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When it comes to the liquid vs powder debate, it's a hung jury.

50% of us swear by liquid, and 50% do the same for powder. Despite our strongly held opinions, the facts behind the argument either way tend to be fairly fast and loose. Is ‘liquid is sticky’ really a reason to choose powder? Or ‘I spill it everywhere’ really a fault of powder?

Definitely, yes. But there is more to it. In the making of Dirt we delved a little deeper and looked at exactly what makes each a better choice. 

Liquid Pros

  • Liquid detergent is more effective on harder stains; because you can use it as a spot treatment before it goes in the wash.
  • Liquid disperses better at lower temperatures. 
  • Liquid detergent itself has a lesser impact on the environment, because the ‘builder’ in liquid is water. In powdered products, ‘builders’ are things like sodium carbonate, which can have adverse effects on soil and waterways.
Liquid Cons
  • Liquid detergent can be sticky to dispense (there it is).
  • Liquid generally comes in plastic which is worse for the environment.  
  • A lot of liquid (particularly in low concentrates) is actually just water, which creates extra pollution in packaging and transportation.
  • It’s a little more expensive.

*Massive(ly biased) disclaimer; because we personally prefer liquid, we made Dirt an extremely high concentrate, in aluminium packaging with very competitive cost per load price - effectively removing the cons.

Powder Pros

  • It performs very well as a general wash solution.
  • The packaging is more environmentally friendly.
Powder Cons
  • Most powders will dissolve much better higher quantities of warm water, which has a cost.
  • Grey water from powder washes is considered less recyclable than liquid.
  • It's easy to spill all over your laundry. 

The verdict, neither is perfect; purchasing what you prefer using is the right choice. We do think there are a few general rules for detergent that guide the right choice, for both powders and liquids.

  1. Choose concentrate; the higher the concentrate, the less packaging and transportation goes in to the product, which is better for the environment.
  2. Consider cost per load price, if it’s $4.00 but only provides 10 washes, that’s a 0.40c cost / load - mind-blowing expensive.
  3. Choose plant based surfactants, which are better than petrol based.
  4. Look out for smart packaging solutions, it’s all about devotion to the ocean.

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  • I have your product but cannot find any information regarding the amount to use in my 7kg front loader???

    SHaron MIlls on

  • great info. however, the idea that “purchasing what you prefer using is the right choice” legitimises the kind of self-indulgent consumption that brought us to an environmental crisis in the first place.

    it’s absolutely essential that we stop using plastic, so an option that enables us to do so (without creating an equal or potentially worse problem) is the right choice.

    no ifs. no buts.

    michelle berkon on

  • Wow I don’t think I’ve ever stopped to think about the difference between liquid and powder so thanks for the article and information!

    Emily Rait on

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