Washing Machines and Laundry Detergents

Buy the correct type of detergent to suit your machine.

European washing machines more often than not are front loading whilst Japanese and American washing machines tend to be top loading. However, that trend in the US and Japan changed in recent years. What type of machine you buy depends very much on what you are familiar with and what features you prefer.

We have been trained to equate high suds with a good clean for clothes. Front loading machines use less water and are thus designed to clean clothes in a different manner than top loading machines. Hence, side loading machines require the use of detergents that create very low suds otherwise the drum and the other parts of the machine will, in time, be corroded by too much suds. The wrong type of detergent will also result in a poor wash for the clothes (soap residue remains and this spells trouble especially for babies and adults who have sensitive skin) and even mildew in the machine.

Those of you who would like to understand how a front loader washes, you might want to read this article which gives 4 rules to make your front load washer work.

Different Types of Washing Detergents

In the US, the phrase “high efficiency” is used with reference to washing machines and detergents. A high-efficiency washing machine in general means a is a front-loading washer, reduces water use by 40 to 60 percent and energy use by 50 to 60 percent per load, according to Energy Star.

High-efficiency detergent can be found right next to the regular detergent. Just look for “H.E.” or “high efficiency” on the label.It is just a different soap for a different washer. All the usual detergent brands, such as Tide, Era, All, Gain and Cheer, have a high-efficiency solution.

Many high-efficiency brands offer cold-water detergent. Switching to cold water for washing saves the most money, but even switching from hot to warm cuts the energy use in half. Other simple things, such as washing only full loads, can save money as well.

For those who are keen to learn how to use their front loading washer correctly, read this article.

How much detergent is needed for each wash?

An excessive use of washing detergent doesn’t make the clothes cleaner. How much detergent does it take to get your clothes clean? That depends on how dirty they are. The answer is governed by what you were doing when you were wearing those clothes. Working (or playing) hard outdoors, cooking and frying, or were you sitting at home or working at a desk in an air conditioned room.

In fact, using more detergent than you need makes your clothes less clean, because some of it stays behind in your clothes.Further, the residue may cause the development of dry, itchy and sensitive skin over time.

Please look out for my post “Tumble Dryers N Washers – Regular Maintenance” which will published around Jan 15th 2015.

In Singapore, what types of brands of detergent offer the “H.E” type or how are similar detergents marked on their packaging?

Such detergents may be in the powder form or the liquid form. For  the US or European brands of detergents, look for them at specialized supermarkets for example, Cold Storage or Jason’s Supermarket at Paragon or Tanglin Mall.

I have found that the brand of “low suds” detergent that is most readily available at NTUC and other supermarkets catering to Singaporeans is a brand called “Persil”. The brand called “Top” produced by Lion Corporation also has a range of low suds detergent in powder and liquid form.

I made a trip to a nearby Cold Storage and took photos of several brands so that you can see the variety that available and how such detergents are marked on the packaging. If the words “h.e” are not present or some other icon or words showing it is suitable for front loading machines, then it is not.

Liquid Tide – the h.e. logo is circled

Purex Liquid – h.e. logo is circled

Liquid Persil – suitable for front loaders

Liquid Ariel – no indication that it is for front loaders

Fab Powder form – logo at the bottom indicates it can be used for both hand washing and top loader machines

Liquid Ariel Namo Color Care – suitable for both front and top loaders

Detergent for Babies

There are so many opinions out there about which detergent is best for baby! Here are some “tips” regarding doing laundry of baby clothes.

  • avoid anything that uses dyes or perfumes which can irritate baby’s skin.
  • no fabric softeners either. Fabric Softener breaks down the fire retardancy of infant clothing. Instead you can add 1/4c white vinegar to your rinse cycle as a natural fabric softener. Another alternative is using dryer balls in place of fabric softener.

For purposes of convenience, time efficiency and cost, a number of people feel that any “free and clear” product from a major brand is fine since that detergent can be used the whole family’s laundry instead of having to separate out babies clothes. However, this may not work for families who suffer from sensitive skin and are prone to skin eczema (like my family!). My daughter did her own research and spoke with a number of new mothers amongst her friends and arrived at “Babyganics” since Amazon would send her order at no extra charge to Singapore. They just stopped doing so! She is planning on trying out “Baby Ecos Laundry Detergent Free and Clear”. Some are sold on Dr Bronner’s Magic Soap. Both of these are available in Singapore.

Detergent for Dark Coloured Clothes

In recent years, a special detergent for dark and black coloured clothes can be found on the supermarket shelves. Here is a photo of one of the brands. Notice that a logo appears at the left bottom corner indicating that it is suitable for front loading washers.  Last night, I bought a bottle to test it out.

Perwoll Intensive Black


One response to “Washing Machines and Laundry Detergents

  1. Pingback: Laundry, Starch & Stains | hints for the home·

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