Dear Mary: I’m so confused by laundry products, particularly detergents. Are powders better than liquid? Is the word “ultra” just hype? Thanks.
Dear Cindy: Here’s the scoop on laundry detergent: Typically, the word “ultra” means the product has been concentrated to fit into a smaller box. The problem is, unless you read the label and carefully measure and experiment to find the least amount that works for you, you’ll probably dump in the same amount you have in the past. Not good.
A product that has fabric softener added isn’t going to clean or soften as well, but it’s generally cheaper than buying two different products.
If a product says it has more stain fighters, it contains enzymes to dissolve stains better, but you’ll still have to pretreat heavy stains. Detergents with enzymes usually cost more than those without.
Typically, liquid detergents are more expensive and work better on greasy stains, but the cheaper powdered detergents are better on clay, dirt and mud stains.
Both liquid detergent and liquid bleach will get a boost and work better if you add a half-cup of baking soda to the wash cycle, which means it’s possible you’ll be able to use less detergent. This is only cost-effective when your baking soda products are less per ounce than the detergent.