Laundry detergents work by lowering the surface tension of water, improving its ability to dissolve stains from clothing. Detergents emulsify dirt so it drains with the wash water instead of redepositing on the clothes in the machine.Continue Reading
Water is a polar solvent. However, many of the stains on laundry are nonpolar, fat-based stains. The body produces oily waste products and deposits them on the clothes. The surfactants in detergent create a non-polar end on the water molecule, allowing it to dissolve such oily stains. While the detergent allows the water to attach to the oil stain, the mechanical agitation of the washing machine lifts the stain from the cloth. While soaps and detergents work similarly, soaps react with minerals in the water to form soap scum that sometimes deposits back onto the clean clothes.
Detergent manufacturers add other chemicals to the product to enhance its stain removal properties. Oxidizers react chemically with stains to lighten them so they become less apparent. Enzymes are protein-based chemicals that speed up the chemical reactions required for cleaning, reducing the time required for the wash cycle. Laundry products also include sodium and potassium hydroxide. These hydroxides provide ions that help to facilitate chemical reactions for cleaning. Water softeners help to improve the ability of detergents to bind with fats that cause stains.Learn more about Laundry
To remove an iron burn stain from clothing or fabric, apply hydrogen peroxide and ammonia to the scorch mark, then rinse it with water before laundering it. This method only works for minor burn stains, since heavily scorched fabric fibers cannot be repaired.Full Answer >
Martha Stewart recommends readying clothes for the wash using homemade fabric softeners and laundry detergents, bluing fabrics, and knowing when to hand-wash and when to dry clean, among many other invaluable tips on her website.Full Answer >
Top-reviewed laundry detergents include Wisk Deep Clean, Tide Plus Bleach Alternative Vivid White + Bright, Tide for Cold Water, Cheer Stay Colorful for Darks, and Tide Ultra Free & Gentle, according to ABC News. ABC News based its list on an annual laundry detergent survey conducted by Consumer Reports.Full Answer >
Some good laundry detergents for people with allergies include Attitude Baby Laundry Detergent, Sun & Earth Free & Clear Detergent and Wisk Free and Pure, notes Stain Removal 101. For people who have eczema, All Free Clear is recommended by the National Eczema Association, states Everyday Health.Full Answer >