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Laundry detergent pods are one of the most convenient ways to tackle your dreaded dirty clothes pile. There are pod options for all types of washers and water types, as well as some that are formulated specifically for people with sensitive skin. “The most important thing to look for is its cleaning power,” points out Anne Knowing, a California-based housekeeper with over 10 years of experience. We researched laundry pods and evaluated each on cleaning power, versatility, and safety.
Our top pick is Tide Pods Laundry Detergent Original Scent, because these pods are reliable, extra powerful, and have an amazing fresh scent.
Here are the best laundry detergent pods.
Best Overall: Tide PODS Laundry Detergent Original Scent
Works in cold water
Safe for all machines
Scent might be too much for those with sensitivities
Smaller package size
What do buyers say? 90% of 36,200+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 5 stars.
It’s hard to beat the cleaning power of Tide. These pods come in the Tide original scent, which adds a familiar freshness to your clothes as it cleans. Each pod cleans just as well in cold water as warm water, so they’re perfect for use on just about any soil level or stain you can create. They are also safe for both soft and hard water, as well as high-efficiency washing machines.
Each pack comes with 42 pods, which isn’t as large as some other options on our list. These are still an excellent value but expect to replenish your stash more often (or try buying in bulk) if you’re someone who does multiple loads of laundry every few days.
The cleaning power is what really sets these pods apart. They are packed with the same detergent as traditional Tide, which has been making laundry detergent since 1946. Tide states that their pods clean 10 times as well as some more budget-friendly options. In our experience, that has proven to be true. Tide also leaves your clothes smelling fresh but not like chemicals. If you are sensitive to smells (no matter how pleasant), this may be an issue for you. For most, it is a welcome addition and one of the best parts about Tide.
Best Budget: All OXI Mighty Pacs
Brightens and whitens
Large package size
Scent might be too harsh
Not only is All Mighty Pacs detergent budget-friendly, but they also combine multiple products in one pod so that you only have to purchase one product to get your clothes clean, soft, and stain-free. Each pod has a pre-treatment formula that works right in your washing machine to get rid of stains. The pod also brightens and whitens.
The scent isn’t as enjoyable as some others, although it is still fresh and clean. The real benefit from these pacs is that they take care of so much in one convenient little pod. Not only does this save you money, but it also saves a lot of time and work. The pods come in a package of 60, meaning fewer trips to the store to restock, as well.
Best Eco-Friendly: Grab Green 3-in-1 Laundry Detergent Pods
Good for those with sensitivities
Enjoyable plant-based scents
Septic and HE machine safe
May need to use two pods
This environmentally-friendly pod uses plant and mineral ingredients to deliver a very effective clean. The formula doesn’t use phosphates, phthalates, chlorine, dyes, or toxins. These pods are perfect for those with sensitive skin or those who just want to do their part to protect the environment. They're also septic-safe and work in HE machines.
The scents of the Grab Green pods are especially nice. You can choose from gardenia, lavender vanilla, vertiver, or unscented. Not only are the scents less harsh than their chemical counterparts, but the relaxing smell also lingers even after the clothes and linens are out of the dryer, folded, and put away. These pods are quite pricey and you may need to use two for especially soiled loads. While our at-home tester liked the easy-close top of the bag, it doesn’t protect the pods from getting wet like a hard plastic container.
Best Unscented: All Free Clear 4-in-1 MightyPacks Laundry Detergent
No perfumes, fragrances, or dyes
Cleans very effectively
Only need one pod per load
Pricing can be confusing
These pods combine the cleaning power of All with a Free & Clear formula that doesn’t use fragrances, dyes, or perfumes. If you are sensitive to these things, this is the perfect pod to take care of your cleaning needs.
You only need to use one pod per load, even for heavily soiled laundry. These pods can be used in HE machines as well as in warm or cold water. The price can fluctuate, based on whether you opt for a single container of 60 or a two-pack of either 66 or 67 each. With so many options, it can be tricky to figure out which is the best deal, but if you go through a lot of laundry in a week, a two-pack of detergent containers is always a welcome option.
Best Smelling: Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Laundry Detergent Pacs
Multiple scent options
Entire line of cleaning products
May need to use two pods
If you have used Mrs. Meyer’s line of cleaning products, you probably know just how wonderful they smell. The scents are plant-based and free of harsh chemicals. However, they can be quite strong and too much for some people with smell sensitivities (even though they don’t use chemicals).
These Mrs. Meyer’s pods are on the expensive side, but they keep your laundry smelling great days after being washed. For heavily soiled loads, expect to use two pods, which adds to the overall cost. If you love a particular scent (basil, honeysuckle, lavender, or lemon verbena), you can also get other Mrs. Meyer’s products in the same scent and enjoy it all around your home.
Best for Sensitive Skin: Seventh Generation Laundry Detergent Packs - Free and Clear
94% plant-based ingredients
Ingredients listed on the package
Free of fragrance, perfumes, and dyes
Not great for stains
Seventh Generation Free & Clear packs are hypoallergenic and perfect for those with sensitivities. They are made with 94 percent plant-based ingredients but still have strong cleaning power. Their transparent list of ingredients on the back of the package can help those with allergies or sensitive skin know if these will work for their needs before buying them.
These pods come in a two-pack so you can open one to use and keep the other tucked away for backstock. They have some stain-fighting ingredients but aren’t the best for tough stains like oil or red wine. For day-to-day use, however, they are ideal.
Best for Babies: Grab Green Newborn Baby Laundry Detergent Pods
Multiple scents and unscented
These eco-friendly laundry detergent pods from Grab Green are gentle enough for your baby’s clothing and good for the environment in which they will grow. Grab Green uses a chamomile or rosewood scent, which may give a calming sense to your little one. If you prefer something free of smells, there is also an unscented option.
This formula works on the most common baby stains, including spit-up, breastmilk, formula, and anything that can be deposited into a diaper. They are also safe for use on cloth diapers and won’t leave a residue behind. These pods are a bit pricey, especially considering how often you will likely need to wash your baby’s clothes. But you can’t beat the convenience of a pod when you’re also balancing nap and feeding times.
Best for Stains: Arm & Hammer Plus OxiClean Odor Blasters 5-In-1 Power Paks
Whitens and brightens
Great for workout clothes
May need two for some loads
Arm & Hammer and OxiClean teamed up to make a pod that is a game-changer for stains and odors. These pods pack a powerful cleaning punch, target stains using an oxygen-based formula, and brighten and whiten your clothes—all in one pod. They do use some strong chemicals, so just be aware of that if you have sensitivities. But Arm & Hammer uses recycled and eco-friendly materials in their packaging, so that earns them some brownie points in our book.
These pods are a great value for a pack of 42. If you have pets or active kids, these are ideal for throwing in the laundry to get pet odors and sports smells out of any clothes. They are safe for both colors and whites, as well as HE machines. You may need to use two for very smelly, soiled, or large loads of laundry.
Our top pick is Tide Pods Laundry Detergent Original Scent. Not only does each pod deliver a powerful clean, it also gives your clothes a laundry-fresh scent and is just as easy on your wallet. If you want an eco-friendly option, try Grab Green 3-in-1 Laundry Detergent Pods, which uses plant and mineral-based ingredients to deliver its cleaning power.
What to Look for in Laundry Pods
When considering different laundry detergent pods, look at both the number of pods in the container as well as how many pods to use per load. Most products only require one pod for a standard load, but some do recommend using two if the clothes are very soiled or if it is a larger load of laundry. This can impact the value of each pod relative to the cost.
Before deciding on a pod, make sure it is safe to use in your washing machine. While many are compatible with high-efficiency machines, not all are safe for HE machines. If you have a septic system, look for ones that will not cause damage. It is also important to know how to use a pod. You should put it in the washer drum before you add your clothes unless your washing machine has a specific place for the pod (most do not).
Ingredients and Certifications
One of the biggest buzzwords in the laundry detergent world is “Free & Clear.” A detergent that is Free & Clear does not contain any fragrances, perfumes, or dyes, making it ideal for those with sensitivities. Also, consider the ingredients list for your pod as well as any chemicals that may be harmful to either you or the environment based on the EPA Safer Choice program’s recommendations.
Many laundry detergent pods are scented, often with fresh, floral, or plant-inspired scents. Some use chemically-derived fragrances while others rely on more natural ingredients like essential oils. Make sure that you like the scent that you choose since it will cling to your clothes, and also look for scents that are long-lasting.
Do laundry pods work as well as liquid detergent?
Laundry pods can work just as well as liquid detergent, but not all pods are created equal. The most effective options contain a high concentration of cleaning agents (even higher than their liquid counterparts), allowing you to achieve the same result with a smaller amount of soap.
It's also crucial that the filmy pouches are water-soluble so they dissolve quickly in hot or cold water. Additionally, if you need to get rid of marks and deep soils, you'll want to look for an option containing stain-fighting enzymes.
What happens to the plastic casing after they run through a wash cycle?
Most laundry pods have plastic casings made of polyvinyl alcohol (PVA). The substance is water-soluble, meaning it dissolves when it comes into contact with water. (You'll want to store your pods in a cool, dry place to make sure they don't dissolve prematurely.)
After the casing dissolves, it rinses out and drains with the rest of the water in your washing machine. While there are some mixed opinions on the issue, PVA is thought to be biodegradable and not harmful to the environment.
Are laundry pods bad for your washer?
Laundry pods aren't bad for your washer. The only concern is if the casing doesn't dissolve properly, as it could potentially leave gooey blobs in your drum. If you see this, remove them before your next load, and if it keeps happening, we recommend trying another brand or switching back to liquid detergent.
Can laundry pods stick to clothing?
When laundry pods aren't dissolving properly (whether because the drum is too full or the water is too cold), the PVA casing might stick to your clothes in the wash. To prevent this, get in the habit of putting the detergent pod in first before adding water or clothes. This will give it the best shot at dissolving completely.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was researched and written by Katie Begley, a freelance writer specializing in home and family products. Katie has been writing for The Spruce since 2019. A mother of three, Katie is familiar with doing loads and loads of laundry as well as looking for ways to make her cleaning routine more efficient. To compile this list, she looked for pods that would get the job done, deliver a fresh scent, and had ingredients that she felt comfortable using. She also talked to longtime housekeeper Anne Knowing about what to consider when choosing a laundry detergent.