Unless you grew up in a wealthy family with six handmaidens at your beck and call, chances are you had to learn how to use the washing machine from a young age. Once you figured out how to set the timer and add the laundry detergent, you filed away the process alongside other skills you’d never need to use again, like riding a bike and rewinding a VHS tape.
Or so you thought. With so many advancements in modern technology, washing machines are becoming more efficient and more eco-friendly. While the way they operate has stayed the same, the way they use detergent has changed with the times. If this breaking news makes you want to hide under the blanket you no longer know how to wash, never fear. Let us break down the new rules of laundry detergent usage, so you can prepare for any clothes washing challenges that come your way.
Laundry Detergent Has Evolved
The detergent we insert into our washing machines is primarily used to clean away soils, stains, smells, and germs. Traditional laundry detergents—the kinds you used in middle school to wash your track shorts—clean dirty clothes in high water volumes.
Today, we have high-efficiency (HE) laundry detergent. You may have seen it at the store already, and thought “high-efficiency” was nothing more than a hyperbole used to mark up detergent prices. However, HE detergents are actually designed for high-efficiency washers. Unlike traditional laundry detergents, HE detergents are designed to work in 20-66% of the amount of water used in traditional washers. It accomplishes this feat by holding soils and dyes in low water volumes, so it doesn’t build up deposits on clean laundry.
HE Washers are Becoming More Prevalent
High-efficiency washers are the way of the future. Because of this, many people are still trying to understand how they work. Many appliance websites and chat forums will tell you that HE washers and front-load washers are the same thing.
However, if you look at any manufacturer sites discussing their HE line, you will see this information is false. If you have a high-efficiency washer, you need high-efficiency detergent. Make sure you know what kind of detergent you’re buying for your washer, as the results could mean the difference between pristine clean clothes, or turning your laundry room into a giant bubble bath.
What This Means for Your Laundry Routine
Always avoid using traditional laundry detergent in a HE washer. While HE laundry detergent is more expensive than traditional detergent, the average load only requires one tablespoon per cycle. This machine allows you to wash both delicates and bulky clothes with ease. With that extra money, you can cut down on your dry cleaning bill. Best of all, unless you have enough clothes to open a Goodwill center, one box of HE detergent could last you a whole year.
If you want to own a high-efficiency washer, it’s important to understand how to use the laundry detergent your machine requires. It is possible to use too much or even not enough detergent, bleach and softener in a HE washer. As ironic as it sounds, excess suds can actually help the germs survive the washing cycles. The suds could also cause the washer to overflow, allowing the germs to escape their doom and soak into the floor beneath your washer. In addition, even though the suds are “controlled,” it is possible for the chemicals to remain in your clothes and build up in the washer, creating other issues.
Now that you know this information, use it to impress your parents. Nothing will make them realize their little kid is all grown up like you teaching them the news rules of laundry detergent usage.
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