Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Erring Your Ditry Laundry

Are you using too much laundry soap and pouring cash down the drain? It is quite likely according to an article in Money Talks (which draws on a Wall Street Journal article).

From the Wall Street Journal I learned:

1. There is someone at Proctor and Gamble with the title "head of laundry research and development for North America."

2. Laundry is still done largely by women. It was the primary household responsibility of 76% of women and 24% of men in a 2007 Whirlpool survey of 2,500 consumers.

3. The equivalent of 1,100 washloads are started every second of every day.

4. 53% of people don't use the recommended amount of detergent per washload, preferring instead to guess or, worse, to simply fill the cap up to the top—a practice that wastes more than half the loads a detergent bottle could wash.

5. There's someone at Whirlpool with the job title "consumer scientist, Institute of Fabric Science."

6. The latest twist in detergent is to a smaller quantity of a more concentrated product at a higher price. The idea here is that you use less, and you save money and the planet. This works great in theory, except that most people don't actually use less of the strong stuff. This is great for detergent makers' bottom line; not so great for yours.

The author of the Money Talks article suggests solving the over-sudsing problem by foregoing detergent all together.

You might be surprised to learn that, while clothing has been around since the fig leaf, laundry detergent is relatively new. And yet, ancient people were presumably able to make their clothing at least somewhat clean. How?

As it turns out, something that may be even more effective than soap is agitation. Ancient people used rocks and rivers, but your modern washing machine can clean lightly soiled clothes by just pushing them around in water.

In other words, people actually do get away without using detergent at all.

Of course it's hard to believe that after years of watching television commercial characters bravely battle ring around the collar.