Do Concentrated Laundry Detergents Work?

Laundry detergent is an essential household product that most of us use on a regular basis to keep our clothes and linens clean. Over the years, traditional liquid and powder laundry detergents have evolved into more concentrated formulas that promise the same powerful cleaning performance while using less product per wash. But do these concentrated laundry detergents really work as well as claimed? Let’s take a closer look at what makes concentrated detergents different and whether they live up to their promises.

What Are Concentrated Laundry Detergents?

Concentrated laundry detergents contain higher levels of active cleaning ingredients per ounce compared to regular detergents. As a result, concentrated formulas allow you to use smaller amounts per wash load while still getting your clothes just as clean.

Here are some key things to know about concentrated laundry detergents:

  • Higher concentrations of surfactants – Surfactants are detergent ingredients that help penetrate, loosen, and remove dirt and stains. Concentrated detergents have more surfactants packed into a smaller amount of product.
  • Added enzymes – Many concentrated detergents also contain enzymes that help break down protein-based stains like grass, blood, and sweat.
  • Typically liquid formulations – Concentrated detergents most often come in liquid form to allow a more concentrated formula, although some powder concentrates are also available.
  • Use less per wash – Concentrated detergents offer the same number of wash loads as regular detergents but in smaller containers. You’ll typically use 1/3 to 1⁄2 the amount of concentrated detergent per wash load.
  • Designed for HE/front-loading washers – Most concentrated detergents are formulated to produce fewer suds, making them ideal for high-efficiency (HE) and front-loading washing machines.

How Do Concentrated Detergents Compare to Regular Detergents?

To understand if concentrated laundry detergents work as well as traditional formulas, let’s compare them in some key areas:


The main difference between concentrated and regular detergents is the amount of active surfactants. Concentrated detergents simply cram more cleaning ingredients into less product.

Most concentrated detergents contain between 30-50% surfactants compared to 10-20% in regular detergents. They also tend to include more stain-fighting enzymes.

Cleaning Performance

With more concentrated cleaning ingredients, you would expect concentrated detergents to outperform regular versions. But numerous comparison tests have found that concentrated detergents clean just as well as regular ones when used in the correct amounts.

The key is not to overuse or underuse a concentrated formula. Use the smaller dosage recommended on the container and you can expect similar cleaning results.


One of the big advantages of concentrated laundry detergents is cost savings. Since you use less product per wash, concentrated detergents tend to be more economical:

  • A 75-ounce container of concentrated detergent may supply the same number of washes as a 150-ounce bottle of regular detergent.
  • Concentrated detergents allow 2-3 times more washes per container compared to similar non-concentrated versions.
  • You’re essentially paying for more loads per bottle rather than mostly water.

Concentrated detergents have a higher upfront cost but end up being more cost effective per wash. Switching to concentrated detergent can save up to 50% over time.

Suds Production

One downside of concentrated detergents for some users is that they tend to produce fewer suds. This is because more surfactants are present rather than suds-creating agents.

The good news is that the level of suds is not an indicator of cleaning performance. Concentrated detergents still get clothes just as clean with fewer bubbles.

Environmental Impact

Concentrated laundry detergents are generally considered more eco-friendly since their concentrated formula requires less packaging overall.

Specifically, concentrated detergents offer environmental benefits like:

  • Less plastic used for smaller containers
  • Reduced number of bottles consumed over time
  • Lighter to ship, resulting in lower carbon emissions

So you can feel good about lightening your environmental footprint by going concentrated.

Laundry Detergent Concentration Levels

One thing to know is that not all concentrated detergents have the same concentration level. Concentration refers to the percentage of active cleaning ingredients.

Here are the general concentration levels you’ll see:

  • Regular (non-concentrated): 10-15% concentration
  • 2x concentrated: 20-25% concentration
  • 3x concentrated: 30-50% concentration
  • 4x-5x concentrated: Over 50% concentration

As a rule of thumb, the higher the concentration level, the less product you’ll need to use per wash. But higher concentration doesn’t always equal better performance.

The optimal concentration depends on your washing machine type, load size, and soil level. Heavily soiled loads may require heavier dosing.

Follow the dosage directions on the detergent container for the best results with any concentration level.

How to Use Concentrated Laundry Detergent

Since you use less concentrated detergent per wash, it’s important to follow proper usage directions to get the best results:

  • Read the label – Check the package for dosage instructions based on load size, soil level, and machine type.
  • Measure it out – Use an accurate detergent cup or measuring spoon to get the right concentrated dose. Don’t guess.
  • Add to dispenser first – Put concentrated detergent in the washer dispenser before clothes.
  • Don’t overfill the dispenser – Adding too much concentrated detergent can lead to residue and suds overflow.
  • Skip the bleach dispenser – Don’t put concentrated detergent in the bleach dispenser; it’s formulated for the main wash cycle.
  • Use warmer wash temperatures – For best results with a concentrated detergent, wash in warm or hot water. Cold water may require an extra rinse.
  • Add to drum for top loaders – For top-loading machines, add the measured detergent directly to the empty washer drum before clothes.
  • Pre-dissolve powder detergent – Dissolve powder concentrates first in warm water before adding to the dispenser or drum.

Following the usage guidelines is key to getting the most out of your concentrated detergent and avoiding any washing issues.

Troubleshooting Concentrated Detergent Problems

Switching to a concentrated laundry detergent takes some adjustment. Here are some potential issues and fixes:

Problem: Residue left on clothes

Solution: Use less detergent per wash. Overdosing concentrated detergent is a common problem.

Problem: Clothes not getting clean

Solution: Try a higher concentration level or increase the dose for very soiled loads.

Problem: Excess suds

Solution: Make sure to use the recommended amount. Too much detergent causes suds.

Problem: Musty smells

Solution: Use warmer wash water to dissolve and rinse away detergent. Cold water can leave residue.

Problem: Skin irritation

Solution: Rinse clothes thoroughly. Consider switching detergent brands or formulas if irritation persists.

Problem: Dingy looking laundry

Solution: Add an extra rinse cycle to fully remove concentrated cleaning agents.

With some trial and error, you’ll find the right concentrated detergent dosage and routine for optimal cleaning results.

Top Concentrated Laundry Detergents

If you’re ready to switch to a concentrated laundry detergent, these top-rated options are worth considering:

Tide HE Turbo Clean Liquid

  • 4x concentrated formula
  • Specifically designed for HE machines
  • Powers out tough stains
  • Infused with Febreze scent booster

Gain Flings! Ultra Concentrated

  • Pre-measured dissolvable pods
  • 6x concentrated liquid inside pod
  • Brightener helps whites stay white
  • Available in popular Gain scents

Persil ProClean Power-Liquid Detergent

  • 10x concentrated formula
  • Deep cleaning for really dirty clothes
  • Stain-fighting enzymes to remove set-in stains
  • Works in all washing machine types

Arm & Hammer Ultra Power 4x Liquid

  • 4x concentrated strength
  • Helps eliminate odors and brighten laundry
  • Can treat up to 100 loads in largest bottle
  • Works in standard and HE washers

Seventh Generation Ultra PowerPlant Concentrated Liquid

  • 8x plant-based concentrated formula
  • USDA certified bio-based product
  • Hypoallergenic and dermatologist tested
  • Non-toxic and phosphate-free recipe

The Bottom Line

Concentrated laundry detergents are specially formulated to provide full-strength cleaning power using smaller amounts. When chosen and used properly, concentrated detergents effectively remove dirt, odors, and stains from fabrics.

The key is finding the right concentrated product for your machine, load size, and soil level. While they produce fewer suds, concentrated detergents still get clothes clean with less product. Their higher upfront cost is offset by greater value over time.

So rather than judging cleaning ability by the tower of suds, give a concentrated laundry detergent a try. You may just find that less detergent can really clean more in the long run.

Frequently Asked Questions About Concentrated Laundry Detergents

1. Are concentrated detergents better for HE washers?

Yes. Concentrated detergents produce fewer suds so they won’t overload the low-water HE wash system and cause issues like leaking or suds lock. Most concentrated detergents are designed specifically for these high-efficiency machines.

2. Should I use hot or cold water with concentrated detergent?

Most manufacturers recommend using warm or hot water washes to activate and rinse away concentrated detergents. But check your detergent’s label to confirm suggested water temperatures.

3. How much concentrated detergent should I use?

Follow the dosing directions on your detergent’s container based on load size and soil level. Most HE concentrates recommend using 1/4-1/3 of the cap or scoop for an average load size.

4. Are powder detergents also available in concentrated form?

Yes, some brands offer concentrated powder detergent, typically marketed as “2x concentrated” or more. These contain less filler and more stain-fighting ingredients by volume.

5. Should I use a Downy ball in concentrated loads?

Downy fabric softener balls can be used with concentrated detergent. Make sure to use the recommended amount of softener and run an extra rinse cycle if needed.

6. Can I use concentrated detergent in standard top-loaders?

Most concentrated detergents can be used in both HE and standard machines. Just adjust the dose to avoid oversudsing in an agitator top-loader. Adding it directly to the drum can help.

7. Why does concentrated detergent clean better?

The main cleaning ingredients – surfactants and enzymes – are more densely packed into each dose. This allows them to penetrate, dissolve, and break down stains much more efficiently using less product.

8. Is there a limit to detergent concentration?

Currently most brands top out between a 4x-10x concentration. Higher levels become diminishing returns and can increase risks of residue on clothes. Finding the right balance is key.

9. How long do concentrated detergents last before expiring?

Like regular detergents, concentrated formulas typically last 6-12 months from the production date before their cleaning performance weakens. Always check the expiration date before purchasing.

10. Can I add scent boosters to concentrated detergent?

Yes, you can use additives like Downy Unstopables or Gain Fireworks in-wash scent beads with concentrated detergent. Just make sure to use the recommended amount of detergent and additives.

Key Takeaways on Concentrated Laundry Detergents

  • Concentrated detergents contain more active cleaning ingredients and less water per dose than regular detergents.
  • When used properly, concentrated detergents clean clothes as well as regular formulas while using less product per wash.
  • Concentrated detergents are cost-effective since you get more loads per container compared to non-concentrated versions.
  • Concentrated formulas produce fewer suds but still effectively remove dirt, odors, and stains from fabrics.
  • Follow dosage directions carefully to avoid issues like residue or poor cleaning with concentrated detergents.
  • Most concentrated detergents are designed for and work best in high-efficiency washing machines.
  • Look for a detergent concentration level that matches your machine, load size, and soil level for optimal performance.


Concentrated laundry detergents represent an innovative way to get maximized cleaning power from minimal product. Their ability to deliver full-strength stain-fighting and odor removal with smaller dosing makes concentrated detergents an eco-friendly, cost-effective choice for most households. While they require some adjustment from regular detergents, understanding proper use of concentrated formulas can provide all the cleaning effectiveness you need with none of the waste.