What's so Ultra about Ultra Tide?

Okay, I’ve been wondering about this for quite some time now, and after doing a thorough search of the main site (both with the Search Feature and by scrolling through all the topics myself) and a search of the boards for an answer (I made it through 350 topic headings and a few topics before giving up) I still can’t find the answer to my question (or even evidence that the question has been asked before). I wanted to just mail it of to Cecil, but they say to try here first, and truth be told, I’ll probably get a quicker answer here anyway. (forgive the rambling, this is my first post here (yeah me!) and I feel the need to validate myself)

Anyway, the question is this: What’s the deal with Ultra Tide compared to regular Tide? You know, the clothing detergents. They say something along the lines of, “It takes less to clean your clothes!” but I guess it all depends on your point of view. Yes, each usage of Ultra Tide takes up less space physically, but it doesn’t weigh less. Okay, a standard box of Tide (here in Canada) has 23 uses and weighs (according to the box) 2.2kg, meaning it’s about 95.7g a use, and a standard box of Ultra Tide has 25 uses and weighs 2.4kg, meaning 96.0g a use. Now, the weight difference is probably just a result of rounding the weights of the boxes to the nearest 100g, but still… I’d say there is no difference between Tide and Ultra Tide, except the Ultra Tide box is just a little over half the size of the Tide box, and I don’t think you could simply compress the Tide into a box that much smaller without it becoming an extremely tightly packed and solid block instead of the little granules we all know. I don’t think it’s just a more concentrated formula, because it weighs about the same as the regular stuff, which I don’t think would be the case if it were more concentrated. After all, a can of orange juice concentrate weighs less than the jug of orange juice you make from it. Or is it more concentrated with the addition of some useless but more dense additive?

As you can see, I’ve thought about this a frightful amount for such a stupid question, but still, it’s haunting me. Anyone out there work for the Tide Corporation? Okay, not overly likely, so, any chemists out there want to put an end to my quest for an answer?

This is my uneducated understanding…much like other cleaners.

They simply put less fillers or in the case of liquid detergents, less water. This making the mixture, either in powder form or in liquid form more concentrated.

Now with that said, Consumer Reports has recently done a study (saw it on my local news station) stating that the liquid detergents get your clothing cleaner than the powders or the tablets. To me this makes sense because they are suspended in a liquid, they are therefore easier to dissolve in even cold water.

So anyhoo, that’s my understanding…they use less fillers or additives than the regular detergent.

Oh and BTW, they are advertising a bleach with less water, I believe it to be Clorox…if that helps make more sense. The less filler the more productive the product will be in normal circumstances.

From a marketing class this is what I remember about ultra detergents:
1 you at one point in time had to use a full cup.
2 refining processes purified/concentrated the product oir used other substances that require less volumn.
2a H.O.
3 the companies assumed the public wouldn’t buy the notion that a 1/2 a cup of our’s is the same as a full cup of theirs.
4 fillers were added to bulk it up to full size.
5 there was a push to packaging using less packing material.
6 detergents came out with ‘ultra’ versions by leaving out fillers or water.
The only thing I don’t like about ‘ultra’s’ is that sometimes they get directly on the clothes and somewhat overclean that spot.

In the interest of complete accuracy, here’s the quote from June 2001’s Consumer Reports product test of 2 laundry tablets (not a full CR evaluation, just a quick look):

I’m not jumping on you techchick68, I’m frustrated with news reports that overstate what CR chooses to word very carefully. I can’t tell you how often I hear info from CR misquoted and gotten simply wrong on the news.

“would have test among

:rolleyes: at myself

This is getting ridiculous.

It should say “would have placed among.”

I’m going for coffee now.

>What’s so Ultra about Ultra Tide?

The price??


Okay, maybe I’m just stupid… how do they add filler to regular Tide without changing the weight per usage? This is where my brain fizzles out… I’ve heard the filler argument before, but the weight is still essentially the same. I mean… ARGH! Adding filler would mean more weight, wouldn’t it? And what is the filler made of? Does it dissolve in the water too? Or does it just get washed away? Am I risking clogging up my washing machine if I don’t use an Ultra brand? I can’t be the only person to have taken note of this and tried to figure it out… Has Consumer Reports actually done a study on the difference between and Ultra brand and it’s regular counterpart, or do they just compare the results? Is it possible that the Ultra brand is actually a completely different chemical that’s simply branded as an Ultra version so that they don’t wipe out the name brand recognition the comany has been spending so much time and money to build up over the years?

Ummm…welcome to the SDMB John. Here sit down… no no not there there’s cat hair all over that chair. Now… here’s some tea. Take a load off. Feel the hot steaming goodness wash your cares away.


"RE: Dishwasher gel or powder detergent w/ septic??
Posted by: rich (spambdamn@excite.com) on Fri, Apr 6, 01 at 17:31

I did a little web research on the powdered dishwasher detergent vs. septic systems issue.
Although there seems to be a lot of disparate info/opinion out there here are my conclusions in regard to dw/laundry detergents:

Chlorine is the biggest problem. It can be in either gel or powdered dw detergents. Newer formulations are chlorine-free, and should be used. Chlorine kill bacteria. Bacteria are essential for proper septic system operation.

“Fillers” are blamed for creating small particles and building up the septic scum layer. I’m less convinced about this, and I believe that traditional non-ultra formulation laundry detergents have far more fillers than powdered dw detergents. A good solution is to use ultra (concentrated) laundry detergents. Typically sodium sulphate is a filler in non-ultra powdered laundry detergent. It basically adds bulk, and may help the product flow better out of the box. It is basically unecessary except for marketing purposes, and an ultra laundry detergent is a much better choice. Powder dw detergents don’t contain much filler anyway, and liquid dw detergents would not contain any filler, other than water. Not sure why sodium sulphate would cause more bulk in the septic scum layer. All the ingredients in the dw detergent should be readily soluble in water and evenly distributed throughout the septic system."

etc etc

IMHO all of these ‘ULTRA’ products are nothing but an excuse to sell you less for the same amount of money.

urban: If the weight between the two is the same as previously stated, can you explain how you’re getting less?