Of course, laundry pods aren’t superior to regular detergents in every way by far. They are much more expensive than both liquid and powder detergents. Some can cost as much as 50 percent more. Powders are the most inexpensive of the options, followed by liquids, then pods.
And while there is a definite convenience factor in their preportioned packets, that convenience also limits you. With liquids and powder detergents, you have much more control. If you want to run a very small load, for instance, you can choose a small amount of detergent with powders and liquids.
With pods, if you have an extra-large load of laundry, you might need to use two — and that can get expensive if you do a lot of large loads. On the flip side, if you have a small load of delicates, you’re limited to the amount of detergent already in the pod, which is likely too much. That can sometimes lead to buildup of chemicals on your clothes.
You also can’t pretreat stains with pods like you can with liquid detergents. Because they’re meant to simply be tossed into the machine that means you’ll need to buy something extra for pretreating stains. And if you do any handwashing of delicates, you’ll need something for that, too.
Even Tide’s Ahoni agrees pods are great, but they can’t do everything. “I do use liquid detergent in some cases,” Ahoni says. “It’s a great option when I have stains, or I want to pretreat prior to washing. I also use liquid detergent for items that I hand wash.”
One last thing about pods that is of concern: In 2012, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning after about 500 kids were poisoned from eating laundry pods. (More were sickened when they ate the things to impress their friends on TikTok for the “Tide pod challenge.”) Just keep the things out of reach of kids if you end up buying them.
While there are a lot of things to like about pods, each type of detergent has its own pros and cons. So there really is no option better than another. It’s really about which one is best for you.