One of the first choices you make, whenever you wash your clothes, is whether to use liquid laundry detergent or powder.
Of course, most of us made that choice a long time ago, without the basis of any knowledge of what kinds of detergent works best in certain water and for certain stains.
Instead, we made that decision based on habits or personal preferences that have nothing to do with performance.
But there is a difference between liquid detergent and its powdered sibiling, and one detergent is sometimes a better choice in a certain situations rather than another.
Therefore, in this set of articles, this one being about liquid laundry detergent, and its companion article about powder laundry detergent, I am going to discuss the pros and cons of using various detergents in certain situations.
In addition, I will explore tips and best uses for these two main types or varieties of laundry soap so that when you use it, you'll use it properly and to its fullest potential.
There are four situations in which you should at least seriously consider using a liquid instead of a powdered detergent.
Liquid detergents are especially effective for food and oily stains and soil.
Since these are very common types of messes on clothing, it is no wonder that many people, even unwittingly, choose liquid versions when at the store.
In addition, when you use a liquid version it is, by definition, already predissolved in water.
This can be better if you prefer to wash your clothing in cold or cool water, since powdered versions don't dissolve as easily in cold water.
Please note, I'm not saying powders don't dissolve at all, just that you can encounter more difficulties with them dissolving than with liquid versions. Plus there are exceptions to this rule, such as powdered detergents that are specifically designed to dissolve easily in such cold water, such as Cold Water Tide.
You may want to use a liquid laundry soap when you've got hard water, since again, powdered versions have more difficulty dissolving properly when there are a lot of minerals already dissolved in the water.
Finally, if you decide to use your laundry detergent as a pretreater for a stain it is much easier to use the liquid version than the powdered for this job.
This is, of course, because the detergent is already dissolved in water, instead of having to dissolve or make the powdered version into a paste before pretreating with it.
Manufacturers have made it quite easy to add detergent of any variety to your machine, but the instructions for each type of machine can vary slightly.
Always follow manufacturers instructions for adding the soap to the machine.
One of the most common mistakes people make when adding liquid detergents to their machines, especially top loaders, is to add the detergent to the machine after the clothes are in it.
Don't do this! Instead, add the detergent, let it dilute in the wash water, and then add your clothes.
If, for example, you have a machine with a detergent dispenser (such as most front loaders) your machine is already programmed to dilute the detergent for you before it dispenses it onto your clothes.
The reason you don't want to add detergent directly onto clothing in your machine is that it can, sometimes, to cause bleach marks or otherwise harm the fabric.
While I do encourage people to use liquid laundry detergent as a pretreater, I encourage you to first test it in an inconspicuous area, to make sure it does not harm the fabric in its higher concentrated form.
Further, some detergents have additional ingredients, such as bleaches or other additives, which should not touch the fabric in high concentrations for too long, because they can cause harm.
I myself have hard water, and so a few years ago I switched from powder to liquid detergent, and have never looked back.
Here are some of the tricks and tips I've learned as I've used this version of detergent over the years.
It is very easy to over fill your detergent cap when measuring out your liquid laundry soap for use.
This is compounded by the fact that many manufacturers either purposefully don't make it easy to see the fill line on the cap, or don't care enough to design a cap that makes it obvious how much to use for a recommended load.
Using too much detergent costs you money, since you waste soap. It can also keep your clothes from getting clean enough since it is harder to rinse all the detergent residue from your clothing, which can make them feel stiff and/or attract more dirt to the clothes.
As I've shown in the picture above, to the right, an easy way to fix this problem is to mark the fill line on your cap with a permanent marker.
Please note that through the years manufacturers have been concentrating their liquid laundry detergent formulas, which means you're paying less for water and packaging, an overall good thing.
The result of these concentrated formulas, called ultra, or concentrated, means you use less liquid detergent per load. If you are used to pouring a lot into the cap, with the newer version you may need to pour much less.
Similarly, you need much less detergent per load when using an HE washing machine, so also pay close attention to the recommended fill line when using HE laundry detergent.
Another tip I've learned is to always rinse your detergent cap when using liquid laundry detergent, to keep it from getting goopy and gross with time.
If you've got a top loader it is very simple to rinse out your cap each time you add detergent by simply holding it under the water for a couple of seconds while the machine is filling.
A Facebook reader the other day asked me how to do this for a front loader, when a laundry sink wasn't readily near by.
I admit I was personally stumped, but several readers mentioned that they just throw the whole cap into the machine when they wash their clothes in a front loader -- so problem solved! You can read all the tips shared here.
Have I missed any other tips and tricks I should mention when using liquid laundry detergent? If so, please share your additional uses and ideas with me below, in the comments.
Hi, I'm Taylor, a busy mom with 3 kids, so I have lots of hands on experience with house cleaning, laundry and my fair share of spots, spills and other messy catastrophes. Thanks for visiting my site.
I update the website all the time with tips, tutorials, cleaning recipes, reviews of products from readers like you, and tests I've done on various cleaners, removers and laundry supplies.
I'd love to give you a gift! When you subscribe to my free weekly newsletter you will receive a free printable laundry stain removal chart that you can reference as needed.
I hope you enjoy this gift, and stop by again soon!
CAUTION: This website is provided for informational purposes only. It is provided as is, without warranties or guarantees. Some stains and messes just won't come out, and are permanent. Further, some cleaning methods can harm your item, so if what you want to clean or launder is sentimental or expensive call a professional. See disclaimer of liability for more information.
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