It could be possible for you to dismiss this article as simply banter; surely it doesn’t really matter what a laundry detergent smells like, as long as it cleans your clothes, right?

Well, it is rather important that a detergent works, but the right smell is actually a large part of this. And laundry detergent companies and connoisseurs have known this for years.

Laundry Detergent NamePriceOur Rating
Tide Original Scent Turbo Clean Liquid$5/5
Arm & Hammer Laundry Detergent, Clean Burst$4.7/5
Purex Liquid Laundry Detergent$4.5/5
Gain Flings Original Laundry Detergent Pacs$$4.5/5
Downy Fresh Protect April Fresh In-Wash Odor Defense$$$4/5

How to Choose the Best Smelling Laundry Detergent

How to Choose Best Smelling Laundry Detergent

There are countless combinations and options. You would rather buy products that have these combinations built in the one item rather than buy three different items that do the same job. So when we look for a detergent it has to do all of the following:

  • Clean clothes
  • Remove spot stains
  • Protect colors, whiten or blacken our clothes as needed
  • Soften fabric
  • Soften water
  • Dissolve in cold water (or hot water, depending on your preference)
  • Improve ironing
  • Not harm sensitive skin

It also helps a lot if you have a coupon for it, or it’s on special. A bulk buy is good, but not so bulky that the massive bucket of detergent breaks the shelf in your laundry room. And it has to have the best smell for your family.​

With that being said, let’s get into the top five best smelling laundry detergents in 2017 and see how these detergent could make your life better.

Best Smelling Laundry Detergent 2020: Our Top 5 Picks

1. Tide Original Scent Turbo Clean Liquid

To begin with, let’s look at the most common product from Tide that is sold on the market at this time. The title “Original Scent” is unfortunately not very descriptive, and could mean anything.

“Turbo Clean” is a description that we find more useful in a detergent, but we needed to look further into what original scent meant.

The company described this smell as revitalizing and refreshing, with aloe and floral notes. Apparently, the company had released a new and improved “original” smell which smelt like stale baked goods and was not well received by the public.

So Tide has therefore now gone back to its original scent.


  • The smell is very good, very pleasant. We agree it is fresh and lightly floral as the company states. It is subtle and not too strong, but effective at combating existing bad smells of the dirty laundry.
  • This detergent is highly recommended as an effective stain remover including poo, blood, sweat, tea, coffee and more.
  • Protects colors and improves whites.
  • Is available in a Free and Gentle option, which contains no added dyes and is recommended for sensitive skin, but is still equally good at cleaning.​


  • May not be as effective on stains that have set into the fabric.
  • Some people may like a stronger fragrance.

2. Arm & Hammer Laundry Detergent, Clean Burst

Next, have a look at Arm & Hammer’s most popular product in this line; an old and trusted name in cleaning products. Something about the Arm & Hammer logo just makes you think “tough on stains.”

This brand has an excellent range of different types of detergents and different fragrances, as well as those with no fragrance.

But the packaging on this one does look a little like something you’d clean hospital floors with, so we’re not sure how sweetly it will smell. It’s a little bit too orange for something I’d trust to look after our delicates.

“Clean Burst” is also not very descriptive in terms of the scent; it just sounds like a balloon full of toothpaste exploded in your face. So we was interested to see how this old reliable would go.


  • The smell is great; subtle, fresh and pleasant, and combats existing odors extremely well.
  • The liquid detergent is very effective at washing clothes and removing stains.
  • Recommended for people who have had allergy issues with other detergents.
  • This is one of the cheaper products on the market but is still very good quality for the price.
  • People commit to this brand for years because they like the smell so much.
  • This is the basic product; Arm & Hammer also have quite a variety of other scents on options which you may want to try.


  • Cap has been reported to leak, so be careful.

3. Purex Liquid Laundry Detergent, Mountain Breeze

We tend to rely on Purex as a standard in laundry detergents; particularly Purex Baby which is the lingering scent of many people’s childhoods. And we are reviewing a product with finally, a scent we can understand the description of; Mountain Breeze.

Imagine that it is light and fresh, with hints of wildflowers and pine, and maybe the sea-air if the mountain in your laundry was located by the coast. Described by the company as their most popular scent, we were eager to try this detergent.


  • Has a lovely clean and fresh scent that makes clothes really pleasant, even after a day’s wearing or a week’s storing in the linen cupboard.
  • Very good for the price.
  • Protects colors well.
  • The product stretches well, good for people on a budget.
  • Cleans laundry very effectively.
  • Also comes in a variety of other options including for sensitive skin or allergies, and in plant-based formula.


  • Bulk buy size is very hard to use, need to tip very large bottle

4. Gain Flings Original Laundry Detergent Pacs

Up to this point, we have only looked at liquid detergents, this product is a little different and a bit more expensive.

These little detergent pacs are very convenient; no measuring and pouring of detergent anymore, just grab one a fling it in the wash. But do they work? And how do they smell?

This scent was original, which is also described as Moonlight Breeze, reminiscent apparently of a moonlit walk with a loved one out in nature somewhere.

According to the company, our noses and clothes were going to thank us, but we’ll see. They also said we would find doing laundry almost exciting, so I’m not sure I trust them.


  • Definitely smells! The individual pacs contain 50% more scent than normal Gain liquid, with a little perfume pouch in each one that bursts open in your wash.
  • Smell is fresh and clean and is retained in the clothes through wearing and storing. Generally, this was a lovely pleasing clean wash smell.
  • We find that the readily sealed pacs extremely convenient.
  • The detergent is effective at washing clothes and removing stains. There is a noticeable improvement when compared to other detergents.
  • Effective at protecting colors and whitening whites, again particularly when comparing with other detergents.
  • Fights bad odors well.


  • One of the more expensive laundry detergent options; you pay extra for the convenience of use.
  • We have trouble with front loading machines in that the plastic casing of the pac doesn’t dissolve properly.

5. Downy Fresh Protect April Fresh In-Wash Odor Defense

This product is not a detergent, so can’t be compared in any kinds of cleaning and stain removal capabilities. We actually didn’t know a lot about scent boosters before started this review.

There is basically a whole market in adding extra smell to your wash if you’re not happy with how your detergent smells. We completely understand the need for this, however.

If you were to purchase this product, it would need to be added in addition to a detergent, and possibly a softener too if you wanted. But for the purposes of this review, we are assessing how it smells.


  • Has a fresh, rich floral fragrance that is lovely if you like floral smells.
  • If you like the smell, rest assured it lingers. You will smell this every time you open drawers or cupboards for the rest of the week.
  • If you like the smell but feel that it is too strong, just use less than the recommended amount in each wash.
  • Makes towels particularly lovely.
  • Works as a particularly strong odor fighter; good for very stinky clothes or those on high smelly rotation like work uniforms and gym gear.
  • Recommended for clothes that are going to be put into storage for a longer time.


  • We’re undecided on the smell. There definitely is a strong, clean, floral smell and will last on your clothes all week. However, it is very strong as like wearing perfume.
  • This product may only be recommended for customers who like scent boosters in their wash.
  • It is not the most economical choice considering it does not also clean your clothes at the same time.

Why Do We Need Laundry Detergent?

Technically, we don’t really. Detergent is a billion dollar industry driven on made up performance rating definitions such as whiteness and brightness.

Advertisements for detergent will quote in-depth research studies and scientific experiments which prove why their product is the best. Often most of the research will go into making them do something like dissolving in hard or cold water.

Why Do We Need Laundry Detergent

And they do work; spots, stains and smells are removed from dirty clothes with the use of laundry detergent. But we don’t have to have it.

If you are feeling rather green and natural, and you have an inordinate amount of free time, you can make your own. Clothes can be washed with a mix of natural bar soap, baking soda and borax, and a little essential oils added for smell.

However, these are not particularly effective because soap doesn’t work very well on porous objects like fabric unless you are agitating them very thoroughly, like with a washing board.

If you were doing laundry 200 years ago, homemade detergent would be fine, but with today’s washing machines, it is more efficient if you use commercial laundry detergents, which are made specifically for them.

So if we accept that we need to use laundry detergent (as long as we will insist on wearing clothes and using sheets and towels and that sort of thing), can we get away with just using detergent?

Or do we also need fabric softener, stain remover, or special formulas that whiten whites and brighten brights and ungray blacks (trust me, it’s a thing.)

Why Choose the Best Smelling Laundry Detergent

1. Smell Makes You Happy

Detergent Smell Makes You Happy

If detergent smells better, then people are happier while doing the laundry; a notoriously unhappy task. People (usually women) who do the majority of the laundry will remember a detergent that stood out to them because they enjoyed the smell, and they will buy it again.

2. Smell Is Differentiating Factor

As we’ve said, the detergent needs to work. But most of them work pretty much as well as the next one. So how do you choose then? If the price is comparable also, smell will be what you remember and select.

3. Smell Is Important Than Price

Detergent Smell Is Important Than Price

Without being said, you will pay a little more for detergent that smells perfect for you and your family than cheap detergent that smells bad, or has no smell at all.

4. Smell Is Necessary

The clothes being washed may be notoriously stinky when they come into the washing machine. They might belong to a fishmonger, or a football team, or someone who makes pancakes (trust me, an overwhelming stench of maple syrup can get too much after a while).

The laundry detergent might have some strong, lingering odors to fight against, so the residual smell left after the washing in done could be quite relevant to your detergent choice.

5. Smell Is Memory

If you liked the smell of a certain detergent you will remember it and buy it again. And it extends from just when you are doing the laundry; this smell will actually be walking around the place attached to all the people that you love, will be wafting up at your for days after whenever you open a drawer. You want it to be a good one.

A word of warning to laundry detergent companies: stronger is not better. You can’t drown us in lemon or lavender or seaside (whatever that is) and expect us to buy it. Strong smelling laundry detergent smells just like that; laundry detergent.

Sometimes it smells like being drenched in really cheap perfume. Smells need to be subtle, to work in layers, to surprise you gently with good feelings and not make you think of laundry.

To help you choose a laundry detergent that ticks all your boxes, especially in terms of smell, we have compared several for you below.​

Laundry Detergent NamePriceOur Rating
Tide Original Scent Turbo Clean Liquid$5/5
Arm & Hammer Laundry Detergent, Clean Burst$4.7/5
Purex Liquid Laundry Detergent$4.5/5
Gain Flings Original Laundry Detergent Pacs$$4.5/5
Downy Fresh Protect April Fresh In-Wash Odor Defense$$$4/5

What Is Your Favorite Smelling Laundry Detergent?

Your Favorite Smelling Laundry Detergent

It is hard to recommend a smell to you because it’s such an objective thing. What one person finds fresh and pleasant may make another person gag. You will have to make the call for yourself ultimately, but hopefully, we have narrowed it down for you.

There were a number of front-runners in terms of different types of benefits. If you wanted the strongest smelling then a scent booster such as Downy would be good for you, particularly if you’re storing clothes.

For everyday dirty family use, we recommend Gain Flings as an all round product, with a good clean smell and a detergent that goes the extra mile regarding cleanliness. It really smelt like happy laundry to me.

However it was an expensive product, so if you are wanting something more economical that cleans clothes and smells lovely you may want to give reliable favorite Tide Original Scent Turbo Clean Liquid a try. Good luck and happy smelling!