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laundry detergent:  
Liquid or powder?

The everyday laundry detergent should be a tough, all-fabric cleaner that does as well on a baby's burp cloths and leaky diaper stains as it does on his big brother's collared polo shirts.  Powders generally outperform liquids, but it's a preference thing.

How much detergent should you use? Reading product labels is a good starting point. 

The optimal amount depends on the hardness of your water (i.e., the harder the water, the more detergent needed), how dirty the clothing going for a spin (i.e., more soil requires more detergent), and the wash water temperature (i.e., cooler water requires more detergent).

This guide can help simplify the process of choosing and using the detergent for your washday loads.

How Laundry Detergent Works

Laundry detergent: liquid or powder?Choosing the right detergent for your family's loads will simplify wash day.

Laundry detergent works by loosening dirt and gunk in fabrics.  How much detergent should you use?

The hotter the water, the more effective the laundry 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.

When reading the product directions, keep in mind that, because conditions differ from home to home and from load to load, package recommendations should be considered only a starting point. 

The amount of detergent you use will depend on water hardness (the harder the water, the more detergent needed), the amount of soil (more soil requires more detergent), and the water temperature (cooler water requires more detergent). 

The removed dirt s then had in the wash water until drained.

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, it's redeposited on clothes.

If you notice greasy-looking stains and gunk building up on the outer tub of the washer, you might be using too little detergent. When you notice the ick, clean the washing machine and adjust your detergent amount for future loads.

Liquid Versus Powder Detergent

Laundry detergent powders generally outperform liquids, but it's a preference thing. Each detergent formulation has its benefits and drawbacks. Here's look at each:

Laundry liquids: All-purpose liquid detergents are especially effective on food, greasy and oily stains. And because they are liquid, they can easily double as a spot and stain pre-treater. The biggest drawback of liquids is a tendency to use too much per load, which wastes money and can leave a residue on clothes. 

Laundry powders: All-purpose laundry powders are ideal for general washday soils and stains and are usually less expensive to use per load. They are especially forceful on lifting out clay and ground-in dirt, making them ideal for children's play clothes. Powders can be problematic, however, if you have very cold water or only use cold water for washing as they may not dissolve completely. 

Laundry pods:  Single-load laundry detergent packets - commonly referred to as pods, pacs, or packs - are an innovation containing highly concentrated detergent in a single-use enclosed package. These are the most straightforward, most convenient formulation.

But they are expensive to use, and two packs may be needed to clean filthy clothes or extra-large loads thoroughly. This is because individual packages are pre-measured for use on average soils in average size loads.

Ultra detergents: Most liquid and powder detergents are now concentrated. They come in smaller packages, yet offer the same amount of cleaning power as the familiar products in larger containers.

 You need less ultra detergent than with an unconcentrated product. Read and follow the label instructions and use the measuring cap or scoop that comes with the product. 

Combination detergents: These are the one-stop-shopping products - one detergent that does two jobs. Look for: liquid or powder detergents with built-in fabric softeners, and powder detergents with color-safe bleach.

How Much Detergent to Use

How much detergent should you use? The answer varies by load.

When reading the product directions, keep in mind that, because laundering conditions differ from home to home and from load to load, package recommendations should be considered only a starting point for determining proper amounts.

The amount of detergent you use will depend on water hardness (the harder the water, the more detergent needed), the amount of soil (more soil requires more detergent), and the water temperature (colder water requires more detergent), and the water temperature (cooler water requires more detergent.)

The hotter the water, the more effective the soap will be. 

When using cold water for washing, increase the amount of detergent to one-and-a-half to two times the recommended amount.

O,r choose a detergent created specifically for cool (75 degrees F) or cold (60 degrees F) water, which contains cleansing enzymes designed to work better in cold water. This way, you won't need to use more of the product than the recommended amount to get clothes clean. 

Wash-Day Products Defined

Here's a quick review to help you decide which of the many products available would be best to use in particular circumstances.

Prewash stain removers  Available in stick, liquid, aerosol, or pump-spray forms, these products go directly on a stain or spot to loosen the grime before you machine-wash.

Chlorine bleaches  These liquids boost laundry detergent while cleaning, whitening, sanitizing, and deodorizing your wash; they are usually safe on white and colorfast cotton, linen, and washable synthetics.

Oxygen bleaches  These kinder, gentler bleaches are safe for most washable colored fabrics.

How To Use Wash Day Helpers

Bleach converts soils into colorless, soluble particles that are easily removed by detergents, then carried away in the wash water. Bleach can also brighten and whiten fabrics and help remove stubborn stains. 

Household bleaches: Sodium hypochlorite bleaches (also called chlorine or liquid household bleach) are the more powerful laundry bleaches; they disinfect, as well as clean and whiten.

For best results, add 5 minutes after the wash cycle has begun to agitate to avoid destroying enzymes and fluorescent whiteners in the detergent.

Oxygen bleaches: Oxygen (color-safe) bleaches are gentler, working safely on all washable fabrics. They work best in maintaining whiteness, not in restoring it. When using oxygen bleach, add it directly to the wash water before dumping in the clothes.

Oxygen bleaches are most effective in warm-to-hot water.

Good Detergent Can't Overcome Bad Laundry Practices

Even the best detergent can't make up for corner-cutting on wash day. It's still important to separate lights, dark clothes and white clothes, pre-treat stains before you wash, and take care not to overloaded your washing machine.

If the clothes can't move around freely, there isn't a detergent anywhere that can get them clean.






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