Laundry detergent pods can make washday less of a chore. These small, preportioned packs are simple to use, with no messy measuring required—just grab one or two pods and toss them in the washing machine. The best laundry pods rid laundry of dirt, oil, odors, sweat, and stains, leaving clothes clean and residue-free without damaging or fading. These days, you can pick pods that suit different types of laundry and lifestyle preferences, so use this guide to learn what to look for in these washday wonders and why the following products are considered among the best laundry pods you can purchase.
- BEST OVERALL: Tide Pods 3 in 1, Laundry Detergent Pacs
- BEST FOR STAINS: Tide Pods Ultra Oxi Liquid Laundry Detergent Pacs
- BEST FOR COLD WATER: Tide Pods Coldwater Clean Liquid Laundry Pacs
- BEST FOR SENSITIVE SKIN: Seventh Generation Laundry Detergent Packs
- BEST NATURAL: Grab Green Natural 3 in 1 Laundry Detergent Pods
- BEST FOR ODORS: Arm & Hammer Plus OxiClean With Odor Blasters
- BEST FOR DARK LOADS: Woolite Darks Pacs Laundry Detergent Pacs
- BEST LONG-LASTING SCENT: Gain flings Liquid Laundry Detergent Pacs
- BEST FOR HOMES WITH KIDS: Grab Green Stoneworks Laundry Detergent Pods
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Laundry Pods
For effective cleaning, choose a laundry pod suited to your washing machine and laundering habits. Washing machine type and wash cycles can affect pod efficiency. A pod’s ingredients, fragrance, and added features, like stain removers and scent boosters, are personal preferences to evaluate as well.
Standard and high-efficiency (HE) washing machines have different detergent requirements. Standard washers use more water than HE models. Regular laundry detergents are made for standard washing machines, with formulations that create more suds to work in a higher volume of water. HE washers use up to 66 percent less water and should be used with HE detergents formulated for this lower water volume.
Using a regular laundry detergent in an HE washing machine can result in excess suds. At best, this can leave soap residue or lead to poorly cleaned clothes. At worst, it can damage the machine. However, HE laundry detergent can be used in both HE and standard washers.
Since laundry pods come premeasured, it’s even more important to choose the right type of pod for your appliance. Laundry pod packaging will display if the product is appropriate for HE machines.
Similar to laundry powders and liquid detergents, laundry pods are safe to use in any washing machine cleaning cycle. Laundry pods should only be used during a wash cycle and not a presoak or rinse cycle.
Water temperature can be an important factor in detergent choice. Cold water washing saves energy, which is great for the environment and your utility bills. While most laundry detergents can be used in a cold-water wash, some may be less effective.
The ingredients in laundry detergents need to hit a certain temperature to break down for optimal cleaning. Many detergent companies have adjusted their ingredients to keep up with modern eco-friendly cleaning habits; but for those who use very cold water yet still want the best clean, consider a laundry pod formulated for cold water. Cold water laundry detergents are optimized to give a better clean in a cold wash cycle.
Laundry pods include a range of ingredients to clean and remove stains from garments and other washables. The main cleaning ingredients are surfactants, which bind to grime and help wash it away. Other ingredients can boost performance by removing stains, brightening whites, and reducing fading. Some ingredients add fragrance or have colored dyes and designs to make the pod look appealing.
Standard laundry pods often use chemical ingredients, including chemical fragrances and dyes. Natural laundry pods omit chemical ingredients when possible, replacing chemicals with essential oils for fragrance, for example. Both standard and natural laundry pods may include enzymes, naturally occurring agents that help break down stains.
Those with sensitive skin or who machine-wash baby clothes may wish to use a specialized laundry pod. Sensitive or baby laundry pods have fewer ingredients and fragrance-free formulas to reduce possible irritants.
Beyond everyday cleaning, laundry pods may include additional cleaning features to combat tough stains, reduce odors, and/or brighten fabrics. To boost cleaning power and maintain fabric color and quality, hydrogen peroxide bleach, baking soda, and enzymes may be included. For a gentler alternative to chlorine bleach, oxygen-based additives, such as OxiClean or “oxi boosters,” can boost stain removal and brighten colors.
In addition to ingredients that ramp up cleaning power, some pods include fabric softeners and antistatic agents to leave laundry feeling soft and easy to fold. Added scent boosters can impart a long-lasting, fresh scent that lasts for weeks.
Some folks find that certain fragrances make laundry smell cleaner and more pleasant. Laundry pods come in a wide range of scents, from florals to vanilla. Some laundry pods have fragrance boosters to keep clothes smelling fresh for weeks. Scents can be chemically or naturally derived; natural laundry pods tend to use essential oils for fragrance.
Those with sensitive skin or fragrance allergies can choose from a range of fragrance-free options. Quality fragrance-free laundry pods will have the same cleaning power of standard laundry pods and be able to remove bad odors without imparting any additional scents.
Our Top Picks
Laundry pods are popular for their convenience and ease of use. They put the cleaning power of laundry detergent into a small packet with no measuring or accidental spills. The top picks here, selected according to the criteria detailed above, suit a variety of laundry and lifestyle situations.
Tide Pods 3 in 1 Detergent Pacs have a powerful triple-action formula that includes concentrated detergent, stain remover, and color protector. Each pod contains up to 90 percent active ingredients to get the job done right in one wash.
These pods are suitable for HE washing machines. A specially formulated outer film dissolves in all water temperatures, including cold. This pack includes 81 pods in Spring Meadow, a floral fragrance.
For extra stain-removing power, Tide Pods Ultra Oxi Pacs are a quality choice. The formula contains a concentrated detergent, stain remover, and color protector, with extra stain fighting from built-in pretreaters to tackle tough stuff like blood, coffee, and grease. Each pod is super concentrated with up to 10 times the cleaning power of liquid bargain brands.
This package includes 73 pods that are safe for HE laundry machines and all water temperatures. The pods impart Tide’s original scent for a fresh and clean fragrance.
Laundry pods that fail to dissolve fully in cold water can leave streaky residue on fabrics.
Tide Pods Coldwater Clean pods are formulated to break down in any water temperature, including cold. When the outer layer dissolves, the detergent is released to offer Tide’s trusty cleaning ability.
As with other Tide Pod formulas, these pods have a concentrated detergent, odor fighter, and stain-removing ingredients. These pods are suitable for HE washing machines. The package includes 61 pods and comes in Fresh Scent.
Free and Clear laundry pods from Seventh Generation are made for sensitive skin, omitting unnecessary ingredients that can irritate skin. This formula is free of fragrances, dyes, and artificial brighteners. The pods are Safer Choice Certified, meeting the Environmental Protection Agency’s standards for safer chemical ingredients. With 94 percent plant-based ingredients, the pods are also a natural and eco-friendly option.
The natural ingredients don’t make these pods any less effective, thanks to a quadruple-enzyme formula that cleans tough stains and odors naturally. This package includes 90 pods that dissolve quickly in both hot and cold water and are suitable for HE machines.
These Grab Green laundry pods feature naturally derived plant- and mineral-based ingredients, including an enzyme blend to help break down dirt and stains. This natural option is free of phosphates, parabens, phthalates, dyes, chlorine, perfumes, caustic chemicals, and animal by-products. The pods’ three-in-one formula features detergent, stain remover, and color brightener, plus a lavender and vanilla scent from an essential oil blend.
Each handy storage pouch contains 60 laundry pods that are safe to use in all temperatures and washing machines. The package also includes a full disclosure that explains each ingredient and its purpose so users can understand exactly what goes into each pod.
These laundry pods from Arm & Hammer boast a five-in-one formula that packs a punch against odors and stains. Odor Blasters tackle smells that are famous for sticking around, including body odor, sweat, and the mustiness that damp towels can accrue, while scent boosters leave a lingering fragrance for an extra-clean sensation.
These handy detergent pods, which also feature Oxi Clean to fight stains and brighten fabrics, come 40 pods to a package. They are safe to use in all machines and at any temperature, including HE machines on hot or cold water cycles.
Frequent washing can cause color fading, leaving dark garments looking old and drab before their time. Woolite Darks Pacs are designed to slow down this process and protect dark clothes from fading. Woolite Darks Pacs protect against fading for up to six washes and keep clothes looking new for as long as possible. The gentle formula also helps keep fabric from stretching and shrinking.
Dark clothes are also best washed in cold water to prevent bleeding; these pods dissolve quickly in cold water. These handy pods come in a pack of 30 and can be used at all temperatures and in all washing machines, including HE washers.
Each Gain flings laundry pod features a stain-removing Oxi Boost and the odor-busting freshness of Febreze. The Oxi Boost formula helps to clean stubborn stains, even those left on clothes for two weeks. This package includes 81 pods, which are suitable for both standard and HE machines using either hot or cold water.
With 50 percent more of Gain’s original scent than its powder laundry detergent, this formula rids laundry of a variety of odors, including musty smells. Its long-lasting scent leaves clothes, towels, and linens smelling fresh for up to six weeks, thanks to OdorClear technology, which imparts tiny perfume capsules into fabrics.
Laundry pods are toxic when ingested and should always be stored out of reach of children. For an extra layer of protection, Grab Green’s Stoneworks pods look and taste as unappealing as possible. Instead of a colorful design, each pod looks like the simple white detergent powder within, while the outer layer has bitter taste. This purposely bland design is meant to be less appealing to little tykes than multicolor pods.
For safe use for the entire family, these EPA Safer Choice pods contain naturally derived plant- and mineral-based ingredients. They are free of harsh chemicals, phosphates, phthalates, chlorine, and dyes. This packet contains 50 laundry pods that work in all washing machines and any temperature.
FAQs About Your New Laundry Pods
If your laundry basket is overflowing, it’s probably past time to throw a load in the wash. Laundry pods mean no messy measuring for a quicker, more convenient laundry experience. If you want more info on these products, see below for answers to some commonly asked questions.
Q. What are laundry pods?
Laundry pods are single-use packets that contain a premeasured amount of laundry detergent in a water-soluble outer layer. The outer layer dissolves in a machine wash cycle, releasing the detergent for an effective clean.
Q. Are laundry detergent pods safe to handle?
Yes, the outer layer makes laundry pods safe to handle. The outer layer is water-soluble, so it is best to handle the pod with dry hands.
Q. How many laundry pods should I use?
Follow the manufacturer’s directions for correct usage. Most manufacturers recommend one pod for small or medium loads and up to two or three pods for large loads.
Q. How do you use laundry detergent pods?
Using a laundry pod is simple: Just place it directly in the washing machine drum, add the laundry, and run the wash cycle.