As engineers we often get faults reported that are nothing whatsoever to do with the actual appliance, in fact it may well be the detergent used that can cause faults! In fact, improper use and general misunderstanding with this critical element of washing your clothes is rife.
Because we see these problems all the time is why you will see loads of articles on the site explaining the problems that can be caused and the best advice that we can offer on using these products.
The thing to remember about all these products is that they are an important part of how your machine, be it a dishwasher, washer or washer dryer works. Companies like Lever Brothers and Proctor and Gamble who produce brands like Ariel, Persil, DAZ or Fairy put in hundreds of thousands of pounds into researching and developing these products to work properly, please bear this in mind when you next buy powder.
There is more to it than just charging more for the product, we can assure you we have seen some disastrous results of cheap powder.
Soap Powder, Tablets & Liquid
Soap powder is probably the best way, in our opinion, of using a detergent. It's relatively cheap, effective and you can choose the dosage you want to use and this is where the new tablets are not so good.
The dosage required varies according to the hardness of the water in your area and this varies enormously throughout the UK. In Scotland, for example, you would have to use about a quarter of a cup of detergent to fully clean a load of lightly soiled clothing. Meanwhile to do the same wash in Southampton you would need a full cup! It's up to you as the customer to experiment with the dosage and find out what suits you and is as economical as possible.
With the concentrated powders and liquids (especially the liquids) be very, very careful with the dosage it is very easy to "overdose" and this can lead to very serious problems.
Another important point to remember is that most modern washing machines use much less water than they used to, to be ecologically friendly and many have detergent recovery systems of one form or another, so you need less detergent therefore costing you less money.
Basically if the detergent is not fully dissolved because there is insufficient water for it to dissolve in and so it "lies" in the machine and slowly congeals to form a mass. This congealed mass of detergent can smell extremely bad, so much so it can make people vomit, and eat it's way through pump seals and aluminum drum supports; you have been warned. The solution is simple, just be very careful with your dosage and follow the instructions.
A sure sign of overdosing when using soap powder is a congealed mass of soap in the soap box, check yours out is it clean?
If you do use these products run your machine through a boil wash once a month with nothing in it and just watch to see how mush soapy suds you see and bear in mind that that is detergent gone to waste! Remember, you paid to waste it!
The other very important thing to remember about using to much detergent is the ecological impact of not only the additional unnecessary pollution you pump into the sewers, but also the pollution to produce the product you are polluting with.
Washing Machine Soap Confusion
One of the biggest issues that we see, especially when people get a new washing machine or switch to a new detergent, is a fault being reported because "it isn't the same as the old one".
Well, all these technologies change through time. Washing machines have changed and so have detergents.
Just like cars and the fuel that you put in them or computers and the software installed on them, they have changed and all too often users simply have to adapt to these changes. Doing so can bring benefits such as lower running costs through water and energy reductions but, you have to adapt to glean those benefits.
This is not helped by the minimal instructions that you will most often see on packaging and in product manuals.
Compounded by the bewildering array of detergents that you will see in store such as in the image shown here. Often people just buy whatever is on offer or, whatever is cheapest but the characteristics of each detergent will be different, the purpose often will be and the qualities will vary, sometimes hugely.
When we look in supermarkets and the way that the products are displayed, it's hardly even slightly surprising that people get confused by detergent let alone all the other add ons, most of which you should never need but they're great money-spinners.
You can save a small fortune and get better results as well as care better for you washing machine by just spending a little time to learn.