Are you really using the best laundry detergent for your clothes? Are you trying to reduce your water consumption or lower your gas bill? Are you tired of using detergents with too much fragrance? Do you want to extend the life of your garments as much as possible? Japanese laundry detergents are formulated for maximum cleanliness while using less water than their American counterparts and have less intense fragrances while ensuring your clothes are fresh and clean. Additionally, they're formulated for use with cold water in mind, which is less abrasive and better at preserving colors than warm water!
Laundry detergent is an indispensable necessity for daily life. Not only are there a plethora of laundry detergents made by famous manufacturers such as Arielle, Attack, and Top, but various detergent formats, such as powder, liquid, and pods. With so many options available on the market, it can be hard to figure out which one is right for your particular needs.
To figure out the best Japanese laundry detergent, we gathered the 25 best-selling Japanese laundry detergents from popular Japanese e-commerce sites such as Amazon, Rakuten, and Yahoo! Shopping and tested them all.
We tested each of the products for the following:
We then ranked the 10 best Japanese laundry detergents based on our test results and compiled what we learned into our buying guide to help you choose the best Japanese laundry detergent. If you're also interested in finding out if you've been properly using your laundry detergent and tips and tricks for removing stains, keep on reading!
Eiichi Ishikawa is a first-generation olfactory measurement operator, which is nationally recognized in Japan, making him an expert on smells. Eiichi is also a licensed odor control advisor. After working at two companies specializing in odor control, Eiichi launched his own firm as an odor detective, working with various TV shows, magazines, and major companies to test the deodorizing properties of various products as well as provides technical guidance.
Hakuyosha Co., Ltd. (Hakuyosha Cleaning) Manager Clusters Co., Ltd. CTO Kensuke Kanzaki is currently a manager at his family's long-established dry cleaning company as well as is the chief technical officer (CTO) of a tech company. Kensuke has developed the delivery dry cleaning service Nexcy, operating a dry cleaner that can collect and deliver laundry from all over Japan. Known as the "Laundry Professor," Kensuke provides laundry advice through social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, as well as actively hosts seminars to invigorate his local community.
mybest US' editing team consists of experienced members who have backgrounds in writing, editing, translation, and more. We are dedicated to researching what makes a product or service the best to users in the US in order to create top-quality articles. From skincare, to kitchen appliances, and to DIY supplies, our mission is to find the best ones for you.
The experts featured in these contents reviewed the contents of the buying guide.
Products or services listed have been independently ranked by the mybest Editorial Team based on the relevant research as of 11-04-2022. Experts featured in this article did not participate in the selection and ranking process.
Unlike American washing machines, Japanese washers mostly operate on cold water, except for a few high-end machines and at laundromats. Laundry detergents are thus accordingly formulated to be used primarily with cold water.
Moreover, Japan has mostly soft water, compared to most parts of the US, which have hard water, which is higher in minerals. The difference is that soft water penetrates fibers easier than hard water, which is why when doing laundry with hard water, it needs to be warmed up to help loosen up the fibers to make it easier for the water, and therefore the detergent, to penetrate your laundry.
However, since warm water is more effective at cleaning clothes, Japanese laundry detergents compensate for this by generally being stronger than their American counterparts. Moreover, Japanese laundry detergents place heavy emphasis on antibacterial properties, since Japanese people also tend to hang up their laundry, which means their laundry stays damp for longer, potentially causing bacteria growth and leading to stale laundry. This is even more important since Japan gets a lot of rainfall, meaning people often hang their laundry indoors.
Finally, it's worth noting that while front loaders are also gaining popularity in recent years, most washing machines in Japan are top-loading impeller washing machines, otherwise known as high-efficiency washers. These machines feature a spinning disc at the bottom of the machine rather than an agitator. These machines are more water and energy efficient, as well as being gentler on clothes. Since they use less water than agitator top-loaders, this also means that the detergent must also be formulated for minimal water use.
If you want to be more environmentally friendly by using cold water to do your laundry, then Japanese laundry detergents will help keep your clothes fresh and clean without having to use warm water!
Below are three essential points to keep in mind when choosing a Japanese laundry detergent.
For this article, we tested each laundry detergent to see how well they'd remove ten different types of stains, and we found that powder detergents were unparalleled in their cleansing ability.
While light stains (water-soluble stains like soy sauce, coffee, Worcestershire sauce, and ketchup) were easily removed by all types of detergents, powder detergents really shone through with how well they removed heavier oil-soluble stains, like bolognese sauce, and even blood.
Powder detergents are made with weak alkalines that are effective at removing oil-soluble stains, which helped easily remove the bolognese sauce. If you want to effectively clean clothes that have been stained by greasy food, or want to do a deep clean of your workout clothes or workwear, consider using a powder detergent.
The second best in terms of cleansing ability was laundry pods. Compared to liquid detergent, laundry pods have a higher concentration of surfactants, meaning they can remove grease stains easily. However, liquid detergents also work just as fine on all but the heaviest of stains, so it's best to choose the appropriate detergent type based on how dirty your clothes are.
Water-soluble stains are generally easily removed by water, so most detergents will be able to remove these stains fairly well.
However, mild alkaline detergents are better at removing oil-soluble stains than neutral detergents. Additionally, condensed detergents and laundry pods also have a high concentration of surfactants, making them great at removing stains.
Blood can be removed with water if it hasn't settled in yet, but once some time has passed and it dries, it becomes more difficult to remove. When moving blood stains, look for detergents with enzymes that help break down the proteins found in blood.
When laundry is left damp for too long, it can lead to bacteria growth, which won't go away even if you hang up your laundry under the sun or throw your clothes in the dryer. To prevent your laundry from going stale, it's not only best to quickly dry your laundry, but also to thoroughly clean your clothes to prevent bacteria from growing, which causes stale-smelling laundry.
When testing how well each product removed smells, we found that most products performed just fine. However, we did find that powder detergents and laundry pods had a bit of an edge. These types of detergents are high in cleansing ability, making it more difficult for bacteria to grow, successfully removing and preventing smells.
On the other hand, we found that some liquid detergents were unable to remove strong smells entirely. If you plan on choosing a liquid detergent, consider one with enzymes or bleach which can help remove dirt better.
If you still find your laundry doesn't smell clean after using detergents with enzymes or bleach, you might be trying to wash too much laundry than your detergent can handle at a time. If you keep washing your clothes like this, it can actually make it more difficult for dirt to wash out in one laundry cycle.
If you still can't remove smells even after doing your laundry, try soaking your laundry in some warm water with bleach and wash them again.
Laundry detergents contain various ingredients in addition to those that remove stains. Check which components play what role and use different laundry detergents depending on your needs.
If you want to accentuate the whiteness of your clothes, choose a detergent with optical brighteners. Optical brighteners absorb invisible ultraviolet light and turn it into visible bluish-white light, increasing the white appearance of the garments.
Optical brighteners are also found in newly purchased white clothing. The reason why the white color of new clothes gradually becomes dull is that the optical brighteners are slowly removed through repeated washing. Retain the original whiteness of clothes by renewing optical brighteners when washing.
However, be careful when using these on light-colored clothes, such as pastel colors or raw, undyed clothes in particular, as it may cause the color to fade.
If you want softer laundry, detergent with fabric softener included is the way to go. In particuar, if you regularly use both laundry detergent and fabric softener separately anyway, you can save time, money, and space by switching to a two-in-one detergent that already includes fabric softener.
However, don't expect the softening properties and added fragrance to be as powerful as an individual fabric softener. Since these two-in-one detergents have two properties to offer, it's good to think about these products as detergents first with fabric softening as a bonus.
If you hang up your clothes, rather than use a dryer, and want your clothes to be fluffy and soft, give them a good shake before hanging them up.
If you want your towels to be nice and fluffy, shake them about 10 to 20 times. That'll help the strands stand up, making your towels fluffy without having to use fabric softener.
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Ariel Bioscience Gel
Best Anti-Mildew and Stain-Preventing Laundry Detergent for Indoor Drying
Super Nanox Deodorizing Detergent
Best Deodorizing Detergent for Sportswear and Sweaty Clothing
Ariel Science Plus 7
Powder Detergent With Bleach and Optical Brightening Agents
Ariel Bioscience Gelball
Convenient Detergent Gel Packs With High Cleaning Power
Ariel Bioscience Gelball 4D
Pre-Measured Detergent Pods With Stain-Preventing Abilities
Ariel Tick Repellant Detergent
Best Tick and Dust Mite Repellant Liquid Detergent
Sarasa Laundry Detergent
Best Additive-Free Gentle Deodorant For Sensitive Skin and Babies
Super NANOX Detergent
Compact and Well-Balanced Liquid Detergent
Top Platinum Clear
Best Powder Detergent With High Cleaning and Stain Prevention Abilities
Bold Gelball 3D
Pod-Type Gel Ball Detergent With Great Deodorizing Powers
P&G's Ariel Bioscience Gel is a detergent that has anti-mildew properties, making it suitable for indoor drying.
In our cleaning power tests, we noticed that it was able to remove all stains except for the coffee stains, which remained visible. For this reason, they didn't get a perfect score on the cleaning power test.
That being said, they scored very highly on the stain prevention test, as we weren't able to detect any stain transfers. The T-shirts with unpleasant smells were also deodorized effectively. Although not every single stain was eradicated with this detergent, it still boasts impressive stain removal and deodorizing abilities.
Lion's SUPER NANOX Deodorizing Detergent is a liquid detergent that has a unique deodorizing formula that removes body odor effectively. Since the formula is highly concentrated, a little goes a long way with this product too.
In our cleaning power test, this detergent removed basic stains such as coffee, curry, eggs, and mud well. In addition, it hardly transferred stains to cotton and polyester materials as well. In terms of deodorizing power, dirty mildew scents and pseudo-sweaty odors were removed excellently.
P&G's Ariel Powder Science Plus 7 is a powdered detergent containing bleach and optical brightening agents. It's designed for room-drying and has strong cleaning and disinfecting properties.
In our cleaning power tests, this product removed basic stains such as coffee, curry, and mud as well as peskier protein stains such as eggs, making it one of the strongest detergents in its class. Although a little stain transfer was observed on cotton materials, there was almost no stain transfer on polyester, making its stain-preventing abilities quite strong.
Furthermore, the product was able to eliminate even the most unpleasant of smells, be it mildew or pseudo-sweat, giving it a perfect score for deodorizing power. This product has the highest cleaning power. Additionally, its bleaching and optical brightening agent makes it useful for washing clothes you want to enhance the brightness of, such as shirts and gym clothes.
P&G's Ariel's Bioscience Gel Balls are easy to use because you don't need to go through the hassle of measuring out your detergent each time. It can also be used effectively with just one rinse, making it ideal for those who want to spend less time doing laundry.
The product claims to have high cleaning power with its stain removal boosting formula; our tests confirmed this. Coffee, curry, and mud stains were removed well, and protein stains reproduced with eggs were cleaned exceptionally well compared to other products. The product also eliminated unpleasant smells such as mildew and pseudo-sweat.
In the stain transfer prevention test, cotton fabrics were left slightly stained, but polyester fabrics saw almost zero stains. For this reason, it received an average score in the stain-prevention department.
P&G's Ariel Bioscience Gel Balls 4D 12-pack mimics the high cleaning abilities of baking soda. This product also touts its ability to prevent mildew without needing supplementary laundry cleaners and also claims to have strong antibacterial properties.
Its cleaning performance was good with coffee stains fading substantially and egg stains being removed cleanly. Stain transfers were hardly noticeable. As for deodorizing power, it didn't do so good, as faint odors of pseudo-sweat remained. Though its deodorizing power wasn't as strong, if you're looking for a detergent that focuses on ease of use and convenience, give this product a try.
P&G's Ariel Tick Repellent Plus Liquid Detergent is effective in eliminating indoor ticks and dust mites with a single rinse cycle. It's most suitable for washing bedding and stuffed animals where dust mites are a common concern.
The cleaning power of this product was good but not great, removing some stains such as coffee, curry, eggs, and mud. However, it received a perfect score for deodorizing power and was able to eliminate unpleasant scents such as mildew and pseudo-sweaty odors. That being said, the fragrance was a bit peculiar which may be something that some find unpleasant.
It did good in our stain transfer prevention test, with very few stains transferring onto cotton materials and almost no stains onto polyester. Overall, this product removes basic stains, has high deodorizing power, and has the added benefit of eliminating ticks and dust mites.
P&G's Sarasa Laundry Detergent is additive-free, without any optical brightening agents, bleach, or colorants. Not only has it been skin tested under the supervision of a dermatologist, but it also contains plant-derived care ingredients and natural enzymes great for people with sensitive skin.
Basic stains such as coffee, curry, eggs, and mud were removed well. After using the detergent, both mildew and pseudo-sweaty odors disappeared as well, confirming its high deodorizing power.
While there was almost no stain transfer on the polyester material, some stain transfer was observed on the cotton material. Although this product may rank lower on our list, it's the optimal choice for those seeking additive-free detergent that's not only great for sensitive skin and babies but also gentle and preserves the texture of clothes.
Lion's SUPER NANOX's potent formula is made of 70% cleaning ingredients. It's also very compact in size, making it easier to store and maneuver. The detergent's cleaning abilities were good, with coffee, curry, and mud stains being mostly removed. Its deodorizing power also received a perfect score, as it was able to eliminate strong smells of mildew and pseudo-sweaty odors with no issues.
That being said, its overall score was lowered because there was some stain transferring with cotton materials. Nevertheless, it didn't do particularly bad on any of the tests, making it a reliable option for those seeking a standard, compact detergent.
Lion's Top Platinum Clear is a powdered detergent that can be used with the speed mode on Japanese washing machines, which isn't very common for most detergents. Formulated with proteolytic enzymes, it is said to be effective in cleaning away even the most stubborn stains.
Protein stains reproduced by eggs, coffee, and curry stains were removed fairly well. It also did well in the stain transfer prevention test, as stains transferred only slightly to cotton materials, but hardly at all to polyester materials. However, it scored lower in the deodorizing power test since it left a slightly unpleasant odor after washing.
P&G's Bold Gel Ball 3D is a convenient pod-type detergent with reliable cleaning abilities. Its cleaning power was good, with protein stains reproduced by eggs being removed well alongside curry and mud stains.
The deodorizing power was rated highly as it was able to remove both mildew scents and pseudo-sweaty odors effectively. However, compared to other detergents, this one didn't do as well in preventing stains.
We gathered and tested the 10 best-selling Japanese laundry detergents from e-commerce sites popular in Japan, such as Amazon, Rakuten, and Yahoo! Shopping.
Then, we tested each product for the following:
Finally, we ranked the 10 best Japanese laundry detergents accordingly.
First, we tested how well each laundry detergent was able to do its main job of cleaning. To test this, we applied the following stains to white T-shirts and left them for a day:
Then, we washed the stained T-shirts in our top-load washing machine on standard mode (two rinses). We then used a color meter, a device that can measure the difference in color, to test how much of our stains were removed.
Next, we tested how well the laundry detergents were able to deodorize dirty T-shirts. To do this, we left T-shirts soak in dirty bath water for a day and added one drop of a liquid containing a pseudo-sweaty smell created by experts.
The stinky T-shirts were then washed in a vertical washing machine using each detergent and hung out to dry for a day in a well-ventilated environment. Finally, our testers sniffed each of the T-shirts to test each detergent's deodorizing abilities.
For this test, we enlisted the help of odor expert Eiichi Ishikawa, who's a first-generation olfactory measurement operator and licensed odor control advisor.
Finally, we tested to see how easy it was to use each detergent. Since laundry detergent is something we use on a daily basis, it's best to use one that isn't too complicated. We evaluated each laundry detergent based on its type and container, giving high scores to products that were easy to use.
We graded each product on a seven-point scale:
7 points: No measurement required
6 points: You only need to push the pump to measure out an exact amount
4 points: The cap or measuring spoon has a scale of three or more lines
3 points: The cap or measuring spoon has a scale of two or fewer lines
2 points: The cap doesn't have a scale, just a line
1 point: The cap has a colored scale and is easy to read
1 point: The cap or measuring spoon has no scale
※Note that there's intentionally no 5 point, as we found the difference between point 6 and point 4 were pretty vast, and the products were evaluated on multiple points. For example, if a product has a cap or measuring spoon with a scale of two or fewer lines, it earns 3 points. If a cap also lacks a scale, and only has a line, it gets three more points (points 2 and 1) for a total of 5 points.
If you're thinking, "I bought the right laundry detergent but it doesn't seem to remove stains for some reason," it may be that you're not using the laundry detergent correctly.
We spoke with a professional and asked exactly how to use laundry detergent correctly. We were also able to learn some tried and true techniques for removing stains that we hope can make your laundry routine easier.
One of the major causes of poor stain removal is overloading the washing machine. A good rule of thumb is to only fill a vertical washing machine up to 70% capacity, and a horizontal washing machine up to 30 to 40% capacity.
The trick is not to pack your laundry in too tightly, but rather, to fill the machine lightly and gently.
Additionally, it's worth noting that it's better to use less detergent rather than more for the amount of water you're using, since using more detergent than recommended means there's a greater likelihood that you'll end up with residue on your clothes, which can not only reduce the lifespan of your garments but also potentially trigger skin problems.
Many people overfill their laundry machines. If you put in more laundry than the detergent can handle, you will not be able to clean your clothes effectively.
If the washing machine is overstuffed, dirt and grime will not be removed from clothes, which leads to stale-smelling clothes. Most people will overcompensate by choosing detergents or fabric softeners with strong fragrances to mask smells, which might be unpleasant for some.
Maintaining the proper ratio of all the elements necessary for laundry washing (laundry, detergent, and water) is the key to achieving the best stain removal.
Not only the power of the detergent but also the power of the water affects how well the laundry removes stains. If you are using a water-saving washing machine and are worried about poor stain removal, try increasing the amount of water instead of increasing the amount of detergent.
When washing clothes for babies or for people with sensitive skin, increase rinsing from once to twice to thoroughly rinse out the laundry detergent. Detergent ingredients not being thoroughly rinsed out is one cause of skin irritation.
If you're particularly concerned about washing your baby's clothes with regular laundry detergent, you can also choose one specially made for babies. Check your baby's skin type and condition frequently to find the appropriate laundry detergent for them.
I have children, and I didn't look to buy a special detergent for washing baby clothes. Instead, I used regular detergent and rinsed twice to ensure no detergent remained on washed clothes.
I spoke with a university professor, and unsurprisingly, he concluded that letting babies wear dirty clothes, as in clothes that haven't had all the grime and detergent residue removed from them, is potentially harmful to infants and small children. If you use baby detergent and find that it does not remove stains well, use sodium sesquicarbonate or sodium percarbonate to clean the stains out correctly.
Even with the right kind of detergent, there are still some pesky stains that are hard to clean out. If you ever find yourself in that situation, try the following tips.
For spills and other food-related grease stains, we recommend spot-cleaning with dish detergent. Apply the dish soap to the stained area and gently rub it in before putting it in the washing machine.
Dishwashing detergent is very effective at removing pesky stains because it contains surfactants that are resistant to grease stains. Dish soap also tends to be gentler on the hands so you don't have to worry about any skin irritation you may encounter if you try spot-cleaning with laundry detergent.
Using this method could also help save time and money, as it'll save you from buying additional laundry detergent.
While none made it onto our top 10, for partial stains on collars and sleeves of shirts, we also recommend spot-cleaning with bar detergents. Gently rub the bar directly into the stain and scrub it gently before rinsing it off. Alternatively, you can leave the bar detergent on for a while before lightly wringing it out and chucking it in the washing machine.
Adding alkaline sodium sesquicarbonate when washing will dramatically increase cleaning power. We recommend it for messy stains caused by blood, grime, spills, and other stains you want to remove thoroughly.
Unlike bleach, it has no bleaching component, so you don't have to worry about it altering the color of your clothes. Just add it into the washing machine at the same time you add laundry detergent.
I put one tablespoon of sodium sesquicarbonate of soda per 15 lbs of laundry. Be aware that increasing the amount of sodium sesquicarbonate does not necessarily mean cleaner clothes.
If you want added bleaching benefits, consider adding sodium percarbonate (soda carbonate) into your washing machine with detergent. We recommend applying it directly to the stains before washing to remove partial stains.
As a rule of thumb, the standard amount to add to your load would be about 2.7 tablespoons per 16 gallons (60 liters) of water. Simply add it into the washing machine at the same time that you pour in your laundry detergent.
Now that you've gotten the best laundry detergent, time to look for other products to help you clean your clothes.
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