question on detergent choice

stbonnerOctober 24, 2010

I have a Bosch Nexxt 500 washer, which I love. I would like to use Cheer detergent for my darker clothes. I have used Cheer powder (non-he) and it is low sudsing and rinses well. I'm happy using it, but concerned after reading many, many admonitions to only use he detergents in a front loader. I recently bought some liquid Cheer he detergent, and it was so sudsy that I had to re-wash my clothes without any detergent in order to get all of the suds out.

There was a thread lately about using Tide with Bleach powder (non-he) in front loaders, and this sort of dovetails into my question. What is wrong with using low sudsing, non-he powders instead of high sudsing, he liquids? Common sense tells me that if the issue with non-he detergents is oversudsing, and I can find powders that do not oversuds, then their should be no problem with using them. Am I wrong?

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Yes, the problem with using non he detergents in a he machine is excess sudsing & he machine use so little water for rinsing. Using Tide with Bleach powder in my Miele W4842 machine is working beautifully. Almost no sudsing, clean rinses and awesome, clean laundry!

I have found many he liquid detergents that suds heavily, and much more than non-he powder detergents. I personally think that you if find something that is genuinely low-sudsing, than it is fine in he machines. As long as you can use the recommended or almost recommended dosage & clothes are getting clean, feeling clean and your machine looks & smells clean...then it is no problem!

    Bookmark   October 24, 2010 at 10:11AM
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I agree, the only additional caution with powdered detergents is the effect on septic tanks. It is advisable to use liquids as much as possible since powders tend to clump in the septic systems and may cause clogging and early pumping.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2010 at 10:26AM
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Manufacturers claim that HE versions of non-HE products are lower sudsing and have a higher concentration of certain ingredients. Let's see if that's true using P&G's own Tide product:

Tide Powder (original):

  1. Sodium Carbonate"removes water hardness
  2. Sodium AluminosilicateâÂ"removes water hardness
  3. Alkyl SulfateâÂ"surfactant
  4. Linear Alkylbenzene SulfonateâÂ"surfactant
  5. WaterâÂ"processing aid
  6. Sodium PercarbonateâÂ"oxygen bleach
  7. NonanoyloxybenzenesulfonateâÂ"bleach activator
  8. Polyethylene Glycol 4000âÂ"stabilizer
  9. Sodium PolyacrylateâÂ"dispersant
  10. DTPAâÂ"chelant
  11. Sodium SulfateâÂ"processing aid
  12. FragranceâÂ"fragrance
  13. Palmitic AcidâÂ"processing aid
  14. Disodium Diaminostilbene DisulfonateâÂ"whitening agent
  15. ProteaseenzymeâÂ"stain remover
  16. SiliconeâÂ"suds suppressor

Tide HE Powder (original):

  1. Sodium AluminosilicateâÂ"removes water hardness
  2. Sodium SulfateâÂ"processing aid
  3. Sodium CarbonateâÂ"removes water hardness
  4. Linear Alkylbenezene SulfonateâÂ"surfactant
  5. WaterâÂ"processing aid
  6. NonanoyloxybenzenesulfonateâÂ"bleach activator
  7. Alkyl SulfateâÂ"surfactant
  8. Sodium PercarbonateâÂ"oxygen bleach
  9. Sodium PolyacrylateâÂ"dispersant
  10. Polyethylene Glycol 4000âÂ"stabilizer
  11. FragranceâÂ"fragrance
  12. DTPAâÂ"chelant
  13. Disodium Diaminostilbene DisulfonateâÂ"whitening agent
  14. Palmitic AcidâÂ"processing aid
  15. ProteaseenzymeâÂ"stain remover
  16. SiliconeâÂ"suds suppressor
  17. Modified StarchâÂ"fragrance carrier

According to the The American Cleaning Institute (industry association): HE detergents are formulated to be low-sudsing and quick-dispersing to get the best cleaning performance with HE washers... HE detergents are also formulated to hold soils and dyes in suspension in low water volumes, so they donâÂÂt re-deposit onto cleaned laundry

You'll notice Tide HE has all of the same ingredients as the regular version, but in different proportions. What really jumps out at me is that sodium sulfate, which is a filler/anti-caking agent, moves from #11 in non-HE to #2 in HE. That's a lot more filler in Tide HE than non-HE, which goes against the conventional wisdom that HE detergents are generally more concentrated. In this case, it would seem that Tide HE is primarily filler, thereby allowing you to dose it in the same quantity as regular Tide. One can then logically conclude you will get the same effect with regular (non-HE) Tide Powder by using much less of it. This also goes against the conventional wisdom and information put out by manufacturers (see quote above).

One could deduce from the above that P&G could just as easily have added instructions to the box of non-HE Tide Powder to use much less of it in FL machines, but instead they opted to create an HE product with far more filler which instructs you to use the same amount as regular Tide. I am guessing that Tide HE is less expensive for P&G to produce, since sodium sulfate is probably a lot less expensive than the active ingredients it displaces, yet P&G charges more for the HE product. This makes Tide HE Powder a higher profit item than regular Tide Powder.

If you are going to use 1-2 TBSP of detergent in your machine, you'll get fewer active ingredients and more filler by using Tide HE Powder. You will probably get better cleaning results by using the same quantity of regular Tide Powder. I never thought I'd find myself saying that, but I can't come to any other conclusion after examining the ingredients list.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2010 at 12:33PM
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Sorry about the strange characters - those were supposed to be dashes. GardenWeb is parsing my HTML and replacing the special character codes with crap. Gotta love this antique technology that GardenWeb uses.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2010 at 12:36PM
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You could justify using "much less" non-HE powder in place of HE powder, if the non-HE powder contained "much more" of the cleaning-related ingredients, like surfactants and bleach. How do you derive this from the ingredient lists? I don't think you can. There's no quantitative information there.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2010 at 2:18PM
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Ingredients are always listed in order of quantity, so you can logically deduce that a 5 lb box of Tide Powder contains more active ingredients than a 5 lb box of Tide HE Powder simply by the order in which the ingredients are listed. It's quite obvious that Tide HE Powder contains much more filler than regular Tide Powder, assuming you are comparing two boxes of equal weight.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2010 at 2:28PM
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Don't think that the detergent ingredient list is necessarily ordered by quantity.

The FDA laws do require that the food ingredient list be ordered by quantity according to their weight.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2010 at 5:00PM
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They aren't listed in alphabetical order, and the items at the bottom of the list are what you would expect to see in the least quantities. I think it's reasonable to presume the list is in order of quantity. I see it on other detergent labels as well - surfactants, enzymes and water softening agents are listed near the top, followed closely by bleaching agents, then filler somewhere in the middle or lower third with fragrance bringing up the rear. If ingredients were listed at random, we would not see this clear trend.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2010 at 5:20PM
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Not surprising to have less active ingredients in a dose of HE detergent -- it has to condition less water per load. But the active ingredients having to do with fabric care, like surfactants and perhaps bleach, presumably occur in comparable quantities in both types of detergents. So if you replace a recommended dose of HE detergent with "much less" non-HE detergent, you'll end up with less fabric care ingredients and poorer results. That is, unless the non-HE detergent has "much more" of the fabric care ingredients. I don't see how you can reliably determine that from those lists of ingredients, even if they are ordered by weight. Not with enough certainty to justify giving advice that could lead to fabric and washer problems in the long term, anyway.

BTW, these are powders, and ingredient number 5 in both of them is water?

    Bookmark   October 24, 2010 at 6:20PM
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I copied the ingredients lists right from P&G, so yes water is an ingredient even though these are powdered detergents. Suburbanmd, I still don't understand your logic. If I have two identical scoops - one filled with Tide HE Powder and the other filled with regular Tide Powder - then based on the order of ingredients the scoop of regular Tide Powder will have more active ingredients and less filler. The ingredients show that the HE product has much more filler, so an identical measure of each product will always have more filler in the HE product.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2010 at 8:02PM
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Well, regardless of amount of active ingredients I just can't believe that using liquid Cheer he (which causes tons of suds in my machine) would be better than using powder Cheer (which causes very few suds in my machine. I can easily use 3-4 tablespoons of Cheer powder without causing too many suds.

There just aren't many powder choices for he machines. I do sometimes use Persil Megapearls for color, but would like to find a cheaper alternative for my dark colored clothes. Thanks everyone for your opinions

    Bookmark   October 25, 2010 at 4:07PM
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I don't think anyone said that using a liquid HE detergent was better than using a non-HE powdered detergent. Where did you read that?

    Bookmark   October 26, 2010 at 12:51PM
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Well, for one thing, the washer manual recommends using he detergents because they are at less risk for oversudsing. What I'm questioning is whether there is something inherently harmful in using non-he detergents if they are low sudsing. I can't see how using an he detergent such as liquid Cheer would be better for my machine than using regular Cheer powder, which doesn't produce many suds in my machine. While it's true that the powder cheer is non-he, it is also low sudsing in my machine.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2010 at 3:50PM
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HE detergents are supposed to be lower sudsing and the formulations are such to work better in much lower water.

If the dirt and minerals are being suspended and rinsed away than you won't have issues but if the non-HE is not doing a proper job (as it's developed to work in higher volumes of water) you may develop problems like build up and mineral deposits (I'm guessing).

"They" recommend strongly against using non-HE. I guess if you do - you take your chances.

I'm sure I've used detergents that said HE compatible which they would also tell me not to use as these are regular detergents that instruct you to use less for your HE machine.

I have noticed that liquid detergents seem sudsier than powder.

If someone could only invent the perfect detergent ... sigh ...

    Bookmark   October 26, 2010 at 5:13PM
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Overdosing of the liquid could be involved. Examine the measuring cap closely, the measuring lines are typically difficult to see. This picture is a Wisk HE cap. The measuring lines are not of a contrasting color, they're simply embossed into the plastic cap. Lighting in this picture is a bright halogen desk lamp shining directly down into and through the cap. Imagine how much more difficult the lines are to see under normal conditions.

The directions state Line 2 for a "Normal" load, Line 3 for a "Large" load. Line 2 is only 1/2 the full cap, 1.5 oz (2.5 tablespoons). Line 3 is 0.4 oz more (1.9 oz dosage).

Powders are more forgiving at overdosing being as they're not concentrated as are the majority of liquids.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2010 at 5:30PM
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Dadoes, you're right - those caps are unbelievably hard to read. I was careful not to overdose when I used the Cheer. I only filled the cap to the very lowest line (and believe me, it wasn't easy to see). Probably the thing to do with those caps is to mark the lines with a sharpie pen.

Livebetter, I really like Persil detergent but it costs an arm and a leg. That is the only powder he detergent for colors I've found that I really like, but I'm not sure I'm willing to keep paying the price for it.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2010 at 6:39PM
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