Washer Protection Agents (what are they?)

CavimumMay 23, 2011

I see this listed on some detergent ingredients. Does anyone know what this is, and what it does? Does it protect against corrosion of the spider, or bearings, that I read so much about on this forum?

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As far as I know (what do I know really ??) it helps keep minerals from depositing onto washer parts. There are ingredients in detergent that hold minerals in suspension (soften) so surfactants do a better job. You don't want those minerals building up in your machine.

I read this:

In addition to a surfactant, modern detergent contains several other ingredients. Among the most significant are builders, chemicals which serve several purposes. Most importantly, they increase the efficiency of the surfactant. They also sequester minerals in hard water, meaning that they hold them in solution, preventing them from precipitating out. Furthermore, builders can emulsify oil and grease into tiny globules that can be washed away. Some, like sodium silicate, inhibit corrosion and help assure that the detergent will not damage a washing machine. Still other builders contribute to the chemical balance of the wash water, making sure that it conduces to effective washing.

Modern detergents have several other ingredients including antiredeposition agents, chemicals that help prevent soil from settling back on washed clothes.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 7:54PM
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Thank you @livebetter. I was curious, and I never paid attention to detergent ingredients until after I found this forum. ;o)

    Bookmark   May 24, 2011 at 3:46PM
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The most typical "protection agent" used in detergents is sodium silicate/metasilicate. It is supposed to inhibit corrosion, so it may also help in extending the life of your spider assembly. Sodium silicate is not a water softener and does nothing with regards to the calcium that may or may not be in your water.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2011 at 5:06PM
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Hmmm. I don't see anything like this listed as an ingredient in my current favorite detergent - Seventh Generation 4X Laundry Detergent. I do wonder if I'm shortening the life of my washer by using natural detergents.

I sure would hate to give this detergent up, though, the geranium and vanilla fragrance is amazing.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2011 at 7:40PM
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@ sshrivastava, what you are saying is in contrast to what I've read about it.

The effects of "hard" water calcium or magnesium ions are minimized by the addition of "builders". The most common "builder" used to be sodium trimetaphosphate. The phosphates react with the calcium or magnesium ions and keeps them in solution but away from the soap molecule. The soap molecule can then do its job without interference from calcium or magnesium ions. Other "builders" include sodium carbonate, borax, and sodium silicate are currently in detergents.

I also read, "With the discovery of synthetic detergents, much of the need for washing aids was reduced. A detergent works similar to a soap, but does not form precipitates with metal ions, reducing the discoloration of clothes due to the precipitated soap.

Modern laundry detergents are mixtures of detergent, water softeners, optical brighteners, stain removers, and enzymes."

@ stbonner, I wouldn't worry. SG is not some "garage brand". I'm sure they know how to formulate a proper detergent. They would use another ingredient like sodium citrate.

I've also read some of the best cleaning detergents contain sodium hydroxide (also known as lye and caustic soda) (which SG 4X has). As does Clorox Greenworks. I believe sodium hydroxide is lye.

The attached article is a lesson in the chemistry of cleaning (if you're interested).

Here is a link that might be useful: Chemistry of Cleaning

    Bookmark   May 25, 2011 at 1:45AM
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Livebetter, it's interesting that the two "green" detergents that I like the best both have sodium hydroxide. Greenworks is a natural detergent that I think cleans really well also. I do think the Seventh Generation has a slight edge over the Greenworks as far as cleaning, and I definitely like the smell better - but the Greenworks is overall a very good detergent.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2011 at 6:43AM
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The "main" difference between a well formulated "green" detergent and its conventional counterpart is that "green" detergents use renewable resources for their surfactants (ie. plant derived like from coconut/corn).

Conventional brands use petroleum which is non-renewable. Becoming less dependant on this depleting resource is important.

You can view this SG video to see what impact these small changes could make if everyone got on board.

The SG 4X is not available here in Canada yet and I can't get it from one of my on line sources yet either. Looks like I'll have to wait to try it.

Here's a link to a video of a SG launch of the new 4X:

Here is a link that might be useful: How product changes save oil

    Bookmark   May 25, 2011 at 9:59AM
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You are talking about sequestering hard water minerals. That's completely different and separate from sodium metasilicate, which is an ingredient that inhibits corrosion in washer parts. Corrosion typically occurs in a washer's spider assembly, where two different metals come into contact with each other, assisted by water, that creates a current between the disparate metals causing corrosion. Sodium silicate/metasilicate is supposed to inhibit this effect.

Again, that's completely different from sequestering hard water minerals, or softening, which is what you were describing in your emails. In fact, soft water can be far more corrosive than hard water.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2011 at 7:05PM
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Interesting topic. It made me wonder......If there are washer protection agents in the detergent, what's protecting the washer when in the second or third rinse mode with nothing but plain old hard water? Does Fab softener have washer protection agents?

    Bookmark   May 26, 2011 at 5:04AM
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@mark40511 - My guess is the protection agents are protecting the washer from the other chemicals in the detergent that are needed to get our laundry clean (and possibly adjust pH), but the same chemicals can be corrosive to the spider assembly, etc., that are important for the washer to function and not break. Once those detergent chemicals are gone with the rinsing, the metals are at less risk.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2011 at 8:30AM
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To sshrivastava

There is an interesting paper on Galvanic Corrosion at: -
which explains, on page 36, why, although stainless steel is more noble than aluminium and its alloys the aluminium does not corrode when placed in contact with stainless steel. The oxide coating on the stainless steel is electrically insulating.

Additionally, as is also explained in the subject paper, should the corrosion have been due to galvanic action the majority of the corrosion would have been at the junction of the two metals in question, that is at the ends of the spider arms. In no case that I have seen, either in person or in photographs, or even by written description, has this been the case: The vast majority of the corrosion has always been in the vicinity of the hub.

I believe the corrosion is caused by chemical reactions between the constituents of the laundry aids used and the aluminium alloy of the spider. For a one-page paper on this subject please visit: -
The required pH level required for this type of corrosion could, in my opinion, be reached by most of the laundry aids currently used.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2011 at 6:50AM
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Here are some examples of galvanic corrosion of the spider assembly:

    Bookmark   May 28, 2011 at 10:11AM
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@sshrivastava - yipes! That's the stuff nightmares and horror movies are made of, not to mention very unhappy consumers.

One can't help but wonder if that is the result of laundry cleaning detergents & additives or defective manufacturing, or both.

I wonder if this happens to FL washers in Europe, too.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2011 at 11:12AM
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To sshrivastava,
Thank you for the photographs they are available at: -
together with 2 comments which you can read should you scroll down to the �comments� section. I would strongly recommend that you do so.

Hopefully you will also note that the majority of the corrosion, particularly in the first photograph, is not at the junction of the two dissimilar metals, which is where it would be if it were galvanic corrosion. I implore you to read the two papers I referenced above, the authors, in both cases, are well respected in their relevant fields, so I would think that their opinions would carry some weight with logically thinking people.

Here is a link that might be useful: Paper On Galvanic Corrosion

    Bookmark   May 28, 2011 at 12:50PM
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To Cavimum,
A further point brought up in your original post in this thread concerns the failure of bearings in front load machines. Now I have reservations concerning the adequacy of the bearing arrangement(s) but I believe that subject is outside the scope of this thread. There is however, I believe, a link between the corrosion of the spiders and some of the recorded bearing failures.
The principal product of corrosion of the aluminium spider is aluminium oxide (Al2O3). This compound is barely soluble in water, adheres very strongly to the donor metal, in this case the aluminium alloy spider, and is extremely hard and abrasive, in fact if your look on the back of 'sandpaper' you are very likely to find that the 'grit' on the 'sandpaper' is aluminium oxide. Now although aluminium oxide is barely soluble in water if you go to the link below you will see the pictorial record of the efforts of one person to repair an LG machine with a corroded spider and failed bearings. There is no need to read all of the descriptive matter, unless of course you are interested. 'Replies' 60-63 inclusive and 70-76 inclusive show the corrosion of the spider. 'Replies' 75-77 inclusive show the deposits of aluminium oxide that did not remain adhering to the spider but where carried in suspension in the 'water' of the washing/rinsing processes. This abrasive solution will be in contact with the soft lips of the shaft seal, how long do you think that seal will last before it fails and allows water into the bearings? This water will then destroy the bearings in two ways, the 'normal' corrosion of steel in water and the lapping/grinding action of the aluminium oxide.
A very large proportion of the reports 'on the web' note the double failure of the corroded spider, perhaps not to catastrophic failure, together with the failed/seal and bearings.

In view of my earlier comment I hardly need add that I believe the 'repairer' in the thread mentioned is wasting his time trying to electrically insulate the stainless steel drum from the spider.

Here is a link that might be useful: LG washer attempted repair

    Bookmark   May 28, 2011 at 4:53PM
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