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I just boiled my towels....

Posted by tjt78 (My Page) on
Sat, Jun 25, 11 at 15:49

Just reading around the internet and came upon boil washing. So, I decided, why not? I gathered up my white (well, what used to be white, anyway) kitchen towels and washcloths and put some water and washing soda in a giant pot on the stove.

Oh, the stench! And the water, after boiling, was brown. Not brownish...brown! I was disgusted. This was AFTER washing them!

I'm so depressed about my laundry.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: I just boiled my towels....

awe :(


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RE: I just boiled my towels....

Do you have a lot of minerals in your water? Maybe that is adding to it? IDK, just a thought.

What kind of detergent and fabric softeners (if any) do you use? Ever use bleach? Liquid, powdered or oxygen?


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RE: I just boiled my towels....

How did the towels and washcloths look? Improved? Your brown water may be normal. See link below.

I remember my father talking about his grandmother boiling the whites on the top of her stove, back in the 1930s & 1940s. It was how things were often done.

Here is a link that might be useful: boiling clothes


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RE: I just boiled my towels....

Everything begins with quality of the water. Without knowing that, can't have an opinion. However, suspecting less-than-good water and low washing temps before even getting into products being used. Could be wrong, but that's how I'd bet.


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RE: I just boiled my towels....

I've known old ladies who boiled their kitchen towels (maybe dishcloths too), sometimes with some "washing powders" (an old-fashioned word for laundry detergent) and/or a little bit of Clorox. I did this one time, years ago (can't remember if I added anything to the water) and was not impressed. Mine have always come much cleaner and whiter in the washing machine. I have no idea where the brown color could have come from.


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RE: I just boiled my towels....

With respect to everyone's opinions...and notwithstanding my own ideas about water quality and blah, blah, blah.....the chances of people in the US boiling their laundry to achieve ANY desired result would be....what? Something above zero?

Look to your water and your heat and your products. Boiling is about as realistic as pounding on rocks down by the river.


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RE: I just boiled my towels....

Actually, it was really easy. ????? I don't understand how someone could think putting some water on the stove to boil with some towels (instead of spaghetti?) would be like pounding on rocks, but ok. Hahahaha!

Anyway, they looked brand new when I was done! I was amazed. I was ready to trash them.

We got a water softener a few months ago. So, I did have hard water before that. City water and not the hardest around here, but still hard. I've tried every detergent out there, don't use softener. I'm just at my wits end washing my clothes and knowing they aren't as clean as they should be.


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RE: I just boiled my towels....

Not disputing your results. Just joking about how likely it would be for Joe and Sally average to make this part of their laundry routine.

Do you know what the actual wash temperature within your machine is? Seems to me the temperature difference in your boiled wash compared with your machine may be answering some questions all by itself. (I assume you're using the same water.)

Suspecting your bad results there due to some combination/permutation of temperature, products, or procedures. Of course don't know. Just noodling. The last batch of bad whites I ever had was decades ago when I lived with my sister and BiL for a little while. She was on a wash-everything-warm/cold streak and all of her whites were dull. When I got out of there and started washing hot again, everything came bright again within a few loads.


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RE: I just boiled my towels....

Oh gosh, I've NEVER had "good" whites. Never. :( I've been doing laundry for 13 years and never had any luck.

I have an LG front loader and am not impressed with it. I think (not sure) the hot cycle is just my hot tap water. I don't remember anything special about it.

But even my things that aren't white aren't clean. I guess they just don't look AS bad because they're not white so you can't tell. But unless I do a prewash and extra rinse with the "water plus" thing, my husband's t-shirts come out like they went in. He sweats, but doesn't get dirty or anything. But the sweat just stays in there.


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RE: I just boiled my towels....

OK...asking different way...does your machine have a built-in heater that you can use on some cycles? I would really like to know what your actual temperature inside the machine during a cycle is. ( I measure mine with el-cheapo instant-read kitchen thermometer.)

If you're getting tap-hot supply only to your LG, I suspect your actual wash temperature inside the machine during the cycle is probably about the same as mine (Duet 9400) when I fill with tap-hot but don't choose a cycle that uses the heater. 130F water entering becomes 100-105 water during the wash. That's how much heat loss there is between the clothes and the SS drum. If I want hotter than that, I have to pre-heat the machine or choose a cycle that uses the built-in heater. Same with all such machines. If you live in a colder climate, the differential is greater still.

Mom's old top-loader via using 4x as much water manages about 110-115 unless I pre-heat the thing....which I do by following a "warm" wash with my "hot" for whites.

If you get into it, I think you'll find that decent cleaning of whites begins at about 120-125 with a dwell time of about 15 minutes.

If you're telling me you have soft water that hot, with a dwell time that long, and using a proper dose of just about any product, and your whites still come out funky......I will be baffled.

From what you've written, I'm suspecting temperature and dwell time may be your issues.


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RE: I just boiled my towels....

All I can choose is "hot." So I'm assuming it's just hot tap water. I don't have any other settings. So, if all I can get is hot tap water, nothing's going to work?


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stpp?

Would STPP help me at all? It keeps popping in up things I read about laundry. Another issue I'm having are oil spots on my knits. A t-shirt will go in fine and come out with oil spots. Not colored or greasy..just a round oil spot. I have read it could be do to dirt reattaching to the clothes in the wash and that STPP could help. True?


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RE: I just boiled my towels....

Can't answer your question about STPP or about any way to get good results over time with whites using cold or warm water.....which I suspect is what you're stuck with in that machine.

The only thing I can think of that may help would be bleach and even that is compromised at lower temperatures. Certainly STPP would be, too. Basically, just about everything is compromised at lower temperatures. Imagine how your dishwasher would work without a heating element.....but that's another story. Same principal, though.

Wish I had more/better suggestions for you short of replacing your machine with one that will give you an actual hot wash. There may be cold/warm water laundry people here that will have other advice about something they do that works.

I do have this opinion, though, which may or may not apply to your way of ordering your household. Like my dishwasher, car, and a few other things in my life, a clothes washer is something I use every day and should last for many years. I would not be willing to live with any machine like that that didn't do what it was supposed to do. If it's a not right, it's a curse every time I use it....over, and over again.


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RE: I just boiled my towels....

"We got a water softener a few months ago. So, I did have hard water before that. City water and not the hardest around here, but still hard. I've tried every detergent out there, don't use softener. "
Does 'don't use softener' mean fabric softener or water softener like Calgon on top of your regular water softener?

"Another issue I'm having are oil spots on my knits. A t-shirt will go in fine and come out with oil spots."
Which (exact) laundry detergent are you using? Brand and liquid or powder? Are you using a liquid fabric softener?


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RE: I just boiled my towels....

@ tjt78

We can sit here and try to analyze this to death, but I think it's time to try some experiments! Are you able to crank up your water heater to 140 or 160? Also, see if you can get something at your local grocery store called Lemi Shine. It's nothing more than citric acid, which will remove any hard water buildup you may have in your machine.

Crank up your water heater and run the hottest and longest wash cycle you have with about 1/4 cup of the Lemi Shine. Follow that up with another hottest, longest cycle with 1/4 cup of Cascade dishwashing powder. This should help alleviate any issues you may be having with residue inside your machine.

After you clean out your machine (including detergent drawer), try sticking with brand name powdered HE detergents and keep your water heater cranked up. See if that helps your clothes get cleaner. You see, if you don't have an on-board heater, selecting HOT can only give you what your hot water heater provides. Understand that hot water will lose a substantial amount of its heat depending upon how far your machine is from the water heater. The drum of the machine will also absorb some of the heat. If your water heater is set to 120, the water your machine gets may be closer to 100-110. By the time your cycle is finished, the temps have dropped even further.

HOT on my machine is a real 120, maintained throughout the entire wash cycle. Same for WARM = 105. Unbelievably, your HOT may be equal to my WARM. I wash all of my colors, dark and bright, on WARM.


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RE: I just boiled my towels....

SOrry....by "softener" I meant fabric softener. I don't use them.

Ok...I will try those things! The Lemi Shine and everything else mentioned! :) Thanks so much!

And yes, next time I buy a washer I'm getting a good one. This one was an "emergency" purchase. My old washer kicked the bucket and I had to have a new one stat. That never ends well.


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RE: I just boiled my towels....

No, no, no!

OP doesn't even know what the temp inside her washer is right now. What's she going to learn by doing what you suggest without at least knowing that? You're shooting blindly....just chasing assumptions. If you don't measure the actual temp inside the washer, before/after you'll have learned nothing.

We don't know if she's even read the manual, but it doesn't sound like it. We don't know if she runs the water hot before turning the machine on. We don't know if she's tried pre-heating. We don't even know what her water heater is set at or what "tap hot" means to her because she won't answer the question.

160F at the water heater?....just for this? No, no, no!!! You'll shorten that device's life and you'll put yourself and others in your household at risk of scalding. This is getting silly.

Before I'd sing these songs and dance these dances I'd just take my stuff to a commercial laundry and let them do it. Or get a machine with a heater and learn how to use it.


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RE: I just boiled my towels....

I'll weigh in as well - somewhere between asolo and sshrivastava ;-)

tjt78, what detergent do you use? What cycle do you use for your whites? What cycles do you use for your other loads?

If you cannot replace your washing machine, I think sshrivastava is right in suggesting that water heater be cranked up to 160F BUT IT IS FOR THE INITIAL CLEANING CYCLE ONLY. Otherwise I think you can keep it at 140F (if you have small children, it should be 120F, I believe). If possible, run off the cold water from your pipes in a nearby sink before you start any HOT or WARM water cycle. Wash your whites on the longest hottest cycle you have with an extra rinse. Use good powder detergent designed for your washer (you will need to experiment and figure out the proper amount) and oxygen bleach. Asolo, whether the OP measures the water temp or not is irrelevant if she cannot or will not replace her machine. So I think all we can do it help the OP to get the hottest possible wash in her machine without a heater (and without endangering her family in the process).

For oil stains on clothes: they often appear seemingly out of the blue but what really happens is that you get a small splash or drip of some greasy food on your shirt - the splash may be small but when you wash your shirt, the oil stain resulting from the splash will spread and grow. The only way to get rid of these is to pretreat them (I use a dab of detergent) and wash the garment again.


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RE: I just boiled my towels....

I agree with raising the domestic water heater setting, drastically and temporarily, with safeguards to protect vulnerable household members. And, if it's a tank-type heater, waiting for the tank to actually heat up, which could take a while, especially if it's electric. But then the OP should stand by the washer while it fills, to make sure it's filling with hot water only. If it mixes cold water in (because of automatic temperature control on the Hot setting), then the experiment will prove nothing.


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RE: I just boiled my towels....

"Asolo, whether the OP measures the water temp or not is irrelevant if she cannot or will not replace her machine."

Disagree. Right now we don't know if she's washing at what she calls "hot" at 105 or "hot" at 80. She doesn't know what "hot" is..... and neither to we. There's no starting point. Right now we still don't know 1) present water-heater setting 2) "tap-hot" water temp 3) whether or not OP runs line hot before beginning the cycle. 4) actual temp inside the machine during the cycle 5) whether or not she pre-heats. She may be able to increase the wash temp 20F without changing anything. Depending on present wash temp, that could get her up to 120+ which may be quite relevant.

"...all we can do it help the OP to get the hottest possible wash in her machine without a heater...."

Without knowing the above, you won't be able to do even that. "Hottest possible" will remain unknown. OP has not disclosed anything meaningful. That's why I took sshrivastava to task for "chasing assumptions". None of knows what the actual situation is because OP won't tell us. Other than the machine is an LG/FL OP hasn't even told us about that. I don't know how to solve problems without any meaningful disclosure. From what's been written, I've said I "suspect" temp and dwell time along with product type/dosage may be the issues. Of course I don't know, but seems likely. Apparently I'm not going to be finding out.


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RE: I just boiled my towels....

@ izeve

I agree 100%. It's time to help the OP and stop asking questions that will not do anything to get her clothes clean. It's already quite clear that the machine has no on board heater, she's using the hottest cycle available, she has a water softener, and her clothes are not coming out clean. I think the cause clearly has everything to do with water temps and the type/amount of detergent being used.

@ asolo

Before I'd sing these songs and dance these dances I'd just take my stuff to a commercial laundry and let them do it. Or get a machine with a heater and learn how to use it.
So you think it's better for the OP to get a new machine and have her current clothes washed at a commercial laundry instead of doing a few simple things that would take far less time, cost far less money, represents good advice on how to clean out your machine, and will likely improve the situation? I don't understand your logic here.


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Asolo.. wow... just wow...

@ asolo

I can't believe your last post, blaming the OP who just came here for a little bit of advice and blaming those of us who are trying to help her. You seem to be making this more about you than anything else. Let's focus on helping the OP with positive steps, not blame and accusations because you don't feel that you are getting the right answers to your questions. Plenty of us feel that we can set the OP on the right path with some positive steps, if you feel you don't have enough information to make a recommendation then don't say anything at all. But please stop insulting people.


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OK.....I agree.....

My "logic" is acknowledging an OP that is apparently either unable or unwilling to examine and consider the most basic characteristics of her situation. If she is incapable of this then, yes, let somebody else do it or get another machine that will do it. For heaven's sake, she's boiling her laundry on the stove right now and apparently regards that as a viable alternative. Cleaning out her machine is a good idea except.....she will NOT be able to accomplish this with warm water in any event. And, from what she's written to date, I have no confidence that she'll do it correctly or know what she's doing when she does it.

Don't know what kind of water heater she has but running it at 160 will be both dangerous and expensive. And given her apparent ignorance of what temperature she has now and unwillingness to find out, I suspect she won't measure what she has then either.

I agree with you. Appears to me I've become a hindrance to this discussion. Think it best I move along.


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RE: I just boiled my towels....

sshrivastava, thank you.

asolo, I don't want to be argumentative, but I really think the OP doesn't need to measure the temperature in her wash. By following the steps I and others suggested (water heater to 140F, run off cold water before cycle starts, use the longest hottest setting, use appropriate detergent and oxy or other bleach) the OP will be able to optimize the performance of her machine. I don't know if that will result in 90F or 115F washes for her but those steps will certainly ensure that she gets the MAX temp wash that her machine is capable of (without taking undue risks with the water heater setting or resorting to ridiculous steps of manually adding boiling water to the washer).

I agree that a washer with a heater is superior to one without but not all of us can run out and replace their machines on a whim.


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RE: I just boiled my towels....

Asolo said:
And given her apparent ignorance of what temperature she has now and unwillingness to find out, I suspect she won't measure what she has then either.
Again... WOW. I think it's best that some people leave this thread because they obviously can't keep it together without calling other people names. Asolo, remember the comment I made to you in another thread to go sit in a corner and "look in the mirror"? I think the same advice applies here. At least you're consistent.

@ tjt78

I apologize for the behavior of some people in this forum. They clearly don't know how to help people without removing their own need for validation from the equation. Please don't be afraid to come back and report your results after doing some of the things we are recommending. Most of us are here to help you.


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RE: I just boiled my towels....

Sshrivastava......

"Again.... WOW. I think it's best that some people leave this thread because they obviously can't keep it together without calling other people names."

Again.....agree to stay gone from this topic...but you are, as you frequently have been, completely off base about this. Get a dictionary, please.

"Ignorance" = lack of knowledge or information. No "names" in there. Just a simple, accurate, common English word used appropriately. Your annoyance is unjustified. And I can handle my own apologies, if I feel they're appropriate....which I do not in this case.

Carry on.


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RE: I just boiled my towels....

@ tjt78

I remembered this morning that you have a water softener in your home. If you are going to be using any off-the-shelf HE detergents, I suggest you start with half the recommended dose and adjust up or down depending on results. According to my Miele user manual... if your clothes are coming out stiff or dingy, you are not using enough detergent. The only down side to using too much detergent is suds and increasing the wastewater load. Anecdotal evidence here and elsewhere tends to suggest that you are more at risk of gunk/build-up when you use too little detergent, not when you use too much. Detergents keep soil suspended in the water and from re-depositing back onto your clothing fibers and wash parts. Without enough detergent, the oils and other nasties in your clothes will end up back on your clothes, or worse, on the inside of your washer where it could cause problems like the oily splotch you describe.

There is a good detergent out there called LanoSoft that is made specifically for people with water softeners. It does not contain any water softening or conditioning ingredients, just pure soap and sodium metasilicate, which protects your machine from corrosion and is an anti-redeposition agent. Clothes come out clean and soft using this product.

Let us know how things are working out for you.


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RE: I just boiled my towels....

LOL!

This is why I always recommend a machine with a high-wattage, on-board water heater! It's amazing what regular hot (160-205 degree) washes will do to keep whites really white (plus keep machine-crud at bay). Not every load needs it, not every load would even be safe with really hot water, but white cotton towels, sheets, and kitchen textiles will be just fine.

All the product and chemical work-arounds and frustration with poor cleaning can be avoided if you have machines that can do this when needed.

In US, buyers whined and whined about the need for a 220V supply line (as if electric dryers didn't need them) and obsessed about capacity issues (those Euro machines look so small, never mind what they can actually hold!) so the manufacturers moved to half-baked, dumbed-down machines. And made them more expensive along the way.

L


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RE: I just boiled my towels....

@ liriodendron

To clarify your post, there are no large XXL capacity front-loaders in the US market that can go to 205F. Smaller 220v Euro-size machines can, and so can a smaller 110v Canadian Miele, but that's about it. Most people don't need to go that high, 140F-160F is more than enough.


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RE: I just boiled my towels....

Well, "smaller" is a relative word. I have both 5K and 6K (kilo) Miele machines and an Asko which is somewhere in between that. I do an extraordinary amount of wash and I've never found size limitations of the machines to be a problem. I regularly wash queen and king sized bedding, with the exception of no down comforters of any weight in king size (king sheets, mattress pads, cotton and wool blankets do just fine) and no heavy weight queen-sized down comforters. The few times per year I do those items, I go to a laundromat.

I well remember on this forum before the XXL-sized FLs appeared how much effort was made to get people to understand that the dishwasher-sized true horizontal axis Euro FLs could take as much laundry as they can. I must have written down the recommendation to actually weigh your current laundry load dozens and dozens of times. I got the feeling that even if people did that, they still couldn't wrap their heads around the unfamiliar loading parameters of Euro Fls. Plus they seem to be operating under the common US compulsion to choose the extra-large sized option in most instances. And maybe we've gotten so overweight in this country that we need huge machines to wash our duds. I don't know.

As for the temps: most people may not care if their machine go above 140-160F. (Heck, some people apparently wash all their stuff in cold water; fortunately these people are also usually dedicated dryer-users so at least some heat is applied!) But if you want really white cotton and linen fabrics without having to bleach the devil out of them (or use a lot of chemical additives) then being able to go much higher is a distinct benefit.

It seems absurd, wasteful and, even, dangerous to me to be advise people to raise their water heater temp to heat all their household water that hot when they need it for only a few gallons per load on the few loads per week. A beefy on-board water heater seems like the ultimate in energy savings since most of these machines can be fed unheated water, and then only heat the very few gallons need per load. It seems like perfect energy titration: only what's needed and not an ounce nor a degree wasted.

As always, YMMV.

L


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RE: I just boiled my towels....

liriodendron, I've never understood the claim that true horizontal axis washers have a capacity out of proportion to their volume. My Miele W4840's drum is tilted 8 deg, I think. I can fill it with clothes, loosely packed, and it washes ok. If the axis was horizontal, would I be able to wash bigger loads? Only way that could happen, as far as I can tell, is if I stuffed the drum tighter.


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RE: I just boiled my towels....

I don't know if this is a wive's tail or if has a basis in fact, but I did read a couple of years ago somewhere that true H-axis machines can be stuffed within an inch of their life and they do a good job washing. By contrast, tilted drum machines should not be more than 3/4 full. If true, then an 8 kg tilted drum machine like the Miele would only be able to take 6 kg of laundry be weight.

My experience with the W4842 8 kg Miele machine has been quite different. Although a tilted drum design, it easily holds almost double what my 5 kg Asko could take. This is not from any measurement, mind you, it's just anecdotal experience.


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RE: I just boiled my towels....

Regardless of H-axis or slight tilt ... I'm under the believe that the laundry needs room to "tumble"? It's the tumbling action that gets it clean. If it's packed to the gills I can't see how it would get truly clean.


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RE: I just boiled my towels....

Try soaking your kitchen towels in oxyclean for a few hours to day or so. It is amamzing what comes out of the towel... Even the towels that look white. The water is disgusting...

I too wash my kitchen towels at near boiling temp (160F plus) in my 240V Asko. Even so, when I soak them in oxyclean solution, there is much more yuck that comes out of the towels.

liriodendron,
I am not limited by the washer size in my Euro washer. i am limited by the dryer size. When i am traveling (renting) and using other people's larger W/D, I find that my clothes have much less wrinkling because there is room for the wash to tumble. My wash does come out very clean in my small Asko but there is a cost of 'deep wrinkling' that requires management. I only have so much time in my day. At this point, I want a larger W/D that will allow me to save some time in my day AND have clothes that are not as wrinkled. Unfortunately, we all have 'limits' on what we are willing to live with.

I often line dry my clothes to save energy in trying to do my part to ward off global warming, albeit miniscule in impact.


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RE: I just boiled my towels....

@ kaismom

Excellent suggestion about the Oxyclean. The Oxyclean brand product, however, contains only about 30%-50% of the active ingredient sodium percarbonate. Ecover's brand of non-chlorine powder bleach is 100% pure sodium percarbonate. That is the chemical that causes the whitening/oxidation. There are other brands as well that contain more active ingredient than Oxyclean, but I don't recall their names at the moment. Sodium Percarbonate can also be purchased in bulk at The Chemistry Store.


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