Today there are an array of choices available in laundry detergents. Some of the choices include: general-purpose, combination and High Efficiency detergents. These detergents and laundry aides, like bleach and fabric softener, work in harmony to contribute to effectiveness of your laundry efforts!
Laundry detergents come in many forms, each having its own benefits. Select the form that best meets your specific cleaning needs.
- General-Purpose Detergents: Full-strength detergents that can be used with many types of fabrics/textiles.
- Light-Duty Detergents: These detergents can be used when washing by hand or in your washing machine. They're used primarily for delicate fabrics, such as those requiring special care, or lightly-soiled items; ideal for hand washing baby clothes.
General-Purpose (♦) and Light-Duty (◊) Detergents
High Efficiency (HE) Detergents - Detergents (both liquid and powder forms) designed for use in both front- and top-loading HE washers. These products are formulated for use in low water volume. ♦
Liquid Detergents - Especially effective on food and greasy and oily soils. They are also good for pretreating spots and stains prior to washing. ♦ ◊
Powder Detergents - Ideal for general wash loads. Powders are especially effective in lifting out clay and ground-in dirt, making them ideal for children's play clothes. ♦ ◊
Ultra Detergents - Concentrated detergents are available in liquid or powder forms. They come in smaller packages, yet are designed to offer the same cleaning powder as similar products in larger packages. You'll need less ultra detergent than with an unconcentrated product, so follow label instructions and use the measuring cap or scoop that comes with the product. ♦
Single-Use Detergents - Compacted and/or concentrated powder, liquid, or tablet detergents that come in unit-dose sizes for measuring accuracy and laundering convenience. ♦
Fragrance or Dye-Free Detergents - Many laundry products are now fragrance-free and/or dye-free. Read the labels for details. ♦
Soap Bars - Formed detergents bars are generally made from tallow or a combination of tallow and cocoa (coconut oil). They were the precursors of the chip and powder forms of detergent. ♦
Combination Detergents - One detergent formulated to do two jobs. Look for: liquid or powder detergents with built-in fabric softeners; powder detergents with color-safe bleach; liquid detergents with bleach alternative. ♦
Smart Cleaning: Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What water temperature should I use in my wash cycle?
A. As always, follow garment care labels and detergent labels. Use cold water for fine fabrics, sensitive colors and items that could shrink. Cold water lessens the amount of wrinkling and helps keep colors from fading. Use warm water for moderately-soiled clothes - natural and man-made fabrics. Use hot water on durable whites, badly-soiled, permanent press and colorfast items. Never use hot water on fine washables.
Q. What are care labels and why are they important?
A. Garments can look the same, but need very different care. North American standards require that the garment manufacturer attach a permanent label with directions for care. It must remain legible during the useful life of the garment, and should be easy to locate.
Care labels should provide accurate information for cleaning garments and other fine fabrics. Always read and follow garment care and product labels before washing, dying or dry cleaning.
Q. Should care labels ever be removed?
A. Garments are required to have care labels attached, so you can review them before purchasing a garment. If you remove the label after purchasing, you will not have the full information regarding proper care or warnings.
Q. How can I prevent my dark colors from fading?
A. There are several ways to reduce color fading:
- Before treating any garment, always read and follow care label instructions.
- Sort your laundry and keep dark colors together.
- Turn garments inside out before washing and drying. This reduces abrasion of the fabric and prevents the dulling effect of pilling.
- Don't overload the washer or dryer. Clothes should move freely to prevent detergents from depositing on the fabrics.
- Cold water is best for protecting darks.
- Don't over dry: remove clothes when slightly damp.
- To help prevent fading when drying clothes outdoors, leave them inside out.
Information provided by the Consumer Affairs and Outreach Committee of the American Cleaning Institute.