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View Full Version : What are the advantages of liquid laundry detergent over powder?


commasense
10-23-2008, 08:49 PM
I've always used powdered laundry detergent, but when I go to the store, the shelves seem to suggest I'm in the minority: there is a vastly larger selection of liquid detergent.

So what are the plusses of using liquid, and what am I missing by using powder?

Are there any concrete advantages of one or the other, like saving money, or being better for the environment, or is the choice mostly just personal taste?

Any advocates want to speak up in favor of powder?

(My washer is a top loader, BTW.)

phall0106
10-23-2008, 08:50 PM
I like powder for the simple reason that with liquid it seems like I never get all the detergent out of the bottle (even if it's turned upside down to drain).

But, as far as cleaning or anything, I haven't a clue.

Lisa-go-Blind
10-23-2008, 09:06 PM
I don't know the exact details, but my mom switched to buying liquid when I was a teenager because the powder clogged something in the washing machine badly enough that she had to get a repairman to fix it. There may have also been some flooding.

aruvqan
10-23-2008, 09:13 PM
I like powder for the simple reason that with liquid it seems like I never get all the detergent out of the bottle (even if it's turned upside down to drain).

But, as far as cleaning or anything, I haven't a clue.

add water to the bottle, shake it up a bit and pour it on in. A quart or so of extra water will not appreciably mess with the washer.

Besides, seems to me that powder doesnt dissolve readily in cold water and I never wash in hot, it is hard on my work clothing. I buy all cotton clothing and hot water fades the dye, and dryering them makes them shrink. I have tried the cold water powders and they just dont dissolve. Liquids dont need to dissolve.

Besides, I want to upgrade next time we buy to the GE washer that has reserviores for liquid soap, bleach equivalent and softener. Cant do that with powder!

Sebastienne
10-23-2008, 09:13 PM
The liquid stuff doesn't get clumpy or otherways go off if an extra is stored under the laundry room sink for a few months.

bump
10-23-2008, 09:23 PM
My folks used powdered detergent for years, and then their washer drain clogged up badly. The plumber's explanation was that in their area, eventually some sort of insoluble gunk would build up and clog up the pipes, but that liquid detergent users didn't generally have that problem.

Mom switched to liquid right away.

Otherwise, I think (no proof offhand) I read somewhere that one of the advantages of powder vs. liquid is that enzymes are easier to put in powdered formulations, so they clean a little better than powders.

Lavender Falcon
10-23-2008, 09:29 PM
I use powder mainly because I inevitably manage to spill liquid detergent, and it's sticky and messy to clean up. I've never had a problem with powder, but I only use about 1/3 of what the box says to use.

Harmonious Discord
10-23-2008, 10:14 PM
Granulated detergents have trouble dissolving in certain water types and colder water. You could do the wash and still have detergent granules on the clothes after the the load is done. Using liquid detergent eliminates that problem. Personally I find it easier to use than dealing with stuff that has to be dissolved.

Nuke
10-23-2008, 10:19 PM
The only reason to use liquid over granular detergent is if you have a septic system. You want to use liquid detergent because the granular stuff can form a big clump that floats on top of the "stuff" in you septic tank and possible impede liquid flow out of the tank to the septic field.

kunilou
10-23-2008, 10:24 PM
In my experience liquids still mix better in cold water, although powders are better than they used to be. Also, the newer concentrated liquids mean more loads in a smaller package.

Leaffan
10-23-2008, 10:32 PM
One word: Marketing.

Ferret Herder
10-23-2008, 10:37 PM
I wash at least 90% of my loads in cold, and so I feel better using liquid because I know I won't get undissolved powder residue on my clothes. These days, though, I make my own laundry detergent from bar soap, borax, and washing soda, dissolved in hot water and cooked down into a gel. It works extremely well, even on my husband's dirty postal uniforms, and is cheaper than powder or liquid from the store.

Shakes
10-24-2008, 01:10 AM
With liquid you don't have to wait ten minutes for the washer to fill so you can add the detergent. (to prevent clumping as others have said.)

Purgatory Creek
10-24-2008, 03:42 AM
For us it is the septic system as mentioned by Nuke, but also because we have a front-loading machine, and I have never seen a powdered HE detergent.

Oh yeah, and the stench. I'm sure there are unscented powdered detergents, but my memory of them includes a cloying miasma of exotic tropical flowers soaked in ferret urine.

Manda JO
10-24-2008, 06:57 AM
Detergents give me hives, and I seem to get them less often if I use liquid.

If you have to travel to do your laundry, the liquid is less likely to spill.

Khadaji
10-24-2008, 07:59 AM
I used to see powder not fully dissolve. I don't know if that was because my water is hard or what it is.

I don't know what happens with the liquid, but I do know I don't see it on my clothing.

Agent Foxtrot
10-24-2008, 08:27 AM
I generally wash my expensive comfortor in powdered Cheer because it's colorfast, yet inevitably, I seem to always have dried powdered gunk on it after I pull it from the dryer. Never happens with liquid Tide.

asterion
10-24-2008, 08:55 AM
For us it is the septic system as mentioned by Nuke, but also because we have a front-loading machine, and I have never seen a powdered HE detergent.

Oh yeah, and the stench. I'm sure there are unscented powdered detergents, but my memory of them includes a cloying miasma of exotic tropical flowers soaked in ferret urine.

They do make powdered HE detergents these days. I believe I've seen a Tide version at Wal-Mart. I realize it doesn't make a difference in your situation, but I thought I'd mention that they are out there.

I generally use the All Free 3x conc. liquid, but that's because I can get it in a tiny bottle and it's a lot easier to take to the laundromat. That said, using powder with the big front loaders is a bit easier as I don't have to pay attention throughout the prewash to add the liquid detergent when it starts adding water for the regular wash.

Eleanor of Aquitaine
10-24-2008, 09:28 AM
Interesting. I have always used powder, in cold water, and I've never seen any powder residue on our clothes or seen any undissolved powder in the machine. I dump the powder right in on top without waiting for the washer to fill. I use Arm & Hammer detergent, which claims to dissolve in all water temperatures. I do use a little less than the box recommends.

I didn't know about possible septic tank issues. In 10 years we haven't had a problem, but I'll look into that.

commasense
10-24-2008, 10:54 AM
Interesting. I have always used powder, in cold water, and I've never seen any powder residue on our clothes or seen any undissolved powder in the machine. I dump the powder right in on top without waiting for the washer to fill. I use Arm & Hammer detergent, which claims to dissolve in all water temperatures. I do use a little less than the box recommends.This is exactly my experience. I use about half the recommended dosage, or less.

Dangerosa
10-24-2008, 11:16 AM
Powder, says my sister the former clothing designer and rep - is better for your clothes. Don't know why, but she won't use liquid.

I use about half the recommended liquid and an eighth cup of Borax myself. I use liquid because the brands I use come in liquid form and don't come (or aren't carried by the stores I shop in) in a powdered form.

romansperson
10-24-2008, 11:37 AM
Powder, says my sister the former clothing designer and rep - is better for your clothes. Don't know why, but she won't use liquid.

I use about half the recommended liquid and an eighth cup of Borax myself. I use liquid because the brands I use come in liquid form and don't come (or aren't carried by the stores I shop in) in a powdered form.

A friend of mine told me that you should always use powdered detergent when washing fleece - something about the composition of liquid detergents causes the fabric to become harder and less pliable (and therefore lose some of its insulating qualities). After experimenting with both types of detergents, I think she's right.

Dangerosa
10-24-2008, 12:08 PM
A friend of mine told me that you should always use powdered detergent when washing fleece - something about the composition of liquid detergents causes the fabric to become harder and less pliable (and therefore lose some of its insulating qualities). After experimenting with both types of detergents, I think she's right.


My sister designed and sold ski clothing (and other athletic wear) so that makes sense.....A lot of it would have been fleece or something like it.

gigi
10-24-2008, 12:15 PM
Powder has left detritus behind on my clothes. Never again, say I.

Tom Tildrum
10-24-2008, 02:15 PM
Liquid seems to be easier on my wife's allergies.

LSLGuy
10-24-2008, 11:34 PM
When I lived in a big buildng with the laundromat in the basement it was a lot easier to carry a bottle of liquid down rather than a box of powder without spilling. So liquid is better for that situation

Even now with my own washer in my house I always manage to spill some powder on teh floor. So liquid is still better.

How differently do they clean clothes? Beat heck out of me. They both do a fine job using 1/2the quantity the package recommends. So I buy liquid strictly for the handling convenience.

Harriet the Spry
10-25-2008, 03:02 PM
I was having undissolved powder problems, so have switched to liquid. When I used powder, it was because I thought it was less expensive.

Napier
10-25-2008, 11:50 PM
Powder has the potential to be a better cleaner because they can include ingredients that are mutually antagonistic. Such ingredients require water in which to attack one another, and so in a liquid detergent would only last hours or days, which wouldn't be acceptable. So, to make a liquid detergent, they have to use alternatives, which are always a more difficult compromise. I worked with a lady whose previous job had involved researching these alternatives (for liquid dishwashing detergent) and trying to get them to work almost as well.

I always thought it was just marketing, and didn't know that people had problems getting the powder to dissolve.