New user of STTP has questions!

kimmers69February 18, 2011

Hi Everyone,

I really love this forum!

I have read every thread that comes up on a search of "STTP". Some I have read several times : )

First a disclaimer: I have read some passionate and eloquent posts on the environmental reasons to avoid STTP. I took those perspectives into consideration and have still made the decision to use it, so there's no need to educate me on why I shouldn't.

Anyway, I was trying to decide between ordering STTP or the new softener that Charlie's Soap sells, but I could not find out what's actually in the Charlie's so I went with the cheapest option and ordered a bucket of STTP from The Chemistry Store.

The hardness of our water is 300 parts per million (ppm) or 17.5 grains per gallon, categorized as "very hard."

I live in an apartment, so installing a whole-house system is not an option.

I am using a cheap top-loader - not my choice, but they do not allow us to install our own.

I used to cloth diaper so I use Charlie's Soap powder. I have never had any problems with it, but I am a very compulsive person and often did a cold prewash of every load when I had a HE FL, so maybe that's why our clothes were always spotless. I used to use Calgon liquid, but it's just too expensive.

Anyway, I do not understand why the amount of STTP used is governed by the amount of detergent and not the hardness of the water. I usually use 1 TBSP of Charlie's in this top loader, but since I've been having trouble with rinsing (the water is still cloudy and there are still suds) I often cut back to 1.5 Tsp. I cannot imagine that 1/2 those amounts of STTP would be enough, but maybe it's because I don't understand what it's actually doing.

If it's binding to the calcium and magnesium in the water, and since our water is very hard and my top loader is using a lot of water, how much STTP should I start with? Is there any danger to the people wearing the clothes if I use too much initially?

Also, I found one extension service article online that recommended softening rinse water as well. This makes sense to me. I don't want the minerals getting into my textiles during the rinse anymore than I want them getting into them during the wash. Is there any harm or danger to softening the rinse water? And how much would I use then?

Oh, in case it matters, I had cancer in 2004 and I have allergies, so I'm a bit of a purist. I don't use any fabric softeners or dryer sheets. On really dirty or white loads I use a scoop of oxygen bleach, but it's unscented and has no additives. When I can be bothered I sometimes pre-treat stains with sprays that are scented, but that's all that goes into my laundry.

Thank you in advance for any advice you can offer. I know that I will have to experiment and figure out what works. I guess I just don't feel confident about how to judge what's working and what's not. I always feel like our clothes are clean and soft as long as they're not line dried so . . . please offer your opinions!

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DO NOT USE STPP IN THE RINSE! The purpose of rinsing is to remove chemicals and detergent from your clothes, not put them back in. If you want to soften the water in your final rinse, use citric acid instead. Citric acid is a non-precipitating water softener and also aids in smoothing textile fabrics. It's a win-win. You can find citric acid at the Chemistry Store or in the dishwashing section of your local grocery store under the name LemiShine. Middle eastern grocery stores may also stock citric acid under the name "lemon salt".

If you have 17 grains hardness, you should not be using less than 1 TBS of Charlie's Soap. In fact, I wrote to Charlie's Soap and they told me that with a 4.0 cuft machine in soft water conditions I should be using 1.5-2 TBS. From what you described, I think you might as well wash in plain water. Just because you see some small amount of suds and turbid water is not an indicator that you are using enough detergent.

Determining how much STPP to use based on your specific water hardness and amount of water will require some knowledge of chemistry. You need to know how much calcium can be neutralized by a given quantity of STPP, then apply that to the volume of water and your specific hardness conditions. Unfortunately such a calculation is beyond my pay grade at this time.

My initial suggestion would be to use 1 TBS of Charlie's with 1 TBS of STPP and see how it goes.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2011 at 10:55AM
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Thank you for your input.

I have LemiShine. How much would you use in the rinse?

Interesting point about the suds in the rinse water. That's the big indicator for knowing when cloth diapers are rinsed well-enough and if you're having to do a ridiculous amount of rinsing, it is suggested to cut back on the amount of detergent used.

I'm starting to wonder if I was using too much Charlie's the last 8 months because we rented a house with a water softener and had a HE FL. Maybe I have a lot of detergent build-up on my clothes and that's why I can't seem to rinse them. I couldn't see what was happening through the smoked glass door. It occurs to me that I have no idea what turbid water and a small amount of suds actually indicates. Should I even expect rinse water to be clear?

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2011 at 5:29PM
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