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Purex vs. Tide: Which Laundry Detergent Is Better?

Are you shopping for a new laundry detergent but not sure whether to buy Tide or Purex?

Tide is one of the most widely-recognized and best-selling laundry brands of all time, while Purex is one of the best budget-friendly detergents.

But which detergent is right for you?

In this comparison of Purex vs. Tide, you’ll learn how these brands differ in terms of cleaning performance, product offerings, scents, and price.

I’ll also answer the most frequently asked questions about both brands.


Use the links below to navigate the article:


Overview of Purex

Lionel and Ray Precourt, a father and son team, founded Purex in 1922. Their mission was to offer an affordable cleaning alternative for Americans.

The original product was a liquid bleach variant that earned the name Purex due to its clear and pure appearance.

Over the years, the formula has changed, and the product line has expanded. Now Purex comes in multiple forms, including liquid and powder detergent, laundry pacs, and crystal-like scent boosters.

Purex Plus Clorox Laundry Detergent

After several mergers and acquisitions, Purex was eventually acquired in 2004 by Henkel, a German consumer goods company.

Although Henkel brought new resources to the brand, Purex’s commitment to providing an affordable yet highly effective product remains the same.

Overview of Tide

Procter & Gamble scientist David Byerly invented Tide in 1946. The brand bolstered its popularity in the early years by sponsoring daytime TV dramas (soap operas) and other primetime shows.

Over the years, the brand has continuously evolved its formulas to create “the hardest working laundry detergents.”

What started as a basic powder detergent has become an array of laundry products, including liquid and powder detergent, laundry pacs, stain removers, and laundry boosters.

Tide Original Liquid Detergent

As you’ll see in the next section, Tide consistently ranks in the top tiers for cleaning power and stain removal.

It’s not the cheapest detergent brand, but it delivers exemplary performance, and that’s why it’s the top-selling detergent brand in the United States.

Performance

Tide and Purex are popular choices for a reason — they are effective. But what are their strengths and weaknesses? Which detergent performs the best?

Tide versus Purex performance

Let’s look at how Purex vs. Tide rank according to independent testing:

Purex Tide
ReviewedRanked # 7Ranked #2 and #4
The New York TimesNot ReviewedTide Ultra Stain Release was awarded the top pick
Consumer ReportsNot ReviewedConsumer Reports named Tide Plus Ultra Stain Release the Best Detergent for Most Tough Stains
NY MagazineRated as the best value detergentRated as the best detergent in multiple categories of pods, pouches, and box detergent.
Good HousekeepingNot ReviewedTide was named Best Overall Powder Laundry Detergent, Best Deep Cleaning Laundry Detergent, and Best Liquid Laundry Detergent with Bleach Alternative.
USA TodayNot ReviewedRated as the best value out of five top-rated laundry brands.

In its roundup of the Best Laundry Detergents, Reviewed.com ranked Purex second to last for fighting stains. They said it’s an affordable detergent with decent cleaning power, especially for lightly soiled clothing.

In that same article, Tide got high marks for its cleaning ability, regardless of the formula. The testers praised Tide Original and purclean (eco-friendly) or their cleaning power and fresh fragrances.

The New York Times tested 17 top detergents on 10 common stains and named Tide Ultra Stain Release the top pick because it removed more mess than any detergent tested. The experts didn’t test Purex. 

Consumer Reports named Tide Plus Ultra Stain Release the Best Detergent for Most Tough Stains, saying it “aces our pretreat tests.”

NY Magazine analyzed thousands of reviews and rated Purex Natural Elements as the best value detergent for its plant-based, hypoallergenic formula and ability to clean clothes and leave them smelling fresh without an overpowering scent. 

The author of the NY Magazine article ranked Tide as a top-performing brand in multiple categories, including pods, pouches, and box detergent. Tide Pods 3 in 1 was chosen as the best laundry detergent for ease of use, no mess, and time savings while still delivering stain and odor-fighting power.

Good Housekeeping put several detergent brands through such a rigorous gamut of tests and named Tide the Best Overall Powder Laundry Detergent, Best Deep Cleaning Laundry Detergent, and Best Liquid Laundry Detergent with Bleach Alternative. 

Tide outperformed the competition with its liquid, powder, pods, and added bleach alternative formulas. The experts praised Tide’s excellent stain fighting, body oil removal, color protection, and brightening agents. Good Housekeeping didn’t mention Purex within the review. 

USA Today rated Tide as the best value out of five top-rated laundry brands tested. Tide has excellent cleaning ability, especially against tough stains, and has formulas for high efficiency (HE) washers.

Tide is a frequent winner and contender on top laundry detergent lists. It’s usually chosen as the best overall or the best at removing stains.

Purex gets praised for its low cost and overall value but rarely for its cleaning power. The lack of enzymes in its original formula keeps prices low but decreases its stain-fighting ability.

If you need a high-performance detergent for cleaning and stain removal, Tide is more effective than Purex. If you have lightly soiled clothes and are looking to save money, Purex can deliver.

Product Options

Both brands offer various options to suit your preferences for washing clothes.

Purex offers roughly two dozen products, including liquid and powder laundry detergent, single-load laundry pacs, fragrance boosters, and laundry enhancers.

While Purex has just over two dozen products, Tide offers about 60 products in its portfolio. Half of the options are liquid detergent.

Tide offerings include liquid and powder detergent, single-use laundry pacs, stain removers, laundry boosters, washing machine care products, and fabric care products.

Tide’s formulas are geared toward diverse needs. For example, they offer detergents specifically for cold water washes, HE machines, protecting dark colors, and fighting odors.

Tide has also teamed with brands like Febreze, Downy, and OxiClean for specialized formulas.

Tide Plus Febreze Sport Odor Defense
Tide Plus Febreze Sport Odor Defense

Let’s take a closer look at both brands’ product lineups, starting with Purex.

Purex Liquid Detergent

Purex offers original, eco-friendly, sensitive, odor-targeting, and scent-boosted liquid formulas. The Purex + Clorox 2 formula is one of the brand’s most effective stain-fighting formulas.

  • Purex liquid detergents include:
  • Purex + Clorox 2 Original Fresh
  • Purex Odor Release
  • Purex Free & Clear for Sensitive Skin
  • Purex Natural Elements
  • Purex Ultra Natural Elements
  • Purex with Crystals
  • Purex Baby
  • Purex plus OXI
  • Purex Original

Purex Single Load Laundry Pacs

These self-contained laundry detergent packets dissolve during the wash cycle. Some include Clorox or OxiClean in the formula. Laundry pacs are ideal for people who don’t want to measure and pour detergent.

  • Purex laundry pacs include:
  • Purex 4-in-1 + Clorox 2 Pacs
  • Purex 4-in-1 + OXI Pacs
  • Purex 4-in-1 Pacs

Purex Powder Detergent

The powder detergent features formulas with added bleach for brightening or Crystals to enhance the scent profile.

Purex powder detergent includes:

  • Purex Powder
  • Purex Powder with Crystals

Purex Fragrance Boosters

Purex Crystals are tiny crystals you can add to a wash cycle to increase scent and overall freshness. Purex claims that this scent can last for several weeks after a wash.

Purex fragrance boosters include:

  • Purex Crystals
  • Purex Crystals Aromatherapy

Purex Laundry Enhancers

Purex offers additional products to improve your laundry experience. It has a bar (Fels-Naptha) you can rub on clothing before a wash to break down stains.

Purex also offers a starch product (Sta-Flo) that can add stiffness to clothes after a wash, ideal for dress shirts, jeans, uniforms, or even craft projects.

Check out all Purex products on Amazon or Purex.com.

Tide Liquid Detergent

Tide liquid detergent comes in multiple formulas. While they all offer stain-fighting properties, there are specialized detergents to tackle issues like skin and fragrance sensitivity, odor elimination, color protection, and delicate clothing.

Tide also has a concentrated liquid laundry detergent product called Tide One Wash Miracle. It allows you to remove the cap and toss the small canister into the wash. Purex doesn’t offer concentrated products.

Tide liquid detergent includes:

  • Tide Original
  • Tide One Wash Miracle
  • Tide Hygienic Clean Heavy Duty 10X
  • Tide purclean
  • Tide Coldwater Clean
  • Tide Simply Plus
  • Tide Simply Odor Rescue
  • Tide Simply OXI
  • Tide Simply Clean & Sensitive
  • Tide Simply Clean & Fresh
  • Tide Simply Free & Sensitive
  •  Tide Zero
  • Studio by Tide Delicates
  • Studio by Tide Darks & Colors
  • Tide Plus Downy Free
  • Tide Plus a Touch of Downy
  • Tide Plus Febreze
  • Tide Plus Febreze Sport Odor Defense
  • Tide Plus Bleach Alternative
  • Tide Free & Gentle
  • Tide Ultra Stain Release
  • Tide Ultra OXI

Tide Powder Detergent

Tide powder offers the same performance and cleaning benefits as the liquid. It’s a good option for those who want that same experience but without pouring and measuring liquid. The powder formulas often have added elements like bleach alternative or Downy fabric softener.

Tide powder detergents include:

  • Tide Original Powder
  • Tide Ultra OXI Powder
  • Tide Free & Gentle Powder
  • Tide Plus Bleach Powder
  • Tide Plus a Touch of Downy Powder

Tide Single-use Laundry Pacs

After liquid, laundry pacs are Tide’s second most extensive offering. While there are numerous formulas, they are all designed to dissolve during the wash cycle, making it an efficient and mess-free option.

Tide PODS
Tide PODS

Tide laundry pacs include:

  • Tide Original PODS
  • Tide Simply PODS Odor Rescue
  • Tide Simply PODS Plus OXI
  • Tide PODS Ultra OXI
  • Tide PODS Plus Febreze 4in1
  • Tide PODS Plus Febreze 4in1 Sport Odor Defense
  • Tide PODS Plus Downy Free
  • Tide Hygienic Clean Heavy Duty 10X Power PODS
  •  Tide PODS Free & Gentle
  • Tide PODS 3in1
  •  Tide PODS Coldwater Clean

Tide Stain Removers

Tide offers two options for pre-wash stain removal.

Tide To Go Wipes are individually packaged and designed to remove stains on the go. The Tide To Go Instant Stain Remover Pen is an ultra-portable stain-fighting solution.

Both options are bleach-free and work on food and beverage stains.

Tide Laundry Boosters

Tide offers products that focus on specific cleaning concerns, such as brightening whites or fighting tough odors.

Tide laundry boosters include:

  • Tide Brights + Whites Rescue
  • Tide Odor Rescue with Febreze Odor Defense
  • Downy Unstoppables In-Wash Scent Booster Tide Original Scent

Tide Machine Care

Tide Washing Machine Cleaner is an oxygenated formula designed to keep your washing machine clean and odor-free. It can be used monthly for maintenance or more frequently for severe odor or residue problems.

Tide Fabric Care

Tide Antibacterial Fabric Spray is a fabric sanitizer and freshener. It eliminates bacteria on fabrics and can be used on clothing, bedding, fabric car seats, fabric-covered furniture, pet beds, and towels. It’s an excellent way to keep fabric fresh and clean that cannot be washed or freshen up washable items between cleanings.

Check out all Tide products on Amazon and Tide.com, or read this guide to the best Tide detergents.

Scents

Both Purex and Tide offer multiple scents as well as unscented formulas. However, the scents each brand offers are totally different.

Purex Scents

  • Original Fresh
  • Odor Release
  • Free & Clear (unscented)
  • Linen & Lilies
  • Fresh Lavender Blossom
  • Fresh Spring Waters
  • Baby
  • Mountain Breeze
  • Tahitian Breeze
  • After The Rain
  • Fresh Bluebonnet
  • Fresh Morning Burst

Tide Scents

  • Tide Original
  • Tide Hygienic Clean Spring Meadow
  • Tide Hygienic Clean Free (unscented)
  • Tide Zero Soft Lavender
  • Tide Plus Febreze Sport Odor Defense
  • Tide purclean Honey Lavender
  • Tide Plus Downy April Fresh
  • Tide Simply Clean & Fresh Berry Blossom
  • Spring and Renewal
  • Fresh Coral Blast
  • Clean Breeze

Price

One of the most significant differences between Tide and Purex is the price. Simply put, Tide is more expensive.

Tide targets consumers who value performance and stain removal. Its formulas are more robust and, therefore, more expensive.

Purex targets budget-conscious consumers looking for quality and value. “Smart Value” is one of its Pure Commitments.

That said, the cost varies by product. Specialized formulas are more expensive than each brand’s standard offerings.

For example, a 46-ounce bottle of Tide Plus Bleach Alternative is more expensive than a 96-ounce bottle of Tide Original. And Purex Ultra Natural Elements is higher-priced than Purex Natural Elements.

In addition, Tide introduced Tide Simply to compete with mid-tier brands like Purex. As its name suggests, Tide Simply has a simpler formula with fewer ingredients (and a lower cost per load).

The chart below includes the current prices on Amazon for popular detergents from Tide and Purex.

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

FAQs About Purex and Tide

Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Purex and Tide.

What are the active ingredients in Purex and Tide laundry detergents?

Both brands contain similar active ingredients, such as solvents, surfactants, and enzymes, but the exact formulas vary by product. To see specific ingredients for each Purex and Tide formula, check the SmartLabel site (select “Tide” or “Purex” in the “Brand/Retailer” dropdown).

Are Purex and Tide laundry detergents compatible with High Efficiency (HE) machines?

Purex laundry detergent is safe for use in HE machines. Tide has specific formulas designed for use in HE machines. Only use HE-compatible laundry detergent in HE machines. Regular laundry detergent generates too many suds and will decrease the efficiency of your wash cycle.

Do Purex and Tide launder well in cold water?

Purex offers a cold water laundry detergent formula, which you can find in stores in Canada or online on Amazon. Tide’s cold water formula is readily accessible in stores in the United States. Additionally, Tide 4-in-1 PODS are designed to dissolve in hot or cold water, and the company offers other formulas that work in all temperatures, such as Tide purclean.

Do Purex and Tide laundry detergents contain bleach?

Neither brand contains chlorine bleach. Both offer laundry detergents with bleach alternatives such as Clorox 2 or OXI.

Do I still need to use fabric softener with Purex and Tide laundry detergents?

Purex does not have any formulas with built-in fabric softener. Tide offers formulas with built-in Downy fabric protection, such as Tide 4-in-1 laundry pacs, but you might still prefer to include additional fabric softener.

That said, fabric softener is unnecessary, and I wouldn’t recommend it for most households. It contains chemicals that can impact your health, and the lubricating coating it leaves behind can ruin your clothes.

Do I still need to use stain removers with Purex and Tide laundry detergents?

Purex features two formulas with increased stain-fighting power: Purex 4-in-1 + OXI and Purex 4-in-1 + Clorox 2. However, Purex stain-fighting formulas aren’t as robust as Tide, so you might want to use additional stain removers. Tide is known for its highly-effective stain-fighting detergents. Unless you’re dealing with a notoriously stubborn stain like oil, ink, or wine, you won’t need other stain removers.

Can I use Purex and Tide laundry detergents with sensitive skin?

Yes, as long as you use Tide or Purex sensitive laundry detergent formulas, such as Purex Free & Clear, Tide Hygienic Clean Free, Tide Free & Gentle, and Tide Simply Free & Sensitive.

Do Purex and Tide kill bacteria?

Purex and Tide do not have an antibacterial laundry detergent, but Tide offers an antibacterial fabric spray designed to kill 99.9% of bacteria on fabrics.

Are Purex and Tide cruelty-free?

Purex and Tide are not cruelty-free. Both brands test their products on animals or manufacture products in areas where animal testing is required by law. That said, both brands are committed to ending testing on animals. Procter & Gamble (owner of Tide) and Henkel (owner of Purex) have been investing in alternative testing methods and advocating for cruelty-free testing for decades. Learn more on us.pg.com and henkel.com.

Do Purex and Tide offer eco-friendly detergents?

Purex claims to be an eco-friendly brand but does not offer much information on how it achieves that status. The company does have a biodegradable formula called Purex Natural Elements that also features recyclable packaging. Tide offers an eco-friendly formula called purclean that is 95% biodegradable and offers recyclable packaging. Many Tide detergents also come inside eco-friendly packaging.

Who owns Purex and Tide?

Henkel Corporation owns Purex. Procter & Gamble owns Tide.

Where can you buy Purex and Tide?

You can get both brands at home goods retailers like Walmart, Target, or Home Depot. You can buy limited offerings of Purex and Tide at discount stores like Dollar General and Family Dollar. You can also shop for both brands online at Amazon.com (Tide, Purex).

Bottom Line: Should You Buy Purex or Tide?

Now that you know the key facts about Tide and Purex, it’s time to make a choice.

Before you decide, let’s recap the main differences.

Purex has been around longer than Tide. It was launched in 1922, while Tide was released in 1946.

Tide has superior performance when it comes to tackling stains and heavy soiling. It can remove body oils and odors better than Purex.

Tide is frequently at the top of “best of” lists for its excellent laundering performance. Purex is sometimes praised for its value but rarely for its stain removing ability.

Tide offers more laundry products than Purex. It even offers products to keep your washing machine clean, treat stains on the go, and remove bacteria from fabrics.

Tide is generally more expensive than Purex, but the exact difference varies by product.

Bottom line — Tide is the top-selling detergent for a reason. It’s highly effective at removing stains, body oils, and odors. Plus, Tide offers specialized formulas for every laundry job. If you have kids, pets, or work a dirty job, I highly recommend Tide over Purex.

If you don’t need the extra stain-removing power, Purex is an excellent brand with a proven track record. It works just fine for lightly soiled clothing, and you’ll save a significant amount of money over the long term.

Tide and Purex are available at grocery stores and retailers like Target, Walmart. They’re both also available on Amazon (Tide, Purex).

Andrew Palermo Founder of Prudent Reviews

Andrew Palermo - About the Author

Andrew is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Prudent Reviews. He’s studied consumer buying behavior for 10+ years and has managed marketing campaigns for over a dozen Fortune 500 brands. When he’s not testing the latest home products, he’s spending time with his family, cooking, and doing house projects. Connect with Andrew via emailLinkedIn, or the Prudent Reviews YouTube channel.

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