UK Fashion & Textile Association

Choosing the right Detergent

Which Type?...

For most clothes and household textiles, BIOLOGICAL or NON-BIOLOGICAL DETERGENTS will give excellent washing results, and are both particularly suitable for whites and colour-fast colours.

  • Biological detergents provide improved stain removal, especially at lower temperatures, because they contain enzymes, often of different types which assist with the removal of, for example, protein, starch and fat-based stains, such as blood, egg, chocolate and gravy.

  • Non-Biological detergents are designed with skin-care especially in mind, and do not contain enzymes which some people prefer ot to use.

For coloured clothes and household textiles, COLOUR DETERGENTS will best help you to maintain their original colours, whilst still giving you a very high standard of cleaning. These are all biological detergents. They are particularly suitable for matching and coordinated sets of lingerie, bedding or towels, and are essential when items are non-colourfast.

For washing wool and silk MOST DETERGENTS, INCLUDING COLOUR DETERGENTS, ARE NOT SUITABLE. For these fabrics, you should use a GENTLE/FINE WASH DETERGENT specifically designed for this purpose.

To maintain the appearance of your clothes and house-hold textiles and to make them last longer, you should use different types of detergent for different washes, whether for whites, colours or delicates. Although this may require buying two or three different products, you do not need to use any more than if you were buying just the one.

Almost all washing machines these days are of the front-loading, horizontal drum type, and these require a low-suds washing product. Consequently almost all detergents for sale, of all the types mentioned above, are low suds. If you have a twin tub or other vertical drum machine you can use any of these low-suds products, or you might prefer high suds products, which deliver a richer lather. You might also prefer these for hand-washing.


  • Always read and follow the instructions on your detergent pack!
  • Always use the recommended amount of detergent!
  • Always read and follow the care label!

And in Which Form ? ...

Not only are there the different types of detergent listed above, each designed for a particular type of wash, but these are also available in different forms. Which of these you choose is more a matter of personal preference.

POWDERS give an excellent level of cleaning, and allow you to choose exactly how much you want to use depending on the soil level etc of the wash. Biological and Non-Biological powders usually contain fabric-safe, oxygen-based bleaching systems which are particularly effective at removing highly coloured stains, and which deliver a high standard of hygiene.

LIQUIDS, or GELS also give a high standard of cleaning and flexibility of dosage. Many people also find them more convenient to use, and their ready dissolution make them particularly suitable for low temperature washing. Super-concentrated variants offering the same benefits but with less use of packaging are now available.

TABLETS are comparable in performance to powders but come in a more convenient to use form.

CAPSULES, SACHETS or LIQUID TABLETS similarly offer liquid or gel properties in an easy to use way.


Fabric Conditioners...

These are ideal for improving "softness". They also reduce static cling on synthetics and make ironing easier. Fabric Conditioners come in four forms:
  • Liquids, which work in the final rinse. These currently come in regular and concentrated formats, though the latter, with their greater convenience and less use of packaging,  are rapidly becoming more popular
  • Capsules, which are added, in the drum, at the start of the wash
  • Sheets for use in the tumble dryer, and
  • Combined Detergent and Fabric Softener

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