9 Best-Smelling Laundry Detergents, According to Editor Tests
Washing laundry with your favorite detergent scent adds a little luxury to everyday life. But how do you find one you love? We tested the best-smelling laundry detergents so you don't have to.
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The best-smelling laundry detergents can make doing the laundry from plain old housework to domestic bliss. Scenting your clothes, towels and bedsheets in a fragrance you love works as a dose of aromatherapy and adds a little bit of elegance to the spin cycle.
Our picks for the best-smelling laundry detergents will get your clothes clean and gently perfume your fabrics for a lingering scent that lasts. Our editors put several bottles of detergent through the paces to determine the best of the best.
Before you throw anything in the wash though, you’ll want to brush up on what common laundry symbols mean so you can choose the best detergents to use on your clothes (and check out how to do laundry the right way).
Overall Best-Smelling Laundry Detergent: Tyler Glamorous Diva Wash
Scent strength: 9/10
Topping our list of best-smelling laundry detergent, the Tyler Glamorous Wash in scent Diva gets two of our shopping editors’ stamps of approval.
“I took a chance on Tyler Glamorous Wash in the Diva scent based on how many Amazon reviews it earned—and because I was intrigued by the name!” says Executive Shopping Editor, Megan Wood. “It’s now my favorite best-smelling laundry detergent, and I’ve used everything from The Laundress to lavender-scented laundry sheets.”
As for the scent itself? “Diva smells rich,” adds Megan. “The notes are warm and floral, but not cloying or irritating. My laundry trick for making it last is adding a small capful with unscented laundry detergent to loads of sweaters, delicates and sheets. The fragrance makes the entire laundry room smell good and the scent lingers on fabrics for days after washing. When I run out, I’m ordering the two-pack.”
Senior Shopping Editor, Daria Smith, also gives it two thumbs up: “I’m what some may call a laundry snob. I swear by Tyler Glamorous Wash in scent Diva.” BRB we’re stocking up on all the Tyler Glamorous Wash we can get our hands on!
Best Budget: Arm & Hammer OxiClean, Fresh Burst
Scent strength: 5/10
Leave it to Arm & Hammer for the best-smelling laundry detergent on a budget. This tried and true classic gets a fresh upgrade with scent-boosting odor blasters that are tough on stinky clothes. “This detergent is best for people who prefer a light scent that won’t linger days after you’ve done laundry,” says Senior Shopping Editor, Caroline Lubinsky. “If you like fresh, clean scents that aren’t too perfume-y or overly fragranced, you’ll love this detergent. It’s also a good option for those who frequently have smelly laundry—it got my workout clothes squeaky clean and smelling fresh again.” Pro tip: Swiff Spray is the secret for preventing stinky clothes.
Best Splurge-Worthy: Milk Dedtergent
Scent strength: 5/10
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: Investing in a luxurious-smelling laundry detergent is the best way to make laundry day something to look forward to (along with outfitting your space with these laundry room decor ideas). Which brings us to our best splurge-worthy pick: Milk Dedtergent.
“I was hesitant to try a detergent called “milk,” but don’t worry, this “dedtergent” smells nothing at all like, well, milk,” says Senior Shopping Editor, Megan Mowery. “Its elevated, luxurious notes of bergamot, white musk and amber combine to create an addicting scent that keeps me sniffing all day long. It’s pricey—but walking around smelling like you live at a luxury resort is worth the price, no?” Here’s how to tell if you’re using too much laundry detergent.
Best-Smelling Detergent for Everyday Use: Mrs. Meyer’s, Honeysuckle
Scent strength: 4/10
Here’s a scented laundry detergent you can wash everything from towels, to clothes and bedsheets in without getting tired of it. “I typically use unscented laundry detergent as I have sensitive skin. But the Mrs. Meyer’s honeysuckle scent is making me reconsider,” says Senior Shopping Editor, Katie Bandurski. “This detergent’s scent is floral and sweet—yet not overpowering. It left everything from musty T-shirts to old sheet sets smelling fresh. It reminds me of how clothes smell after air-drying outside on a spring day!”
Best Citrus-Smelling: Molly’s Suds, Citrus Grove
Scent strength: 3/10
I’ve wanted to test Molly’s Suds since hearing about it for the first time last year. Its clean, powder formula (no dyes!) and stain-removing powers immediately caught my attention. Not to mention the rave reviews from loyal fans. The variety of scents is just the cherry on top.
After testing the citrus grove scent for a few months, I’m pleasantly surprised by its light, refreshing aroma. All it takes is one scoop of the laundry powder to thoroughly clean clothing, towels and beyond. I did have to hold clothes up to my nose to get a whiff of the scent—but that’s not a bad thing. I recommend this best-smelling laundry detergent to anyone who wants an upgrade from unscented detergent (aka me) but doesn’t care for overwhelming scents. Bonus: It comes in a medium-sized bag that lasts for months.
Best Luxe-Smelling: Dirty Labs
Scent strength: 6/10
I’ve exclusively used boring, unscented laundry detergent for the past few years. I have sensitive skin, so I’m wary of scented detergents. But let me tell you, Dirty Labs isn’t messing around. With notes of magnolia, bergamot and cedar, it’s the only detergent I care to wash my sweaters, towels and bedding with. The light yet luxurious smell of Dirty Labs is most powerful with thicker items. Plus, it’s highly concentrated, so the small bottle lasts for months. I’ve been using this best-smelling laundry detergent since December 2022, and I still have half a bottle left. Have you seen these laundry products that make wash day easier?
Best Eco-Friendly: Dropps, Clean & Crisp
Scent strength: 6/10
Let’s be real: Laundry pods, sheets and strips are simply more fun—and they’re better for the environment. But there’s a lot more options than what’s available at your local store. Not only is Dropps our new favorite laundry pod, it’s the best eco-friendly option. The packaging is 100% plastic-free, plus the ingredients are gentle on skin and safe for the planet. “The clean and crisp scent from Dropps delivered to its namesake; it left my laundry smelling airy and fresh,” says Content Director of Strategy and Performance, Nicole Doster. “The scent profile delivered with citrus and subtle woodsy notes. I noticed immediately that detergent wasn’t too overpowering compared to other popular laundry pods on the market. I loved it for my sheets and blankets, which I’m usually picky about, though the scent only held up for a few days.”
“For clothing that’s a little more funky—like gym clothes or pet stains—I recommend using two pods instead of a single pod per load,” adds Nicole. “By far, the defining element that makes me want to buy Dropps again was its eco-conscious packaging which nixed the extra plastic that usually ends up in the garbage.”
Best Light-Smelling: Method, Fresh Air
Scent Strength: 3/10
Looking for a best-smelling laundry detergent that isn’t too strong? Senior Shopping Editor, Katie Bandurski, has just the product. “Going in, the Method detergent has a powerful, clean scent,” says Katie. “I was a little leery of its overpowering fragrance right out of the bottle, but after washing and drying, my towels smelled bright and clean. This brand is definitely not for someone who prefers the scent to linger long after laundry day, but it’s a nice basic option.”
We recommend this affordable pick to anyone who wants a no-frills scented detergent. “I would also note that this smells very much like, well, laundry detergent. The scent is nice, but it’s not unique,” adds Katie.
Best-Smelling Odor Eliminator: Downy Rinse & Refresh, Cool Cotton
Scent strength: 8/10
If laundry detergent and fabric softener had a baby, the result would be Downy Rinse & Refresh. It’s sort of a hybrid of the two, yet its own product at the same time. While some detergents or softeners simply cover up odors, Downy Rinse & Refresh actually removes lingering odors and residue.
I’ve had the joy of testing the cool cotton scent since it launched in September 2022, and my stinky gym clothes have never felt cleaner—or smelled better. I add a splash to the fabric softener bin after adding my unscented laundry detergent. My leggings come out smelling like cool spring day, and I personally love that the fresh-smelling goodness lasts until I wash my clothes again.
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