A lot of people think they know everything there is to know about laundry detergent. But it turns out, they is laso more to know about the stuff that makes your clothes feel wonderful again.
Laundry detergent has a very specific job to do, and when you understand how it works, you can use it more effectively in your home. And if that weren’t enough, there are all sorts of different types available on the market today with all sorts of benefits for various purposes. We also recommend you check out our guide to the best laundry whitener for your white clothes.
In this article, we’ll tell you everything there is to know about laundry detergent. Keep reading to learn more.
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What Is Laundry Detergent?
First, we’ll start with the basics; what exactly is laundry detergent and how does it work?
Laundry detergents are chemicals that allow your clothes to become clean by combining with the oils and dirt your clothes come into contact with. They work with many different types of soils, dirt, grass, blood, food, and more.
Laundry detergents also offer benefits to your fabrics, such as color protection and softening.
There are several different ingredients that you’ll find in laundry detergents, such as:
Water softeners: increase the efficiency of soap and remove mineral deposits from water. This will have a positive impact on your clothing’s lifespan by protecting it from extreme changes in temperature or humidity, which cause fabric deterioration. While you don’t need to use a water softener with every wash cycle, using one regularly can extend the life of your clothes. Laundry detergents that contain water softeners have a higher cleaning standard than those without them. You should look for laundry detergents that specifically mention they contain this ingredient if you want to prolong the life of your clothing.
- Cationic Softeners: These soften fabrics and help protect them from static cling while they are being worn. Cationic softeners are what make your clothes feel soft to the touch.
- Enzymes: Clean away protein-based stains like grass, blood, and food through a chemical process known as proteolysis. The enzymes in laundry detergent help break down these proteins.
- Polymeric Brightening Agent: This ingredient makes dull clothing appear brighter, which is extremely important if you're doing whiten or color-protect cycles. It works by removing iron particles that are responsible for the colors looking dull.
While there are many ingredients found in laundry detergents today, these are among the most common ones you’ll encounter.
When To Use A Laundry Detergent
When doing your laundry, you might not always want to use laundry detergent. There are several situations in which you should or shouldn’t use it, so it's important to have the information on when you should use it and when you shouldn't.
Here are some guidelines on when to use (or not use) laundry detergent:
- White and light clothes with mild stains: Because these types of clothing don’t come into contact with as many oils or soils, you can wash them without using any laundry detergent. Laundry detergent isn't necessary for this instance because the only thing that will cause a problem is if they become too dirty. If your clothes do become extremely dirty, adding a little bit of soap won’t hurt anything since it's unlikely to leave a negative impact on the fabrics.
- Dark colors: Avoid using laundry detergents with dark colors because it can make your clothes look dull over time. For best results, avoid using laundry detergents in dark colors.
- Silk or wool clothes: Because silk and wool are very delicate fabrics, you should avoid using laundry detergents because they can cause damage to them. Either hand wash your items with a mild soap or use cold water if they’re machine washable.
- Dirty clothes: It’s more of a good idea than an actual guideline but, if your clothes are particularly dirty or smell like smoke, then it's best to use laundry detergent to remove the dirt. While not necessarily bad for your clothing, dirt can cause permanent stains over time.
Types Of Laundry Detergent
There is more than one type of laundry detergent available on the market today, so it's important to know what they are and which one is best for you.
Liquid laundry detergents are the most common type of detergent available today. It’s important to note that there are two different types of liquid laundry detergent: general-purpose and high-efficiency. There are benefits and drawbacks to each type, so it's crucial to consider them when purchasing your next bottle.
General-purpose: These can be used with both standard washers as well as high-efficiency ones. Using this will require you to use more products than necessary because it contains fewer surfactants than other products do, but it isn't as potent as the ones formulated for high-efficiency washers. The reason why it has fewer surfactants is that it was designed to be gentler on fabrics.
High-efficiency: This type of liquid laundry detergent isn't typically recommended for general-purpose washing machines. If you have a high-efficiency washer, then this type is best suited for it because the product contains more surfactants which are necessary to make sure stains are fully removed.
Powder laundry detergents are also available but they aren't as common as liquid ones are. These are made with solid granules instead of liquid, so they dissolve quickly when exposed to water. They might seem convenient at first, since you don’t need an excessive amount of water to activate them as you do with other types, but you should avoid using them because they can leave a residue on your clothes.
Liquid detergent is best for general-purpose washers, while high-efficiency powder laundry detergents are the most suitable type of product for high-efficiency machines.
If you use too much or not enough laundry detergent during your wash, there could be some consequences that affect your clothing's quality.
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How To Make Your Laundry Detergents
While making DIY laundry detergent is certainly possible, it is not recommended for most people. After all, laundry detergents come in several different varieties and work across a variety of fabrics and stains; you’d need to know exactly what ingredients to use and how much of each one.
Now, that doesn’t mean that all hope is lost if you want to make your DIY laundry detergent. There are some things you can do at home with items from your kitchen cupboard, and the article above will give you all the information you’ll need.
Final Thoughts On Laundry Detergent
In conclusion, when it comes to laundry detergent, there are many factors involved in cleaning your clothes. While the specific type of product you should use depends on your washing machine and type of clothing, liquid laundry detergents are typically recommended for their versatility.