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Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

Posted by uluvbs (My Page) on
Sun, Sep 26, 10 at 17:39

Hi, all.

I've just moved to London, UK, and have a Bosch front-loading clothes washer.

I washed some dress shirts last week (using Persil non-Bio) and assumed it was the detergent that made the shirts feel not-so-soft afterwards.

Today, I washed some linens with Ecover detergent and the result is the same: my towels and sheets feel rougher now.

In the past, I have never used fabric softener and don't want to now. Any idea what the likely culprits are?

(I washed both times at 60C/140F temperature, if that matters.)

Thank you.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

It's probably due to hard water. Increase the amount of detergent or soften the water either mechanically or chemically.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

With respect, there is no such thing as "mechanical" water softening. It's all chemical.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

Just recently switched from a top-loader to a front-loader. Towels are dramatically more scratchy, and SOME fabrics are not as soft in the front-loader.

It can't be water hardness difference. It's the same water.

It can't be the type of detergent, because I was already using HE-compatible detergent in the top-loader and have kept using the same one.

At first I thought the FL must not be rinsing well enough. But I have tested items coming out and detected no detergent residue whatsoever.

It's driving me crazy trying to figure out the cause.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

Just recently switched from a Maytag Bravos TL to a Speed Queen TL and towels, sheets, and some clothing is SOFTER. Same water, same detergent. Could the amount of water used have anything to do with it?


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

@asolo: While all water softening involves chemical reactions, use of a physical water softener is usually referred to as "mechanical" softening because it involves the use of mechanical devices - filters, tanks, timers, etc. I used the term to differentiate from chemical additives which are simply added to the wash water like Calgon.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

sshrivastava....no worries....we're together....I understand.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

Hi, all.

My towels today feel even rougher than when I posted last night ;-:.

-1- How can I tell how soft/hard my water is?

-2- It's funny because someone mentioned using more detergent, and I was thinking you would all be yelling at me to use LESS detergent ;o). The max. capacity of the unit is 5kg (11 lbs), if that matters. I think it's a pretty small unit. I can't imagine using more detergent would help, but maybe it would? Or should I try doing an extra rinse cycle?

Thank you!


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

Hard-water test kits are cheap and common. Any hardware store will have them.

I think this would be a good idea. My suspicion is something in chemistry of water/product is at the root of your problem. Since you say no problem with previous machine, perhaps different concentrations/balance in new machine is what's happening.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

I'm intrigued by the idea of a machine brand/model alone making towels or other items rough. Would it be radical changes in temperature, which we know can cause that problem?

I'd first assume it's a water and detergent efficacy issue. In the States, the water authority can tell you -- maybe it's similar there. Else, I'd ask a neighbor if I couldn't get hold of a water testing kit.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

I would think the London city water department would have a website that would list water quality info for you.

Check that first, before purchasing your own water test kit.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

I WANT TO KNOW WHY my towels are horribly rough when washed in the front-loader.

(SOME other fabrics are less soft as well, but I'm focusing on towels because they are by far the most dramatic difference, and a really unacceptable texture to me. And I don't require super-soft towels, either.)

It is not hard water! SAME towels, washed in the SAME hard water with the SAME detergent in my old top-loader, are MUCH MUCH softer.

The ONLY change was the front-load washer washing them.

In my towel closet, you can run your hands over the many different towels, and there are horribly scratchy, stiff, rough ones -- these are the ones that have been washed in the new front-loader; and there are soft, fluffy ones -- which were washed in the old top-loader and haven't yet been washed in the new front-loader.

Once again, it's the SAME WATER, SAME DETERGENT. The scratchy towels are clean, not dirty, and free of detergent residue.

So it's NOT hard water, at least not all by itself as the reason.

oasisowner has had the same experience, and there are lots of similar questions from people who switched to front-loaders. I've read the threads, with ideas from more detergent, less detergent/more rinsing, hotter water...

I WANT TO KNOW WHY towels are coming out of the front-load washer like this, when they come out of the top-load washer nice and soft.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

Can you say amounts of detergent being used? HE in both instances?

This isn't making sense to me. I switched from TL to FL years ago and have not had this problem. I did switch from reg to HE detegent and adjust dosages.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

I have a top loading machine and a laundry spinner. I noticed that when I dry towels that have come out of the laundry spinner after being washed they are much rougher than when I just put them from the washer to the dryer.

I think the spin speed may have something to do with it. Try turning the spin speed on the washer down to its lowest speed and see how your towels come out. That is if your washer has a spin speed control. Not all do.

Go to this link to find out your water hardness by typing in your UK postal code.

Here is a link that might be useful: Thames Water Authority


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

I read something similar on another thread ... the person solved it by washing in warm (not hot) and reducing the spin speeds. Also drying on a lower temp (ie. medium).

Hot water and high speed spins can fry some fibres (especially towels).

I can't remember all the details but you can try and search for the thread.

She stated that after making those changes, her towels were once again soft and fluffy.

I have an older FL that doesn't spin as fast as the new ones. I have never had a problem with my towels. I buy good quality cotton and I never use fabric softener.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

Update: I just followed the advice here and checked with the local council: my water hardness is 256 mg/l, which is apparently very hard. =-:.

I will tell you for sure, though, that for the Persil and Ecover I used here I definitely didn't go light on the detergent -- I used the mid-range amounts both times, and this washer appears to be fairly small capacity.

I assume I should use more detergent and should also do an extra rinse cycle? Otherwise I'm wondering how else, in using such large amount of detergent, the standard rinse cycle would adequately remove the detergent?

Thanks again for your help!


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

Yes, I think it may be the spin speed. I can only think of three possible factors:
1) concentration of detergent
2) wash action
3) spin speed

Don't think it's concentration of detergent, because I have tried very small amounts (1 - 2 T). Towels didn't get clean, but still came out rough.

It looks like the FL crushes down the loops of the towels in disorganized directions. I looked at them under a magnifier and saw there are also little tiny hair-like fibers pulled off the strands of the loops. In the rough towels, the little fibers are crushed into little balls into the disorganized and crushed-down loops. In the soft towel never washed in the FL, all the loops lie in a neat, orderly direction and stand up straight, not crushed down. The loops are also nicely twisted.

@asolo: I use Kirkland Free & Clear. It indicates it can be used for both conventional and HE machines. I used this for the last year or two in my old Whirlpool TL and for the past 4 weeks in my new FL.

I use the recommended amounts, as indicated by 5 fill lines on the cup for different size/soil levels of loads. I always use the cup to measure (because I believe that using too much can cause holes and thinning of fabrics, from the enzymes). Line 4 is for a "medium" load and is what I usually used in the TL for a load of towels. Line 5, more detergent, is for HE, probably because of their typically greater capacity. Line 5 is a little over 2 ounces of water, Line 4 is a little over 1.5. In the FL, I have tried very little detergent (1-2 T) and fills to Lines 3, 4, and 5 for my small loads of towels (4, 6, 8 towels). The small amounts of detergent did not get the towels clean. Line 4 or 5 seems about right, which is really the same amount of detergent I would use for the same size load going into the TL. Line 5 probably delivers the same amount to the FL as Line 4 did into the TL, because with the TL I rinsed all the detergent into the drum, but with the FL I can't rinse out what clings to the cup -- quite a bit since it's thick. Today I tried the Tide Ultra HE sample packet that came with the machine. It's a 2-oz packet, and I used about 3/4 of it for my small load of towels.

I have already checked for detergent residue/inadequate rinsing. I tried Extra Rinse which made no difference. I put washcloths into a basin of clear water and found no suds. One load, I set to "low" spin speed, squeezed water out of the towels, and (yes this is a little gross) tasted it, and it tasted 100% clean.

It CANNOT be hard water, because if so, that would predict towels washed in much greater quantities of hard water in a TL should come out rougher, but they do not.

(I can't yet rule out an interaction between hard water and some other factor. Is there a way to soften the water on a per-load basis?)


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

uvluvbs...

"I used the mid-range amounts both times, and this washer appears to be fairly small capacity."

Umm...don't know what either means. "mid-range"? "fairly small"? Nothing to bite down on there.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

It seems like the UK is a hotspot for hard water. Last year when I was searching online for washing machine descaling products, most of the hits were UK websites. So maybe there's local knowledge you can tap into. Also, the forums on automaticwasher.org have some UK contributors.

My advice is to use STPP, which is said to be a "non-precipitating" water softener -- the byproducts of softening the water are kept in solution, so they go down the drain with the water. My water is 1/5 as hard as yours, and STPP makes my towels softer. When I first tried STPP, I also tried vinegar, which helps some people. Vinegar didn't make a bit of difference, but STPP made the towels noticeably softer. However, STPP i.e. phosphates may have environmental impact that you'd prefer to avoid, depending on how your waste water is treated and where it's discharged.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

@asolo....

Persil Non-Bio recommends 55ml to 255ml, depending on how soiled the clothes are and how hard ur water is. I used 135ml, which is right in the middle, which I felt was enough considering my washer is fairly small and given how many people on here brag about how little Persil they can get away with using.

Personally, i don't understand how using more detergent would result in clothes that feel softer, per se, but I'm willing to try anything at this point. If this is the case, I assume doing an extra rinse cycle afterwards would *not* help make the clothes feel softer -- is that correct?


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

Uluvbs.....Must confess I don't know what you're dealing with as I'm not familiar with the hardness terminology used (although I do understand what "very hard" likely means) and I'm not familiar with Persil or Ecover. I learned long ago that the product vendors' recommendations for dosage have almost never been appropriate for any machine I've ever used....but, of course, I don't know about your situation so can't judge it from here.

Considering the disappointment you've described, I'm thinking perhaps my first effort might be to get friendly with some neighbors who have the same water supply as you do and, perhaps, even similar machines. Are they having the same experience? Or perhaps they just don't notice it as you do? Are they using same/similar products and dosages? Would be interested in learning what they consider "normal" or "satisfactory". Perhaps this is just how laundry comes out there and they're all used to it.

Assuming your machine itself is operating as it should, about all that's left is water quality, product, dosage, and temperature. (Do you know actual temperature in-the-machine during your chosen cycles? Cold, hard water is always bad news.) Short of obtaining softened water, all I can recommend is gathering information from other users in your neighborhood and/or experimentation. Wish I could bring more to the party.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

My towels come out soft and fluffy from my front loader. If the fibers of your towels are being "crushed into little balls", that's not due to the wash action - that's probably shrinkage due to high temperatures. If the water temperature is too high, the fibers in the towel will shrink and you will lose some of the softness. Using a non-bio detergent without enzymes is also recommended, as it's been hypothesized elsewhere that the enzymes can slowly eat away at the delicate towel fibers.

Many front loaders have built-in heaters and are able to keep temperatures higher and for a longer period of time. This is not true with most front loaders and may be part of the explanation.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

I would suggest using white vinegar, about a cup full in the final rinse. This is the low cost, healthy alternative for fabric softeners without the animal fat or carcinogens. See if this makes a difference. It is the cheapest experiment you can do.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cleaner Brighter Whiter Laundry


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

I am going to try the vinegar, thank you.

Can I ask a general question, though? How would using more detergent make clothes feel softer? Is this due to the detergent washing the (hard) minerals out of the fabrics?


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

White vinegar didn't make any difference. Nor did baking soda.

I did some research on the ingredients in my detergents, and I found that the ones I have used do include ingredients that soften hard water.

I am going to try a detergent without enzymes, although it is frustrating that the towels come out FINE washed in the enzyme detergent in the TL. However, I shopped at 2 stores yesterday and did not find any non-enzyme-based HE detergent.

Also, the OP has the same problem with Persil non-bio AND Ecover detergents.

I think my hypothesis is on the right track. I tried washing with more water (more cushioning so less abrasion), shorter cycle (much less abrasion from the tumbling wash phase), and low spin, and the towels emerged not as rough or scratchy from the dryer. STILL not nice like with the old TL though.

I have a bunch of what I consider good quality towels; they are thick 100% Egyptian or pima cotton. And I have a few Turkish towels that previously had a wonderful dense, cushiony texture.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

Persil has a guide on the box with detergent amounts to use with varying water hardness. I would use that as a starting point. Insufficient detergent will cause hard water minerals to build up in your clothes, giving them a stiff and scratchy feeling. Insufficient detergent will also cause dirt to re-deposit itself onto the fabric during the wash.

I don't think this is an issue of gentleness, since front loaders are much gentler on fabrics than top loaders. I also find that vinegar does nothing for me. I have soft water, so I suspect vinegar might make a difference for those with harder water.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

To build on sshriv's response: the minerals in the water require the detergent to work (a little) harder to lower the surface tension, which, combined with the lift and drop of the FL, allows the soiling to be removed, trapped and rinsed down the drain. It's not a huge amount of extra effort but the added milliliters should make up for it.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

In other words, doing an extra rinse after washing could very well do more harm than good?

(I'm assuming the extra rinse would then deposit the very minerals into clothing that I was trying to get out by way of using extra detergent.)

Thanks again.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

You can probably solve your issues with a teaspoon or two of STPP per load. That will soften your water and keep the mineral hardness at bay. The addition of vinegar, citric acid (also known by middle eastern people as "lemon salt") or baking soda to your rinse will also help your clothes rinse cleaner.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

I'd say at least a tablespoon of STPP, if not more. That's very hard water. If the OP doesn't want to use phosphates, then I think they ought to consider some other water-softening additive, rather than trying to deal with it just by increasing the detergent dose. Or like I said above, get advice from local people, in-person or online.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

I highly recommend Calgon water softener added to each wash. It is in the laundry detergent section of your store. I use the liquid form because it has no carbonates in the ingredients, which C. Mendelson, author of "Home Comforts," says can leave precipitate residue behind. Then I would try STPP, which is not as readily available as Calgon.
Pat


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

Calgon water softener is sodium hexametaphosphate, isn't it? You can purchase it in bulk granular form over at www.chemistrystore.com.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

andersons I immediately noticed how rough my towels were when I switched from a TL to a FL (Whirlpool Duet). I solved mine by using a "max" or "extra" rinse cycle. I use Purex Sensitive Skin Fabric Softener (as I did with my TL) & on the "normal" rinse the clothes/towels are hard.

Since the thread is long now I only had time to skim the responses & I'm not sure if you mentioned whether you like or don't like (or don't want to) use a fabric softener. The loads I do not use the softener is usually my cleaning clothes & bathroom rugs & with the "extra" or "max" rinses they normally are soft like my other loads.

"Why?", you ask. I don't know. At first I thought there wasn't enough water to activate my softener, then there were times I was over-filling the softener holder (fill with water) & the loads weren't getting any softener (emptied into the wash cycle), but still the loads with the max/extra rinses are softer. Go figure . . .


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

Well, I used the highest recommended dose of Persil (255ml) and that didn't help any.

I will try vinegar (and maybe Calgon) the next go-around.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

Well, a couple reasons I didn't want to use softener. 1) I have never had to use a softener before and yet was perfectly happy with the texture of my towels when washed in the TL. I actually do not like towels that are TOO soft or fluffy. And I do not like the idea of upgrading to a supposedly superior machine and then having to add another product and set of chemicals to get equivalent results. 2) The soft feeling from a fabric softener is just not the same.

I see that even more people have chimed in to blame hard water. Remember that I wash these exact same towels in the exact same detergent and the exact same hard water -- but MUCH MORE of it -- in the TL -- and get towels with a nice texture. Same water, same detergent, same towels, different FL machine = rough, scratchy, stiff towels.

So no matter how many people want to blame the hard water, it is crystal clear that is NOT the reason, at least not all by itself.

I have done some more research on the ingredients in detergents, and I've bought and tried 2 different detergents now. All of the detergent formulas I have looked at already include ingredients to soften hard water. In fact, water softeners are generally the most prominent ingredient.

Some other fabrics emerge not as soft from the FL, but the difference is by far the most dramatic, and unacceptable, with the towels.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

There could be more than one cause for rough towels, and I'm trying to respond to the OP's situation. He/she has very hard water, which could need extra attention. And STPP does make my towels softer, for whatever reason.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

I have a whole house water softener, so zero water hardness. I use 3 TBS of Persil for a load of towels and half the recommended amount of fabric softener. My machine also provides three very deep rinses with a full-speed spin between each rinse. Towels come out soft and fluffy. Someone in another thread solved his rough towel problem by increasing the amount of detergent, another by lowering the spin speed.

Look at what you did before versus how you do things now. What's changed? If the only change is the machine, what's different about the machine? As with diagnosing any issue, you must limit the variables as much as possible in order to determine which variables are causing the problem.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

Out of curiosity, which variable would you suspect causes my towels/sheets to be softer with a traditional TL than they were in an HE TL. The differences I can identify are: The traditional TL has lower spin speed, uses much more water, and washes at higher temps. Water and detergent remained the same.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

oasisowner, I have an idea, for what it's worth. HE-style washing places more demand on the detergent's anti-redeposition function, since there's less water to hold the removed soil. If your detergent is deficient in that area, maybe some of the soil is ending up back on your laundry. This could explain why STPP makes my towels softer. Phosphates are good for anti-redeposition as well as water softening.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

I'm with suburbanmd on this one. This is the reason why under dosing can be as bad or worse than over dosing. That would also explain why someone else in this forum said that increasing the amount of detergent actually resulted in softer towels. If you aren't using enough soap, the dirt is going right back into your fabric and sticking there. This is why you have to use a sufficient amount of HE detergent. HE detergent contains a higher amount of re-deposition agents to prevent this type of thing from happening. Some people choose to use a lot less of a regular detergent and thinking they are getting a better value, but in reality they are ruining their clothes and machines.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

Bingo.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

Well, no one on this thread is underdosing detergent. (Except for my deliberate experiment with small amount of detergent, where the towels came out obviously not clean AND rougher and stiffer than when they went in.) OP and I have both experimented with different levels of detergent to no avail.

And my towels are coming out clean. They look perfectly clean, and they smell perfectly clean and fresh. If the problem were from redepositing dirt, the towels would be dirty. And why would they come out of the wash ROUGHER and STIFFER than they went in?

And no one on this thread is using non-HE detergent.

It's not surprising that you can have soft towels once you soften all your water to zero hardness AND use fabric softener. But I don't want to do either of those things if I can help it, especially since I never had to before with my cheap old unsophisticated TL machine and cheap old Kirkland detergent that got the towels clean and reasonably soft.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

Anderson's issue seems almost circumstantial rather than chemical or mechanical. A neighbor in my old building swore her top loading machine with agitator got her clothes much cleaner than the front loading HE machine. Meh, each his own. I don't think she felt it was less sophisticated or something.

I don't use vinegar or baking soda ever and don't use fabric softener on towels. Only time my towels seem rough is when dried a certain way.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

Why do I have the feeling that the EXTRA rinse (mentioned above) may be an issue here. The extra rinse isn't treated, it's just another mineral-laden bunch of hard or whatever water. I feel an experiment coming on right now. How I love going to the basement on a beautiful day like this!
Pat


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

Anderson's issue is different than that of uvlubs' (original poster). Let's try to help the OP, since he started this thread. Based on what the OP said, I don't think he's moving from a TL to a FL. I think the issue is the move to UK has resulted in scratchy/stiff clothing which is why I suggested it may be the hard water. Water quality will vary greatly from region to region.

As far as diagnosing stiffer towels in a FL vs TL, there are plenty of other threads on the forum addressing that issue.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

We're trying to help the OP. But frankly the best advice is for them to seek local help, either in-person or on automaticwasher.org. They've moved across the ocean, where the washing machines, the laundry products, and apparently even the water are all different from North America.

westvillager, your name makes me think you live in an apartment building in Manhattan. Does "dried a certain way" possibly mean something like "dried in the second dryer from the right, which runs hot" or "dried in the laundry room on the 20th floor, which always bakes the clothes"? We went through this on the Upper West Side 30 years ago. Or have they learned to control those big gas burners better by now?

andersons, I didn't say anything about under-dosing or non-HE detergent. Rather, I'm suggesting it's an issue with how the detergent (even if HE) handles the smaller amount of water. Just a thought, in response to your question about what's different. Would a redeposition problem leave the towels as dirty as when they went in, or would it be more subtle? I sure don't know.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

Baking soda used in the wash cycle softens laundry. It also boosts detergent's cleaning power and even doubles the whitening power of LCB.

1/2 c. baking soda is sufficient in a FL or HE TL.

Another benefit is its low cost. I buy it in bulk (I also use it for baking) and keep some in the laundry room.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

suburbanmd: You are correct about my primary residence (I sound like the census form). I do have a 10 year old Miele washer and condenser dryer in my apt. But otherwise, yes, if my towels go into a too hot dryer, they come out rough.

Personally, I've used many different types of machines and I've only noticed rough towels when they've been cheaply made or using "that row" of scorch boxes in college. :) Is snapping towels an old wive's tale? I do it but I don't know why.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

I have towels I bought at Macy's, Belk, Sears, JC Penney's, and Walmart (all were bought on sale). They all come out soft and fluffy when I wash and dry them.

I ordinarily use 1/2 c. baking soda per full load when I wash them. I do not use fabric softener on towels; I use 1/4 - 1/2 c. of white vinegar in the FS dispenser.

Our water is not hard nor soft; our local water department says it is medium.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

I had to buy a whole house water softener due to the hard water I have but I also use fragrance free detergents that are HE and I do two extra rinses (first one by pushing a button after the regular wash included in the longer cycle and the second rinse cycle by doing another cycle using the rinse and spin cycle) and my towels on high in my Whirlpool Duet Dryer come out soft and dry.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

I have tried baking soda, and vinegar, separately and together, and they did nothing to soften the towels.

We don't know that the OP's problem is different than my problem, and I don't think it is. It is not like we know that the OP has the hardest water in the entire world. My water varies from extremely hard to mildly hard to almost soft at different times of year. The range of measurements varies by 100 TIMES. If hard water makes towels so much stiffer and scratchier, why would I not notice any difference throughout the year as my water source/hardness changes?

I know that there have been other discussions about towel texture. I have already done a search and read them. But frankly I didn't find any solutions.

I am not ruling out that hard water is more problematic in a FL for some reason, but the detergents I've used already contain a lot of ingredients specifically to soften hard water. And I've tried baking soda and vinegar. So far in my experiment, what's helped the most is using more water, shorter agitation time, and slow spin. Basically, parameters that make the FL act more like a TL.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

I think FLs are much more sensitive to water chemistry because there is so little water - whatever you put into that water is so much more concentrated. If you're not using enough detergent, the concentration of soil in that small amount of water is very high and it will settle back onto clothing and wash parts. If you use too much detergent, you will have difficulty rinsing. If you experience color bleed, the concentration of dye is much higher in a FL and your clothes will be more impacted.

Now, all things being equal (that's the key), if your towels are coming out softer from a TL than a FL, we need to narrow down the variables. I'm curious, if you take these "rough" towels and wash them in a TL, does the softness return? One recommendation I can make is to try washing your towels in a FL without any detergent. Do you see suds? If so, you may have build-up that needs to be removed.

Depending on the chemicals used in the laundry products, they will either hold hardness minerals in solution or force them to precipitate out of solution. If your detergent has a precipitating softener, you may also notice a white-ish film on your drum or washer parts. Precipitated hardness will definitely end up back on your clothes.

Usually products like Charlie's Soap, Country Save, and other "natural" and non-toxic products will contain precipitating softeners in the form of sodium carbonate (wash soda). Non-precipitating softeners may be in the form of various phosphates or phosphonates, citrate, citric acid, etc.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

Interesting discussion. So, Sshrivastava -- if one didn't want to use phosphates or phosphonates as a softener, citrate and/or citric acid would be superior substitutes to something such as borax or sodium carbonate? (or even baking soda)?

Also, Andersons -- forgive me if you've already tried this, but Cheryl Mendelson recommends soaking in vinegar and hot water for about 15 minutes to rid clothing of hard water buildup. I know you said you've tried vinegar, but have you soaked? Just thinking out loud, but it seems like I need to soak my shower doors in vinegar to get rid of the hard water deposits -- it takes some time. I know that's a bit different material, but maybe kind of the same idea?


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

sshriastava's mention of precipitating and non-precipitating softeners above prompts me to share the following two items from C. Mendelson's 'Home Comforts' book. (I end up giving a pitch for Wisk laundry detergent at the end which makes me yearn to be on their payroll).

"Nonprecipitating types (such as Calgon) sequester the offending minerals and hold them in solution; the water remains clear. These usually contain polyphosphates. Precipitating softeners combine with the minerals to form a precipitate or residue that trns the water cloudy. The precipitate can stick to clothes or your washer. Precip softeners usually contain sodium carbonate (washing soda) or sodium sesquicarbonate (TSP and borax)."

"If your water is only moderately hard you will probably need to do nothing more than use enough of a good detergent that contains water softeners. But in this case it would be better to avoid detergents that contain carbonates. The unpleasant potential effects of using a carbonate detergent if you have hard water include STIFF, HARSH TOWELS; FADING, DULLNESS, DINGINESS, OR GRAYING: A WHITE POWDERY RESIDUE ON DARK CLOTHES, reduced wrinkle resistance in perm-press clothes; increased abrasion; and BUILDUP OF A CRUST IN THE WASHER."

End of book quotes.

Sooooo, after I read that, I tried to find a detergent that did not have carbonates, and the only one I found was WISK. The water softener in Wisk is listed as sodium citrate. I'm in heaven but I've only done one wash and will have to evaluate more. I do know I LOVE the very slight scent, which rinses right out without an extra rinse.

I also forgot to mention a few dozen posts ago that my wash water drains into our sump pump, so anything that help from clogging up that pump is a plus. Nonprecipating ANYTHING sounds good to me.

So, do you love me, or what?


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

I have been following many threads here and other forums and have come to the conclusion that this problem is caused by our efforts to save the environment. We have first developed machines that clean using very little water as compared to former top loaders. We even resorted to computer controlled water rationing in newer machines. Then we eliminated all phosphate from our detergents. we also spin the clothes as fast as only a front loader can so our dryers don't use as much energy to get the clothes dry. So I think you will never find a solution to your problem with a modern front loader and probably very few top loaders either.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

@nerdyshopper: I couldn't disagree more with what you just said. I think you are drawing a false correlation between cause and effect. I have a front loader and have perfectly soft, fluffy towels. So my experience would immediately disprove your hypothesis. We're all entitled to our opinions, but without proper testing and elimination of variables, you can't really know what's causing the problem. Especially when others who have front loaders are not experiencing these issues.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

I'm sorry, I do know that many here are trying to be helpful. I just got fed up with condescending replies that try to be helpful by saying that the poster hasn't done his homework.
As for front loaders, I don't believe that many posting here have ever lived in the era when good top loaders were available. I owned a Whirlpool bought in about 1973 that was a true workhorse. When I had to replace it in 1992 the Whirlpool design had already been "corrected", I suppose for economic reasons. So if you weren't an adult in the early 70's you never experienced the best of American machines. Top loaders have suffered the most from the pressures of the global economy combined with government regulations attempting to save the environment.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

"Top loaders have suffered the most from the pressures of the global economy combined with government regulations attempting to save the environment."

With regret, I must agree with you.

"I just got fed up..."

It's very much the nature of public forums. Take a deep breath and don't worry about it. Along with the annoyance, there's lot of good info that pops up.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

As for front loaders, I don't believe that many posting here have ever lived in the era when good top loaders were available. I owned a Whirlpool bought in about 1973 that was a true workhorse ... So if you weren't an adult in the early 70's you never experienced the best of American machines.

There are some here, I know (I'm thinking cynic is one).

I bought my first washer (a GE Filter Flo) in 1973, and it was excellent. Most people say Maytags were the best washers back then (and I'm not saying they weren't great washers), but it's hard for me to believe any washer was better than my GE Filter Flo, lol.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

My first washer was purchased in 1955. It was a Norge and it was a rotten design. The only feature unique to it was a hose system that let it pump the wash water into a stationary tub and then siphon it back for another load after the rinses. Talk about energy savings. The pump failed many times because the seals were made of pot metal and Tide corroded it out. I kept fixing it for 8 years and then got a GE too. Good washer that lasted 12 years and a seal went out on the trannie and let black oil come out of the agitator. Then I got a Whirlpool and our really great experiences started.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

We will never go back to the same quality as long as we ship all of our manufacturing and jobs overseas. Back when machines were built well, we were not so obsessed with dividends, profits, outsourcing, etc. Look how far we've come. The US is already dependent on the rest of the world for labor and products, and we are already well on the way to having all of our nation's wealth bound up in less than 5% of our population.

Rome is burning.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

sshrivastava, you use fabric softener AND have whole-house water softening. You can hardly rule out the FL factor when you’re using fabric softener, which has a huge, dramatic effect on fabric texture.

If ANYONE here has “eliminated the variables,” it is me. I changed NOTHING AT ALL except the machine. I have stacks of the same towels (same brand, age, fiber, color, etc) washed in the SAME detergent, SAME water (however hard it may be), and dried in the SAME dryer on the SAME heat setting...how much more controlled do you think it can get? The resulting towels are not just slightly different; they are dramatically different. I don’t even like towels to be overly soft, hence have never used fabric softener on them, but these FL-washed towels are unacceptable, so I need a solution.

Because of the discussion on other threads, the first variable I manipulated was the amount of detergent. I already discussed this in posts above. Tiny amounts, full doses, it doesn’t matter, towels are stiff either way. With tiny amounts of detergent, they’re stiff AND still dirty.

A lot of people here seem convinced that hard water is the culprit. I do know that with hard water, it is more difficult to get things clean; you need to use more soap/detergent, different detergent, or additives that prevent the minerals in the water from inactivating the detergents. Almost all laundry detergents contain these softening additives, usually as the most dominant ingredients.

But although hard water makes cleaning more difficult, I do not expect hard water to have a big effect on fabric texture or softness. A small effect, maybe, but not a big effect. Why? Well, first, my water hardness varied over 2009 by over 1000%, from soft to extremely hard. Yet I noticed no difference in the texture of my laundry over the year. If there’s a difference, it’s not big enough to draw my attention. If water hardness is making the towels stiff, I should be noticing big changes when my water district water source changes. Second, if hard water is the culprit, then why would I get much softer towels washing and rinsing them with many MORE gallons of hard water in the TL?

Nonetheless, I did a little experiment to feel the effect of hard water on a towel’s texture. I found a small towel in the cabinet that felt soft. I dissolved 1280 mg of calcium carbonate in 150 mL of water. Calcium carbonate is the main mineral responsible for hardness. I soaked half the towel in the hard water, wrung it out, and let it air dry. The result? I cannot feel any difference between the 2 sides. If I hadn't made a note of which side I soaked, relative to the tag, I would have no idea. If anything, the calcium-soaked side feels slightly SOFTER.

So I am certain that hard water does not cause stiff, scratchy towels.

(Now just in case someone reports that they notice softer fabrics when using a water softener -- that may be true. I did NOT test the effect of softened water, just the effect of hard water. Whole-house softeners substitute other minerals for the hard minerals, and those other minerals might make fabrics feel softer, I don’t know. Softened water feels “slippery” so probably makes fabrics feel softer/more slippery.)

At this point, the most likely factors are inadequate rinsing and high spin speed forces. I’ve already tested the rinsing, though my results might not be conclusive because I later realized these detergents create hardly any suds, so it may be impossible to see if any detergent remains. But based on the experiences others report, high spin speed forces seems by far the most likely cause.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

Dissolving calcium carbonate into solution and then air drying is not the same thing as having it form a precipitate with the addition of wash soda. Once you add a precipitating softener you end up with a substance similar to soap scum. The same material that forms a ring around your bath tub. That becomes difficult to wash away once it has penetrated the clothing fibers.

Also, andersons, I have been washing all of my clothes without fabric softener for the last few years and have only recently started using it again. Clothes are soft either way, but a half shot of fabric softener helps prevent wrinkles in very large, congested loads. I've also noticed that less lint is generated after using liquid fabric softener. As far as soft water goes, a whole house water softener actually makes it more difficult to rinse detergent out of your clothes. That's why you feel slippery after a shower or washing your hands. The softening process changes the electrical charge of the water, thereby making detergent more attracted to your skin or clothes than the rinse water surrounding it. My washer compensates for this by substantially increasing the rinse levels.

Now that you seem settled on the spin speed being the issue, it doesn't look like it's due to the machine being a front loader. From what you said, it sounds like you're getting good results by lowering the spin speed. This actually gives me a good idea... My machine spins between each rinse at full throttle. I usually spin my towels at 1,200 RPM, perhaps eliminating the intermediate spin and lowering the final spin to 600-800 may give me towels that literally float out of the machine!


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

I tested the effect of detergent residue by dipping a soft towel into a solution of different cleaning agents and DISTILLED water, as well as the cleaning agent + calcium carbonate + tap water. I started with borax. Most of the liquid laundry detergents I've looked at include borax as a builder/softener. (In case there are any scientists out there, this is a fully-crossed design that can show if there is an interaction between calcium carbonate and the different cleaning agents.)

Well, borax residue makes the towel rough and stiff even with distilled water.

I cannot feel any difference in the degree of roughness and stiffness between borax/distilled versus borax/calcium carbonate sides. If anything, the calcium carbonate side feels slightly softer.

But the difference between borax versus the non-borax calcium-carbonate-only sides is dramatic.

Sodium carbonate also leaves a towel rough and stiff, and this is another common ingredient. It is also >50% of OxiClean.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

I think Patann is on to something. I too have had problems with stiff and scratchy towels since switching to a FL. Now, let me say that I LOVE my FL and have no intention of going back to a FL machine, but I would like my towels to be softer. Anyway, I have found that if I use Oxiclean my towels seem more stiff. Also, when I use Tide or Persil my towels are a bit stiff and scratchy, but when I use Vaska detergent my towels are nice and soft. So, in my limited experience, detergent choice makes a big difference in softness of clothes.

I may have to check out some Wisk when I go to the store next.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

This may be true, but it is 100% an issue of rinsing out all the detergent. It has nothing to do with hard water minerals or the formation of precipitates or soap scum. You can use any detergent if you can get it all rinsed out.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

"...when I use Vaska detergent my towels are nice and soft."

I'm very interested in Vaska -- but I can't seem to find a whole ingredient list. On its website, it has an msds sheet that lists:

D-GLUCOPYRANOSIDE, and
C-10-16 ALKYL, OLIGOMERIC
ALCOHOL ETHOXYLATE

I think it has more than 2 ingredients in it -- but I can't find what the other ingredients are. Anyone have a clue?


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

Here's the Vaska "Scent Free" ingredient list. It isn't really scent-free -- the lavender extract sure does leave a smell.

Vaska


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

Thanks, suburbanmd -- I've seen that list. It's not really clear, though -- what exactly are the "plant based surfectants" and what is the "vegetable conditioner"? What is the "water soluble degreasing agent"?

Aside from that, though -- since you have it, do you like the detergent? Does it suds a lot? Does it rinse well?

Thanks!


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

amsunshine, I guess one of those three ingredients doesn't qualify to be on the MSDS, and the other two are matched up with the chemical names on the MSDS. Take your pick :-)

Can't report much about the Vaska for a couple of reasons. First, my main reason for buying it (for darks, because no optical brighteners) is mainly of interest to my kids, both of whom are at college now. Second, I don't like the lingering scent, though I'm sure it's laughably weak to the fragrance-loving crowd. In my limited experience, it didn't seem to suds a lot.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

amsunshine, I've been using Vaska for a while now, and I really like it. For my husband's really grubby "play" clothes I do use Persil, since those clothes are often a real challenge. The Vaska cleans well, though, and I personally love the smell. The only thing I think it doesn't do well is oily spots, and Persil is the only thing I've found that really does a good spot with that.


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Oops

I meant to say that Persil does a good JOB with oily spots. Oops.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

I wonder if the OP deduced what made her clothes rough.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

suburbanmd and stbonner -- thanks for the replies. I guess I'm going to have to get some Vaska to try for myself!

I, too, am curious about whether OP solved her stiff clothes/towels problem.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

I am still not sure of the exact cause of my stiff towels in the FL.

I wondered if detergent residue from inadequate rinsing could be causing the stiffness. So I tested the feel of detergent residues in towels. I mixed solutions of 6 different detergents in either tap or distilled water. I dipped half of a new, soft washcloth in a detergent solution and let it dry. Then I judged how stiff each washcloth felt and how much residue I could detect. I blinded my feel test by including a clean washcloth and by making judgments before I looked at the detergent label.

Results:
- Tide HE Liquid/distilled: no change in softness or stiffness; no feeling of residue
- Kirkland Free & Clear/distilled: no change in softness or stiffnes; no feeling of residue
- Woolite Dark HE/tap: softness is almost the same; but slight feeling of slick/waxy/soapy residue on surface
- biokleen All-Temp Liquid/tap: slightly less softness, more stiffness; no feeling of residue
- Gain HE Powder/distilled: noticeably more stiffness, less softness; some feeling of chalky residue on surface
- Clout commercial powder/tap: OUCH. extreme stiffness, no softness; extreme chalky residue on surface.

I did not test all possible combinations of detergent and type of water for reasons I won't go into here.

Nonetheless, even if a concentrated solution of liquid detergent dries on the towels, it doesn't make them stiff or scratchy. Unless you are as picky about soft towels as the princess-and-the-pea was about mattresses (I am not), you would never notice there's a detergent residue with the liquids. It's kind of interesting that plain borax leaves a stiff residue on towels, but Tide HE liquid, which contains borax, does not.

Since the FL uses much less water to rinse, I'd like to know if some detergents rinse out more easily than others. But I have not thought of a good way to test rinsability. Normally I'd rely on seeing suds, but some of these detergents barely produce any foam. I thought I might be able to taste a detergent residue, but some barely have a taste. So I judged by feel, although this is probably not a reliable test either. I rubbed each detergent solution on my hands, and counted the number of times rubbing my hands together under running water till they felt rinsed. I repeated the test 3 times on different days in a different order each time.

Tide HE Liquid/tap: 3-5 X
biokleen All-Temp liquid: 8-12 X
Woolite Dark HE: 10-12 X
Kirkland Free & Clear liquid: 12-15 X
Gain HE Powder: 18-22 X
Clout Commercial Powder: 50+ X (never really feels rinsed)

But I do not think the "feel" test is accurate for the powders, because I think the high pH of the sodium carbonate affects the skin barrier and makes it "feel" not rinsed even when it must be. Among the liquids, though, Tide was significantly the fastest to rinse away.

So what I have learned is that powder detergents (Gain, Tide, Clout) can leave a stiff residue if they are not rinsed out. But since my stiff towels were washed in Kirkland, which does NOT leave a stiff residue, there must be at least one other cause for the stiff towels.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

Tested 2 more combinations:

Tide HE Liquid/tap water: NO CHANGE in softness or stiffness; no feeling of residue
Tide HE Liquid/super-hard* water: NO CHANGE in softness or stiffness; no feeling of residue

*super-hard water = 1280 mg calcium carbonate dissolved in 100 mL tap water.

However, the feel of rinsing changed quite a bit in the tap and super-hard waters. It took more like 16-20 rubs to feel that my hands were rinsed, in both solutions, compared to 3-5 in the distilled water.

Once again, a concentrated solution of liquid detergent (Tide HE) and hard water minerals (calcium carbonate), allowed to dry on a washcloth, has ZERO affect on the softness/texture. There is NO DIFFERENCE in the feel of the residue cloth and a completely clean, new cloth. I cannot tell them apart without reading the label.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

I can also say that, when using Vaska, clothes/towels are definitely softer (with no added fabric softener).

It was one of the first things I noticed when I did laundry with Vaska. I couldn’t believe how everything felt coming out of the dryer. I have no time for any kind of “scientific” tests to explain this but I know from experience it’s true (for me anyway).

I use the Lavender version and find it leaves a barely noticeable scent. I’m not a fan of overpowering fragrance and Vaska doesn’t bother me at all. In fact, I love its very “herbal” smell - like the true South of France (not P&G’s version). Towels and sheets smell heavenly (IMO).

As for oily/greasy spots, I have Method with Smartclean unscented and I squirt some on the spot and launder … almost always gone.

I use Persil Sensitive for some things (mostly kids’/hubby’s clothes) and laundry is not as soft when washed with it - even though it contains aloe vera “beads”.

Many detergents leave something behind. It’s the way they are designed. Most leave behind optical brighteners and in the case of my Persil Sensitive - aloe beads. I wonder … do OBs keep building up or do some wash away and new ones stick with each wash? I sense that they build up which is why over time dark colors look faded.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

Anderson, Perhaps my experience of the past 5 years can help. Like you, upon using a new washer (a TL, in my case) I suddenly had scratchy towels. Then other clothes and linens became rougher and rougher. I did a lot of research and many trials. I eventually decided that the original problem was that the new machine was incapable of rinsing decently. (It was a Maytag Atlantis.) But by the time I figured it out, I had many layers of detergent baked into my clothes. I first tried reducing detergent amounts, probably too much, which I later decided probably caused mineral build-up, in addition to detergent build-up. To get rid of the build-up, I had to strip all my items, using a very tedious and time-consuming sequence of hot vinegar/baking soda wash solutions, hot vinegar rinse solutions, etc. (I also got rid of that washer.)

Here is what I would advise, short of going through that stripping: Be aware that many newer washers wash and rinse at lower temperatures than older washers did. Since cool water deflates suds, rinse water may look clear in this cooler water; but if you run the same load through a warmer wash or rinse, you may see suds. (Of course, this depends on type of detergent.) So the first thing I would recommend is that you run your towels through 3 to 5 sequential washes with no detergent in the hottest water on your cycles. Do not put it through rinse cycles, which are cooler; just wash/spin/wash/spin/wash/spin. If it looks well-rinsed, dry it. Dry on low heat, since this washer extracts more water and compresses loops more that your old one did. And if you can pre-soak the towels before you start, even better. If your problem is detergent residue, this may be enough to solve your issue.

Other advice: Definitely use extra rinses. Your detergent is much more concentrated now than it was in your old machine. You need to get it out. My impression is that the minerals only attach in the wash phase; any subsequent rinses will not add to the build-up. (Someone correct me, if I am wrong.)

It's much better to have a little too much detergent (which can always be rinsed out), rather than too little, which may cause hard water mineral build-up, which might then have to be addressed with the stripping.

Wash and rinse in the warmest water your various loads can tolerate. I will only use cold rinses in the summer, when the incoming temperature is in the 70s.

If you can raise the water level somewhat, it would be worth a try.

By the way, I agree that using phosphate (in STPP)would probably solve the mineral problem. My mother taught me to add Calgon in every load, back when it had phosphates, just so the water would be softened. But this time around, I didn't want to add any chemicals.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

@andersons: What I find interesting is that those items soaked in a powdered detergent solution suffer from stiffness while those soaked in a liquid detergent solution do not. This goes against the grain of the typical advice you read around here, which is that powders dissolve and rinse better. Your results contradict this assumption, and I find that very exciting!

Can it be that liquid detergents are better at achieving softness than powdered detergents? The hypotheses makes sense. Andersons, if you dissolve a teaspoon of powdered detergent in twice as much water and let it evaporate, I'm guessing you're left with a powdery substance. Based on your results, I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that if you repeat the above with liquid detergent, you'll end up with a waxy or smooth substance. I accidentally spilled a little liquid detergent (just a couple of drops) on the top of my machine and in a few days it dried into a wax-like material. If that's truly the case, leftover liquid detergent residue in your clothes will dry into something rather smooth versus something rough and scratchy with a powdered detergent residue.

Could it be that they key to having soft towels in a front loader is to use liquid detergent?


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

I came across some interesting information from the makers of Country Save detergent. Here are images taken from their web site, conducted by a laboratory, to show the amount of undissolved solids in various detergents. Of course Country Save is shown in the best light, but contrary to that I can tell you that it's a poor excuse for a detergent. Washing in Country Save is like washing in plain water. Charlie's Soap is a little bit better, but not by much.
Country Save Sample
Country Save
90F, 130ppm, 100 R.P.M.
Bi-O-Kleen Sample
Bi-O-Kleen
90F, 130ppm, 100 R.P.M.
Seventh Generation Sample
Seventh Generation
90F, 130ppm, 100 R.P.M.
Tide Sample
Tide
90F, 130ppm, 100 R.P.M.
Ecover Sample
Ecover
90F, 130ppm, 100 R.P.M.
End of Report

I'm sure some of these undissolved solids end up back in your clothes. What's particularly surprising is how much crud is on the Ecover and Seventh Generation swatches. Tide comes out looking pretty good in this comparison if you discount the Country Save swatch - they paid for the test, so obviously theirs will be the cleanest right? :)


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

Hi all,
After following this thread, I would say that I found that liquid detergent makes clothes and especially towels feel softer. I tried different powders, spin speeds, water plus and extra rinse options and came to this remedy.
I use liquid detergent to wash my towels at 60 degrees, I add some liquid Napisan (similar to Clorox 2) if washing white ones as liquid detergent don't contain any bleaching agents and some conditioner in the final rinse. I notice the feel more if line drying the towels, if I tumble dry the towels washed with either feel the same but a slight tick softer with the liquid. I have a Miele washing machine and have had no build up whatsoever.
Regards


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

I found this informative site yesterday. See what they say about scratchy fabrics:

Problem:
Stiff, harsh fabrics
Colored fabrics look faded
Increased fabric wear and abrasion

Causes:
In hard water, some powder detergents can combine with water hardness minerals to form a residue.

Solutions:
Add 1 cup (240 ml) of white vinegar to 1 gallon (3.8 L) of warm water. Use a plastic container. Soak item and rinse.

Preventative Measures:
Use a liquid laundry detergent or use a nonprecipitating water softener with a powder detergent.

Here is a link that might be useful: Clean Living Institute - Laundering Problems


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

More on water softeners (I'm still wrapping my head around all this information):

"Packaged Water Softeners
These are chemicals which help to control water hardness. There are two types, precipitating and non-precipitating.

Precipitating water softeners include washing soda and borax. These products form an insoluble precipitate with calcium and magnesium ions. The mineral ions then cannot interfere with cleaning efficiency, but the precipitate makes water cloudy and can build up on surfaces. Precipitating water softeners increase alkalinity of the cleaning solution and this may damage skin and other materials being cleaned.

Non-precipitating water softeners use complex phosphates to sequester calcium and magnesium ions. There is no precipitate to form deposits and alkalinity is not increased. If used in enough quantity, non-precipitating water softeners will help dissolve soap curd for a period of time."

Here is a link that might be useful: hardwater.org


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

To clarify for people who may not fully understand what is a precipitate, it's particles of residue ... basically clouds of dust wafting through the wash water ... that settles-out onto clothes and machine parts unless effectively rinsed away.

Being as virtually all detergents nowadays are phosphate-free, precipitates apparently are part-and-parcel of the "modern" washing process, unless one adds a separate non-precipitating water softener.

STPP, anyone?

I've been adding STPP for over two years, and my clothes have never been better. I use softener for for a light fragrance effect on selected loads, but dose is small so the softening effect is minimal.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

I kinda hate to say it (because it probably is bad for the environment in most places) but dadoes is right about STTP.

I learned about it here on this forum, and it's worked wonders for us, laundry-wise.

STTP basically makes any brand of detergent work better--if you have hard water. For laundry and in your automatic dishwasher, too.

Fabrics are super soft, too.

It does work best in warm to hot water, though. STPP doesn't seem to dissolve well at all in cool water.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

Will Calgon be as effective as STTP? I'm having difficulty finding bulk STTP in reasonable quantities in Alberta plus the wholesale suppliers don't return my calls.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

Ingredients in Calgon Powder:

Zeolite
Sodium Sulfate
Sodium Maleate-Acrylate Copolymer
Aqua
PEG-200
Polydimethylsiloxane

Ingredients in Calgon Gel:

Aqua
Sodium Citrate
Polyacrylic Acid
Xanthan Gum
Parfum
Methylisothiazolinone
Benzisothiazolinone
Colorant

Someone will have to chime in as I do not know whether these softening agents are precipitating or non-precipitating.

Here is a link that might be useful: Reckitt Benckiser Product Information


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

Sodium citrate is non-precipitating. That is why I will use Calgon liquid with the detergents I want to use up before I only have Wisk left, which has sodium citrate in its own (newer) formula.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

Sodium citrate/citric acid (same thing) is in practically every liquid detergent I've researched.

Yet I know that precipitates and hard water did NOT cause my towels to feel stiff and harsh. I got this stiff result after ONE wash (so, no "buildup" possible) with a liquid detergent (Kirkland Free & Clear) that by itself, or with hard water minerals, feels soft even when not rinsed out of the fabric.

1) I used exactly the same detergent and the same hard water in my TL; towels came out soft.
2) My experiments have proven that hard water alone, or hard water plus liquid detergents, even when completely left in the fabric and allowed to dry, do not leave the fabric feeling stiff

Now, powder detergent (Gain, Clout) and cleaning agents (OxiClean, borax) not rinsed out DO leave fabrics feeling stiff. But this was not what caused my towels to be stiff.

Fabrics with liquid detergent residue not rinsed out all feel soft. (Woolite, which contains a lot of soap, also feels slightly, well, soapy. NOT stiff or scratchy, though.)

After rinsing though, SOME liquids leave fabrics feeling softer than others. The ones that leave fabrics feeling softer contain "fabric conditioners." "Fabric conditioner" is another name for "fabric softener." These work by leaving a residue behind -- a soft-feeling residue.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

andersons, can you recall the names of the detergents that have sodium citrate in them?


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

I just bought a new box of Calgon Powder and the MSDS on the RB Canada site sates 15-40% STPP and Carbonic Acid/Sodium Salt 60-100%.

I will make do with this until I find a supplier of STPP locally.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

Gosh ... I just realized my link for ingredients was to European info (duh) ... can you post link for Canada? I can't seem to find it. Thanks!


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

North American info...note that the US Calgon seems to be phosphate-free.

Here is a link that might be useful: Reckitt Benckiser North America


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

I just came upon this discussion. WHen my husband and I got married, I gave up my Maytag TL bought in 1977 for his HE FL Whirlpool. And not only my towels but all my clothes come out stiff and scratchy. I had very soft towels made with bamboo, I had very soft cotton TShirts, and they're all now like cardboard. I wash the towels in hot water and high spin but I wash the tshirts i cold water, shorter cycle and low spin and never put them in the dryer. I use liquid detergents, the same I used with my TL. I have tried using less detergent to no avail. My husband and I argue about this because I think it is something in the washer that changes the fabric or the softness and he thinks it's my imagination. Anderson, I am with you on this... and I want to know if you ever found a solution. After reading all this, I will try using an extra rinse cycle and see if that helps. And I may try putting a little vinegar in.


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RE: Clothes are not so soft -- Need laundry advice, please!

Aplus2,

My Miele instruction booklet mentions that stiff clothes are a symptom of insufficient detergent. Depending on how much you are currently using and your particular water hardness/chemistry, you may need to use more instead of less. Experiment on both sides of the dial to see what works. Also, try increasing your water levels and lowering the spin speed.

While front loaders are gentler overall, they aren't particularly good at keep towels fluffy if you don't follow the right steps. Due to the extremely small amount of water, a front-loader is especially susceptible to issues relating to detergent quantity.


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