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Tide vs. Kirkland: Which Laundry Detergent Is Better?

Are you stocking up on laundry detergent but can’t decide whether to buy Tide or Kirkland?

Tide is the best-selling detergent brand in the United States, while Kirkland Signature (commonly referred to as Kirkland) is Costco’s house brand.

So what’s the difference between these two options? Is one detergent better than the other?

In this comparison of Tide vs. Kirkland, you’ll learn how the brands differ in performance, detergent types, scents, price, and more.

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


Use the links below to navigate the comparison:


Overview of Tide

Families have used Tide detergent to clean their laundry for over 75 years. Developed in 1946 by Procter & Gamble, Tide was the first heavy-duty laundry detergent formulated for at-home use.

Tide versus Tide Simply

Today, Tide is the best-selling laundry detergent brand in the U.S. Over 40 million American households rely on Tide, making it one of P&G’s top brands. While Tide is more expensive than the competition, it is the leader in the laundry detergent category.

Part of Tide’s success is that the brand evolves to meet customer needs. The original product was a laundry powder, but today you can choose from liquid detergents, pods, and stain-remover sticks in various formulas with highly-rated cleaning power.

Another factor contributing to Tide’s reputation as a household name is the brand’s commitment to advertising. When the brand first launched, it sponsored soap operas and other popular television shows. Over the years, Tide has launched numerous award-winning advertising campaigns that have kept the brand at the forefront of consumers’ minds.

Tide will never stop innovating to meet consumer needs. The brand is committed to delivering the best stain removal and overall performance in the laundry detergent category.

Overview of Kirkland

Kirkland Signature is Costco’s house brand known for its reliable and budget-friendly products across multiple categories, including clothing, grocery, health and beauty, hardware, and household & cleaning.

Kirkland Signature UltraClean Free and Clear Detergent
Kirkland Signature UltraClean Free and Clear Detergent

You can choose from three Kirkland laundry detergents:

Costco began as a small business supplier. The original company name was Price Club. Eventually, the founders opened their first Costco warehouse store to the general public in 1983. The founders’ goal was to keep costs down and pass savings to their members.

Offering white-label products was critical to that strategy. At one point, Costco had over 30 different brands. In 1995, Costco launched the Kirkland Signature brand, combining its various products under one name.

Costco positions Kirkland as a premium brand at value prices, which holds true for its laundry detergent options. Independent reviews typically include the products in the best value or budget category.

Performance

Speaking of reviews, both Tide and Kirkland brands appear on lists of the best laundry detergents across various media. Let’s compare the products’ strengths and weaknesses and see which detergent performs best in independent testing.

TideKirkland
Consumer ReportsTide Plus Ultra Stain Release best for most tough stains.Kirkland Signature Ultra Clean Liquid best value.

Kirkland Signature Ultra Clean Free & Clear best for baby clothes.
WirecutterTide Ultra Stain Release best laundry detergent.

Tide Ultra Stain Release Free as also great.
Kirkland Signature Ultra Clean best budget detergent.
Good HousekeepingTide Hygienic Clean Heavy 10x Duty Power Pods best overall laundry detergent.

Tide Plus Bleach Powder Laundry Detergent best overall powder laundry detergent.
Kirkland Ultra Clean Liquid Laundry Detergent best value laundry detergent.
ReviewedTide Original best value laundry detergent.

Tide Pure Clean best eco-friendly laundry detergent.
Kirkland Signature Ultra Clean Liquid Laundry Detergent best laundry detergents
The SpruceTide Simply Clean and Fresh Liquid Laundry Detergent best dispenser.Not Reviewed

Consumer Reports included Tide and Kirkland detergents in its review of the Best and Worst Laundry Detergents. Tide Plus Ultra Stain Release was named the Best for Most Tough Stains. Kirkland Signature Ultra Clean Liquid and Kirkland Signature Ultra Free & Clear were picked Best Value and Best for Baby Clothes, respectively. Reviewers praised Kirkland as “one of the least expensive of the hypoallergenic detergents we’ve tested.”

The New York Times Wirecutter also included Tide and Kirkland detergents in its list of Best Laundry Detergents. Tide Ultra Stain Release picked up the Best Laundry Detergent accolade, and Tide Ultra Stain Release Free was recognized as Also Great. Kirkland Signature Ultra Clean was the publication’s pick for Best Budget Detergent. Tide was applauded throughout the article for its superior stain-removing properties.

Tide and Kirkland were featured in Good Housekeeping’s list of Best Laundry Detergents. The magazine selected Tide Hygienic Clean Heavy 10x Duty Power Pods as the Best Overall Detergent and Tide Plus Bleach Powder Laundry Detergent as the Best Overall Powder Detergent. Kirkland Ultra Clean Liquid was included as the Best Value Laundry Detergent. The reviewer called out that Tide cleans away stains you can’t see and whitens without using bleach.

Reviewed.com included both brands in their list of Best Laundry Detergents. Tide Original took second place and was tagged as Best Value, and Tide PurClean was fourth and picked as Best EcoFriendly. Reviewers praised Tide’s cleaning power and pleasant scent. Kirkland Ultra Clean Liquid Laundry Detergent was fifth on the list but without a specific category.

The Spruce ranked Tide Simply Clean and Fresh Liquid Laundry Detergent for having the best dispenser in its list of Best Laundry Detergents. Besides the ease of use, reviewers claimed clothes came out clean, fluffy, and fresh smelling.

Product Options

Tide offers an impressive 60 different laundry detergents, including formulas for specialized cleaning such as cold water, dark colors, and delicates. You can also choose Tide laundry detergents with OxiClean or Downy.

Tide Product Selection
Tide section at the market

Tide also offers eco-friendly options like plant-based formulas and clean options without dyes, phosphates, or chlorine.

In addition to powder, liquid, and pod detergents, which are available in a wide range of sizes, Tide also offers a range of related products including, To Go Stain Sticks, To Go Wipes, Antibacterial Fabric Spray, and washing machine cleaner.

Tide Fabric Spray
Tide Fabric Spray

Kirkland has a more limited range of products with only three liquid detergents:

The original formula in fresh scent is the only option available in pacs.

You can purchase Kirkland brand liquid detergents in 194 fl oz jugs or 152 count tubs of detergent pacs. In contrast, Tide has many more formulas and a broader range of sizes.

Scents

Tide offers significantly more scents than Kirkland, with various options such as Spring Meadow, Berry Blossom, and Daybreak Fresh.

However, all scents are not available in all Tide formulas. For example, the Berry Blossom fragrance is only available in the Simply Clean and Fresh formula. If you prefer a lavender scent, your choices are limited to Tide Purclean Honey Lavender Liquid and Tide Zero Soft Lavender Liquid.

Kirkland offers limited fragrance options. Its Ultra Clean formula is available in Fresh Scent. The Ultra Clean Plant-Based formula has a lavender scent.

Tide and Kirkland both offer unscented, free & clear detergent options as well.

Safety

Historically, laundry detergents included harsh chemicals and solvents. However, as society has learned about the dangerous effects of repeated exposure to those chemicals, many brands have created safer and environmentally friendlier formulas.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is an environmental nonprofit that aims to protect public health by changing industry standards. EWG creates and maintains a guide to healthy cleaning, rating various household products, including laundry detergent.

Most Tide and Kirkland formulas are rated D or F, meaning the products’ ingredients are either high concern (D) or highest concern (F) regarding the risks they pose to your health and the environment.

EWG Safety Ratings
EWG Safety Ratings

However, one Tide product, Tide Ultra Free & Gentle Powder, has a B rating. This means the ingredients in the product are of low concern with limited potential hazards for your health or the environment.

If you prefer more environmentally friendly options, consider brands like ECOS or Seventh Generation. These brands have more detergents with A and B ratings. Check out my comparison of ECOS vs. Seventh Generation to learn more.

ECOS versus Seventh Generation

Price

When you look at the price points for Tide and Kirkland, it’s evident that Tide is the more expensive brand. However, it also has a much more varied range of products, formulas, and scents.

On the other hand, Kirkland is a less expensive, straightforward detergent without extra additives like OxiClean or Downy. Also, Costco controls all aspects of the detergent’s production and sales, including packaging, marketing, and retail. As a result, Costco saves on production and then passes those savings to its shoppers.

You can compare prices by load or by fluid ounce. Both brands print the number of loads and the fluid ounces per container on the packaging.

The table below compares Tide and Kirkland pricing.

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Where It Is Sold

You can buy Tide detergents just about everywhere, online and in-store — from Amazon to your local grocery store or Costco. Some retailers are more expensive than others.

However, Kirkland detergent is only available at Costco stores and online at Costco.com, and you need a membership to purchase it.

Is Costco Worth It

Related: Is a Costco Membership Worth It?

You can find Kirkland detergent from Amazon resellers, but they typically mark up the price compared to what you would pay in-store.

FAQs for Tide and Kirkland

Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions about Tide and Kirkland detergents.

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

Both Tide and Kirkland brands include solvents, surfactants, and enzymes. The ingredients vary by formula. You can see the specific ingredients in Tide products on the SmartLabel site (search for Tide). Costco includes the ingredients for its detergents on its customer service pages.

Are Tide and Kirkland laundry detergents compatible with high-efficiency (HE) machines?

Yes, Tide and Kirkland laundry detergents are compatible with HE machines.

Do Tide and Kirkland launder well in cold water?

Tide Coldwater Clean detergents are specifically formulated for cold water washes. Kirkland doesn’t offer any formulas specifically for cold water, but all its detergents will work fine in hot, warm, or cold water. In fact, The New York Times tested Kirkland (and 16 other detergents) against ten different stains using cold water, and Kirkland was “better at removing stains than many more-expensive detergents.”

Do Tide and Kirkland laundry detergents contain bleach?

Tide has formulas with bleach and bleach alternatives. Kirkland laundry detergents are bleach-free.

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

Using fabric softener is a personal choice (I don’t recommend it). Tide Plus Downy laundry detergents have fabric softeners added. Kirkland brand detergents do not include fabric softeners.

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

In most cases, you won’t need to use stain removers when washing clothes with Tide or Kirkland. Some Tide detergents have extra stain lifting ingredients added, although some stains will require additional treatment no matter what.

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

Tide Free & Gentle and Kirkland Signature Ultra Clean Free & Clear are specially formulated for sensitive skin. These detergents are free of common irritants like fragrance, sulfates, and parabens.

Are Tide and Kirkland cruelty-free?

Neither Tide nor Kirkland laundry detergents are cruelty-free. Both brands test their products on animals. However, Procter & Gamble (the company that owns Tide) is committed to ending animal testing, investing millions every year in alternative testing methods.

Who owns Tide and Kirkland?

Procter & Gamble owns the Tide brand. Costco owns Kirkland.

Bottom Line: Should You Use Tide or Kirkland Detergent?

Now that you’ve learned the details about Tide and Kirkland, it’s time to choose.

Before I  give my recommendation, let’s review the main differences to consider.

  • Tide has been around since 1946 and has been a nationally-recognized household brand for most of that time.
  • Tide is known for lifting stains and heavy soiling. It also has an excellent reputation for removing odor.
  • Tide is frequently featured in best-of lists due to its ability to remove stains and overall cleaning power. Kirkland is mainly praised for its affordability and value.
  • Tide offers a more extensive range of laundry products than Kirkland, including on-the-go stain treatments and washing machine cleaners.
  • Tide is more expensive than Kirkland detergents, but you can buy it anywhere. You need to have a Costco membership and make the trip to the store or pay marked-up prices from Amazon resellers to buy Kirkland detergents.

Bottom line — Tide offers variety and is well-known for effectively removing stains. Whether you have basketfuls of stinky athletic clothes, pets, or sensitive skin, Tide has a product for you. Kirkland is a budget-friendly option that gets good reviews despite not having extra additives to increase stain-removing power or odor elimination.

If you have a Costco membership, it’s worth trying Kirkland. See if it works for your household. If it does, you’ll save money long-term. If it’s not powerful enough, give Tide a try.

Learn more about both brands and compare current prices by clicking the links below.

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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