Minor conveniences make a major difference when you’re managing a mountain of dirty clothes. That’s why the ease of measure-free, mess-free laundry detergent pods make them such a hit in hectic households. But with tons of great products on the market, finding the best detergent pods to solve your laundry woes isn’t exactly effortless.
Do you have sensitive skin? Tough stains? A septic tank or a tight budget? There’s a perfect pod for any situation, but numerous other laundry detergent pacs can make you waste your time and money.
We exhaustively researched the top laundry detergent pods in 2023. Drawing from our experience and tests, we found Tide PODS 3-in-1 to be the best combination of performance, price, and overall quality. To help you find your ideal product, we broke it down by category, pointing to the best laundry pods for eco-friendliness, stain-fighting power, and other critical criteria.
Keep reading to discover your next favorite laundry pod.
The Best Laundry Pods in 2023
1. Best Overall – Tide PODS 3-in-1 Original Scent
Who It’s For: Anyone looking for stain-lifting power and fresh-smelling clothes without premium prices
Who It’s Not For: People looking for the safest, most eco-friendly product
Although they’re not the most eco-friendly choice, Tide PODS touch on all the right notes for those who need quality without paying loads of money. They dissolve in all water temperatures, leave a pleasant scent, and pack a lot of stain and odor-fighting might. The 3-in-1 laundry pods use a concentrated color-protecting detergent with a powerful odor-eliminating blend and enhanced stain removers.
When used as directed, Tide PODs are safe for septic tanks and all washing machine types while working equally well in hot or cold water. Our findings show that the clean smell may be too much for some, and the fragrances, surfactants, and other cleaning agents leave room for skin irritation. But if you need cleaning power to manage every family member’s dirty clothes, Tide offers one of the most dependable pods available today.
- Powerful stain removal
- Works in cold water
- Pleasant scent
- Contains harsh chemicals
- May cause skin irritation
2. Best Budget – Arm & Hammer 4-in-1 Power Paks
Who It’s For: People needing quality laundry detergent pods at an economical price point
Who It’s Not For: Anyone looking for heavy-duty stain removal and odor elimination
After putting it to the test, we found that Arm & Hammer 4-in-1 Power Paks aren’t as powerful as some other laundry pods on the market. But they offer a quality cleaning for light to moderately soiled clothes without all the disagreeable chemicals of Tide or Gain Flings laundry detergent pods. As expected, baking soda leads the short ingredients list that also features detergent and enzymes, a simple yet well-rounded set of odor and stain fighters.
The Power Paks are an effective everyday laundry solution at an excellent value. They’re a great option if you like the convenience of pods but not the price. The only drawback is that some consumers noted an issue with them not completely breaking down. The powder-filled pods may leave a residue or not dissolve entirely in one wash, causing some of the PVA coating to stick around.
- Excellent value
- Gentle on skin
- Fresh, clean scent
- May leave residue
- May not dissolve completely
3. Best Eco-Friendly – Dropps Sensitive Skin Laundry Pods
Who It’s For: Anyone wanting clean, fresh-smelling clothes while staying as eco-conscious as possible
Who It’s Not For: Buyers looking for the most powerful stain fighters or low-cost detergents
|Fresh Air, Unscented
While eco-friendliness and stain-lifting power rarely work together, Dropps Sensitive Skin laundry pods succeed on both fronts. The brand that earned our top pick for the best septic-safe laundry detergent in pod form also wins our choice for the best eco-friendly pods in 2023.
Dropps laundry detergent pods don’t contain dyes, phosphates, sulfates, or any other irritating additives you’ll find from big-name brands. A selection of oils and plant-based cleaning agents remove soil while staying gentle on fabrics, colors, and your skin.
Similar to what we observed, some consumers also had trouble getting the Dropps laundry pods to dissolve in cold water. These pods also aren’t the most powerful for heavily soiled loads. For average laundry needs, clothes come out of the wash feeling clean and smelling fresh. The compostable packaging and eco-safe ingredients help you feel good about making a safer, more responsible choice for your family and the planet.
- Non-toxic ingredients
- Gentle on sensitive skin
- Eco-friendly packaging
- Not recommended for stubborn stains
- Relatively expensive
- Doesn’t dissolve well in cold water
4. Best Plastic-Free – Blueland Laundry Tablets
Who It’s For: Consumers concerned about PVA or harsh chemical ingredients
Who It’s Not For: People seeking pleasant laundry scents
Blueland Laundry Tablets are an eco-friendly laundry solution with an ingredients list similar to what you might find from Dropps. The notable exception, of course, is the polyvinyl alcohol (PVA). While the jury’s still out on PVA’s impact (more on that later in our Buying Guide), Blueland’s coating-free design provides peace of mind that you’re keeping hazardous substances to the bare minimum.
Blueland touts its EPA Safer Choice, Leaping Bunny Cruelty-Free, and Climate Neutral certifications, among others. But beyond the labels, the ingredients and packaging (or lack thereof) it uses for its laundry tablets already indicate they’re a healthier, more environmentally conscious option.
Blueland’s Starter Set includes 60 laundry detergent tablets and a steel tin for plastic-free storage. Tablets include naturally derived degreasers, enzymes, and other cleaning agents for effective stain-fighting. Getting them to dissolve was challenging. Some of the tablets also broke in the package, likely because of the lack of film. Still, those may be nothing more than two unavoidable side effects of Blueland’s goal to be as planet-friendly as possible.
- Eco-friendly, low-wasted design
- Effective naturally derived cleaners
- Non-toxic ingredients
- May break in package
- May not dissolve completely
5. Best Unscented – Seventh Generation Free & Clear Laundry Detergent Packs
Who It’s For: Anyone wanting eco-safe ingredients and effective cleansers without a scent
Who It’s Not For: People looking for fresh laundry scents or the most powerful stain removal
Seventh Generation Free & Clear Laundry Detergent Packs are a well-rounded product from a trusted brand, offering a hypoallergenic collection of cleaners that stay gentle on the skin and safe for the environment. Plant-derived enzymes in this USDA Certified Biobased product efficiently whisk away numerous organic marks, like blood and grass stains, without damaging fabrics. For us, the clothes came out feeling fresh without an artificial clean laundry smell.
Based on our own testing, like most powder detergent-based pods, our two primary knocks against the Free & Clear laundry pod are that it didn’t always dissolve entirely and wasn’t the most effective stain remover. Otherwise, it’s an excellent solution if you have light to moderately soiled loads and want a laundry detergent pod that isn’t harsh on the skin or the nostrils.
- Great for sensitive skin
- Eco-friendly, non-toxic
- Quadruple-enzyme stain removers
- EPA Safer Choice certified
- May not dissolve completely in cold water
- Not ideal for tough stains
6. Best Smelling – Mrs. Meyer’s Laundry Pacs
Who It’s For: People looking for refreshing natural scents from their laundry
Who It’s Not For: Consumers wanting value-priced laundry pods
|Lavender, Lemon Verbena, Honeysuckle, Basil
Mrs. Meyer’s Laundry Pacs aren’t the cheapest option available, but the brand’s aromatherapeutic laundry detergent pods are a top choice if you want the most delightful natural fragrances fresh out of the wash. The essential oil blends impart rejuvenating herbal and floral scents. They aren’t overbearing, but the pods will keep your clothes smelling fresh for days.
Thanks to their biodegradable blend of plant-derived surfactants and enzymes, Mrs. Meyer’s Laundry Pacs lift dirt and stains in the gentlest way possible. We had issues with the powder-filled laundry pods not completely dissolving or removing stains entirely. But if you want your moderate and mildly soiled loads to come out of every wash cycle with an invigorating fresh scent, we think they’re well worth a shot.
- 4 garden-inspired scents
- Plant-derived cleaning agents
- Relatively expensive
- Not ideal for heavily soiled loads
- Powder may clump/not dissolve
7. Best for Sensitive Skin – All Mighty Pacs Free & Clear
Who It’s For: People with sensitive skin who don’t want to pay too much
Who It’s Not For: People wanting scented or natural, eco-friendly laundry detergent pods
The Free & Clear Mighty Pacs from all are the hypoallergenic solution for individuals who need their laundry detergents to be convenient, gentle on their skin, and easy on the wallet. The #1 dermatologist-recommended detergent was an easy pick for the best laundry detergent pod for sensitive skin. It offers a formula free of dyes and fragrances. At the same time, the laundry pods remove 99% of everyday allergens to ensure your clothes come out free of any irritants.
Among the top scent-free, skin-safe laundry pods, all Mighty Pacs are the economical alternative to plant-derived, non-toxic blends. They can’t boast the safety and eco-friendliness claims of the Seventh Generation laundry detergent packs. But we did not have any clumping issues with these pods, likely because of their liquid detergent blend. They also worked well in cold water. While our test used only cold water, our observation is that it would also work well in hot water. Between that and the low cost, they offer plenty of sensible benefits for those with sensitive skin.
- #1 dermatologist recommended brand
- Gentle on sensitive skin
- Contains some harsh ingredients
- Pods don’t always dissolve completely
8. Best for Babies – Grab Green Newborn Baby Laundry Detergent Pods
Who It’s For: Parents needing effective baby stain removal without harsh chemical ingredients
Who It’s Not For: People with general laundry needs
|Chamomile, Rosewood, Unscented
Grab Green Newborn Baby Laundry Detergent Pods are unlikely to be the best value for non-parents, but they’re just what you want if you’re managing a newborn baby and all the messes that come with them. Available in two soothing scents and a fragrance-free variety, these pods are free of parabens, dyes, chlorine, and harsh chemicals. Our favorite is the Chamomile scent.
The powder pods use essential oils, baking soda, and enzymes among its 94% naturally derived ingredients list. Grab Green specifically created its eco-friendly pods to remove tough but common stains like spit-up, formula, and baby poop. Everything about the design caters to new parents, from the child-deterring Bitrex coating to the velcro easy-close bag. Babies are a handful, but Grab Green does its best to make life simple on laundry day.
- Soothing scents and unscented options
- Enzyme blend formulated for baby stains
- 94% naturally derived ingredients
- Relatively expensive
9. Best for Tough Stains – OxiClean Color Boost Power Paks
Who It’s For: Heads of the household who have to manage occasional tough stains
Who It’s Not For: Budget-conscious buyers needing effective everyday stain fighters
Family life can throw crazy cleaning projects at you, from mud and grass stain-covered soccer clothes to sweat-soaked socks. A detergent-boosting sidekick, OxiClean Color Boost Power Paks are an as-needed stain-removing, color-brightening powder pod to help you easily handle heavily soiled loads.
We washed the same pair of black jeans three times with OxiClean and did not observe any color fading. The grass stains on the back of the jeans, however, came out on the first wash.
Although the Power Paks are expensive and the fragrance can be hit-or-miss, they’re handy helpers when you’re battling overwhelming stains or trying to revitalize dingy clothes. They even make an easy pre-measured pre-treatment for extra tricky stains.
- Powerful stain removal
- Brightens and enhances colors
- Works as a pre-treatment
- Relatively expensive
- Smell may be off-putting
10. Best for Odors – Tide OXI Power PODS with Odor Eliminators
Who It’s For: People who do large loads of moderate to heavily soiled clothes
Who It’s Not For: People who do fewer loads, rarely deal with intense stains, or want natural ingredients
Tide OXI Power PODS with Odor Eliminators are specifically for busy households with heavy-duty laundry needs. Although they’re more expensive than the average laundry pod, the value is better than it seems. While we normally would put two or even three pods in larger loads with most laundry detergent pod brands, we only needed one of these oversized Tide pods for a full washing machine.
Tide’s OXI Power PODS busts through the most challenging stains and persistent odors. They work in all water temperatures and hardness levels, ensuring a complete clean with no wasted effort (or pods). Again, Tide doesn’t take the healthiest or most eco-conscious route to get results, but it’s undeniably one of the most efficient.
- Powerful stain and odor removal
- One pod for large loads
- Dissolves well in all water temperatures
- Contains harsh ingredients
- Smell can be overpowering
We scoured online reviews and performed in-depth research and some testing on the latest formulas to build this list of the best laundry pods in 2023. Essential criteria included eco-friendliness, skin-safe ingredients, stain-removal power, cost, and packaging. As most laundry detergent pods are septic-safe, effective in high-efficiency washing machines, and available in varying quantities, we only weighted those aspects with the most impact and variation between the leading options.
Working off the most recent research and our knowledge, observations, and experience, we tried to find the best solutions to manage the most common household laundry situations. Our goal was to pinpoint and recommend cost-effective laundry pod products that match your priorities and unique needs, whether that’s the best-smelling pod or the most gentle, unscented detergent for your skin.
Checking Laundry Detergent Ingredients
The past year has marked a turning point for laundry detergents, so we felt we should discuss the value of checking ingredients when purchasing your next laundry pod product.
The biggest news is New York’s legislation to limit 1,4 dioxane. A manufacturing byproduct of everyday cleaner and cosmetics ingredients, the probable carcinogen has become a persistent presence in the nation’s groundwater, prompting the state to drop its allowable levels in cleaning and personal care products.
Brands known for using harsher ingredients, including Tide and Gain, updated their formulas to stay compliant with the laws. Meanwhile, Earth-friendly companies like Seventh Generation and Dropps were already offering low-toxicity products that needed little to no updates.
Products are improving across the board. But some brands have prioritized non-toxic formulas more than others, focusing on sustainable sourcing and production processes to create safer laundry pods. The recent laws surrounding 1,4 dioxane highlight the significance of those choices, many of which average consumers will often overlook.
We built this list with a keen focus on laundry pod effectiveness, but the industry moves make this an ideal moment to reflect on our preferred products and what they mean to our health and the environment.
How to Check Laundry Pod Ingredients
Manufacturers list their ingredients on product packaging or point you to online resources to find the list. We highly recommend checking for allergy irritants and non-toxic ingredients if you’re trying to minimize your impact on the environment and improve your household’s health.
Of course, laundry detergent pod ingredients aren’t the easiest to understand if you don’t have a chemistry degree. For help understanding the confusing terms and lengthy, hard-to-pronounce chemical names, check out the EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning. Although the listed products aren’t entirely up to date, they offer valuable, unbiased insights into the dangers of common cleaner ingredients.
Are you interested in learning more about 1,4 dioxane? The CDC offers tips on keeping your family safe and identifying laundry pod elements with the highest risk. You can use the EWG’s website to investigate each ingredient individually and find all associated health and ecological threats.
Powder vs. Liquid Laundry Detergent Pods
Laundry detergent soap will either come in powder or liquid form. Powder detergent pods are generally less appealing to kids and often come cheaper. Unfortunately, many people notice these pods leave clumps or residue on clothes when they don’t disperse. Laundry pods dissolve more readily in all water temperatures when they incorporate a liquid detergent. If you have a septic system, liquid pods like Dropps will also leave less potential for clog-creating build-ups.
Scents and Fragrance Allergies
Checking ingredients also helps you qualify the scents you’re looking for in a laundry detergent pod. Tide pods and other popular products offer the classic laundry detergent smell that speaks to their cleaning power. Other brands, like Mrs. Meyer’s, lean on natural essential oils for floral and herbal fragrances. Considering the scents and the ingredients will ensure you get the right laundry detergent pod to delight the senses and stay easy on the skin.
Being Safe with Laundry Pods
Since the wave of accidental and intentional laundry pod poisoning incidents following their release, laundry pod manufacturers have done what they can to keep kids from eating their products. PVA coatings have bitter-tasting additives, tubs have tamper-proof lids, and many brands make their pods look as bland and unappetizing as possible.
Those efforts won’t stop every child from getting their hands and mouth on laundry pods in the house, so it’s up to parents and caregivers to fill in the gaps. Here are a few tips for keeping your family safe:
- Store laundry detergent pods where children can’t reach
- Buy a child-proof container with a double-latch lid
- Seal containers tightly after each use
If you have children under five years old, you may also consider using liquid detergent or a DIY laundry detergent until they’re older. Similar safety and storage considerations apply to adults with cognitive impairments such as dementia.
Are Laundry Detergent Pods Made of Plastic?
Unlike plastic, the PVA coating surrounding the powder or liquid detergent in laundry pods is biodegradable. It’s water-soluble and even safe to consume in limited quantities, though you should never try to ingest a laundry pod. But while many manufacturers make it sound like the material is 100% eco-safe, there may still be some call for caution.
Although PVA is biodegradable, it requires a fairly specific bacterial blend to break it down entirely. Most treatment facilities don’t focus on PVA in their systems, so a large amount escapes into the environment. Over 75% of PVA that goes down the drain doesn’t break down at the plant, either exiting in sludge or entering local bodies of water.
In the environment, PVA can sequester heavy metals and various carcinogens. It can also affect gas exchanges in soil and water. There are implications for agriculture, aquatic ecosystems, and contaminated PVA reappearing in our drinking water. It’s still too early to sound any alarms on PVA. But the potential for concern is why we highlight products like Blueland’s pods for eco-conscious consumers.
Should I Use Liquid Laundry Detergent Or Pods?
Laundry detergent pods have some glaring advantages over powder and liquid detergent alternatives. For starters, you can’t beat the convenience and efficiency. The concentrated detergent pods have much less water than liquid detergents, and they come pre-measured. Toss one in the machine, load up your dirty clothes, and get washing. There’s no mess to clean, and the pods occupy minimal space in the storage cabinet.
Pods are, by far, the easiest products to use for one of the most annoying household chores. Still, traditional liquid laundry detergent carries a few distinct benefits. They’re generally cheaper per load than laundry pods. You can measure the exact amount you want based on your load size, so there’s no waste. Plus, it works better for pre-treating, a critical stain-fighting task that would be impractical with most laundry pods.
Liquid detergents are also typically more effective in all temperatures and washing machines. Many use formulas that work in hot or cold water, letting consumers lower their energy usage while still cleaning their clothes. Laundry pods carry the same ingredients but don’t dissolve in cold water as quickly as in warm water, leaving a sticky PVA film on clothes.
Best Laundry Detergent Pods: Final Verdict
Tide PODS bring all the convenience, cleaning power, and value you could want in a pod, no matter how you do laundry. They’re an easy choice as the best laundry detergent pods when you need a reliably powerful stain remover and a fresh scent from every wash.
If your concern is your environmental impact, brands like Dropps, Blueland, and Seventh Generation prove there are plenty of places to find your favorite stain-removing and eco-friendly laundry product. Laundry detergent may seem simple, but it has given us a surprising number of considerations in 2023. By following these insights and our reviews of the best laundry pods, you can ensure you always make the right decision for your family’s needs.