Laundry Detergent Research: A Closer Look at What Gets Clothes Clean

Updated September 20, 2021
Woman buys washing powder

Laundry detergent research conducted by various individuals over the years has cultivated a rich history of a common household product you use today. Learn a bit about its history, as well as tips and tricks for finding the best detergent for you and your family.

Confirmed Laundry Detergent Research

While the first soaps were developed in ancient times, the Germans created the artificial soap, known as laundry detergent, during World War I. In 1946, the first commercial detergent was sold in the United States, made out of a certain type of soap flakes and a builder, a chemical that ramps up the performance level of the soap and brings more effectiveness to laundering. This first laundry detergent was extremely popular, especially when the price of washing machines went down significantly after World War II. By the mid-1950s, the use of laundry detergents for fabrics had increased by 10%, with Tide holding about 30% of the market.

It's Not Soap

While you might call it laundry soap, laundry detergent isn't really soap at all. Instead, it's a combination of synthetic components that attach to dirt and other stains and residues and chemically separates them from the clothing. Combine this with a common washing machine's agitation and rinse cycles, and the cleaning process is both thorough and effective.

Researching the Best

While almost all laundry detergents on the market work well to clean your clothes and get the job done, research has proven some laundry detergents contain extra perks. From fresh scents to special additives, see a list of researched laundry detergents that came out on top in various categories.

All Around Functionality

Tide is a favorite pick by many family members in charge of laundry duty. It pretreats, soaks, and removes stains more effectively than most other detergents on the market. While not always the most affordable option, it is guaranteed to work hard at getting out those difficult stains when you may feel there's no hope. And, it comes in several different formulas, from liquid to pods, making it simple to use.

The Best Smell

From fresh rain to springtime flowers, there seems to be a variety of laundry detergent scents wider than your wardrobe itself. When you're looking for a winning smell to enjoy while folding your clean laundry, try out Gain's Joyful Expressions. There are a few different scents to choose from - throw some Apple Mango Tango in your next laundry load.

Most Environmental

Everything green is "in" right now, and detergent is no exception. Method detergent brand is not only space efficient in your laundry room but is also fully biodegradable and is free from animal testing. You can also purchase an even gentler baby formula for your tiniest loads of laundry.

Small and Compact

All Small and Mighty came out the best in research when looking for the largest effects with the smallest amount of detergent. Try their high-efficiency formulation for the ultimate cleaning experience.

Uniquely Functional

As if cleanliness, softness, and scent weren't enough, Cheer has come up with TrueFit, which works to maintain the shape of your clothes through the laundry cycle. No more shrunken sleeves or ruffled cuffs with this stuff - it cleans and preserves the unique look of your favorite outfits.

Doing Your Own Research

Even though critics and consumer reports have published extensive results of laundry detergent research and tests, it never hurts to do a little bit of your own investigating. Visit the website of various laundry soaps, or go online to major retailers such as Walmart. Many times, these will supply you with trial size offers of a specific product, so you can do a test wash before you purchase the full size. This allows you to save time, money and get the best results with whatever you decide to settle on.

Laundry Detergent Research: A Closer Look at What Gets Clothes Clean