My laundry room cocktail bar

One of my favorite parts of teaching my Super-Couponing workshops is the Q&A portion of the class. I love answering questions from new couponers, and one of the topics that regularly comes up is laundry detergent. Everyone’s got their brand of choice, and certainly, by playing the coupons-and-sales game, you will find good deals on your brand of choice. 

Inevitably, people then ask what I personally use. I usually answer, “Everything.” And I do! Here’s a current photo of the top of my washing machine: 

Laundry cocktail bar

The top of my washer is truly a laundry cocktail bar. I rotate brands and varieties of detergent based on what I’m washing. Whenever I suggest this to people, it’s like a proverbial light goes off — “What a great idea! I never thought of that!” Everyone asks how to save on Tide, and certainly, I like Tide too. Realistically though, Tide is a premium detergent designed not to excessively fade or show wear when washing your clothes. Do you need that level of fabric protection for everything you wash?

At the other end of the spectrum, bargain brands can also be surprisingly powerful detergents. They aren’t always as gentle to clothing as premium brands are, but they do get clothing clean.

I like to save my Tide for washing delicates, darks, or anything I’m very concerned about maintaining the appearance of. Mid-level detergents are good for just about anything — clothes that are at a “regular” level of dirty. For super-dirty items or whites, I break out the Ariel with phosphates to get these things extremely clean and bright.

I like scented detergents, but whenever I get a deal on unscented kinds, like the All shown above, I’ll use it for things that we don’t really care about the scent of (usually blue jeans!) Sheets and towels always get the good-smelling things. Items that can get smelly (kids’ sports uniforms, workout clothes, sneakers) get the Tide Sport, which seems to get bad smells out better than anything else I’ve tried.

Bargain brand detergents like Xtra and Purex are great for washing everything from garage towels to the dog’s bed to vehicle floor mats — you name it. We do a lot of laundry where the condition of the fabric or the resulting scent isn’t really a concern — we just need those things to be clean.  You likely have laundry loads that don’t need “the good stuff” to simply get them clean too. 

Obviously, if there are skin sensitivities to specific detergents, that should be taken into consideration too. However, in case you’ve never thought of having a “laundry cocktail bar” in your laundry room too, steal this idea. I bet you’ll never look at your laundry detergent sales the same way… 


  1. Michele says

    Like you I tend to mix it up. However, I am remodeling & having to go to a laundromat as well as rely on friends so things aren’t getting washed as quickly. I found that Persil – only sold at Walmart is phenomenal. Even on the sports uniforms – can you say two baseball players with white pants!!!! It has a nice smell too – helps fight the teenage boy smell… Before I was a Tide Sport gal but this is better. I was amazed at results so started using it on all the clothes. I also have to give credit to he laundromat front loader for the baseball pants that give me an extra wash option as well as rinse & in 30 mins they come out clean! I may be heading back there even after my remodel is done!

    • HappyMom88 says

      Persil was recently on sale at CVS too, and the $2 coupon could be used with the sale. I have recently gone to an Old Fashioned Top Loader Speed Queen without the HE, so I can no longer put my detergent on top of my machine. I was going to put in on my dryer, but the dryer warning says not to put anything on top. I have some great racks above my machines in the laundry closet and use those.

      Just a little tidbit. When you replace your old washing machine and find that a bottle of laundry detergent was hidden behind it and leaked all over the floor, use a putty knife or spatula to scrape up the old detergent. Then, use clorox wipes or something similar to wash the floor and cut through any detergent left.

  2. JUDY FISHER says

    Would Ariel be good for cleaning whites in hot water & bleach? I use Tide Ultra Stain Release, and although water temperature isn’t recommended, I feel most detergents are made for cold water so I’m not confident my whites are getting as clean as possible. Thoughts….

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *