How to Choose the Right Detergents to Clean Clothes - dummies

How to Choose the Right Detergents to Clean Clothes

By Gill Chilton

Anyone who does home washing knows that sometimes stains are persistent! And removal is tough. We need clean clothes and most of us can’t afford to pay for professional cleaning. Personal preference is a huge issue in deciding what brand and form of laundry detergent to use. But in truth, powder detergent best suits some wash loads, whilst liquids or capsules give top results in other situations.

Detergent Style Advantages Cautions
Washing powder Measure out how much you need Easy to spill
Dissolves fairly quickly for short washes Bulky to store
Economical Can clump in damp cupboard
Washing tablets Speedy. Pop into the dispenser or back of the drum and
you’re ready to go!
Don’t do as well on quick washes as tablets take some
time to dissolve
No mess; compact storage No good for hand-soaking
Liquid detergent Great for short, low temperature washes as no need to
Can get messy to store
Use as spot treatment: dab liquid onto cuffs and collars then
machine-wash at once for concentrated cleaning
Can’t hold liquids for both pre- and main wash. After the
pre-wash has finished, you have to return to pour in more
Liquid capsules No measuring, just sit capsule inside the wash drum Can’t use as spot treatment
Messy when capsules split, and liquid is also a big skin

After you decide on a form of detergent, there’s the issue of whether to use bio or non-bio detergent and whether to use all those extras, from pre-wash boosters to clever fabric conditioners that cut down on ironing time. Strip away the hype, and it doesn’t have to be complicated. Check the following

  • Pre-wash treatment: Adds a concentrated squirt of detergent before clothes go into the wash. A good idea if you want to target particularly dirty areas like shirt cuffs. But a quality detergent probably doesn’t need them.

    A little lateral thinking goes a long way in the laundry. If dirty shirt collars are a regular problem, the best cleaner may be hair shampoo. Simply rub into the spot, then machine wash as normal.

  • Wash booster: Adds cleaning agents, often including oxygen bleach, to your wash. Fill with detergent, then pour the wash booster in only when you hear the water running. It’s too strong to land undiluted onto your clothes.

  • Detergent: Dissolves grease and loosens dirt, including surface stains. It’s not unlike washing-up liquid in that it’s a chemical mix. However, washing-powder detergent is more concentrated and low lathering. You can choose from several types of detergent:

    • Biological: Contains enzymes, which improve stain shifting. So choose this type if your laundry is dirtier than average or has hard-to-shift stains. Quality brands work even at low temperatures. However, they can irritate delicate skin.

    • Non-biological: A detergent that has no enzymes. Those specifically aimed at people with sensitive skins may also be fragrance free.

    • Colour-care: Contains no bleach. This type gives the full wash power of bio without colour fade.