How To: Use The Right Detergent For Your Needs

Browsing through the dishwasher and clothes washer sections of your local supermarket finds you face to face with a multitude of soap options. Powder or liquid? Small or economy size? Is this detergent even compatible with my front loading clothes washer? Which is the most environmentally friendly? So many questions!

Here are some tips that can help you sort it all out and choose the product that is right for you and your needs.


Liquid, Powder or Pacs? Each of these options have advantages, but the price varies. Traditional powders are the right choice for those looking to save money. Liquids are somewhat better at removing more intense stains, but that extra power will cost you more. The same goes with the pac format, which is the easiest to use and produces the least amount of mess.

Rinsing: When it comes to rinsing, powder takes the prize as liquids do not always completely rinse off in machines with lower water or rinse pressure. Rinsing agents can reduce spotting on glasses, but having soap residue on dishes is unpleasant to say the least.

Environmental Impact: The use of phosphates in dishwasher detergent has declined considerably in recent years, so there is less impact on our water supply. That said, don’t forget that you also have the option of making your own dishwasher detergent from environmentally friendly ingredients!

Liquids come in plastic jugs that are more detrimental to the environment, while the basic packaging used for powdered products is less of an issue.

Clothes Washers

Compatible Detergents As mentioned above, some detergents are not recommended for certain models. Using the incorrect soap can result in clothes that are not clean or not properly rinsed. Even worse, it may void your warranty, resulting in a hefty repair bill. Do you have a high “High Efficiency” machine? If so, look for detergents with the “HE” symbol. These brands are highly concentrated and designed for machines that tumble clothes, rather than the traditional agitating method.


Powdered detergents are less expensive, but sometimes not entirely effective when used in cold water cycles. It also tends to be more effective than the competition in areas with especially hard water.

Liquid detergent accounts for the majority of sales, and it is generally quite effective, but you will pay more for this type. Even more pricy are the pacs and pods format, which are the most convenient, easy to use, and mess free, but can cost up to 50% more. Performance is more or less the same across the various types, so decide which aspect(s) appeal the most to you.


Does anyone in your family have allergies triggered by scent or certain chemicals? Some detergents have a fragrance that leaves clothing smelling great, but can cause rashes or other reactions in some individuals. This is especially important in households with babies, as their skin is especially sensitive.


You may have noticed that some detergents boast that they have enzymes and promise superior cleaning power. These do help with super stains, such as blood, grass, or mud. If heavy staining is typical for your family, try one of these products and see if they do a better job.

These are just a few things to keep in mind when you are browsing through the detergent aisle. Experiment and find the products that work best for both your budget and expectations. Above all, use your detergents efficiently.

This is particularly true for clothes washers, which are much more efficient nowadays and require considerably less soap. Read your owner’s manual and keep the savings in your wallet, rather than pouring them down the drain!

Psst! We started a new series called “Humans of Danby”, which highlights our wonderful employees here at Danby Appliances. We’re giving you a first, sneak-peek at the series!

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