The Independent’s journalism is supported by our readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission.

8 best washing powders for brilliantly bright whites and vibrant colours

We took eco-friendly formulas as well as supermarket own-brands for a spin

<p>From pasta-sauce to Sharpie stains, we tested if these powders were up to the task</p>

From pasta-sauce to Sharpie stains, we tested if these powders were up to the task

Remember those TV ads where someone washed two white T-shirts with different washing powders and one (hint: the brand that’s being advertised) always came out blindingly clean? Well, we’ve been conducting our own version of that in hopes of finding which washing powders really are the best.

We’ll start by saying that we always thought those adverts were questionable – especially as the kids seemed to get their clothes implausibly messy. But after having had three kids of our own, we now know that those ads were probably being generous with just how mucky kids can get. Naturally, as a result, finding a powder that can live up to that hype has become our mission.

Of course washing powders are not all the same. The two key types are biological and non-biological (often shortened to bio and non-bio). But what exactly is the difference?

Biological powders contain enzymes that break down fat, grease and starch, which are often the culprits for the toughest stains. However, some people find these irritate the skin and can leave colours looking a little muted.

On the other hand, while non-bio washing powders don’t contain these enzymes – making them best for people who have sensitive skin – they do have cleaning agents in them, so you might find you need to whack up the temperature a bit on the washing cycle to get your washing looking cleaner.

Read more:

How we tested

We tested all these washing powders in the same machine in a hard-water area. Following the dosage described on the packet, we did several washes with each powder, both with colours and whites. Yep, our washing machine has been doing overtime. And thanks to our family of five, some of whom have sensitive skin, we were able to see just how well these powders dealt with real-life scenarios and spills.

We had ample stained clothes to test – from tomato-pasta sauces to Sharpie. We (OK, our kids) threw the lot at it. We wanted to see how bright our whites stayed, how vibrant the colours came out, and, of course, how nicely the clothes smelt afterwards. Here are the washing powders that cleaned up…

The best washing powders for 2022 are:

  • Best overall – Bio-D concentrated non-bio washing powder: £8.95, Biod.co.uk
  • Best for stain removal – Ecover non-bio washing powder: £9, Sainsburys.co.uk
  • Best for whites – Miele ultra white powder detergent: £16.69, Miele.co.uk
  • Best for sensitive skin – Fairy non-bio washing powder: £7.50, Wilko.com
  • Best subscription service – Splosh bio washing powder: £5.45, Splosh.com
  • Best supermarket non-bio – Sainsbury’s non-bio laundry powder: £6.50, Sainsburys.co.uk
  • Best biological washing powder – Aldi Almat biological washing powder: £2.99, Aldi.co.uk
  • Best for those with a social conscience – Bide laundry powder: £10.40, Bideboxes.com

Bio-D concentrated non-bio washing powder

Best: Overall

Rating: 10/10

  • Sizes: 1KG / 2KG / 12KG
  • Dosage: 50g (soft water), 90g (hard water)

We never thought we’d find ourselves saying this about a washing powder (hello to the sweet embrace of middle age), but wow! This eco-friendly washing powder knocked our socks off. Our coloured washes came out vibrant still – and yes, clean. And the whites were brilliant and stain free. Bio-D says this powder is unfragranced, and we aren’t going to argue with that because, well, they’d know – but certainly the clothes came out smelling simply fresh.

The powder is gentle on skin – it’s approved by Allergy UK for its hypoallergenic properties – and it’s also vegan and suitable for use with septic tanks. The powder is biodegradeable and the ingredients are ethically sourced. We love that it’s available in such a large pack too, which is great for big families and the environment. All in all, this powder ticked every single one of our boxes.

Ecover non-bio washing powder

Best: For stain removal

Rating: 9/10

  • Sizes: 750G / 1.8KG / 3KG
  • Dosage: 75g (soft water), 100g (hard water)

We were thoroughly impressed by Ecover’s washing powder – it performed incredibly well on both whites and colours, much better than most bios. Our whites were brilliant after a spin in this stuff, yet we noticed our colours were still bright. It tackled stains brilliantly, even getting tomato sauce out of clothes that other powders had failed to lift. The smell isn’t overpowering – apparently eucalyptus and lavender – but it smells fresh and clean, and that’s what we’re after.

Ecover is an eco-friendly brand, and this washing powder is made with plant-based, biodegradable ingredients. Plus, it’s suitable for use with houses that are served by septic tanks. The directions are for 30-60C washes, but the brand advises using its liquid version for delicates on silk and wool. A 3kg box should see you through 40 washes, maybe a bit less in hard water areas like ours.

Miele ultra white powder detergent

Best: For whites

Rating: 8/10

  • Sizes: 1KG
  • Dosage: 64g

We loved the crisp, fresh scent of this Miele powder detergent. While Miele has designed this for use in its own washing machines, it will work in any model. And work it does. Our whites were beautifully white after a cycle in this stuff. It is pretty powerful stuff – good for shifting stains, but it does also lift colours too. This powder is pretty powerful, but it’s also pretty pricey too. If you want your whites blindingly white, this could be the answer to your prayers.

Fairy non-bio washing powder

Best: For sensitive skin

Rating: 8/10

  • Sizes: 2.6KG/4KG/5KG/9KG
  • Dosage: 100ml (soft water), 130ml (hard water)

Fairy claims that this washing powder is as gentle on your skin as water. Sadly we didn’t have the lab or chemistry skills required to test this out properly, but certainly, it was gentle on our sensitive skins. It won points for the subtle clean smell too – without any overpowering perfume. It performed well too, getting out almost all stains and our colours didn’t pay the price for that, remaining bright even at 40C. Fairy isn’t messing around with the size of its boxes either, which is brilliant for big families.

Splosh bio washing powder

Best: Subscription service

Rating: 8/10

  • Sizes: 430g
  • Dosage: 19g

We love the concept of Splosh – buy a modest tin of the stuff and then subscribe to refills. This is great for busy people who often run out of powder, and the refills come in compostable bags, which reduces waste. Splosh claims its powder is super concentrated so you only need a bit (it comes with a small scoop) – but we reckon you need a little more than suggested (just call us rebels). It did a decent job on our clothes though, cutting through the worst of the stains and leaving them gently fragranced with jasmine.

Sainsbury’s non-bio laundry powder

Best: Supermarket non-bio

Rating: 8/10

  • Sizes: 1.6kg/2.9kg/4.55kg
  • Dosage: 60ml (soft water), 110ml (hard water)

We were thoroughly impressed by this supermarket offering. It smelled absolutely delicious and left our clothes smelling so good we were secretly sniffing them all day long. It worked hard on our laundry too, leaving even the grottiest of post-nursery clothes, covered in paint and food, clean and fresh. No mean feat, trust us.

The box on this one tears neatly open, although you have to call a number to order a free scoop for it, which we thought was bizarre quite frankly. Despite this though, the Sainsbury’s non-bio really impressed us and we’ll be buying this one again.

Aldi Almat biological washing powder

Best: Biological washing powder

Rating: 9/10

  • Sizes: 2.6kg/6.5kg
  • Dosage: 45ml (soft water), 125ml (hard water)

Well, Aldi has done it again – created something just as good as (if not better than) the premium brands, at a way lower price point. Almat blitzed through the toughest stains and left our whites looking gleamingly fresh. It is pretty powerful stuff though and did also leave our colours a little washed out, so we’d suggest using this on a low temperature. The scent is quite strong on this powder too, which is great if you want that vibrant just-washed smell without the need for fabric conditioner.

Bide laundry powder

Best: For those with a social conscience

Rating: 7/10

  • Sizes: 800g
  • Dosage: 20g

As soon as we stuck our snouts into this bag of washing powder we got a gorgeous whiff of bergamot. We know, we know, but this was definitely the most sophisticated of aromas in the washing-powder arena – and we love to see it.

Bide is as eco-friendly as it is non-toxic, plant-based and refillable. In fact, this is made from just four ingredients so you can be certain there are no nasties here. The products are also handmade by a home-manufacturing team (each bag has a label telling you who it’s made by), and the company employ people who have been marginalised, working alongside charities to match with suitable employees.

As for how it performed, the brand recommends to use two dessert spoons to place your powder directly in the drum. This was a messy affair and we ended up tipping it into the draw anyway. The results, however, were a decent wash of our clothes and yes, they smelt incredible too.

The verdict: Washing powders

We were thoroughly impressed by all the powders we’ve listed here and all worked hard despite everything we threw at them. But Bio-D just ticked every single one of our boxes. If you’re after a biological powder instead, look no further than Aldi’s Almat – at that price, why wouldn’t you?

Voucher codes

For offers on household appliances like washing machines, try the links below:

From detergents to surface wipes, these are the best eco-friendly and natural cleaning products

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in