close the gate


A solution

With all the pretreating sprays, the spectacular water softeners, the advancements in washing machine technology and the super-duper concentrated laundry detergents available, we should have the whitest whites and brightest brights in the laundry department that we could ever want. So, why, oh why, do we still have trouble removing stains and getting our clothes clean?

When I was a kid, my mother would drag the washing machine from the porch up to the kitchen sink once a week to do the laundry. It was a large white porcelain beast with an agitating tub and a separate spinner. Clothes were dried on the clothesline or on wooden racks in the house.

I don't remember stains not coming out. I don't recall underarm stains on my dad's white T-shirts like I have trouble removing now. What has changed? Why are the sciences failing us in the dirty clothes game?

Hmmm. This calls for a bit of detective work …

Ta-dah! Mystery solved.

I discovered that back in the early 1990s manufacturers took something out of laundry detergent because of concern for the lakes and rivers. Dishwashing soaps also, with no big announcement, eliminated the same thing from their formulas under pressure from the Environmental Protection Agency and laws from state governments that banned them. The idea was to help the fish in their oxygen competition with algae. However, the household contribution to algae creation is negligible and the scientific evidence on the issue of algae's effect on fish runs in all directions.

This mysterious ingredient is amazing, not because it cleans — it needs soap to do its thing — but rather because it rinses, whooshing away all dirt, oil and stains as well as all leftover detergent. Bleach whitens, but it ruins fabrics. What is needed is a good rinsing agent that leaves clothes not only perfectly clean but also smelling fantastic, and the now missing element did it all. Amazingly enough, the missing component is still used in many toilet bowl cleansers and can be purchased at any hardware store ... and it's cheap!

How can this be? It's not expensive. It is freely available for anyone to buy. It works.

The marvelous factor that actually worked was removed because it made laundry detergent not “commercially viable.” Which means legal issues caused by environmentalists would be such a pain to deal with that “after-costs” would exceed the profits.

Cleaner laundry. That's what I want. Cleaner than what? Than what I'm getting now. They can't add the mystery ingredient to my laundry detergent, but I can add it myself. We have a septic system which no fish (that I know of) lives in, and try as I might, I actually couldn't find any documentation that said if used in the household sense it had any effect at all on anything.

I guess the detergent companies want us all to just keep looking for some over-the-counter laundry detergent that cleans like they used to. And pre-treat every little spot and get out the old washboard and apply some elbow grease to the problem. And carry around instant stain remover sticks like anal-retentive laundry-aholics. And pre-soak. And double rinse. And maybe even rinse everything for a third time with white vinegar added.

Am I the only one with these problems? Is it only our stains that are becoming more stubborn than ever? Am I the only one with a cabinet full of spray and wash, bleach pens, stain removers, pretreaters, and boosters of all sorts by the gallon? Is it really only us?

Well, I'm going to buy some of the mysterious miracle product and add it to my washing machine and my dishwasher and I'll report back and let you know how it goes. I have researched and I really can't find actually why it was removed in the first place.

Sometimes we have to open the gate and look for solutions for ourselves.

No need to turn to the black market, it's readily available on store shelves!


Cleverly disguised as a responsible adult, I'm Nancy Kraayenhof. ©2015



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