detergents and fabric softness

stbonnerNovember 23, 2010

I've been doing my own, very unscientific, experiment on the effect particular detergents have on fabric softness. I have had (like many here) some trouble with stiffness in my towels and clothing. Anyway, for those who are interested here is what I have found. I decided to wash the same set of sheets in different detergents to see if I could tell a difference in softness after washing. I picked sheets because I'm super picky about how my sheets feel, and I can really tell the difference between soft and kind of soft with them, if that makes sense.

I first washed my sheets in powder Tide he with Oxi-Clean. I added an extra rinse since I find Tide rather difficult to rinse cleanly. The sheets were white and smelled great and they felt clean, but not particularly soft. I actually did the sheets with Tide multiple times, and was beginning to wonder why my sheets didn't feel as good as I remembered them feeling in the past, since I wasn't totally happy with how they felt.

Next I washed the same sheets with Persil Universal megapearls. Sheets felt considerably better than with the Tide ad Oxi - a very big improvement. In fact, the sheets felt so good that I almost didn't go on to the next phase, but decided to check one more possibility.

The last washing of these sheets was with Vaska Herbatergent with Vaska oxygen bleach added. Ohhhh, yeah. My sheets feel amazing, soft and silky but still crisp. Perfect, in other words. They feel so great that even my husband noticed the difference.

I just thought this might help someone out there who is struggling with softness issues. I am using Vaska on my towels too, and am very happy with how they feel. I hope this helps.

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I tried Vaska on my sheets but it didn't do very well at stain removal. My dog left a couple of spots of blood on my duvet, and after washing in Vaska w/ Vaska oxy bleach the stains were faded but not removed. The next time this happened I washed the same duvet in Persil Universal Megaperls and the stains were completely removed. I have a whole house softener and used half the recommended dose of Vaska. I also use about 1/2 the recommended dose of Persiil.

I can only recommend Vaska for lightly soiled and delicate items. It isn't good at stain removal, and also doesn't contain enzymes. That's good for sensitive skin and gentleness, but not so good for removing protein, starch and fatty stains.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2010 at 10:34AM
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I agree with using Vaska for lightly soiled and delicate items. I think Vaska smells delightful and leaves clothes with a very soft feel, but if I have something that is really dirty or stained I use Persil or Tide.

I wonder if using liquid Tide would give sheets, etc., a softer finish? I may have to try that next.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2010 at 10:55AM
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My favorite brand of everyday bed linen is called Matteo. I prefer percale but love their linen sheets as much. I hate sateen! So, I'm with you on individual likes/dislikes regarding fabric. I'm a Persil cult member (though I find Tide almost equally efficacious.) Anywho, I tend to think about softness success as a process; it's more about the type of fabric than any one detergent (or machine, temperature, etc.) :\

    Bookmark   November 23, 2010 at 11:15AM
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+1 on Vaska for delicates, especially wool and silk, but I have to be very careful with the amount I use or I'll end up with a door full of suds in the FL washer (not kidding.) But since Vaska doesn't have enzymes it is less effective on the kind of industrial-grade filth my 7 and 5-year-old boys come up with, so I too use Persil Megaperls for that. Even so, I still pretreat the most egregious stains (with a little Persil Color Gel) to guarantee they come first time, every time.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2010 at 1:55PM
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I would disagree slightly with westvillager. I have good quality Egyptian cotton sheets/towels and did find that Vaska left them feeling softer. Vaska does contain a vegetable conditioner so I'm sure that's part of the reason.

"Dog blood" aside, I'm sure most sheets and towels do not get dirty enough to warrant an army of enzymes to clean them. I find the Vaska does a nice job and leaves everything feeling and smelling lovely. I do add oxygen bleach as I'm a die hard for white sheets/towels.

I read somewhere that Vaska is used to wash linens for some 250 hotels (Top hotels in Northern California, including the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, the Four Seasons Hotel and Joie de Vivre hotels in San Francisco, are among our commercial customers.)

I have used it to wash my kids (4 and 8) clothes when they are not stained badly (not too often). I also use Persil Sensitive, Method Smartclean and occasionally NellieâÂÂs (pretty much CharlieâÂÂs).

I also use Vaska for my clothes (that IâÂÂd like to keep looking nice) and delicates. Everything smells devine! I have 3 friends now hooked so we order together from as itâÂÂs not available at retail here in Canada.

I haven't had a problem with suds in my current machine but I am ordering new ones so we'll see how it performs in whatever I end up with (Bosch ... Miele ... still deciding :) )

    Bookmark   November 23, 2010 at 8:58PM
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I like emzyme detergents for sheets. Even though I shower before bed, you body release oil and it gets on the sheets and can be difficult to get out. I change mine twice a week in the summer because I have oily skin. I love white sheets and they show everything!

    Bookmark   November 24, 2010 at 10:27AM
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Vaska suds way too much for my taste using the recommended dose of one capful. I recently tried a new detergent for conditioned/soft water called Lanosoft. It does an amazing job and my clothes have never felt softer or fluffier. This product does not contain any conditioning or water softening ingredients, and the suggested dose is 2 TBSP. This product contains natural soap and I love the feel of my clothes. I highly recommend this product for folks with whole house water softeners.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2011 at 12:51AM
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I have recently started using Vaska (unscented) and have zero suds in my LG FL when using 1 to 1 and a half capfuls. We are on city water that is fairly soft (1-3 gpg). I also use Sears powder detergent and do not get any suds at all. Vaska does leave everything considerably softer than the Sears detergent and even though it is unscented there is enough residual lavender/herb scent in it to make it really pleasant to use. I add a small amount of unscented liquid fabric softener to my last rinse, both with Vaska and with the Sears detergent. Vaska does a good job at cleaning, except for oily stains on dark fabrics. I started using Vaska because I noticed some fading of dark fabrics with the Sears powder. Sears powder plus some Ecover oxygen bleach does a great job on whites though.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2011 at 9:34AM
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I have never used fabric softner for nearly 30 year of doing my own wash.

In pursuit of real "soft" towels, I was willing to start using fabric softner... I did 1 load of wash with Persil detergent (always used at my house) and 1/2 of recommended dose of Downy free and Clear. I hate the smell of detergent residue. Well... Downy left waxy slippery feeling to the towel, which I cannot stand. I think there is a reason why I never used fabric softner. I just had to be reminded....

How do you get the "soft" feeling of towels without the slippery waxy feeling on the towel?

Is Vaska the game?

    Bookmark   February 4, 2011 at 3:43PM
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Vaska fabric softener does not appear to leave any residue on the fabrics. It just makes the laundry smell and feel very nice. There is no "feel" to the laundry besides just real softness.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 2:35PM
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"natural" (ie. soy) based softeners work a little different than conventional ones. They do not "coat" the fibres the same way. I have been using this kid (different brands) for a few years now and wouldn't switch back. I'd go without before I'd go back :)

    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 3:59PM
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I have found that Tide Total Care and Woolite leave my laundry feeling noticeably softer than other detergents. Haven't used any Persil formulas.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2011 at 4:40PM
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Tide Total Care deposits silicone onto your fabrics to help them feel soft. P&G calls it an "advanced fiber complex" or something like that. The question is, do you want silicone on your clothes?

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 6:57PM
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Where does one purchase this vaska?

    Bookmark   February 24, 2011 at 3:02PM
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    Bookmark   February 25, 2011 at 3:51PM
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I got my Vaska at Target but not all Target stores carry it. Of the two in my area only one has it.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 11:34AM
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I'd recommend the Persil. Just got done answering an old thread about Purex Crystals which is pertinent here.

Persil leaves clothes softer for 2 reasons:
1) It rinses very thoroughly.
2) It contains aluminium silicate aka bentonite clay.

Bentonite is a natural fabric softener. It doesn't coat the fibers like tallow, fat, soy or silicone based softeners. It basically plumps them up. The drawback is you have to get the fibers really clean for it to work. So you may need a few loads of Persil, Charlies Soap, etc. to remove the remnant detergent in your laundry before it really works.

If you use a clean rinsing detergent that you like already, for me that's Costco's Enviro Friendly liquid detergent, just add a bentonite clay softener to your load. The most readily available one in the market at the moment is Purex Crystals.

Tide w/ a Touch of Downy is another choice that already has bentonite in it. It just doesn't rinse as cleanly as some other detergents.

- IT Geek

    Bookmark   March 14, 2011 at 4:06AM
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Just bought a bottle of Purex Crystals. You add them WITH the detergent, NOT in the softener tray. I've done 3 loads so far...pretty impressed. Smells clean, fresh and clothes are noticeably softer. Not as soft as when using Downy...but these might appeal to a lot of people, since there is no softener being dispensed and left on clothes. I found the blue bottle to smell the best. The lavender and the yellow/orange bottle smelled very sweet, "perfumey" and strong!

    Bookmark   March 14, 2011 at 3:50PM
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