Washing machine detergent
Detergents and liquids in the washing machine
This section aims to cover all aspects of washing detergents in washing machines. It will give free advice on subjects such as the difference between liquid detergent, washing machine powders and the latest washing machine tablets as well as fabric conditioners. Should you buy cheap, or expensive washing machine detergent? Is "green" washing machine detergent any good? And how does the detergent actually work?
- Which is the best washing machine detergent to use - washing powder, liquid or tablets?
- Should I use Calgon or other anti limescale tablets in my washing machine?
- Should I put the detergent in the soap dispenser or straight in the drum?
- How do I remove stains from my washing / laundry?
Which is the best washing machine detergent to use - washing powder, liquid or tablets?
Powder has been used successfully for decades. If liquid was definitely better than powder then you'd expect powder to have disappeared by now but it hasn't. As far as I can see, the advantages of liquid are meant to be that the detergent is already dissolved into a solution. People using cold water only washing machines or with poor water pressure, may find that the liquid is better as some powders may not dissolve as well in cold water. However, I've not heard claims that liquid detergent washes any better than powder.
The most important thing to realise about liquid detergent is that it doesn't contain bleaching agents. It's therefore kind to coloured laundry but not so effective for whites. A nasty side effect is that these missing bleaching agents actually help keep the washing machine free from bacteria and black mould. Combined with using low temperature washing it can result in a nasty slime and grease build up and a smelly washing machine - Causes of grease, slime and black mould inside washing machine
Should I use Calgon or other anti limescale tablets in my washing machine?
Researching this question led me to dedicate an entire page to Hard water & limescale in washing machinesGo to top of page
Should I put the detergent in the soap dispenser or straight in the drum?
With modern washing machines it shouldn't matter. If you put washing machine detergent in the drum, make sure you don't overload the washing machine or the detergent will not disburse properly. [ Related: Am I overloading my washing machine? ] This can prevent proper washing [ Related: poor wash results ] and white streaks on laundry. Also, make sure you use an appropriate detergent container, do not just pour the detergent on top of the clothes as this can mark the laundry.
One side effect of not using the soap dispenser is a cleaner soap dispenser drawer. A side effect of using detergent in a container on top of the washing is the noise of the container being tossed around the drum if it is made of plastic.Go to top of page
How do I remove stains from my washing / laundry?
Here are some tips for tackling the most common stains to carry out before washing normally. Never use hot water on protein stains as this will set them into the fabric and don't rub so hard as to damage the fibres.
Another thing to bear in mind is that soaking items with metal zips for too long can cause the glue to dissolve. Also garments with hooks and eyes, or buttons may have the cotton thread shrink. Finally, you shouldn't soak wool, flameproof, elasticated and non-colourfast garments to remove stains.
NOTE: These methods are printed in many books, they aren't my own, I am just passing them on to you and cannot guarantee the effectiveness of them. Use at your own risk..
- Grass: Most light stains should come out through normal washing. For heavy stains though, you can try dabbing with methylated spirit and rinsing with water before washing them. (Don't use methylated spirit on acetate or triacetate fabrics)
- Ballpoint pen: Spot with methylated spirit
- Felt tip pen: Dab small marks with methylated spirit
- Fountain pen: Rinse immediately. Wash white cottons and linens straight away. Any residual stain should be treated by rubbing with lemon juice, then covering the stain with salt and leaving for up to an hour. Rinse and repeat until the stain has gone. For coloureds, woollens and silk - sponge and then wash normally
- Chewing gum: Use an ice cube placed in a plastic bag to harden the gum and then scrape off gently. Dab with dry cleaning solvent if available
- Chocolate: After scraping off as much as you can, soak in something like Bio-tex or a biological powder in warm water
- Candle wax: After scraping off as much as possible, put some blotting paper over the stain and iron with a hot iron. You can use a spot of methylated spirit to remove any colour
- Beetroot: Rinse immediately in cold water. For coloured's, use domestic borax solution, one tablespoon to 500 ml (1 pint) of warm water. For whites, sprinkle borax powder on the dampened stain, then stretch the fabric over a basin and pour boiling water through
- Foundation cream: Wipe fresh stains, soak for 5 minutes in a weak ammonia solution (15 ml - 1 tablespoon to 500 ml - 1 pint of water) Then rinse
- Mascara: Dab with diluted ammonia (1 part ammonia to 3 parts cold water) Rinse
- Lipstick: Dab with methylated spirit, followed by soap and water
- Nail varnish: Dab with a non-oily nail varnish remover. On acetate and triacetate use amyl acetate. Heavy spills should be professionally cleaned
- Heavy grease & oil: Moisten stain with turpentine and let it soak for 10 minutes. Rinse with white spirit or benzine and rinse thoroughly in cold water
- Oil based: Dab fresh stains with white spirit and sponge with cold water. If the paint has dried it will need to be dry cleaned
- Emulsion: Sponge fresh stains with cold water. If allowed to dry it will not come off
More on next column ...
Related Blog articles from my white goods help site
- Biological washing machine detergents can damage woollens & silks (cause holes)
- You don't just use one detergent do you?
- Biological detergents do not cause skin irritation (Whitegoodshelp Blog article)
- Eco friendly (green) detergents
- (Warning) Keep wash capsules away from children
Is the following statement true or false?
" Use less powder. Most manufacturers recommend that you use more laundry detergent than you need. It is better for sales. You can get away with using half as much powder, if not less "
The statement above is a commonly held belief, and one that is wrong for most people. Use the correct dosage or you risk exposing your washing machine to the effects of limescale and a build up of grease and slime.
Research more on detergent at Which?
- Laundry detergent FAQs
- Best Buys (Full test results)
- Biological verses normal detergent
- Eco laundry detergents
- Dishwasher tablets
- 10 products you DON'T need
Which? Online £1 trial offer
Which? offer - what's the catch? (My review)