Gregory Hildstrom Projects Publications Resume Links Contact About Facebook Youtube Donate

Laundry Detergent Testing


Several of the popular name brand detergents were giving two of our dogs rashes. My wife tried "all free clear", which eliminated the rashes, but she felt it did not clean as well. Then she tried Atsko Sport-Wash residue-free detergent on our dogs' bedding and blankets. This also eliminated the rashes, but she thought it cleaned much better. This led her to try it on our clothes and she thought it cleaned better than other detergents we have used. We liked the fact that it comes from vegetable-based products, is biodegradable, and does not leave dyes or fragrances in clothes, but its performance is what made us buy that second bottle from the hunting section of Walmart. The bottle says to use 1 oz for a load of laundry.

So, how well does it work? We decided to do some actual testing using old white shirts that had reached the end of their useful life. Here are the settings I used for the tests.

Atsko Sport-Wash vs Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds

Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds is an excellent all-purpose plant-based cleaner that we use on everything from floors to dishes to counters to windows in various concentrations. The bottle says to use 1/4 cup (2 oz) for a load of laundry. We used 1 oz, which is the volume of the Sport-Wash cap, of each detergent for accurate comparison. I took an old clean white shirt and dirtied it up quite a bit. I tried to be as even as possible between the left and right sides. I then cut it in half and washed each half with a dirty flip-flop and a different detergent. Here are the before and after pictures:

Both did pretty well considering the abuse I put the shirt through and this was a close call. I would not have any problem using either product as laundry detergent. As of this writing, Sal Suds is 4 cents per ounce cheaper when they are both purchased in bulk and I really love its multipurpose nature. My soiling job was not completely even and the Sal Suds side was a bit more heavily soiled. However, I think we have to give a very slight edge in the laundry department to Sport-Wash or call it a draw.

Atsko Sport-Wash vs Dr. Bronner's Magic Pure Castile Classic Soaps

Dr. Bronner's Magic Pure Castile Classic Soaps are excellent all-purpose plant-based soaps that we use as hand soap, dish soap, body wash, and shampoo. They lather amazingly, clean great, rise away cleanly, and are not harsh on skin. We chose the Baby Mild soap because it has the same base soap as the other Magic soaps without any additional scent oils. Here is the after picture:

Sport-Wash was the clear winner here.

Atsko Sport-Wash vs all free clear

"all free clear" is definitely cheaper and more widely available than the other detergents and soaps I have used in this test. Here are the before and after pictures:

This is also a very tough one to call. The "all free clear" appears a tiny bit whiter, but it contains an unnamed brightening agent according to the bottle and the MSDS. Also, the Sport-Wash side of the shirt was a tiny bit more heavily soiled with the black garage floor dust despite my best efforts to keep things even. It is essentially a draw.

Sport-Wash Smell

We have been using Sport-Wash, and "all free clear" for a while now. We have only used Sal Suds for a few loads. Visible cleaning performance aside, the Sport-Wash leaves more of an odor in the clothes than either Sal Suds or "all free clear". Sport-Wash in the bottle smells a bit like old vegetable oil and some of that smell remains in our clean clothes. We have always used the recommended 1 cap full for full loads or half a cap for smaller loads. Both Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds and "all free clear" leave the clothes smelling better (more neutral). Maybe it is the exceptionally hard water we have here in San Antonio, but the other two do not have this drawback. So, Sal Suds and "all free clear" are now our preferred detergents.