Laundry Detergents

Parent Q&A

  • Laundry detergent with good smell

    (12 replies)

    My current laundry detergent has no smell since it is the free and clear type I started using when my baby was born.  My "baby" is now 2 years old and thankfully has no allergies or skin sensitivities and I want to go back to the detergent that actually have good smell since my clothes don't come out of the wash smelling good and sometimes if I don't manage to get them out of the washing machine right away have a bit of a musty smell.  None of the "organic" or natural detergents I tried actually got stains out so now that my kids are older and none of us have any skin sensitivities I'm ok with any detergent that works well to get stains out while smelling good. I'm looking for an all-in-one solution so not interested for oils or additives to add to my current detergent for the smell.  Any recommendations for good smelling detergents that wash the clothes well and have them come out smelling clean and fresh.   Thanks. 

    I like to twist off the caps at the store and smell them if I'm trying a new brand or scent!  I've been using Arm&Hammer with Oxi-Clean, "fresh scent" for years and I like it. I think it works pretty good, but for tough stains try Spray n' Wash stain remover.

    What qualifies as a "good smell" is so personal!  I can't STAND the smell of most detergents with fragrance, and yet I've also found that the supposedly "free and clear" types (especially the ones advertised as "natural") often smell bad to me.  So I second the advice to take the cap off in the store and get a good whiff before you buy.  Only you know what sort of smell is acceptable to you.  For whatever it's worth, I use the Arm & Hammer with a blue cap; I forget the name of the scent exactly but it's something non-perfumey, like "fresh breeze".

    As for a musty smell when a load sits in the washer too long, that can happen no matter what kind of detergent you use.  It helps if you crack the door of the washer open (or for a top-loader, lift/prop the lid) after the load is done, so that even if you don't shift it to the dryer right away the wet clothes are getting *some* fresh air!  Also make sure the door gasket gets cleaned regularly!  And if that fails, well, you wouldn't be the first person to find it necessary to re-wash a wet load occasionally. 

    I use the scent-free Seventh Generation tabs, and add plain white vinegar for the rinse cycle (in place of fabric softener). We wash smelly workout clothes and dog beds, and it works fine (serious smelly loads require hot hot water). 

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Detergents for Front-Loading Washers


The front-loaders do need low-suds detergents and the only brand I know is Tide HE. The only place I have been able to buy that particular kind of Tide is the Super Kmart in Oakland, off 880, near High Street. Lorraine

I wanted to post some additional information about soaps for front-loading washers. I read the owner's manual for my new Maytag (something I almost never do) and found that Maytag recommends using HE detergents by either Wisk or Tide. Costco's detergent is not mentioned. Target carries both,, and the Wisk is a little cheaper than the Tide, ounce per ounce. I also want to add that I just got my water bill, and I estimate we cut consumption by half with the new washer. Maria

Trader Joe's sells low sudsing detergent for your front loading machine. It comes in two sizes in a blue box. Ruth

Environment-friendly detergents

We use Bio-Kleen products for environmental/health reasons. At the laundromat, my inner child turns jealous of the white tsunamis taking over other people's washers. Should I use more soap? Fighting off an inferiority complex, the skeptical adult in me reasons that's probably just what the marketers of those other brands want me to think: that if there's no foam, there's no cleaning power. Lest I risk getting on the proverbial soap box, I'm tired of advertising that plays to our fears, especially as parents (one major brand was recently running a campaign in the dingy lighting of BART stations on how much bacteria gets on your clothes every day). Suffice it to say, our laundry gets clean, and we didn't have to wash our newborn's things with a separate product. Bio-Kleen's Bac-Out also works well on soiled diapers. Available at the Berkeley/El Cerrito Natural Groceries, Wild Oats, Whole Foods and the like. End of commercial. Erin

With respect to the question about laundry detergent: I would HIGHLY recommend Soapworks brand detergent. (Soapworks also makes body soaps, dishwasher liquid, etc.) Soapworks is a locally owned company that specializes in products that are completely biodegradable and very gentle for sensitive skin. My son had a skin allergy that plagued him for several years when he was little, requiring numerous trips to the dermotologist and using medicines that I would rather not have used on his young skin. When I switched to Soapworks, all of his allergies cleared up immediately. We've been using their products religiously ever since. You can get Soapworks directly from the website, or at Trader Joe's. Lori