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Choosing detergents, assistance requested.

Posted by WashDay (My Page) on
Fri, Dec 16, 11 at 15:15

Greetings All!

I have spent much time reading the threads here and am in need of some significant assistance, or at least I think I am.

I have always used a top load washer, traditional style. I also have always used a single detergent for my laundry, simple plain old liquid Tide. Nothing special about my routine.

About a year ago I noticed my clothes, especially my white clothes were, shall we say? DINGY as all get out! I tried Clorox. Also tried Clorox #2. Nothing seemed to help. I tried and tried with no improvement. I finally gave up and started just dropping our clothes (Husband and I) laundry at the laundry mat for them to wash and dry. Viola! Clean clothes.

Fast-Forward to now. Just moved in a new house and purchased our first HE machine. It is a top load GE with the Hydrowash system. It seems to do a good job at cleaning, at least with the stains. My quandary is this: How do I KEEP our clothes looking clean?

The laundry mat used a commercial detergent (I don't know what kind) and it not only got our clothes BACK to looking good, it kept them that way. I am looking for ANY advice as to what would be best to use detergent wise, to keep our whites white and dark colors from fading.

Reading here I am convinced that I need to use a detergent for colors and one for whites. From some online reviews I have read I was thinking of trying liquid ALL HE for the colors and powder Tide w/Bleach HE for the whites and light colored clothes.

I am completely open to ANY and ALL suggestions you guys have. I have always enjoyed doing laundry and after reading the forum for a few days I am convinced if anyone can help, it will be you guys!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Choosing detergents, assistance requested.

WashDay: I noticed my clothes, especially my white clothes were, shall we say? DINGY as all get out! I tried Clorox. Also tried Clorox #2. Nothing seemed to help. I tried and tried with no improvement. I finally gave up and started just dropping our clothes (Husband and I) laundry at the laundry mat for them to wash and dry. Viola! Clean clothes.

The commercial laundry does many things differently from your routine. Almost certainly, it has front-loading machines and washes (at least your whites) in very hot water. If your area has hard water, the commercial laundry quite probably has water pretreatment to remove the minerals from the water before the intake to the washing machines.

The laundry mat used a commercial detergent (I don't know what kind) and it not only got our clothes BACK to looking good, it kept them that way. ... Reading here I am convinced that I need to use a detergent for colors and one for whites.

The detergent may have something to do with the better results from the commercial laundry, but it would be relatively low on the list of suspects.

You definitely should wash your whites separately from your dark clothes, and you should not wash your dark clothes with a detergent that contains bleaching agents. Also, optical brighteners act unpredictably, so you may want to take their presence or absence in a detergent formulation into account.

There are basically two kinds of bleach: liquid "chlorine bleaches" based upon sodium hypochlorite ("Clorox" is a trademark, and is typical of the genre) and "oxygen bleaches," which are often powders containing sodium percarbonate that when dissolved in water generate hydrogen peroxide like the stuff you can buy in brown bottles at the drugstore. Generally, oxygen bleach is less destructive to fibers than chlorine bleach is, but chlorine bleach is "stronger" for whitening. You may get whiter whites (in cotton fabrics) with chlorine bleach, but your clothes will get threadbare quicker when you use chlorine bleach.

The active ingredient in almost all oxygen bleaches is sodium percarbonate, but the percentage of sodium percarbonate in the formulas varies greatly. Generally, the higher the percentage of sodium percarbonate, the better the bleach whitens. IIRC, Clorox2 is only about 50% sodium percarbonate. You can purchase pure (about 95%) sodium percarbonate in bulk quite inexpensively, but if you do not have a handy place to store large drums, you can get it in smaller packages as Ecover powder bleach. Note: sodium percarbonate is deliquescent; that is, it absorbs moisture from the air. (That is one reason why there is no 100% pure sodium percarbonate for sale; as soon as it gets exposed to air, it absorbs water.) If you have a damp environment in your laundry room, you must store the sodium percarbonate in a non-permeable container with a tight seal; Ecover powder bleach comes packaged in small cardboard boxes that, if left in a humid room, will be soaking wet in a few days.

Optical brighteners, common in many commercial detergents, selectively absorb light of one part of the spectrum (color) while allowing light of another color to reflect back from the fabric. In North America, our culture has conditioned us to think that whites look whiter when they are slightly blue tinted, so our optical brighteners tend to absorb red and emit blue; in Latin America, the situation is reversed: culturally and historically, Latin Americans think that whites with a slight pink tint look whiter, so Latin American detergent formulations tend to contain optical brighteners that absorb blue and emit red.

If you choose your bleach intelligently, and use it only for washing whites, then you can select a single detergent that contains no bleach or optical brighteners and use it for all your washing. The specialized dark color detergents are a marketing gimmick; most are just detergents lacking bleaching agents or optical brighteners, though some may have limited-spectrum optical brighteners.

Ultimately, though, it sounds as if your problem is most likely insufficient rinsing. That may be due to a number of reasons, hard water being one likely culprit. If your water is soft, then you may need more rinse cycles than you presently use. We have found that adding a scoop of borax to the wash cycle improves the efficacy of the rinse that follows; you may wish to experiment with borax in your wash; it's a fairly inexpensive fix, and may be able to solve the problem all by itself.

Good luck.


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RE: Choosing detergents, assistance requested.

One of my sisters washes everything in COLD water, and her stuff looks somewhat dingy. In what temperature were you washing your whites? Is your water "hard"?

@herringmaven has posted excellent information.

We entered the HE washer world in April and I am on the tail end of the learning curve. The biggest difference - for me - is to use far less detergent than what any brand's label says.


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RE: Choosing detergents, assistance requested.

@ herring_maven, that was tremendous information - your post should be included in the FAQs.

Dingy whites can have a variety of explanations, but the most common culprits are: mostly cold or lukewarm washes, hard water, insufficient detergent. I would wash your whites in the hottest possible water and setting available using a high quality POWDERED detergent. Liquid detergents simply suck at whitening, and suds too much at the higher temps needed for adequate whitening.

If you can get the water in your machine up to 140F, you'll have an easier time whitening. Does your machine have an on-board heater? I recommend using something like Tide HE w/ Bleach powder plus an additional 2 TBSP of sodium percarbonate. Or instead of the percarbonate you can try a product called White Brite that you might find at your local grocery store, which is also good at removing the dinginess.


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RE: Choosing detergents, assistance requested.

That is an odd problem. I have a TL (non-HE) WP machine and once every six months I put white vinegar in it and run it on hot water to clean it. I wonder if your old machine was just dirty and needed a good cleaning? I use regular Tide powdered for the whites. For the white socks my kids wear to school I put them in the machine on Saturday night, put in a cup of dishwasher soap, soak cycle, soak overnight, and then run on regular cycle the next morning. This works well for us.


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RE: Choosing detergents, assistance requested.

Sorting your laundry is the one simple thing you can do that will have a huge impact on your results. Separate your laundry by color and fabric type. Wash your darks together with a non-bleaching detergent. I use Tide Totalcare on almost all of my laundry (except whites) with great results.

Powdered Tide HE w/ Bleach will be very good on the whites, although I recommend also adding some additional powdered oxygen bleach for maximum effect and to remove old discolorations.


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RE: Choosing detergents, assistance requested.

sshrivastava, what HE FL is going to get up to 140? My sammy (with heater) runs a max of about 114 degrees, and that's with inlet temps of 143 degrees HOT, and over 80 degrees COLD (I plumbed in some hot water, using a wye, at the back of the unit). Even the "sanitary" cycle only reaches 134, despite advertised as 150.


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RE: Choosing detergents, assistance requested.

@ dave1812

If Samsung advertised sanitary cycles of 150 and your machine is only reaching 134, it sounds like an exchange or refund is in order. You asked what HE FL is going to get up to 140... Miele, Asko and Bosch to name a few. My Miele goes to 158 on Sanitary, 140 on Hot, and 105 on Warm - heater engaged and cycle pauses until temperature is reached. Bosch will go to 170. All are 4+ cuft machines.

You should seriously take Samsung to task over their marketing claims, since it's obvious the actual product doesn't live up to the hype.


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RE: Choosing detergents, assistance requested.

are u talking about advertised temps or have YOU used a calibrated digital thermometer to check the wash water temperature, as I have done.

In a perfect world, the Samsung would get very hot. It doesn't. We're dealing with it. :)


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hot temps

Due to the thermal mass of the drum, typical hot inlet temperatures in most people's homes, and the fact that the onboard heater heats at about 1 degree per minute, I'm a LITTLE suspicious of claims of 170 degree water during the sanitary cycle. Just saying.


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RE: Choosing detergents, assistance requested.

@ dave1812

I ran a load yesterday on "very warm", which is supposed to heat to 120F. I used a meat thermometer with an almost dead battery and stuck it into a shallow pool of water at the front of the tub during the last 40 minutes of the cycle (this was a 1:40 cycle). Thermometer showed 115.5F. So we are off by 4.5 degrees. I cannot measure temps over 130 because the door will automatically lock at those higher temps.

There were some flaws in my method - battery almost dead, measured in the front of the tub with shallow water volume, etc. It's possible the temps are much closer to 120F near the heater or towards the back of the drum where the volume of water is significantly higher.


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Miele temps

@ dave1812

I ran a load yesterday on "very warm", which is supposed to heat to 120F. I used a meat thermometer with an almost dead battery and stuck it into a shallow pool of water at the front of the tub during the last 40 minutes of the cycle (this was a 1:40 cycle). Thermometer showed 115.5F. So we are off by 4.5 degrees. I cannot measure temps over 130 because the door will automatically lock at those higher temps.

There were some flaws in my method - battery almost dead, measured in the front of the tub with shallow water volume, etc. It's possible the temps are much closer to 120F near the heater or towards the back of the drum where the volume of water is significantly higher.


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RE: Choosing detergents, assistance requested.

thanks, ssh...

sounds like your temps are roughly what mine are on HOT, in the Samsung. I suspect that now that I can put as much hot water into the cold inlet now (adjustable), I'll be able to get over 125 degrees on HOT. It shouldn't be this difficult to get a hot wash, darn it! Energy efficiency and ATC is a pain in my butt! :)


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RE: Choosing detergents, assistance requested.

@ dave1812

The issue is with your machine's design, not with energy efficiency or ATC. You stated earlier that your inlet temps are 143, yet your machine is only able to maintain 134. Not only is your machine failing to heat the water to 150, it's failing to maintain the water even at its incoming temperature of 143. This still sounds like a defective machine or flawed design to me. You shouldn't have to install Y connectors and mix hot water into your cold water line in order for your machine to work properly.

Shouldn't you hold the manufacturer accountable instead of jumping through hoops, at your time and expense, to make the machine work as advertised? Just saying...


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RE: Choosing detergents, assistance requested.

And I'm just saying swapping the machine isn't going to fix the issue. Get off your high horse and do some googling. You'll see there are countless complaints of low wash temps on many HE washers, the Samsungs are but one of many. I'm more interested in fixing the problem rather than batting my head against a wall.

and FYI, my unit heats the water at approx 1 to 1.5 degrees per minute, based on my many temperature checks of the unit, during the sanitary cycle. I presume that if I let only hot water in on the COLD side, it will get up to roughly 150 by the end of the cycle.

I've noticed a pattern in your posts--you tend to be rather abrupt, rude, and over all, a know-it-all. Please give it a rest and find something else to occupy your time? Just saying...


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RE: Choosing detergents, assistance requested.

@ dave1812

Wow, all I said was that you should hold your manufacturer accountable for selling you a machine that doesn't provide you with the features they advertised. I didn't realize that would set off such an avalanche of insults and negativity. You're obviously very upset about the situation, but please direct your anger where it belongs - at Samsung. They aren't the only manufacturer in town, you know, and you can get a comparably priced machine that will actually heat the water properly.


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RE: Choosing detergents, assistance requested.

My hose modification resulted in a hot enough Pure Cycle that the door finally locked (it locks at 150 degrees, IIRC). :)

I'm not upset with Samsung. it's a very nice washer. You on the other hand, remain a know it all, which is highly irritating, especially when what you "know" is erroneous, and/or irrelevant to the discussions you insist on chiming in on.


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RE: Choosing detergents, assistance requested.

@ dave1812

The fact that you are happy with a "very nice" washer that doesn't work as advertised and the fact that you would prefer messing with your hoses instead of contacting Samsung to have them look at your machine tells me that you probably knew from the beginning that this was an issue on your end. That's why you reacted so negatively to my suggestion that you hold Samsung accountable for your heating issues. I didn't think that calling Samsung for service when your machine wasn't working as expected would be considered "erroneous" or cause you to label me as a "know it all".

You will also recall that this thread was not about your problem - you hijacked this thread to make it about you. I don't recall a single post from you in this thread where you made any attempt to address the OP's issue or offer assistance. At least some of us try to help people instead of coming here to complain.

Next time you have an issue, I suggest you post your own thread regarding your specific problem instead of hijacking someone else's thread and going way off topic. Then you bite off the head of people who try to help you. Good luck.


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