Best forFamilies who want a well-priced detergent that works well
Top BenefitsGood stain removal, clear instructions for use, mid-range price
ConsiderationsScent may be strong for some
Bottom lineSunlight Lemon Fresh is a pleasantly scented laundry detergent that has above-average cleaning powers
The true test of a laundry detergent is how well it cleans your clothes, and Sunlight Lemon Fresh Liquid Laundry Detergent performed as well as or better than some leading brands.
To put Sunlight to the test, we stained pre-washed white 100-percent cotton onesies with a wide range of tough-to-get-out liquids and solids—grass, dirt, spaghetti sauce, coffee and more. We let the stains sit overnight on one set and then stained a second set of onesies right before hitting the laundromat to test how well the detergent alone removes stains. After washing in cold water, we found that Sunlight did a better-than-average job of cleaning away grass and mud stains, and significantly lightened areas of spilled coffee and jarred spaghetti sauce, even on the onesies we let sit overnight. (None of the detergents we tested completely removed the spaghetti sauce or coffee stains.) Sunlight completely removed grape juice, pureed sweet potato, washable marker and formula stains.
We also sent Sunlight Lemon Fresh Liquid Laundry Detergent to families to get their feedback on how well the detergent performed with everyday laundry and stains. Our hands-on parent testers reported that Sunlight did a good job of washing their family's clothes, even removing some of the ickier stains like sweat, spit-up and even the occasional (we hope!) diaper fail.
The majority of our parent testers described Sunlight's lemony scent as very pleasant, though they also agreed it was a bit strong. We were divided on the scent here at TPA, though nostalgia might be a factor for one of us (grandma was a big fan of Sunlight dish soap, and even used it as a stain remover in a pinch). Our testers also noted that their family's clothes smelled fresh and clean after using this detergent, and told us the scent lingered even after the washed clothes sat in a drawer or closet for a few days.
As part of our ease-of-use tests, we looked at measuring and dispensing detergent. The last thing you want to worry about is how much detergent you should be using to wash your clothes, but it's important—too little, and your clothes won't get clean; too much, and you'll use extra water to wash away suds or end up with residue on your clothes, plus you're losing money on cost per load. Our hands-on parent testers agreed that it was clear how much detergent to add to each load based on the instructions and cap measurements, and this earned points in our books, too.
Sunlight Lemon Fresh Liquid Laundry Detergent earned an above-average rating for quality, performance and value, and two-thirds of our testers said they would recommend it to other parents who are shopping for a scented laundry detergent. Its mid-range price per load means it's a good choice for families who are on a budget.