Physical and chemical properties of selected laundry detergents

hardwarehackJanuary 1, 2013

[Information first posted in the Appliances Forum by Alice (Alice_61) on 23 July 2002 in the "Technical Suds" thread - thanks, Alice!]:

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Here is an update of the list of detergents and their properties that I have measured. All the detergents are either HE, unscented, or European (where front loaders are the norm). Listed are several parameters for a solution of 1/4 teaspoon of detergent in 16 oz of tap water. This concentration is approximately that used in a front loader. For the powdered detergents, this volume is adjusted for density, to give a weight equal to 1/4 teaspoon of Ultra Plus Free powder.

Parameters

(1) Suds height in inches. I added detergent to a quart yogurt container containing 16 oz of cold (~70F) tap water and stirred slowly until dissolved. Then I covered the container and shook vigorously for 10 seconds. Next, I let it stand for 15 seconds. Then I measured the height of the suds with a ruler.

(2) pH (This is off because our tap water has a pH=8.0-8.3, but a lot of U.S. water is alkaline, so this may be fairly typical.)

(3) TDS (total dissolved solids) less the TDS our tap water (~113 ppm). The scale is off, giving measurements that are about 50% too low, but it is useful for comparing relative TDS values.

(4) Weight/60 ml (1/4 cup) for powdered detergents only.

...............................suds..........pH.......TDS.......weight/60 ml
...............................height(1).....(2)......(3).......(4)

Liquid detergents

Tide HE (l)........................0".........7.7.....64ppm
Wisk HE (l)......................3/4".........9.4.....83ppm
Ecos (l).......................1 1/4".........8.2.....33ppm
Tide Free (l)..................1 1/4".........8.2.....77ppm
Cheer Free (l).................1 1/2".........8.1.....58ppm
Arm & Hammer Free (l)..........1 3/4".........9.1.....34ppm
Ultra Plus Free (l)............1 3/4".........8.9.....57ppm
Wisk Free (l)..................2".............8.4.....63ppm
All Free and Clear (l).........2 1/2".........9.7.....79ppm
Purex Free Clear Classic (l)...2 1/2".........9.8....129ppm

Powdered detergents

Tide HE (p)......................1/4"........10.9....900ppm...1 1/4 oz
Dalli (p)......................1"............10.8...1372ppm...1 3/8 oz
Ultra Plus Free (p)............1"............10.6...1347ppm...1 7/8 oz
Persil (p).....................1 1/4"........10.4....622ppm...1 oz
Megaperls (p)..................1 1/2".........8.9....200ppm...1 5/8 oz
Sensitiv (p)...................1 1/2"........10.3....497ppm...1 5/8 oz
Perwoll (p)....................1 1/2".........8.3....958ppm.....3/4 oz
A & H FabriCare Free (p).......1 1/2"........10.7...1467ppm...1 3/8 oz
Tide Free (p)..................2 1/4"........10.6....723ppm...1 1/4 oz

for comparison

A & H Washing Soda (p)............ 0"........10.8...1829ppm...2 1/8 oz
Electrosol Dual Action DW det(p)...0"........10.6...1306ppm...1 3/4 oz

With our hard water, 85F water temperature, 10 pound wash load, and 18 minute wash time in the FriGEmore, I could use 3 fluid ounces of any of the liquids or 2 oz (by weight) of the powders without excessive sudsing if the load I was washing had been very well rinsed previously. For loads that had some detergent residue, sudsing was a problem for those detergents with a suds height of 1 3/4 to 2" or more. It will be interesting to see which of these will work in the Miele with its longer wash time and hotter cycles.

Another note of interest is the Tide HE powder and liquid. Both were unique in having a very rapid reduction in suds height after shaking. These suds heights were after 10 seconds of shaking and 15 seconds of rest. The Tide HE liquid suds fell slightly faster than the powder. Both had no suds after about 30 seconds. The Wisk HE liquid had a little bit of this property. I didn't notice much of this effect with the other detergents.

Alice

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[first added to Appliances FAQ: 5 October 2002]

[added to Laundry FAQ: 21 May 2003]

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