It can seem that every company has a wide selection of brands to suit every possible requirement. However, one of the first things that needs to be established before you make your purchase is whether the soap powder that you want in your washing machine is biological or non-biological.
Firstly, it should be understood that both are compatible with your appliance. Washing machines are not designed to suit either type of detergent and as such the decision comes down to personal choice - but there is no reason this should not be an informed one.
Biological washing powder is designed to be tougher on stains than regular powders. The product contains artificially-engineered enzymes which work in a similar way to the naturally-occurring enzymes in the human body, by breaking down items such as food.
However, where human biological enzymes make compounds easier to digest, those found in washing powder make the removal of stains easier for your machine and are activated by the water - in particular if these are ground or dried into the fabric.
Biological washing powder is not without its drawbacks though. For many people with sensitive skin this type of detergent can cause a reaction, meaning rashes or other conditions can flare up when clothing that has been washed in the powder comes into contact with skin.
Another reason for buying non-biological is the environmental factors, enzyme-powered detergents take longer to degrade and as such have a bigger impact on the planet.
However, as the cleaning-power of non-biological products is less than those with the enzyme system, they may require higher temperatures - therefore this means they too have their green limitations.
Of course, for consumers who have the green agenda at the forefront of their buying decisions, a selection of detergents designed to be kinder to the environment are also available - although many of these are likely to be non-biological.
The next choice comes with the many forms these products come in. Liquids, tablets, powders and other formats are now available and although most should do the job, there is still a decision to be made.
In this case the things to consider are price, convenience and other aesthetic qualities such as scent and advertised cleaning power.
Some tablets and liquids go in the drawer of the washing machine, whereas some go in the drum itself - and although these are easier to store and are less messy, they can also be a more expensive option.
Choice is always a good thing and consumers should not be afraid to shop around until they find the soap that best suits their lifestyle.