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Nothing beats the smell of freshly washed clothes, which is why having a go-to detergent with a pleasant scent makes doing laundry feel like less of a chore.
We researched and tested dozens of laundry detergents, choosing our top picks for babies, sensitive skin, and sportswear. Our best overall pick, the Tide Original Liquid Laundry Detergent, infuses clothes with a pleasant yet subtle scent, tackles tough stains, and is formulated for high-efficiency washing machines.
Here are the best smelling laundry detergents.
Best Overall: Tide Original Detergent
What’s the first thing you think of when you think about laundry day? Ok, besides the overwhelming pile of clothes staring back at you. Is it that fresh, clean scent wafting from your laundry room? If there’s any upside to doing loads and loads of laundry, it’s having clean, fresh-smelling clothes to show for it. And for many people, the scent of Tide Original has the ultimate association with clean laundry.
It’s a staple in so many households for a reason: It’s the number one recommended detergent by leading washing machine manufacturers, it performs well, and it has a refreshing smell that isn’t harsh or overpowering.
Best Natural: Seventh Generation EasyDose Ultra Concentrated Lavender Laundry Detergent
The right scent can provide much more than clean-smelling clothes. There’s mounting evidence that smells like lavender have very real physiological effects. In studies, lavender has been shown to have both calming effects and mood-boosting properties. When laundry day has a tendency to be stressful, that sounds like a pretty nice perk!
Clothes come out fresh and clean, thanks to the formula’s powerful concentration. Just one compact 23-ounce bottle can tackle up to 66 loads of laundry. (For the average American family, that one bottle will last more than two months!)
You can feel good about the detergent you’re using, too: The advanced-enzyme formula is made without dyes, fragrances, or artificial brighteners, but is tough on even the most stubborn stains.
Best for Babies: Dreft Stage 1: Newborn Liquid Laundry Detergent
You could go for years using the same standby laundry detergent, but the second a little one enters the picture, many parents-to-be reevaluate their choice of laundry detergent. Using a gentle, hypoallergenic laundry detergent gives plenty of new parents more peace of mind.
And when it comes to scent, people love Dreft. It has a strong clean smell that many associate with a brand new baby with some going as far as to call the scent “heavenly.”
There’s more to it than just smell, though. It's also praised for its powerful stain-fighting powers. And you know anyone with a baby knows a thing or two about treating stains!
Best Pods: Gain Original Flings Laundry Detergent
While some people prefer a scent that’s more subdued, others prefer a scent that lingers. If you fall into the latter camp, and want everyone you pass to know just how clean your clothes are, try a detergent like this one. Gain Flings laundry detergent pods have 50 percent more scent than the standard liquid Gain formula. Just what does it smell like though? Some say it has an outdoorsy smell that really fights odors. One pet owner said it even strips any odor from her dog’s bed.
In addition to great smell, it offers powerful stain-fighting ability, too. Say goodbye to problems with stains.
Best Floral Scent: Mrs. Meyer's Honeysuckle Liquid Laundry Detergent
There’s something to be said for a crowd favorite, and this one does not disappoint.
Besides the natural formula’s stain-fighting abilities, buyers tout the scent above all. Many say the honeysuckle fragrance is spot on, though not overwhelmingly floral. Others love how the scent lingers, even days after folding the laundry and putting it away in drawers and closets.
Best Sports: Rockin' Green Hard Rock Laundry Detergent
When you lead an active lifestyle, you need something tough to power through odors and grime. That’s where Rockin’ Green laundry detergent comes in. The detergent harnesses the power of two strong scents—lavender and mint—to kick even the strongest odors to the curb.
Still, it contains no phosphates, bleach, dyes, optical brighteners, parabens, or SLS / SLES and is made with plant-derived ingredients.
This special high-efficiency formula five stars refreshes with a fresh scent. Its stain-fighting powers also receive much praise, with many parents saying it’s the only detergent that gets the smell out of dirty cloth diapers.
Best Scent Booster: Downy Unstopables In-Wash Scent Booster
If you’re someone who just can’t believe clothes are really clean unless they smell super clean, add this scent booster to any regular load of laundry. The small granules add long-lasting freshness to even the dirtiest duds—yes, even workout gear and baby items.
Simply shake some of the scent beads into the cap (a little if for a softer scent; a lot for a stronger scent), toss them into the wash drum at the beginning of the wash (before clothes, laundry detergent, and fabric softener), and wait for your clothes to come out smelling better than they ever have before.
Best Fruity Scent: Method Ginger Mango Laundry Detergent
If you’re the type of person who thinks regular laundry detergent smells a bit too clean—sterile even—try Method’s ginger-mango liquid laundry detergent. The zesty, yet fruity scent of this detergent has also been referred to as “heavenly.” If there’s any complaint, it’s that they wish the smell would linger forever.
Beyond the fragrance, customers tout the detergent’s power and longevity. Just one bottle of the highly concentrated formula can tackle up to 66 loads of laundry. Plus, the naturally-derived formula fights tough dirt and stains, without dulling colors of muddying whites.