Laundry detergent is the key to keeping your clothes clean and smelling fresh. Chemicals make up laundry detergents that bring out stains remove dirt from fabric without ruining the clothes or leaving behind any residue on the skin.
Laundry detergent is expensive whether you use pods, powder, sheets, or liquid. There are so many different laundry detergent brands at every price point, but what's the best laundry detergent on a budget?
When shopping for the best laundry detergent for the least amount of money, you want to focus on price per load. Each soap varies in concentration, ounces, and suggested amount needed. Which soap you choose will depend on your needs, but there are a few things that you can look for to get the most significant value for your money.
How To Determine the Best Laundry Detergent for Your Needs
Before considering the cost, you need to consider your and your family's needs.
Special Allergy Concerns
If you or your family have sensitive skin, you'll want to look for a laundry detergent specifically designed for allergy-prone skin. These formulas are usually free from perfumes and dyes. Naturally sourced ingredients make up many environmentally friendly soaps rather than ingredients created in a lab.
These laundry detergents will be more expensive, but they will save you a lot of itching and burning. If you don't have any special needs, you can save money by choosing a generic laundry detergent. Another option is the higher-end “natural” clothing soaps like Biokleen Laundry or Seventh Generation. They have fewer ingredients but are more expensive.
Size of the Bottle
Consider the size of the bottle. Larger bottles of laundry detergent cost less per ounce than smaller bottles. If you have a large family or do a lot of laundry, buy the biggest bottle.
Look For Good Sales
Many stores have sales on laundry detergent every week, so it's worth checking out the prices at several different stores. If you have a store loyalty card, you may also be able to get discounts on laundry detergent.
Natural, Homemade, or Conventional
Consider which kind of soap you want to purchase. Do you have allergies or concerns about the environment? Are you looking for fewer chemicals? Natural and environmentally friendly soaps might be your best choice.
Making your laundry detergent is also an option. There are a lot of recipes available online that include baking soda, Arm and Hammer Washing Soda, Borax, and Fels Naptha Soap. Making your own is a great way to save money, and you can customize it to your own needs.
Please make sure you check with the manufacturer of your washing machine before you do. There's a lot of controversy on whether or not made-at-home laundry soap is healthy for your washer. If your choice leans more toward conventional laundry detergents, I've got a few budget-friendly options.
Price Comparisons for Cheap Laundry Detergents
Like you would price compare cheap groceries when looking for the best food prices, do the same for your laundry detergent.
The cheapest places to buy laundry soap will vary from place to place, but most areas have Target, Costco, BJ's Warehouse, Walmart, and Aldi close. Traveling from place to place searching for the least expensive, the winners were Up & Up from Target, Kirkland brand from Costco, Purex from Bj's Warehouse, Sun from Walmart, and Tandil from Aldi.
I tested the scent of the clothes after washing and drying, the stain removal of three different foods (ketchup, mustard, and black coffee), and whether the clothes had any residual odor after the cycle was complete. Each load of laundry was washed in cold water on a 36 minute light cycle and contained about 20 pieces of clothing. I used one-third cup of soap (the average for all detergent guidelines for a small load).
Here are the results:
Sun From Walmart: 5 Cents per Load
Surprisingly, Sun was less expensive than the Walmart brand and the least costly detergent found at five stores. It is $6.67 for 188 ounces and 134 loads at $.049 per load.
Sun Tropical Breeze Scent was pleasant with an almost fruity undertone. It was thin in consistency with a transparent color. The stains faded quite a bit which left me surprised. The scent was still present after the clothes came out of the dryer, but by day two, it was gone.
Sun from Walmart was an excellent detergent for the price and a clear winner. If you're looking for the best laundry detergent on a budget, this would be it.
Purex From BJ's Warehouse: 6 Cents per Load
Shoppers can purchase Purex at BJ's; it's available in almost every store. It was the least expensive at BJ's. It's a membership to shop at BJ's. That needs to play a role in your consideration of this soap.
Purex was the least expensive found at BJ's at $14.79 for 312 ounces and 240 loads (it was even cheaper than the Berkley Jenson store brand), making it $.06 per load. O found it at Walmart for $8.47 or $.07 per load. Purex had minimal scent (if any) coming out of the bottle and had no color. It was thin and could not get the stains out; the stains looked as if Purex hardly touched them.
There was no scent after the clothes came out of the dryer and there were still lingering dirty laundry smells after completion. Scent-free would be fine for someone whose dirty clothes were not heavily soiled and valued mild scents.
Tandil From Aldi: 8 Cents per Load
Aldi is a great place to find some of the best prices around. Although it's not the cheapest laundry detergent, it does need a mention.
Mountain Fresh Scent Tandil from Aldi is their store brand; it comes in a small 100-ounce bottle and completes 64 loads for $4.99. Tandil from Aldi was a decent performing detergent. It was a thin blue liquid with a pleasant smell.
The stains were significantly lighter after the wash and dry cycle, and the scent was still subtly there. After two days, you could barely smell any smell, but the clothes had no lingering odors. Tandil was a decent detergent for the price.
Up & up From Target: 10 Cents per Load
Target rarely disappoints. This Up & Up brand was an excellent product to test. Disappointment didn't even come into this choice. The Fresh Linen Scent is150 ounces and 96 loads, and the price were $9.79, bringing it to .10 per load.
Up & Up had a pleasant smell in the bottle and could fade the stains substantially but not remove them altogether. It was thick in consistency and blue in color. After removing them from the dryer, there was a slight scent, but there was no scent after two days.
Kirkland Ultra Clean From Costco: 14 Cents Per Load
This soap will only be a budget choice if you already have a membership to Costco (or know someone who does). Kirkland bran was an excellent detergent. Comparable to the higher-end detergents like Tide of Gain. Gain's price at Walmart was 16 cents per load, so Kirkland was a better budget detergent.
It was thick and fragrant, with a great attempt at getting out the stains. The scent was still there after two days. If you're looking for a cheaper alternative to Tide or Gain and have a Costco membership, this is a clear winner in performance.
Save Money on Laundry Detergents Without Sacrificing Quality
You might be thinking that laundry detergent is just a boring product that doesn't deserve much attention. If you're tired of paying too much for the same stuff, look into some alternatives.
There are many different brands on the market, and they all come with benefits. But what do you look for when looking for the best laundry detergent on a budget?
The first thing you need to do is look at your washing habits. If you only ever wash clothes in cold water, you're not going to need to spend as much money on laundry detergent as someone who washes their clothes in hot water. If you're looking for a detergent that will work well in all situations, you might need to be prepared to spend a bit more money.
Another thing to think about is the size of your family. If you've got kids who are constantly getting their clothes dirty, then you'll need a laundry detergent that's powerful enough to deal with all of the mess. However, if you're single or live with someone who doesn't make much of a mess, you can spend less money on laundry detergent.
You should also think about the type of clothes that you have. If you only ever wash delicate items, you need to find a detergent specifically designed for delicate fabrics. There are plenty of detergents on the market that are gentle enough for your clothes, but they might not be as effective at getting rid of dirt and stains.
Laundry Soap Sales and Coupons
You might be surprised at how much money you can save by shopping around. Almost all brands have a website where you can sign up for email alerts or download coupons. And, of course, check store flyers before you head out to do your laundry.
Looking for a sale or using coupons are ways to save on lunch ideas, and the same goes for clothing soaps. Combining both a deal and a coupon is a double saving.
It's important to compare prices before you make a purchase. It's easy to find the best deals on laundry detergents if you take the time to look around.
There are plenty of websites specializing in comparing prices, like Google Shopping and Price Grabber. By doing this, you'll be able to find the best possible deal on the laundry detergent that you need.
Final Thoughts on Best Laundry Detergents on a Budget
When looking for the best laundry detergent on a budget, it is essential to consider personal washing habits, family size, type of clothes washed, and price comparisons.
With so many different brands and types of laundry detergents available, it can be easy to find the perfect one for your needs without spending too much money.
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Sara Conklin is a Certified Financial Coach, wife, mama, Grammie, and founder of Frozen Pennies (https://frozenpennies.com/), a site that she started after a year-long spending freeze. She’s passionate about frugal living, budgeting, and helping others. She writes about ways to save money, get out of debt, and intentional spending. When Sara is not working on the business, you can find her reading, drinking coffee, and spending time with her family.