Laundry Detergent - Liquid vs. Powder. Which is best for your family?
Liquid detergent is especially effective on food and greasy or oily
soils. Because it is fluid, it can double as a stain pretreater.
Choose liquid detergent if you do lots of spot-treating and have a family that specializes in food spills.
Powder detergent is ideal for general wash-day loads.
It is effective in lifting out everyday stains as well as ground-in dirt.
Powders generally outperform liquids, but it's a preference thing.
a majority of your family's wash load consists of stains of the outdoor
and every day variety, a powder laundry detergent is an excellent choice.
When reading the product directions, keep in mind they should be
considered as a starting point for determining the right amount of
detergent to use for your load, not the final word.
This is because the amount of detergent you use will depend on water hardness (the harder the water, the more detergent needed), the amount of soil in your load (more soil requires more detergent), and the wash temperature (cooler water requires more detergent).
Generally, the hotter the water, the more
effective the detergent will be.
When using cold water for washing, increase the amount of detergent to one-and-a-half to two times the recommended amount.
Detergent works by loosening dirt and gunk from fabrics. Then it holds the removed dirt in the wash water until it can be rinsed away.
If you use too little detergent, clothes can become dull and dingy, white items may turn gray or yellowed, body soils are left on cuffs and collars, and lint isn't held in the water until it is rinsed away.
Instead, instead, it's redeposited on clothes.
You might also notice greasy-looking stains because, if you regularly use too little detergent, it allows gunk to build up on the outer tub of the washer.
These soils then wash off and redeposit on other loads. Ick. Err the other way.
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Hot, Warm or Cold?
Teaching Kids How to Wash Clothes
Essential Wash Day Helpers
9 Common Clothing Stains
Return to Laundry & Stains
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About the Author
Tara Aronson is a native Californian. Having grown up in San Diego, she studied journalism and Spanish to pursue a career in newspaper writing. Tara, whose three children - Chris, Lyndsay, and Payne - are the light of her life, now lives and writes in Los Angeles. She also regularly appears on television news programs throughout the U.S.