Laundry detergents can be compared based upon the type of stains they can handle, the size and security of the packaging, and price. The features listed vary depending on the brand purchased. Many newer detergents are designed for use in both high-efficiency and conventional washers, making comparison shopping an involved process.
Some laundry detergents are better at cleaning specific types of stains. Others are better at tackling a wide range of common stains. The addition of sodium percarbonate, commonly known as "oxi," creates a detergent that includes a color-safe bleach. Others contain bleach that is only safe to use on whites.
Single-use packs are becoming more popular due to highly concentrated formulas. Many manufacturers of traditional packages are also concentrating formulas. A smaller package results in less plastic in landfills and also reduces the transportation costs associated with delivery of the detergent to stores. Reduced volume allows retailers to display more on store shelves, increases product availability and decreases overhead costs.
With a change in packaging, safety modifications have also been undertaken by some brands. Many detergents can result in serious injury if ingested or rubbed into the eyes. Some packages have child-resistant lids and warning icons on the package.
Although the total price is often used, the cost per load provides the best comparison. Shoppers should consider the presence of hard water since this requires more detergent. Hard water washing instructions are generally included on the label.