Undoing the Damage-Where Do I Start?

marie_louiseJuly 21, 2010

I stumbled across this forum looking for advice about washers and dryers, but OMG, I had no idea how much we were doing wrong in washing our clothes. (DH loves to do the laundry but he just stuffs it in there and adds soap.)

I'm starting to understand the error of my ways and want to undo as much damage to my sheets, towels and clothes as possible.

QUESTION 1: Can anyone advise me what I should use to undo the build-up of the products I've been using?

Currently, we wash our clothes in warm water with a small amount of Planet liquid soap-just enough to make a few suds in our 12-year old Sears FL. We put Oxiclean in the white loads. I've tried bleach on the whites too, without success. Stains are pre-treated w/ Spray and Wash. We use unscented Bounce fabric softener sheets.

My 2 year old white Restoration Hardware towels and Coyuchi sheets are dingy and stained. We are both recently retired so mostly we wear casual clothes-T-shirts and such. From the number of stains on our T-shirts, it appears we are messy eaters, LOL.

QUESTION 2: Our 12 year old front-loading Sears is gasping its last.Things are coming out of the washer pretty wet. It has been repaired a few times and it is time to replace it. (At the moment I am leaning towards a Bosch Vision, but that's not my question.) Should I try and clean things now, so that all the soap build-up and such on my clothes doesn't get on the SS drum my pristine new W & D, or wait until we buy the new set to try and revive our sheets and towels.

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Your problem might be a build-up of gunk from body oil and other oils, because of insufficient detergent. The Planet liquid isn't recommended for HE washers:

Why is Ultra Liquid Laundry not recommended for front-loading washing machines?

Reducing the dosage, to control sudsing, may have left you with too little cleaning agent to dissolve and carry away oils. Switching to an appropriate detergent (and perhaps some STPP, if you don't mind using phosphates) should help, though it'll take more than one wash to get the sheets and towels looking good, if they aren't already too far gone. Washing at 120degF or higher, in the old machine if it can do it, or else in the new machine, would help also. If you use appropriate products and temperatures in the new machine, I wouldn't worry about it getting gunked up from washing your old sheets and towels in it.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2010 at 10:27PM
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Thanks suburbanmd. If anything, my husband may have erred on adding too much detergent, but I did once test whether or not we had soap residue by doing a load of towels without soap, and IIRC, there was absolutely none left. So I am guessing your theory is correct-we've got grimy build-up. That sounds gross!

We bought our Bosch yesterday and the salesperson gave me a box of Persil Universal w/ Megaperls. I washed some of my pillowcases and towels w/ it in the old machine, adding some Vaska oxybleach that I bought at the grocery store. I think they already look brighter from just one wash. This morning I ordered some Persil for colors. Now I need a fabric softener to replace my Bounce.

The internet is dangerous, LOL. I popped in here to research W&Ds and next thing I know, I'm obsessed with expensive laundry products I had no idea existed. There's no turning back now. :-)

    Bookmark   July 22, 2010 at 10:57AM
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You don't necessarily have to buy expensive products. The only detergent we've used in our Miele W4840 is Sears Ultra Free powder. My family uses the Sears powder alone, with Shout pretreatment as necessary. I use STPP along with the Sears powder, and occasionally add non-chlorine bleach. I don't use Shout, rather I rely on extended wash cycles to take care of stains.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2010 at 11:31PM
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I can't believe you would buy a $2,000 washer and then use low-rated cheap Sears detergent in it.

I guess it takes all kinds to make the world go around.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 12:11AM
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Keep in mind that some of the "brightness" can be an optical illusion. Optical brighteners only give the illusion of whiter whites and brighter colours.

Optical brighteners, optical brightening agents (OBAs), fluorescent brightening agents (FBAs) or fluorescent whitening agents (FWAs) are dyes that absorb light in the ultraviolet and violet region (usually 340-370 nm) of the electromagnetic spectrum, and re-emit light in the blue region (typically 420-470 nm.

These additives are often used to enhance the appearance of color of fabric and paper, causing a perceived "whitening" effect, making materials look less yellow by increasing the overall amount of blue light reflected.

Brighteners are commonly added to laundry detergents to replace whitening agents removed during washing and to make the clothes appear cleaner. Optical brighteners have replaced bluing which was formerly used to produce the same effect. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optical_brightener)

IÂm not for or against using OB, IÂm just pointing this out to you.

I use Persil Sensitive Megaperls for my white clothes and they do look very white. I often wonder how clean they are vs. how clean they appear.

Also, you mentioned having Restoration Hardware towels (?) Â these are made of high quality Turkish cotton and should not be washed with a detergent that has enzymes or brighteners. You can Google information on how to care for quality cotton linens. Despite what some on the forum will tell you, the manufacturers also say never to use fabric softener on them (this can ruin the towel fibers).

I launder all my sheets/towels with a mild detergent (currently Vaska as I love the Lavender smell) and use a small amount of vinegar in the rinse. I also use an Oxy bleach agent on the white ones (I have the Vaska and others I use). All mine look white and smell lovely. I have a 9 yr old FL.

Just as an FYI, Vaska is used to launder linens for 150 hotels throughout Northern California including the the Joie de Vivre group, Kimpton Hotels, the Fairmont and the Ritz Carleton. (http://www.greenlodgingnews.com/Commercial-Laundry-Chooses-VASKAs-Green-Cleaning-Solutions)

Here is a link that might be useful: caring for your linen

    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 10:29AM
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I can't believe you would buy a $2,000 washer and then use low-rated cheap Sears detergent in it.

My results are better with low-rated, cheap Sears detergent in the Miele, compared to high-rated, more expensive Tide in my old agitator TL. So I am benefiting from the purchase of the Miele, if that's what you're concerned about. If you're concerned that the cheap Sears detergent is damaging the Miele: It is HE-rated, so it meets Miele's requirements. With my water, a steady diet of Sears detergent alone does leave a thin coating of white scale on the drum and inner door window, which I consider a cosmetic problem. Citric acid (the only ingredient in an expensive Miele descaler I bought once) cleans it up nicely. Since I started adding STPP to my washes (my family doesn't use it), there's less scale.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 11:48AM
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I have to "chime-in" with Suburbanmd about the Sears. Prior I was a Tide user and had tried other brands. But after buying a box of the Sears Ultra Plus stain fighting, I just don't see spending extra money for something that works better than my old Tide. At least my observation is the clothes are just as clean, doesn't fade like the Tide, and really no cologne smell from the soap.

I also don't have any residue, in the tub, so that must be Suburbanmd's water. I actually picked up my third box the other day. Prior to my Samsung I had a front load Neptune. So I've been using a front loader for over a decade. And I have no love affair with Sears, the only thing I buy is the soap.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 12:14PM
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I have to give my 2 cents regarding curiousshopper's comment.

I have Whirlpool Duet's and I have used Tide, All Free & Clear, and for the last 2+ years Charlie's Soap. I have hard water if that makes any difference. I have never felt the need to try any high-priced products like Persil, or any of the other ones that I can't for the life of me remember the names. I recently tried Sears powder detergent and I am loving it. It cleans better than anything else I have used, and is far cheaper. It also doesn't have any odor or scents to it...which is what I prefer. My children (8 year-old boy and 6 year-old girl)and I have Eczema and my husband has Psoriasis. It has not affected any of our skin. My son, my husband, and I all play ice hockey. This can result in some pretty rancid smelling clothes and gear. The Sear's detergent has worked fabulously to get rid of the odors. In addition, my husband is a firefighter, and does landscaping as a side job. Those clothes can be disgusting. Again, this detergent works for us. It is readily available at Sear's whenever I need it (unlike the Charlies which I have to order).

And I am complete mystified as to why you think that just because someone spends $2k on a machine, that this warrants the use of high-priced (or overpriced, whichever term you prefer) detergents when lower-priced detergents do as well, if not a better (in my case) job.

Maybe I shouldn't be commenting on this since I obviously have an lesser-valued product (Whirlpool) vs. the Miele. But I truly feel that just because you pay more for something (anything), does not necessarily make it better. This can be true for many things, not just laundry detergents.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 3:00PM
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I don't use Sears detergent, but I know of several people who do, including a hospital laundryman who uses it in his facility (among other products) and gets fine results.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 3:22PM
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I bought two huge buckets of Sears Ultra Plus Stain Fighting detergent soon after I bought my first HE washer -- they were on sale 1/2 price and I still haven't finished the first one! The scoop is tiny, and the buckets last a very long time. Sears detergents only come in boxes now, but they're still a great deal.

Why wouldn't an owner of a $2K washer use Sears detergent if it cleans better than other detergents???

The old saying "You get what you pay for" is, sadly, not always true. Sometimes very inexpensive things are the best buy in every way.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 10:04PM
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For the record, I'm not saying that Sears detergent is as good as Persil. From everything I've read here, I'm sure Persil is better. Addition of STPP does improve Sears detergent. This became crystal clear to me when I compared an undershirt washed with Sears, to one washed with Sears plus STPP. They were colored cotton, both washed at 120F, extended cycle (approx. 1 hour wash tumbling). Since I use unscented detergent and no FS, there's no masking fragrance. To put it bluntly, the undershirt washed with STPP smelled cleaner. My wife also smelled them and concurred.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 11:01PM
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