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Monthly Archives: February 2012

  • Don't Get Tricked into Using Too Much Detergent

    In a move to reducing packaging and pack more loads into every bottle, detergent manufactures are offering increasing concentrations such as 2X, 3X and sometimes even 8X.  But all of this multiplying can have the same effect on how much you pay to wash a single load of clothes.  It may seem silly but take a look at this simple math.  First, consider that consumers normally assume that because detergent bottles give you a measuring cap, one cap equals one load.  However, the truth is that with new concentrations of laundry detergent like Era 2x Ultra, All 3X Ultra and Purex 2X Ultra, only 1/2 of a cap or less may be necessary.  Second, the average washing machine uses about 40 gallons of water per load of clothes.  However, using too much laundry detergent means that it takes longer to rinse clothes.  Some new washing machines will run additional rinse cycles until the water is clear and free of suds.

    Now for some numbers

    Cost of washing one load with All 3X Ultra: $0.13 (Consumer Reports)

    Average cost of 40 gallons of water: $0.32

    Total cost for one load of laundry (not factoring in electricity for water heating): $0.45

    Now lets run the numbers for what the average consumer actually pays

    Cost of using too much detergent (full cap - twice as much): $0.26

    Average cost of 40 gallons of water: $0.32

    Additional 20 gallons for extra rinse cycles: $0.16

    Total cost for one load of laundry (not factoring in electricity for water heating): $0.74 (39% more)

    This is just one example and All 3X Ultra is actually one of the less expensive brands.

    Kenmore Detergent Tray

    Detergent trays like this Kenmore unit aren't designed for modern concentrated detergents

    Other brands can cost as much as $0.35 per load (or $0.70 if you use a full cap).  It may not seem like much money, but now consider that the average American household washers nearly 400 loads of laundry per year.  400 x $0.29 = $116.00 down the drain.  What could you do with an additional $116 each year?

    One last item to consider.  Most new front loading washing machines like the Kenmore 4000 series in our test lab have detergent trays with measurement lines.  These may seem like a great convience, but there is no gold standard for detergent concentrations or amounts.  So simply filling the tray to Normal or Max could be way too much detergent.  Do yourself a favor and try measuring the exact amount of laundry detergent necessary using the fill lines on the detergent bottle's measured cap.  It doesn't matter what brand you choose, Tide, All, Era, Woolite, Kirkland Signature, Method, Wisk, Purex or Cheer, this simple step might just save you some serious money this year.

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