The Best Laundry Essentials of 2020
— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission.
Here at Reviewed, we take laundry very seriously. We're constantly testing the best washing machines and the top dryers in our Cambridge, Mass., laboratories.
When we're not focused on the large appliances, we're researching the best ways to remove stains and how to wash your clothes the right way. Along the way, we're also testing all the cleaning, drying, and putting-away products you could possibly need.
These are the best laundry essentials we've tested:
Best Detergent: Persil ProClean Best Eco-Friendly Detergent: Tide PurClean Best Detergent for Sensitive Skin: Persil ProClean Sensitive Skin Best Dryer Balls: Budieggs Wool Dryer Balls Best Clothing Hangers: Container Store Acrylic Hangers Best Clothes Steamer: PurSteam PS-937 Best Portable Clothes Steamer: Sunbeam SB51 Best Detergent Persil ProClean
Though Persil has only been on sale in the US since mid-2015, it has long been a best-selling laundry detergent in Europe. Our photospectrometer revealed that—across all our tests—Persil removed an average of 2 percent more stains than the next best detergents were capable of. While that difference isn't clearly visible to the naked eye, it does make a difference over repeated washings—and that's how Persil became out new top pick over a long standing favorite.
Unfortunately, at most retailers, Persil is more expensive than other detergents. While the price gap isn't extreme, over a year's worth of washing with Persil ProClean power liquid, it can add up.
Our in-house survey and review of online opinions also show that many consumers think Persil smells "sweet"—which may be a turnoff. Still, if stain removal is critical, Persil is the undisputed winner.
Read more of the best laundry detergents we reviewed.
Best stain removal of tested detergents
Sweet smell may be a turnoff
Buy now at Amazon $11.97 from Walmart $11.99 from Target Best Detergent for Sensitive Skin Persil ProClean Sensitive Skin
Persil ProClean Sensitive Skin came out on top in our cleaning tests for detergents for people with sensitive skin.
When we popped open the Sensitive Skin bottle, we found a very mild scent, which we actually like much better than the regular Persil detergent. We also appreciate the fact that the Sensitive Skin version is formulated to work in cold water. Those who like to cook will enjoy that our testing showed Persil did best against red wine and protein stains.
While testing showed that it’s a great cleaner, we did have some concerns over some of the ingredients. Most notable was the usage of Sodium Borate, also known as borax, which can cause skin irritation. There is also some concern about Propylene Glycol, prolonged exposure to which could cause contact dermatitis.
Persil Sensitive Skin sits on the fence between hypoallergenic laundry detergents and the standard set we’ve been familiar with for years. In exchange for having more harsh chemicals than most free-and-clear detergents, you’re getting a superior clean.
Superior stain remover
Contains known irritants
Buy now at Amazon $11.97 from Walmart Best Eco-Friendly Detergent Tide PurClean
When it comes to eco-friendly detergents, our testing showed that Tide PurClean came out on top, removing the most amount of stains.
Tide PurClean is a brand-new detergent with a familiar name and a reduced environmental impact. It claims to clean as well as conventional Tide, and our tests proved that claim to be 100% true. In fact, it's far and away the best-cleaning eco-friendly detergent we tested.
However, there are two drawbacks: cost and content. Tide is typically considered a big name brand, and PurClean is no different. Tracking its price over time on Amazon, we can see that it’s one of the more expensive detergents we’ve tested.
PurClean can be described as a hybrid detergent—only 75% of its ingredients are plant-based, and some of the rest are petroleum-derived. If you want to do Mother Earth a small favor without sacrificing performance, PurClean is the best choice for clean laundry.
Read more of the best eco-friendly laundry detergents we reviewed.
Best cleaning eco-friendly detergent
75% of ingredients plant-based
Higher cost than most other eco-friendly detergents
Buy now at Amazon $15.26 from Walmart Best Dryer Balls Budieggs Wool Dryer Balls
Our Best Overall, the Budieggs Wool Dryer Balls, had several leads on the competition. We found them to be durable and strong, and we believe these dryer balls could last for 1,000 loads or longer. The Budieggs contain no chemicals and claim to be hypoallergenic, too.
The Budieggs had better drying power than the rest of the products we tested and left our laundry really soft. In lab testing, however, the Budieggs left the t-shirts slightly damp to the touch after a single-load, but that was across the board with every dryer ball we tested. The comforter we dried was also damp in the middle, but our research found that most comforters dry better while using tennis balls, longer drying times, and higher dry settings.
Read more of the best dryer balls we reviewed.
Reduced drying time
Left some items damp
Needs high dry times for heavy loads
Buy now at Amazon Best Clothes Hanger The Container Store Basic Acrylic Hangers
We will admit right up front that this is the most attractive hanger we tested. The sleek, clear acrylic design works well in upscale modern closets as well as dark, tiny closets because you can see through them.
The width of the top of the hanger also means you’re less likely to get marks on the shoulders of your shirts and sweaters; the rounded edges help prevent that. But the crossbar below the hanger, on the suit hangers, also makes it easy and convenient to hang pants, whether as part of a pantsuit or on their own.
However, that hanger width also means you can’t hang dozens in your closet; they take up a good amount of space. So, if you have a smaller closet, this may not be your best option, unless you limit what you hang. (For small closets, we recommend these Timmy wire hangers.)
The Container Store acrylic hangers glided smoothly across the metal rod in our closet, as did the clothes when we went to remove them. There are notches in the tops of the hangers that make it easy to keep lightweight dresses and camisoles in place, too.
The only real downside of this particular hanger is the price—it’s pricier than the other hangers we tested.
Read more of the best clothes hangers we reviewed.
$7.99 from The Container Store Best Clothes Steamer PurSteam PS-937
What made the PurSteam garment steamer a stand-out was its ability to get wrinkles out of all the fabrics. It was one of the very few that could, which is why it tops our rankings.
Like most steamers, it’s easy to operate. You remove the water receptacle in the base, fill it in the sink with water, replace the water contained, plug it in, and turn it on. Within a matter of minutes, you can see steam being emitted from the plastic head, which resembles a small vacuum cleaner head. The steamer head is one thing that was fairly different about the PurSteam—it has more of an ergonomic design, which makes it easy to hold and press against clothes. And since it’s plastic, not metal, you’re less likely to get burned if you happen to touch it.
The stand comes with its own hanger, which is convenient. And it’s on wheels, so you can easily pull it out of a closet or wheel it into another room if needed.
It took a little more than five minutes to completely assemble, which was about average. The four different steam levels allow you to adjust the amount of steam depending on the fabric you’re working with (it's a great option for dress shirts). A good choice no matter how frequently you intend to use it.
Gets wrinkles out of any fabric
Easy to operate
$89.97 from Amazon Best Portable Clothes Steamer Sunbeam SB51
You might think that in order to entirely eliminate wrinkles, you need a heavy-duty steamer. It turns out, you don’t. The Sunbeam SB51W Garment Steamer is one of the smallest, most lightweight models, with the simplest design, and yet it gets the job done.
Assembling it involves putting it under the faucet to fill it with water, screwing the top on, and plugging it in. It turns on automatically. Maybe because of its simplicity, it also heats up quickly. I timed it and had water boiling in it and steaming in under 20 seconds. To use the steamer, hold its head up to the fabric and drag it down while gently tugging on the fabric (at least that’s my technique).
The only downsides, really, are that because of its petite size, you may need to refill it several times if you’re steaming a pile of clothes, and you’ll want to unplug it and have it cool down before stowing it away. For the price and ease-of-use, the Sunbeam is a great choice.
Read more of the best clothes steamers we reviewed.
Heats up quickly
Needs to be refilled several times
$24.89 from Amazon $24.99 from Walmart More Articles You Might Enjoy The Best Washer and Dryer Sets The Best Closet Organizers Why cold water washing is the future of laundry How to wash towels