Updated October 2021
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Buying guide for Best laundry detergent pods

In today’s fast-paced world, it can be hard to keep up with life’s necessities. Doing your laundry is nonnegotiable but adding extras like fabric softener to the load can be time-consuming and messy. Still, you shouldn’t have to sacrifice your comfort for speed. Fabric softener pods are a win/win for busy customers and for the environment.

These handy pods allow you to infuse your laundry with pleasant scents and cozy softness quickly and easily. With pods, you don’t have to babysit your load, take time to measure liquids, or risk sloppy drips. And since the pods dissolve fully, they don’t have leftover packaging to clog space in a landfill.

But using individual fabric softener pods is more expensive than bottles, so it’s important to get the most out of your money. Is an all-in-one pod that includes detergent best for your family? Are skin sensitivities and allergies your biggest concern?

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Anyone who has to lug their laundry to a laundromat will appreciate the convenience of lightweight fabric softener pods.

Key considerations

Washing machine

The good news is that you can use fabric softener pods whether you own a high-efficiency (HE) washer or a standard washing machine. Pod ingredients are mostly the same as those found in liquid fabric softeners, but they get the job done using less water. They’re designed for use in water-sipping HE washers, but they’ll work just fine in washers that dispense more water, too. Most pod-related problems occur when they’re misplaced and not exposed to enough water rather than too much water.


Multipurpose: If you have a detergent you love, a dedicated fabric softener pod may be your best bet. These pods contain only fabric softener, rather than a mix of products, so they must be used with a detergent pod. But if you really want to simplify your laundry, look for multipurpose pods. These pods contain several products, including detergent and fabric softener. Some combination pods include ingredients that treat stains, add fresh scents, and streamline other laundering processes.

Sensitive skin: Ingredients in traditional fabric softeners can sometimes be too harsh for babies’ sensitive skin. They can also irritate the skin of seniors or those who have eczema or other skin conditions. Since fabric softener pods contain the same ingredients as liquid fabric softeners, people with sensitive skin should beware of pods with dyes, added scents, or other potentially irritating ingredients.

Scent: For those without sensitive skin, fabric softener pods can be an easy way to add a pleasing scent to your laundry. Choose from fresh, clean finishes; floral fragrances, or soothing scents such as lavender or eucalyptus. Others use botanical ingredients or essential oils to give a more natural touch. Some users have a favorite signature scent they use all year; others prefer to vary the scent by season.



Many laundry products boast that they are “eco-friendly,” “natural,” or “green.” Some of these products may truly be more pure or environmentally responsible, but there is no legal classification for these terms. Nor is there a way to verify these claims. If you’re concerned about the composition of your fabric softener pod, look for those that are certified as organic by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). These products are guaranteed to be made up of at least 95% organic ingredients, and the remainder should not be harmful to humans or the environment.

Liquid or not

Most fabric softener pods are filled with liquid mixtures, but a few use powders or mineral compounds to avoid dyes and chemical coatings. These pods dissolve in the wash to freshen your fabric without leaving residue behind. Some love this more natural option; others say these formulas occasionally leave clothes feeling gritty if the pod and contents don’t dissolve fully. 


Using fabric softener pods rather than bottled liquid cuts down on waste. But pods have some unique challenges that make a quality storage container important. First, their casings dissolve through contact with water, so they must be kept away from spills, wet hands, and even high humidity. Second, children and pets have been known to mistake the pods for food or toys and eating them or squirting the liquid in an eye or nostril can be hazardous. It’s best to keep pods tightly sealed and out of sight in a durable, opaque container. 

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Fabric softener pods can look like food or feel like a toy to children and pets. Call Poison Control if fabric softener pod contents are swallowed or squirted into the eyes.


Laundry detergent pods: Gain flings! Liquid Laundry Detergent Pacs
A total game-changer, these pods bring the brand’s distinctive citrus and amber scent to your home in a convenient format. It boasts a whopping 50% more scent than Gain’s powdered detergent. These detergent pods combine Gain’s classic clean with the power of Oxi-boost cleaning and Febreeze. Users rarely report any residue left on their clothing.

Laundry hamper: BirdRock Home Hamper
Laundry may be a fact of life, but that doesn’t mean you want to look at it. This lined, oversize hamper keeps your dirty laundry out of sight with a side for light and a side for dark.

Travel laundry bags: Bes Chan Packing Cubes and Laundry Bags
Pods make carrying your supplies easier, now you can simplify carrying your laundry, too. These waterproof bags help you keep everything in place for an easier time on a trip, at the laundromat, or on campus. They contain any odors and come in different colors for easier organization.

Fabric softener pod prices

Inexpensive: The least expensive fabric softener pods are priced between $0.12 and $0.19 per pod. In this price range, you’ll find either fabric softener-only pods or pods that enhance the scent as well. These pods use liquid ingredients and are likely to include artificial chemicals and dyes.

Mid-range: These fabric softener pods cost between $0.20 and $0.25 per pod. You’ll find both fabric softener pods and multiproduct pods in this price range. Some use traditional fabric softener fluid, but more natural options that use powder or minerals can be found in this price range, too.

Expensive: The priciest fabric softener pods cost between $0.30 and $0.35 per pod. Pods that cost this much should be multiproduct pods that simplify your laundry routine. You’ll find both pods with quality chemical ingredients and more natural options at this price. 


  • Use pods without dyes. Dye-free fabric softener pods designed for sensitive skin are a good choice for those concerned about fabric softener streaks and stains on clothes.
  • Don’t use fabric softener on microfiber cloths. Fabric softeners can hamper microfiber’s spill-absorbing and dust-catching properties. They can also limit the absorbency of bathroom towels.
  • Don’t use fabric softener on moisture-wicking athletic wear. It can affect the garment’s breathability.
  • Don’t use fabric softener on children’s sleepwear. The product can interfere with the clothing’s flame-retardant finish.  
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Fabric softener pods may be most effective when paired with laundry detergent pods from the same manufacturer.


Q. What does fabric softener do?
Liquid fabric softeners work their way into your clothes and towels. They make your clothes feel softer, and some add a light scent. Additionally, these formulas can help prevent fading and stretching, as well as lint collection, to help your clothes last longer. Fabric softener reduces static and wrinkles, so there’s less time spent on ironing or adding extra static treatments.

Q. How do I use fabric softener pods?
It’s an important question because improper placement or handling can sabotage your load. Since water dissolves the liner, pods must be handled with dry hands. Set the pod directly on the bottom of the drum near the back before adding clothes. If you place the pod on top of the clothing, it may not fully dissolve, leaving streaks on your laundry. Putting it in the dispenser drawer is ineffective, too.

Q. Why are my clothes streaked with fabric softener?
Pods that don’t fully dissolve may leave spots or streaks on clothes. If this happens, don’t  put the clothes in the dryer — the heat can set the marks and make them harder to remove. Instead, put the clothes through another wash cycle without any additional pods. Select the settings for the largest load possible to make sure your clothes are rinsed well.

Q. Why didn’t my pod dissolve correctly?
Pod casings are formulated to dissolve in both hot and cold water, but in the winter, frigid water from your pipes can thwart the process. If this happens multiple times, dissolve the pod in a bowl or jar of hot water, then pour it in the washer drum before you add the clothes. If the problem occurs during the summer, you may have put too many clothes in the washer, preventing the proper amount of water from reaching and dissolving the pod.

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