Update on using dishwasher detergent in washer

mara_2008June 15, 2009

An ... um, shall we say, interesting ... situation came up in the last week which required serious cleaning power on laundry. Dear hubby and a son worked on son's car for a couple days, and DH didn't always think to change into old clothes first. ACK!!!

Once I got over the shock of finding some of his very best office clothes in the hamper covered in grease (the shoulder of one shirt was completely saturated!), I followed this course of action:

First, I sprayed the grease stains with Shout. I sprayed until they were saturated, especially the really-big and deep stains.

Second, I soaked the shirts and pants in the washer with warm water and 1/2 cup Cascade w/Dawn dishwashing detergent. Some of the clothes' labels say to wash in cold water only, but I knew the clothes would be ruined anyway if I couldn't get the grease out. I soaked them for two days. (yes, really)

On the third day, I let the soak water out (it was black, no surprise there). I then washed the clothes in Tide TotalCare (warm wash, cold rinse) -- which is what I normally use on our nice office/church clothes. I let them soak overnight again.

The next day, I finished out the wash cycle. Vinegar in fabric softener dispenser.

The verdict: (drum roll please, LOL)

Except for one shirt, EVERY BIT of the grease came out! Even the saturated shoulder was completely clean!

On the one shirt, there was a tiny place where grease was barely visible. I didn't want to dry it in, so I sprayed it with Shout again and put it right back on the hamper to dry. It will wash with the next load.

Oh, yes -- I've been using Cascade when I wash white clothes, too. For the guys' really dirty white socks, undies, and T-shirts (some work outdoors, some have outdoor hobbies), I soaked them in hot water and Cascade overnight -- full washer load (4.6 cu ft), so I used 1 cup. I ran that water out the next day and washed them in Tide w/bleach HE (liquid, can't find powder -- one line lower than if I hadn't soaked them in Cascade), used 1/2 c. LCB, and vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser. They came out looking NEW, they were so clean and white.

I am sold on using Cascade as a detergent booster (especially since I can't find 20 Mule Team borax at any stores anymore). It has won nothing but raves from me.

Janet, you had asked about 'dosage' for a FL washer. As you know, my washer is a TL HE Maytag Bravos. My load of white clothes was a HUGE load, completely filled up the washer, so I used a whole cup. For DH's grease-covered shirts and pants which filled only about 1/3 of the washer, I used 1/2 cup. HTH

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Glad to hear you're having good luck with it too. Curious though where you're at that you can't find Borax. Around here virtually all grocery stores of any size carry it, Target, Walmart and Kmart all carry it so there's no problems finding it here. I always keep a box of Borax around too.

You brought up a good point. Being patient and letting things soak. I get a little antsy and want to get the wash done so I don't soak things anywhere near often enough but fortunately I don't have too many problems that need it.

Just to clarify one thing, when you soaked the whites overnight in Cascade, I take it you didn't have any detergent in there with it? Just the Cascade first, then separate wash with the Tide WBA & bleach, right? Just curious. Guess I've always mixed the dishwashing detergent and laundry detergents. I might be canceling something out. Might actually be more effective to let each have their go at it. Again.... patience! LOL

    Bookmark   June 15, 2009 at 1:47AM
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cynic, I had typed a complete response, then lost it (sigh). Will give it another shot.

I do think our local Walmarts used to carry 20 Mule Team Borax, but I haven't seen it there in at least a year.

I don't go to Target or Kmart as often -- they're not quite as handy -- and I haven't thought to look for the borax at either of them.

Our Targets do have a larger variety of HE detergents, plus they often put them on sale (I watch the ads), so I usually go there to buy the Tide TotalCare and Tide w/bleach. The last time I bought them, they were on sale plus I had coupons, so I stocked up. Haven't needed to go back in months. I used to buy Cheer ColorGuard HE at Target, but now I can't find it anywhere.

We only have one Kmart in the area now and the last time I checked, they had almost no HE detergents (if any). Doesn't mean they don't have the borax, though. As long as the Cascade is doing so well, I'll probably stick with it.

Yes, you got it right: When I washed the white clothes, I soaked them overnight in Cascade alone. The next day I let the Soak cycle finish, then washed them in the Tide w/bleach, LCB, and vinegar.

A week or so before that, when I had last washed that type laundry, I used the Tide and Cascade together (putting the Cascade directly in the washer drum since the Tide is liquid). I also soaked that load overnight and all other factors were also the same. They came out "okay", but not as white and bright as the most recent load.

I am so thrilled that DH's office clothes came out so well! They would have been expensive to replace.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2009 at 2:26AM
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I just purchased some 20 Mule Team at Wal Mart about 3 weeks ago. Do you think it might be a regional thing since you can't find it in your WM?

You are right about the Cascade, it's fabulous. Before I ordered my Persil detergent I used the Cascade with my detergent and it did a marvelous job of cleaning and deodarizing.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2009 at 5:50PM
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I am a chemist and as I recall, the dish detergents are not only strong, they contain a solid form of chlorine bleach. This will work and is fine for white clothes that can use bleach anyhow, but be aware that blue dyes are expecially vulnerable to chlorine bleaches. You should sort out blues and greens (blue + Yellow = green) when using Cascade soaks. I use a lot of Oxyclean for bad stains. It is safer for colors. I have a front loading Samsung washer and the only way to give a good soak is to use the sanitize cycle that uses extra-hot water and after most of the long cycle I guess you could just turn off the machine. I have to put the Oxyclean in the detergent dispenser set for solid forms of detergient.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2009 at 11:27PM
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brutuses, I'm guessing it must be a regional thing. I used to see 20 Mule Team borax at virtually every local grocery store, Walmart, Kmart, etc.

nerdyshopper, I appreciate the warning, but that was not my experience. One of DH's shirts was blue and one was green, but there wasn't any change in their color, though I soaked them for 2 whole days. Same was true for his blue pants.

I realized I might have been taking a risk, but it was either that or throw the clothes away. I've tried Oxyclean in such situations and haven't had much success at all.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 2:34AM
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The link below (same one I cited in the hydrogen peroxide thread) says "Sodium hypochlorite bleach is safe for most (70 to 80%) colored washable fabrics."

Here is a link that might be useful: http://www.cleaning101.com/laundry/fact/fact_sheet3.cfm

    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 9:47AM
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After reading here about using Calgon for my laundry, I tried it on my whites. I have had problems getting my dishtowels really clean and white. My granddaughters use them for wiping up everything, including the floor. I tried Calgon in the laundry, let them soak overnight in hot water and lq detergent and they were clean and WHITE. Now I won't have to replace them every few months. IT REALLY WORKED!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 11:37PM
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caavonldy, did you mean Calgon or Cascade?

    Bookmark   June 19, 2009 at 11:51PM
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I'm sorry, Cascade.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2009 at 3:37PM
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So... I took the time to read the packages for % phosphates on the dishwasher detergents the other day... the tablets seem to have the highest concentration and the finish/electrosol tablets (regular not the grey/white/red'ball' ones) have the higest of all brands at the walmart and the grocery I was in...

I guess this begs the question of IF I was going to use the dishwasher soap in the washer... would the 'tablet' style soap disolve properly????

    Bookmark   June 20, 2009 at 4:22PM
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Hi Mara,

that is great that all the grease came out!!! wow!
Got a question for you - what is LCB? (I have some socks that need help!!!)


    Bookmark   June 20, 2009 at 4:46PM
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LCB = liquid chlorine bleach

    Bookmark   June 20, 2009 at 5:30PM
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I forgot to say -- I used the powder form of Cascade w/Dawn. I also forgot to say I soaked and washed the white clothes (all cotton) in hot water.

plumbly, I have not wanted to use dishwasher tablets in the washer for the very reason you mention even though I washed the whites in hot water -- though I do use the Finish/Electrosol tablets (the grey/white/red'ball' ones) in the dishwasher. Several local stores, including BJ's, our favorite warehouse store, often sell them BOGO (Buy One, Get One free). Which is a fantastic bargain.

Though my washer's hot water seems to get good and hot, the red ball is not needed in the washer and I'm not willing to risk any problem from it.

suburbanmd, thank you for that link! It has a lot of valuable information.

Thank you, May, for your kind words. I can't tell you how thrilled and relieved I was to see how clean the clothes came, and without any fading or discoloration! I hope your results are as effective if you choose to use Cascade as a detergent booster.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2009 at 9:56PM
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