine washing powder, and liquid detergent?

There is a wide variety of washing detergents on the market, ranging from powders and liquids to PODS. They have all been designed to suit different laundry needs.

Hand wash powder detergents These are specifically designed for hand wash and washing in semi-automatic washers. Like Ariel Complete, these detergents produce more suds than other detergents, and they work to remove stains from your clothes even without the extra agitation you’d get from a fully automatic washing machine.

Machine washing powders. These detergents are designed for fully automatic washing machines that use less water than you typically would while hand washing your items. These powder detergents, like Ariel Matic produce less suds and contain more active ingredients than hand wash detergents, like bleaching technology. Powder detergents are especially effective at removing outdoor stains or ground-in dirt.

Liquid detergent. These detergents are also designed for fully automatic washing machines, and they’re very convenient when you want to directly treat stains, as you can simply pour them onto the stain and pre-treat your garments before washing them. If you’re up against a grease or oil stain, liquid detergents are a great choice. Some ingredients, like non-chlorine bleach are not included in liquid detergents, so if you’re looking to brighten your whites, liquid detergents may not be your ideal choice. However, if you’d like to keep your colours as bright as possible, liquid is the perfect detergent for protecting colours.

PODS. These are the latest innovations in laundry care, with their three compartments that work together for maximum cleaning effects in your fully automatic washing machine. They give you amazing brightness and freshness, and you don’t need to add anything else to your laundry, so they’re extremely convenient. Dosing has never been easier with PODS, so if you’re uncertain about the amount of detergent you should use, PODS may be ideal for you.

Hand wash powder detergentMachine washing powderLiquid detergentPODS
Dos• For hand washing clothes • For semi-automatic washing machines • Removes stains without extra agitation • For fully automatic washing machines • For washing whites and regular loads • To remove outdoor stains or ground-in dirt • For fully automatic washing machines • To pre-treat stains • To remove greasy stains • To wash colours • For fully automatic washing machines • To give you amazing brightness and freshness • Convenient and easy to dose
Don'ts• Not for fully automatic washing machines• Not for hand washing clothes • Not for semi-automatic washing machines • Not for hand washing clothes • Not for semi-automatic washing machines • Not for hand washing clothes • Not for semi-automatic washing machines

Why your washing machine matters when picking a detergent

To get the exact washing results you want every time you’re doing laundry, it’s important to use the right detergent.

If you’re using a top-load fully automatic washing machine, you’ll need a detergent that produces more foam compared to the one needed for a front-load washer. For front-load machines you’ll need a detergent formula with lower suds production to ensure an impeccable clean.

For semi-automatic washing machines, you’ll need a detergent that produces more suds than what a fully automatic washer needs.

Dosing guides for front-load, top-load and semi-automatic washing machines

Difference between top-load and front-load detergent

As we mentioned, top-load detergents in a fully automatic washing machine produce more foam, so they’re ideal for top-load washers. Pour the detergent in the correct compartment of the dispenser drawer [link to washing machine drawers article], and select the perfect wash cycle following the instructions of the garments’ fabric care labels.

Front-load detergents produce less foam, and they’re specifically developed for front-load washers. Simply pull out the dispenser drawer, measure the correct amount of detergent, and start the cycle you’d like to use.

Remember, for the best laundry results, it’s important to use the right detergent for your washing machine. If you use a top-load detergent for a front-load washer, for example, you may experience oversudsing, and you might not get the usual, excellent clean you’d expect.

Finding the right detergent for your fabric

Are you washing delicate fabrics, bright colours, or white cottons? This is an important question when it comes to picking the right washing detergent, as this can make all the difference between seeing outstanding results or dull-looking clothes.

If you’re washing delicate fabrics, like silk, you may want to wash them by hand and use a hand wash detergent. These contain fewer enzymes that can otherwise break down the fibres in delicate fabrics over time. Make sure you never wash delicate fabrics, like silk or wool, with a detergent that contains bleach.

Bright colours can fade over time when washed with powders. This is because the bleaching agents in powder may strip dyes out of fabrics, causing garments to look washed-out and dull. If you’re washing special colours, liquid detergent is ideal because it protects colours, giving you outstanding stain removal while keeping colours bright and vibrant.

For white cottons that are bright and brilliant, you can’t beat powder! Powder works hard to get rid of set-in stains, while leaving whites looking bright and clean.

Which detergent is best for treating stains?

Stains can happen in many different circumstances. For example, a greasy stain you get while cooking will be different to a dirt stain you get outside.

For greasy stains, or stains that require pre-treating, you’ll want to use a liquid detergent. On the other hand, Ariel Matic powder detergents work to remove tough stains like coffee, ketchup, and gravy.

Finding the right detergent for you

To summarise, if you’re wondering which detergent to buy, these are the factors you should consider:

Washing machine type, the fabric you're washing and the stain type can all be a factor when deciding what detergent to use

Don’t forget another important part: Getting the dosing right. It’s just as important as picking the right detergent.

Whether you’re washing by hand or with a fully automatic washing machine, Ariel is always here to help you see outstanding results in one wash.