Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Dishing the dirt on laundry soap

I'd say most consumers are pretty true to their favorite brands. I base this on no objective data, but I've certainly tested the idea in my own family and reading what other buyers have to say about their favorite products. We only buy Best Foods mayo (Hellmans, for the folks back east) and Band-aid is the only first aid bandage product for me. When it comes to laundry detergent, I've typically been pretty loyal there too. For years, I've only used Tide Laundry detergent. I've lugged home the giant orange-red mega carton of the liquid stuff because I like liquid better than powder. I haven't seen any evidence that liquid cleans better than powder, but again, it is what I'm used to.

Well, as I've tried to be more conscious in my consumerism, I started thinking about my laundry soap. Truth be told, there hasn't been laundry soap on the US market since Ivory Snow changed their formula back in 1993. Soap and detergent aren't the same thing. Soap contains glycerin and is formed from mostly natural products; detergents are synthetic and began gracing shelves only since the early 1930s. Detergents wiped out their competitor soaps because soap can be problematic for people with hard water. Common complaints were soap scum in the washer and greyish whites. One by one, the laundry soap makers became laundry detergent makers.

Oh, but back to my conscious consumerism. So, wanting to reduce my ecological impact, I took a look at the laundry aisle to see what exists now. Slowly, my jumbo-size plastic tub of Tide has become a small, sleek, 2x concentrated version on the shelves. This is nice because who likes lugging home a giant heavy container anyway. But better than that, these newer concentrated detergents use less water, less chemicals and less plastic. They clean clothes just as well but use less polluting stuff to do it. That sounds good to me. I haven't quite made the switch to making my own detergent, and I doubt that I will, but I do look for phosphate-free detergents, concentrated formulas, less colorants and scents.

It's nice to also see that most of the big manufacturers are getting on board, so no matter what your brand loyalty, you can find a revamped version that creates less waste and is a little gentler on the environment (if still as tough on your stinky socks). With the popularity of green consumerism (heck, even Wal-Mart is only going to carry the concentrated laundry detergent now), I would say that this trend is here to stay. That's good for my laundry, my environment and my aching back.

1 comment:

rosemary said...

I have used Purex free for over a year because of an undetermined cause rash...they have switched to ultra concentrate and half way thru the bottle....face rash. Maybe I need to cut back on the amount or try another brand, rats