A Poll About Tide (laundry detergent)

Some of you may remember a fairly prevalent news story from a couple years ago about how Tide was being boosted (shoplifted) in enormous quantities because it had become as good as cash, or almost, when buying drugs. Although the article I cited does not mention this pivotal fact, the reason for that according to most news sources at the time was the detergent’s really good smell.

Okay, now perhaps you have also noticed that the wonderful fragrance of Tide is not so powerful these days, nor does it linger in your clothes anymore like it used to. I figure that they either decided this is a viable solution – for everyone but the end user – to the problem of an attractive nuisance, or else they decided that since their fragrance was so clearly highly valued by many, they could put significantly less of it in, and enjoy stable sales in spite of it through the luxury of brand loyalty.

What I’m really curious about is whether they are doing this everywhere, or just in target areas. It may sound a bit far fetched to you, but I don’t think that kind of thing is all that unusual.


I didn’t answer because I never noticed much of a smell before, and I don’t now. I’ve used Tide for years, and it’s just detergent to me.

I don’t use Tide because clothes washed in it give me a nasty rash (like a lot of other things). Still smells the same to me, which is handy because it helps me avoid it.

The stench of Tide is the very odor of consumer manipulation.

I was thinking of starting a thread about how Tide could justify its high price. I used to use Tide because my parents did, but I stopped because of the ridiculous cost. I honestly don’t see or smell any difference. I didn’t even realize its big draw was its fragrance. Weird. Detergent is just detergent to me.

I did have a bottle stolen from the laundry a couple of years ago, wondered why someone would be so hard up for wash liquid that they would feel the need not just to dump a few ounces onto their load (then return it to where I had left it), but take the entire thing. Thanks for clearing up that mystery.

I don’t, as a rule, breathe deep the aromas of my washing concoctions, so I have no answer to the OP on that specific score.

I said yes because I have noticed, but which flavor of Tide we end up with usually depends on which of us does the shopping in my three-person household. The orange bottle still smells stronger than the white bottle, but less strong than it used to.

I use “Tide Free & Gentle” because it’s unscented.

There are many good unscented detergents much cheaper than paying for the Tide name, which is largely built on its (original) FUCK ME THESE CLOTHES ARE CLEAN CLEAN CLEAN stench. Buying unscented Tide is sort of like buying unflavored Coke.

I buy Tide because it does well in the Consumer Reports’ reviews of laundry detergents. (Of course, in the most recent review, the top-rated detergent was Persil, a European brand now available at Costco.)

I don’t use a lot of Tide (I went over to the OxyClean camp quite a few years back) so I haven’t really noticed it. But what I have noticed is that the smell of the laundry soap display in general isn’t nearly as overwhelming as I remember. Maybe all the brands have cut back on scent or I’ve just gone “nose blind”.

For most adults, it doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of difference most of the time, as we keep our clothes relatively clean between washings.

But when you have toddlers and small children, differences in laundry detergents become VERY apparent. Tide is one of the best at getting diffuse crud of all sorts out, but none are good at removing spots and individual stains without pretreatment.

We get the unscented, undyed Tide, so I don’t know if the scent has diminished or not.

I’ve used “original flavor” Tide ever since the time I was complimented on the smell by a young lady who played the lead in a community theater production. Not only did she notice the smell, she actively asked what it was and where it was coming from. Since I was playing her love interest in the play, I started washing my clothes in Tide at least twice a day until the show wrapped.

The reason the media didn’t mention that “fact” is because smell had nothing to do with Tide becoming a de facto street currency - unless you mean the smell of money. The real reasons behind the rash of Tide liquid laundry detergent thefts are outlined in the linked article.

  1. Tide is the most expensive liquid laundry detergent (more on that below)
  2. Tide is by far the most popular liquid laundry detergent
  3. Tide liquid laundry detergent has a very low profit margin when bought through normal channels
  4. Shoplifting carries much lighter criminal penalties than breaking and entering or mugging
  5. Stolen laundry detergent is virtually untraceable

So, instead of B&E or mugging, which carry a higher risk and penalty, a low level criminal can shoplift Tide and sell it to a middle man (fence) for $5/bottle. The fence then sells it to a shady grocer or pawn shop for $10/bottle. The shady retailer sells it for the normal retail price, or about $18-20 per bottle. Everyone in the chain stands to make beaucoup cash.

All criminal enterprise is about making large amounts money as quickly as possible.

The linked article explains this as well. Tide liquid detergent uses expensive, proprietary ingredients and, therefore, costs more at wholesale. P&G were first to market with powdered laundry detergent in 1946 and patented the formula for Tide. This gave them time to establish an incredible brand loyalty that holds to this day. It’s expensive because it costs more to make and being the market leader means they don’t have to find ways lower the cost.

Missed edit window:

The above doesn’t even begin to address the near impossibility of manufacturing different scent levels for distribution to different, often contiguous locations. The store at 2348 Elm St is urban and gets formula “A”, while 2360 Elm Street is suburban and gets formula “B”. What is the delineation between urban, suburban and rural as it relates to laundry detergent? What of chain stores that buy vast quantities for their distribution centers? Do they have to stock different varieties and ship accordingly? It just can’t happen.

I have no idea how much Tide costs, but can it really be* that* much more expensive than everything else? I can imagine a few bucks more per bottle, but not enough that too many people would really care.

It is surprisingly difficult to find detailed information and comparative information, in part because some large number of sites are either P&G shills or hijacked by official P&G propaganda. They certainly seem to be spending their profit margin propping up the idea that Tide is made from the rarest laundering substances on Earth.

How expensive is Tide where you live? Because I did the math a while back and found that it’s, at best, twice as much as other brands. So perhaps I need $0.25 worth of the stuff to do my two loads a week. I think I can handle that.

Edited to add, I remember a post from someone on the SDMB who actually made her own laundry soap from shredded bar soap, borax and so forth. It sounded like way too much trouble to save a few cents.

I have seen enough back to back comparisons of laundry products to convince me that Tide simply isn’t worth a huge premium. It often comes out on top, but the gradient of best-performing brands is pretty small and the prices drop like a rock even before you get to no-name and poorly-perfoming stuff. (As I implied above, there’s just too much hoo-rah and razzle-dazzle over the super-special ingredients formulated over 60 years ago for me to take their claims at face value.)

If it’s just nickels to you, fine - spend away. Some of us use a quarter bottle a week and it adds up.

I haven’t bought Tide in years, but recently I bought some Bounce dryer sheets. It was market specifically for men: “Bounce for men. Pure Sport”

Didn’t really notice much of a smell until one day, I’m at the gym, after about ten minutes running on the treadmill, I stated to notice the smell of the dryer sheets.

I guess it’s heat activated.