What do you really know about your laundry detergent?
Maybe you don’t realize how much this product matters. You’d be surprised to discover the impact that the wrong laundry detergent could have on your life.
It might make a difference to how your clothes smell, how your skin feels, and whether your clothes develop fungus or not…
Read on to learn all that you need to know about laundry detergent. You’ll understand how laundry detergent is made, whether it can get moldy or not, and how to avoid allergic reactions by choosing the right kind for you.
There’s also useful information about other laundry products like bleach and sanitizer – do you need them or not? You’ll soon find out.
Table of Contents
Is Laundry Bleach the Same as Bleach?
Bleach can be a very powerful chemical, so it’s important that you select the right type according to its intended purpose.
Often, bleach is used to brighten white clothing and remove stains. However, using the same product on colored clothes risks ruining them for good.
Bleach can also be used to clean kitchen and bathroom surfaces, but is that cleaning bleach we use to clean surfaces the exact same as laundry bleach?
The key distinction you need to make when it comes to bleach is between two different types: chlorine and oxygen.
Chlorine bleach is the strongest; it has sodium hypochlorite as the active ingredient, and it can be used to disinfect white laundry.
Oxygen is the only bleach you should use on colored clothing because it’s less powerful and so much less likely to cause damage to colored clothes.
When cleaning surfaces in the kitchen or bathroom, this isn’t a concern. That’s why you’d use chlorine bleach to clean.
Scented bleaches are a popular choice for people who want their clothes to smell great after they’ve been washed.
However, the artificial colors and perfumes that scented bleaches contain are not suitable for kitchen surfaces.
The risk of these chemicals being indirectly ingested make them extremely dangerous for our health. They can also irritate skin and provoke allergic reactions.
Although there’s an overlap between laundry bleach and “normal” bleach, they can’t be used interchangeably.
Scented laundry bleach isn’t suitable for surface cleaning, and the chlorine bleach that is typically used on surfaces can only be safely used on white clothing.
To find out which type of bleach you have, check the label carefully.
Is Laundry Detergent an Acid or Base?
Laundry detergent is an acid. To understand why we first have to get a little scientific about how they make soap.
Soap is produced when fat is mixed with chemicals like sodium or potassium hydroxide.
These chemicals are high on the pH scale, meaning their products are an acid (or base) as opposed to an alkaline.
The only part that changes when making laundry detergent is fat, which is replaced with a synthetic agent.
The pH scale runs from 1 to 14. If it tests between 1 and 6, the compound is alkaline.
A compound with a 7 result is considered neutral, and anything over 7 is acidic or base.
Detergents fall between 10 and 11 on the scale, so they place firmly within this category. This makes sense since acid products have the power to break down fats and oils.
That’s how laundry detergent removes those pesky stains from our clothes when nothing else will!
Oven cleaner is another acid product, and it works for the same reason.
Although detergents and soap are made in a very similar way, there are a couple of differences.
A detergent is cheaper to produce and it doesn’t form soap scum when combined with any kind of water.
However, when soap is used with water that is rich in minerals, it can form a scummy layer.
Despite the fact that they’re both considered acid or base, laundry detergent has a chemical advantage over soap.
What is Hypoallergenic Laundry Detergent?
Laundry detergents are labeled hypoallergenic when they don’t contain artificial dyes and fragrances.
Some brands may also be free from fabric softeners or even optical brighteners.
Using detergent without these chemicals can make a big difference to those who suffer from sensitive skin or allergies.
If you’ve ever had a nasty reaction to your laundry detergent, you might consider making the switch and seeing if hypoallergenic works for you.
Normal laundry detergents often contain dyes so they have more aesthetic appeal.
No, they’re not naturally that pretty pastel color! Dyes may also be added to invest your white clothes with a brightening hint of blue.
The difference between dyes and the other chemicals present in your detergent is that dyes stick around on your clothes long after they’ve been washed.
This is how they end up having contact with your skin which can prove irritating. Buying a hypoallergenic laundry detergent will help you avoid this issue.
Many people choose their laundry detergent based on its fragrance. However, there is a downside to scented products.
Fragrances can accumulate on your clothing and clog it up, trapping bacteria and body oil and potentially aggravating your allergies.
This is also a problem with fabric softeners in laundry detergent, especially when used with workout clothes that can’t wick moisture as they’re designed to when they’re coated in softener!
Few people realize that their laundry detergent contains optical brighteners.
They’re added to make white clothing look brighter but to do that, they have to stay on your clothes beyond the spin cycle.
Again, that means they’ll have direct contact with your skin! If you’re worried about these chemicals and their potential effects on your body, it’s best to stick with hypoallergenic laundry detergent.
Can Laundry Detergent Get Moldy?
Do you have some old laundry detergent gathering dust in your closet? You might be worried that after a prolonged period of time, it could spoil and even get moldy.
You don’t have to worry about this too much. Whether your detergent is liquid, powder, or pod, it won’t “go bad” in the way that other products do unless it is homemade.
Unfortunately, homemade detergent can become moldy due to a lack of chemicals that prevent bacteria growth.
Products you bought in a store won’t grow mildew in the same way. However, the fact that your detergent doesn’t go moldy doesn’t mean you should definitely still use it.
After all, laundry detergent is often printed with a sell-by date, and there’s a reason for that.
As time passes, its effectiveness reduces. How quickly this happens depends on the type of detergent you have.
You can tell that liquid laundry detergent is starting to change when it becomes clumpy. This usually happens in reaction to a temperature change.
It can still be used, but you should give your bottle a shake first. Lumps could clog up your machine.
To make sure your liquid laundry detergent is operating at its full effectiveness, use it in the nine months after you purchased it.
If it’s already been opened, that timeframe reduces to just six months.
Your powdered detergent will be safe to use unless it has gotten wet, hard, or cakey.
Shop-bought products are made with ingredients that shouldn’t be cake easily. Again, the greatest risk occurs with homemade detergent.
Single-dose pods should also be stored carefully to avoid exposure to moisture, but that’s not because they get moldy.
It’s because the film they’re wrapped in is easily dissolved, and if it’s dissolved before the pod is used, this will reduce its ability to clean.
Does Laundry Sanitizer Kill Fungus?
You may think that the bleach you use to do the laundry is enough to kill fungus.
Sadly, this may not be the case. It depends on the temperature of the water that you use. Anything less than 30°C is insufficient to kill fungal spores.
Laundry sanitizer is a safer bet if you want to get rid of the bacteria that leads to fungal spores. Brands like Lysol claim that their laundry sanitizer kills off 99.9% of fungi, so it’s a wise investment when you want to give your clothes deeper disinfection.
Although we use products like laundry detergent on a routine basis, we rarely question what they consist of or what they’re actually capable of.
It’s a good idea to know which detergent to use for different purposes, what ingredients your laundry detergent contains, and when it is most effective.
You’ll never look at your laundry detergent in the same way again!