Thread Number: 70330  /  Tag: Detergents and Additives
Vinegar as a "softener"
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Post# 932552   4/15/2017 at 15:45 by LordKenmore (The Laundry Room)        

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I've read any number of comments from people who use white vinegar as a softener replacement in laundry. I've been wondering some things about the practice. I tried Googling, and actually ended up with more questions than I started with... So here are the questions:


  1. Does it work with liquid detergents? (One explanation I've heard is that vinegar acid cancels out alkaline powder detergent. But IIRC liquids aren't so alkaline, maybe even fairly close to neutral.)
  2. Does it harm the inner parts of washing machines? This was the question that came up while Googling--someone being told by an appliance tech that vinegar harmed seals or some such thing.
  3. Also it is true that vinegar can harm porcelain washer tubs?


Post# 932555 , Reply# 1   4/15/2017 at 16:11 by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        

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Purpose of a laundry "sour" among several is to counteract the effects of alkaline substances used for washing, and remove their residue. Liquid laundry detergents for domestic use are already pretty much either neutral or only slightly alkaline. Furthermore since they do not contain salts, soda, and so forth there isn't any need to use any sort of laundry sour including vinegar.

Commercial laundries are or pretty much have moved over to liquid laundry products only using alkaline "breaks" or other substances as needed.

Vinegar and washing machines:

There has been some debate as to if even a mild acid like vinegar can harm domestic washing machines with long term use. No one seems to have a certain answer but best to speak with the manufacturer.

Commercial washing machines often do not have pumps and or are designed with parts (internal) that can withstand frequent contact with either strong base or acid substances. OTOH using too much vinegar even though it is already a fairly dilute acid *might* cause problems.

Post# 932558 , Reply# 2   4/15/2017 at 16:42 by Michaelman2 (Atlanta, GA)        

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I have been doing this for several years and I really like the effect it has on the item.  I have never been a fan of fabric softener.   Especially with towels and other items where I feel the fabric softener affects the items absorbancy.   Cannot stand a towel to not be absorbant. 


I fill the fabric softener container in my machine (Duet circa 2004) to the level appropriate for the would have been softener and it has not affected the drum or any other part of my machine.   Drum is stainless ( I believe) and if it is erroding or damaging other parts of the machine, I may just be clueless.



Post# 932560 , Reply# 3   4/15/2017 at 16:53 by philcobendixduo (San Jose)        
I, Too, Use White Vinegar...

philcobendixduo's profile picture the rinse when washing towels. I've read that it helps to remove the soap residue making the towels softer when line drying (which is what I do whenever possible).

So far, no detrimental effects on my 30 year-old Kenmore DD machine.

Post# 932561 , Reply# 4   4/15/2017 at 17:14 by jerrod6 (Center City Philadelphia Pennsylvania, U.S.A)        

Looking back at the first link Laundress included about hotels washing sheets with neutral detergent, the article aso states that the optimum temperature to wash linen sheets is 140F. It recommends loading the machine to 80-90% of capacity so if you observe your machine through the glass the tumbles of laundry should occur at the 10 and 2 positions of the clock.


I guess this would apply to consumer washers too, or is just for large commercial machines?   How many of us wash a load of sheets and fill the drum so that the tumbles are at the 10 and 2 o'clock positions?  How many wash sheets at 140F?  Something I will have to think about. 


So if we are using a liquid laundry detergent, Fabric softener or vinegar is no longer needed?

Post# 932564 , Reply# 5   4/15/2017 at 17:30 by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
Don't know about anyone else

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But one has been saying and following the "10 to 2" O'clock advice for some time. There are other parameters used in commercial laundries such as "2 to 8" O'clock, but the main thing is you need a certain amount of lifting, dropping, slapping onto sides of drum for a "normal" cottons or easy cares load.

See most recent comment regarding "over loading" here:

Contrary to popular belief it is not tumbling round and round that cleans laundry in a front loader. Things need to be able to move about so the paddles can "lift and drop" laundry. Those same paddles in many H-axis washing machines scoop up water and "shower" it onto laundry. Miele is one brand of washing machine that made a big deal over their "scoop and ladle" system.

While both commercial and domestic H-axis washing machines are happiest operating at full rated loads for "normal" cottons or easy cares; 15lbs of say terry toweling (bath and hand towels along with wash cloths), will look vastly different than the same amount of say bed linen (sheets, pillow slips, duvet covers, etc..)

Cotton and to an extent cotton/poly blend clothing, terry toweling and some other textiles will compress down greatly once wet. Makers of washing machines both commercial and domestic know or should this when designing and marketing their machines.

Have literally stuffed a huge 50lb SQ front loader at local laundromat only to see the load compact down to half or three-quarters full once the load was totally wet.

Bed linen can tricky because not all weaves will compact down when wet. Crisp percales and some higher thread count muslins come to mind.

Here is another Unimac video of a laundry worker doing a load of eiderdowns. You'd think she had over loaded the machine, but after first spins it is apparent that was not the case. If this washer did a wetting down then fast spin to get out the air am sure things would look different off the bat.

Regarding bed linen and 140F. Yes, you do need high temperatures to really clean and sanitize bed linen. Especially if you only change the things once a week or (God forbid) less. By "changing" we mean taken off bed and linens sent straight to the wash. If they are going to sit around in a hamper or laundry bag marinating for a week or longer until wash day, well there you are then.

Main culprit are bodily secretions (sweat, oils, etc...) that build up on bed linen during use. These are the same oils that will eventually turn "rancid" and give the center of bed sheets, pillow slips and other parts in frequent contact with skin that ghastly yellow shade. Same as the "ring around the collar" stains that come from not totally cleaning shirts when laundering.

Higher wash temperatures also go along way to killing dust mites as well.

If you want to see how things are going with your bed linen wash day, observe wash and rinse waters as they drain from the machine. If you are seeing "scum" the sort seen when taking a bath, and it is still coming after the final rinse; that is the muck coming off bed linen which was not removed totally during the wash.

Post# 932566 , Reply# 6   4/15/2017 at 17:37 by ptcruiser51 (Boynton Beach, FL)        
Go with vinegar!

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White, please! I have been using this for years. My General Electric TL has an acrylic tub, so I don't foresee problems. It has no fabric softener dispenser, so I just use a "Downy" ball and add a little water. I use Oxydol powder, ordered online, four boxes last me about a year. I want my clothes to smell like CLOTHES, not an "April Meadow", etc. When I worked at The Home Depot appliance dept., I used to almost gag when women (and men!) would come thru reeking of an OD of fabric softener. Ick! My sister has an outdoor clothesline, so she follows the hint from "Heloise" and hangs her wet clothes in the night air. Works OK except for towels. Five minutes in the dryer fluffs them up nicely.

Post# 932584 , Reply# 7   4/15/2017 at 18:59 by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        

If you look at formulas and programs for commercial machines, when the sour is a separate compound from the softener, the sour is added before the final rinse so there is a rinse afterward to dilute the acid in the fabrics. If you use vinegar in a washer with a porcelain tub, you want to follow the vinegar with clear water or a fabric softener rinse to remove traces of the vinegar. The porcelain coating is thinnest on the edges of the perforations of the tub. This is where the effects of vinegar will be noticed first and you will see little circular or semi-circular orange stains on the laundry if it is left in the tub for any time after the final spin.

Post# 932608 , Reply# 8   4/15/2017 at 20:05 by sel8207 (naples, florida 34117)        
to see what it does;

I place half vinegar/half water in a dispenser bottle and pour it into the softener dispenser. The reason? I have softened water. When washing my hands with the soft water I can place some of the half and half vinegar and water on my hands and it gets rid of that slick soapy feeling instantly. (try it) I believe it does the same in releasing the detergent also. The chemicals in commercial softeners and detergents, leave a residue on the clothes and can't be good for your skin to absorb. Les.

Post# 932610 , Reply# 9   4/15/2017 at 20:12 by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
IIRC the general rule for souring in commercial laundries

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Is the if the work is to be ironed it is soured before the last rinse. However things that are to be tumbled dry can be soured in the last rinse. Indeed there is a vast array of sour/softener, sour/anti bacterial, sour/anti iron/rust/yellowing, and so forth mixtures designed to be used in the final rinse.

IIRC the theory behind souring before the final rinse is to ensure whatever residue is removed from textiles is flushed away. That and washing which is "too" acidic can cause problems with the flatwork ironers and or even show up as damage to the fabric itself (yellowing).

Post# 932709 , Reply# 10   4/16/2017 at 11:00 by mrboilwash (Munich,Germany)        

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My impression is it`s not just about the pH but also to great deal what type of acid is used when it comes to corrosiveness.

Vinegar for example should not be used to descale drip coffee makers because it attacks aluminum parts whereas a combination of citric, sulfuric and formic acid as found in some descaling products for coffee makers seems to be OK.
Maybe a chemist could shine some light on it ?
Liquid Fabric Softener is also pretty acidic at about pH 3 (undiluted) it is absolutely comparable to vinegar. Never heard about a damaging effect to washing machines though. So again I *think* it has something to do with what type of acid is used.

As to overloading washers I prefer my average loads no more than 3/4 full when wet and compacted, because overall wear on clothes is considerably less.
In an overstuffed drum where clothes just turn round and round without changing their position for a long time it means the same spots of the clothes rub against other clothes and the drum again and again. This means much more wear on fabrics than the gentle lift and drop of a loosely loaded drum where the mechanical energy is distributed evenly over the whole garment.
When it comes to cleaning I have to disagree about the 10 to 2 O`clock rule. If the wash cycle is just long enough it even seems to be possible to achieve A-Class results in a 5 minutes to 12 O`clock to 5 past 12 stuffed drum. As long as there is a little free space on top where soaking wet clothes bang against the drum there is washing action. Hence the absurdly long cycles and huge capacity statements of newer washers in the EU. I hate this developement !

Post# 932712 , Reply# 11   4/16/2017 at 11:18 by sudsmaster (East of SF, West of Eden)        

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Liquid laundry detergents are not neutral pH.

According to the linked chart, they have been measured between 7.7 and 9.8, which is alkaline (7.0 would be neutral). Powders are more alkaline, measured between 8.3 and 10.9.

This means that a vinegar rinse will help to remove alkalinity from laundry washed with liquid laundry detergents as well as with powdered laundry detergents.

I use white distilled vinegar in my Neptune for the final rinse after using either powdered or liquid detergents.


Post# 932718 , Reply# 12   4/16/2017 at 11:33 by sudsmaster (East of SF, West of Eden)        

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For those worried about vinegar in the final rinse causing problems...

Try adding the same amount of vinegar - one to two ounces - to five gallons of water - a typical rinse volume in a modern HE machine - and then taste the water. I'm pretty sure you won't be able to detect it.

Plus, any lingering vinegar will evaporate in the dryer or on the line.

As for vinegar and coffee makers - all the coffee makers I've bought recommend using vinegar in the descaling process. Vinegar is actually a relatively weak acid, and the usual concentration in household vinegar is only 5% acetic acid to start out with. Sulphuric acid would be extremely corrosive to aluminum components - don't use it in your coffee maker or laundry. If you doubt that, try putting a drop of battery acid on a piece of aluminum foil. The cleaning instructions for coffee makers all recommend rinsing out the diluted vinegar solution multiple times with fresh water. Even so, that vinegar solution (usually 50/50 with water, or 2.5% acetic acid) is far stronger than would obtained by adding an ounce or two of vinegar to a washing machine rinse cycle.

Post# 932722 , Reply# 13   4/16/2017 at 11:42 by iheartmaytag (Wichita, Kansas)        
Coffee makers

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My Bunn coffee maker recommends vinegar once a month, however, it has a stainless tank. Many less expensive, Read Mr. coffee, have plastic tanks; Which I don't think vinegar would phase at all.

Post# 932723 , Reply# 14   4/16/2017 at 11:43 by Yogitunes (New Jersey)        

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my sister was, and probably still is, a dedicated user of vinegar in her rinse water

she had gone through two Kenmore belt drive machines.....what started out as a nice and shiny porcelain tub, within a year or so, the shiny surface was gone, and a rough surface was left behind, not enough to snag anything, but definitely not a smooth surface....

guessing a second rinse after the vinegar one might have made a difference, unknown at this point....

her recent machines have been Flers with the stainless tubs.....

Post# 932726 , Reply# 15   4/16/2017 at 11:51 by Michaelman2 (Atlanta, GA)        

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Yep, as I posted above I use it each time I do laundry.   It makes a huge difference in the feel of the clothing and I do not have the detergent "itch" sometimes associated with agents that were not rinsed completely.  


I have used a small amount of vinegar when I am hand washing china and seems to really remove any residue and leave the piece shiny or crystal clear.

Post# 932742 , Reply# 16   4/16/2017 at 12:46 by mrboilwash (Munich,Germany)        

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When I clean the bathroom I usually don`t wear rubber gloves, I just don`t like them.
So why does the skin of my hands peel the next day whenever I use the green vinegar based cleansers but it doesn`t when I use the lime and rust remover sprays.
I`ve checked msds and ingredients, the products are identical pH wise (around 2,2).
The green ones have only acetic and citric acids on the list yet they seem much more agressive to my hands than the one that uses a combination of phosphoric, citric, lactic and formic acid or another bathroom cleaner that uses sulphamic and phosphoric acid.

In my previous post I mixed up sulfuric acid with sulphamic acid (whatever that is). So appologies for the misinformation. Looks like descalers for coffee makers don`t contain small amounts of battery acid. But still most EU drip coffe makers advise against the use of vinegar.

Post# 932800 , Reply# 17   4/16/2017 at 18:43 by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
"Liquid laundry detergents are not neutral pH"

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If you read my post what one said was that liquid laundry detergents range from "near neutral to slightly alkaline". Not that *all* such products were of a neutral pH in water.

Granular "heavy duty" laundry detergents range in pH from about 10-11. Liquids OTOH are lower at between 7 to nearly 10.

You can see here that all Tide powder detergents have a higher pH range than their liquids.

You can see the ingredient list for P&G laundry detergents here:

Having said all this pH of laundry detergent alone does not tell the entire tale. One other thing to consider is *how* that level is arrived at; and often that means for powders the heavy use of salts (sodium carbonate/washing soda, borax, silicates, etc...). This versus monoethanolamine or other ammonia like chemicals which though capable of buffering action do not present the same issues as salts.

Instead of relying upon high pH levels for the chemical action to remove soils as found in powders, liquid detergents instead use higher levels of surfactants, along with pH buffering agents, and (usually) enzymes. Thus not only is the pH level for liquids lower you also aren't going to need to deal with the residues from dissolved salts that come from powdered detergents.

The pH of groundwater in much of the USA ranges from 6 to 8.5, thus rinsing alone will bring down the pH of laundry. The more rinses obviously the further reduction of pH. In an industrial setting laundries would use pH test strips to measure the final level of laundry, just as this enterprising person:

Post# 932809 , Reply# 18   4/16/2017 at 19:54 by sudsmaster (East of SF, West of Eden)        

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pH values of 8 to 10 are still alkaline.

And liquid detergent mfg's may deliberately make their products on the alkaline side because it boosts cleaning power.

As for salts... the problem may also come from hard water minerals in the tap water, as well as hard water minerals that are an integral part of most earth based soils (think: mud, grit, grime, etc...). These can easily bind to other components in the laundry detergent and form insoluble precipitates. These precipitates are what can cause harsh deposits on laundry.

The main products for home use that are pH neutral are some shampoos. It's the alkalinity of other detergents and soaps that stings the eyes. pH neutral shampoos are gentler on the eyes. But they might not work so well on really dirty hair (think lots of Brylcreem, LOL).

I'm sure we don't need to go over the role that an alkaline detergent plays in saponifying greasy soiling and remove it from fabrics efficiently.

Post# 932824 , Reply# 19   4/16/2017 at 21:29 by DADoES (TX, U.S. of A.)        

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Anyway, considering that fabric softener is a waxy lubricant ... vinegar doesn't function at all the same way as a softener.

Post# 932828 , Reply# 20   4/16/2017 at 21:59 by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
I'm sure we don't need to go over the role that an a

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Which is why general liquid laundry detergents are more than alkaline enough to deal with "routine" cleaning. It is also why P&G, Henkel and other makers of both commercial and domestic laundry products sell various "boosters" that are mainly alkaline substances to deal with soils beyond what is normally found.

While yes, anything above pH of seven (neutral) is alkaline, as am sure you are aware that is not the whole story.

The pH scale is logarithmic. As such each whole value above seven represents a ten times increase in alkaline

So at pH values above 7, each of which is ten times more alkaline than the next lower whole value. A pH of 10 is ten times more alkaline than pH 9 and 100 times (10 times 10) more alkaline than a pH of eight (8).

There exists a vast and bewildering array of both commercial and domestic laundry products that range from pH five to eight, thus slightly acidic through neutral to only slightly base. Many of these are heavy surfactant based products that excel in cleaning oily/greasy soiled linens.

Ecolab, Johnson Diversey, P&G, Henkel, the lot all produce such products.

Some of the earliest "light duty" neutral powdered detergents such as Vel, Dreft and others were anionic surfactants such as alkyl aryl sulfonate.

Have both vintage Dreft and Vel in my laundry stash, and am here to tell you neither have any problem coping with oil or fats. This is why these products were also heavily marketed to replace soap for dish washing.

Today most products sold for cleaning "fine laundry" are neutral, near or slightly acidic.

It really all comes down to what one is laundering and how badly it is soiled and by what types.

Bed linen normally is not that badly soiled. When it is the common type is oily/fatty substances from the human body. That and certain secretions of a portentous nature including sweat, blood and so forth. You don't need the full blast power of highly alkaline to strongly base laundry products to clean such laundry. As more and more hospitality and even hospital laundries are coming around to.

In fact as more and more laundry generated today is really only lightly to moderately soiled as far more persons are less employed in "dirty" occupations. This explains partially why liquid or gel detergents are displacing powders.

Commercial and industrial laundries operate under far different parameters than your average domestic setting. Thus it stands to reason that their processes would be different including use of laundry sours.

If someone wants to add vinegar, citric acid or anything else to their final rise; have at it. However am just saying without knowing or even any proof it is needed just don't see why bother.

It is like the whole "homemade laundry detergent" trend; just because one *can* do something, it does not follow that they should.

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Post# 932829 , Reply# 21   4/16/2017 at 22:08 by warmsecondrinse (Fort Lee, NJ)        

I've never liked the feel fabric softeners leave clothes with. Clothes always felt like they werenlt clean but almost slimy. The extremely oily skin I had a a youth (and still do, for my age) might have something to do with it.

My clothes get washed in warm with a splash of ammonia in lieu of bleach and white vinegar for fabric softener. Linens get the same in HOT. All comes out feeling clean & soft, slime free. Jeans seem to have fewer wrinkles.
Linens: Last visit to an elderly relative to give respite to the main caregiver I was shocked to find the 'clean' linens not so clean. EVERYTHING got washed in HOT wash and hot rinse with severe bleaching, followed by a hot vinegar wash, followed by a full cycle as a rinse.

Care giver comes back and is amazed at the linens. Came to find out that she'd been following the care instructions on the tag: "Machine wash warm. Tumble dry low. No bleach" for white, 100% cotton incontinence pads!!!

Post# 932840 , Reply# 22   4/17/2017 at 00:06 by askolover (South of Nash Vegas, TN)        

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I tried the vinegar thing a couple of times in the Asko but I just didn't like it.  I may try it again in the Miele. 

Post# 932849 , Reply# 23   4/17/2017 at 00:40 by sudsmaster (East of SF, West of Eden)        
pH is only part of the story...

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If one is familiar the the concept of weak acids and strong acids, and of buffering, then one may understand that tap water at a, say pH of 10, likely has nowhere near the alkaline content to have ANY effect on washing. It would take only a small amount of acid to drop that pH down, unless the tap water also has a lot of buffering, which is possible since the weak base sodium phosphate is sometimes added to tap water to try to keep the pH reliably above 7. That's because acidic water has the unfortunate tendency to corrode water pipes, especially copper pipes which are so prevalent in today's homes.

This all has to do with arcane chemical concepts like dissociation constants etc. Suffice to say that acetic acid, which is the active ingredient in vinegar, is considered a weak acid. This means that it only partially ionizes, or dissociates, in water. Whereas hydrochloric acid is a strong acid, because it fully dissociates in water.

Similarly STPP is not as strong a alkali as sodium carbonate, with STPP producing typical pH of about 10, while sodium carbonate can product pH around 11. STPP however has some buffering capacity, so although its solutions produce a lower pH than sodium carbonate, they are better able to resist the addition of acid so the pH is more stable.

I will not at this time dwell on the other advantages or characteristics of STPP, as they should by now be well known to this group.

From my own experience I am not concerned about the use of vinegar in the final rinse, at least not in the very dilute amounts added (a couple of ounces of 5% in gallons of rinse water). Occasionally when I use vinegar in the rinse with, say, a relative small load of wool socks washed with a liquid detergent, I can detect a slight vinegar odor on the wet finished laundry. However this odor entirely dissipates upon drying. I have not noticed any ill effects on the stainless or plastic components of the Neptune washer. If anything, there is zero mold growth in the fabric softener dispenser, whereas it can be an issue with fat based fabric softeners.

Post# 932850 , Reply# 24   4/17/2017 at 00:40 by Supersuds (Knoxville, Tenn.)        

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"Have both vintage Dreft and Vel in my laundry stash, and am here to tell you neither have any problem coping with oil or fats. This is why these products were also heavily marketed to replace soap for dish washing."

This is so true. I got a deal on some minty boxes of vintage Trend and it works so well I almost wonder what all the excitement over liquid dishwashing detergents was about.

The drawbacks are mainly: 1) inhaling the detergent dust -- seems to be no way of avoiding it other than stepping back for a minute and letting it settle out of the air; and 2) it's too easy to overdose. Although you can do that with liquids also.

Otherwise, I'd have no problem using the vintage Trend or Vel for dishwashing.

BTW, great links, as usual, Launderess!

Post# 932859 , Reply# 25   4/17/2017 at 01:50 by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
inhaling the detergent dust

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Ohhh yes,

When first started using vintage Dreft that powder went straight up my nose and provoked a fit of sneezing. Now wear a mask when pouring the stuff out and try not to disturb it more than necessary.

The boxes of Vel were so falling apart that emptied them all into large gallon sized zip lock bags. Here my previous nursing education helped as knew now to do it while minimizing dust. When needed just carefully scoop out the required amount.

Purchased these vintage early "light duty detergents" because it was cheaper than Orvus paste. Use these "neutral" detergents when cleaning and or restoring old linens and such. While they are good for silk and wool as well find they often strip too much of the natural oils, leaving things feeling a bit harsh. Happily have a good supply of Persil "Perwoll" so that's me for you.

Post# 932870 , Reply# 26   4/17/2017 at 05:21 by mrboilwash (Munich,Germany)        

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Downy Liquid FS for example has Formic Acid and Hydrochloric Acid (in small amounts) in its ingredients list. Both are rather stong acids, aren`t they ?
The product itself has a compareable pH to vinegar but it is safe to be used in a porcelain enameled washer.
I`m still not 100% convinced vinegar is safe on enamel because of my personal experience when I used it for cleaning purposes and because of reading the horrible reports on AW of what it can do to your washer.

pH neutral in shampoos, body washes and so on isn`t to be taken literally and on this one I know what I`m talking about. Those products are usually slightly acidic (pH around 5,5) to match the pH of healthy human skin.
So the term "neutral" is to be seen in reference to the skin instead of distilled water which of course is the "real" neutral at pH 7.

An alkaline pH in laundry detergents is not only beneficial because of saponification of fats (which may occur at least to some point) but it also increases the bleaching action of oxy bleaches, helps remove protein based stains by swelling such stains and fibers (think of a "break" or soak in washing soda or vintage Henko) and finally there is an effect that charges the fibers and dirt negatively which also helps in removing dirt.
The disadvantage is possible wear or even damage to fibers.
I`m still trying to figure out why liquid heavy duty detergents that contain enzymes always seem to be only slightly alkaline whereas non enzyme heavy duty usually are way more alkaline. I`m not sure if that has something to do with enzyme stability (they can`t be encapsuled as in a powder) or if high alkalinity just isn`t needed in enzyme containing liquids.

Purex liquid plus Clorox (with enzymes): pH 7,1 - 8,1
Purex liquid After the Rain (no enzymes): pH 10,2 - 12,2


Post# 932873 , Reply# 27   4/17/2017 at 05:55 by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
Mentioned this before

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Long before enzymes appeared on the scene commercial laundries on both sides of the pond dealt with at least protein soils the same way; high temperatures and pH.

Laundries removed blood for instance by first a cool pre-wash/soak, the a hot or boil wash using soap and sodium metasilicate. Things would be kicked up a notch by adding bleach (oxygen or chlorine), and there you are.

This is pretty much how all laundry dealt with albumin soils before enzyme detergents came along. You soaked laundry first in cool water to which a bit of some base substance such as soda or silicate was added (think Henkel's Henco), then washed in hot or boiling water with soap and more of an alkaline substance.

As for enzymes and pH levels is seems they are rather tolerate of pH levels going high as 10 or so.

While today commercial laundries do have access to various detergents and boosters with enzymes, the standard industrial/commercial washing process is done from start to finish in about thirty to under 45 minutes. Since enzymes work best with long contact time the often short ten or less minute wash cycles probably aren't going to allow full potential. Of course modern computer controlled washers can have programs set to deal with any sort of soiling and product combination

The other remedy for removing blood; ammonia either as a pre-treatment or in wash is nothing more than an alkaline gas (ammonium hydroxide) dissolved in water.

Of course we know automatic dishwashing detergents contain highly caustic and high pH substances to not only break down fats and oils, but also starch and protein soils as well. This was one reason for including chlorine bleach which besides removing stains like coffee, tea, and red wine, also breaks down protein. This is the reason you cannot use chlorine bleaches on silk or wool as they are made from protein.

Post# 932906 , Reply# 28   4/17/2017 at 11:15 by Liberatordeluxe (Chelmsford, United Kingdom)        

Have never used FS even in my hard water and clothes always soft. Another unnecessary concoction of synthetic chemicals in my opinion.

Post# 932961 , Reply# 29   4/17/2017 at 17:05 by warmsecondrinse (Fort Lee, NJ)        

"Here my previous nursing education helped as knew now to do it while minimizing dust."

I missed that trick from my grandmother. I did learn to steam sterilize instead of boiling, how to give a shot, and how to change bed linens with a person in the bed the whole time. The last is a great party trick, let me tell you.

G'pa (a chemist) was environmentally conscious long before it was fashionable. He'd've loved this thread:-)


Post# 933090 , Reply# 30   4/18/2017 at 06:52 by mrboilwash (Munich,Germany)        

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Thanks for the link to sciencedirekt about proteases and pH levels, I only skimmed it, but my impression is it is only about the prepared washing solution not product stability. Looks like proteases from powder detergents can tolerate higher pH levels and even higher temperatures for a certain period of time after they got in contact with the alkali by mixing with water.
I`m still uncertain about whether a high pH of a liquid detergent would affect enzyme stability or not.

Post# 933093 , Reply# 31   4/18/2017 at 07:35 by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
It would seem modern enzymes in TOL liquid detergents

launderess's profile picture
From the likes of P&G, Henkel and other dominate players are rather stable.

At least here P&G does have "shelf life" information on their bottles of liquid detergents and fabric softeners. If you telephone P&G, give the code on bottle they can tell when it was produced. IIRC for fabric softeners P&G says they are supposed be good for a year or so after production. Cannot recall the exact number, but got it when a bottle of Downy had purchased but rarely used turned into a gloppy mess. P&G told me then that their laundry products do have a shelf life (who knew?), and that mine had "expired".

Have some vintage boxes of detergent powder with enzymes. Have used Axion in past with excellent results and that stuff is over twenty years old.

Post# 933108 , Reply# 32   4/18/2017 at 09:21 by sudsmaster (East of SF, West of Eden)        

sudsmaster's profile picture
Reports of vinegar damaging washer tubs probably should be taken with a scoop of salt.

It has come to my attention that some sources recommend cleaning a washer by adding quarts if not gallons of undiluted vinegar directly to the machine, and then running a hot wash cycle. This is a far greater concentration of acetic acid than just adding an ounce or two of vinegar to the rinse cycle. Plus, the heat would potentiate the acid attack on porcelain, something that most rinse cycles, which use just cold tap water, would not do.

I would not recommend using such a combination of high vinegar concentration and heat in any washer. A couple of ounces in the last (cold) rinse, OK.

It's a matter of proportion and common sense.

As an aside, mineral scale would not build up in a washer that used phosphated laundry detergents on a regular basis. Just sayin'...

Post# 933121 , Reply# 33   4/18/2017 at 10:16 by mrboilwash (Munich,Germany)        

mrboilwash's profile picture
That freelibrary link was a good read. Had no idea that even the type of surfactants used in a liquid had an impact on enzyme stability. And it confirmed what I always suspected.

"Stabilization of enzymes in liquid laundry detergents is more difficult than in powders. In liquid systems, enzymes are easily denatured by detergent ingredients. Alkalinity, high water content and surfactant interactions are all capable of changing the three dimensional conformation of the protein."

My question why (when studying msds) enzyme containing liquid detergents always seem to be less alkaline compared to no-enzyme heavy duty liquids is finally answered.

Post# 933159 , Reply# 34   4/18/2017 at 16:16 by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
Liquids less base than powders

launderess's profile picture
IIRC one of the links provided summed things up nicely; the enzymes are doing the work what once was done by high pH and water temperatures.

This is reflected in the gradual decrease on both sides of the Pond of average wash temperatures used in domestic laundry. The advent of enzymes what will work in "cold" or "cool" water has even further helped that "turn the dial" down marketing brigade seeking to increase energy savings.

Post# 933164 , Reply# 35   4/18/2017 at 17:06 by mrboilwash (Munich,Germany)        

mrboilwash's profile picture
I get the point that enzymes do the work what once was done by high pH and water temperatures, but then we probably wouldn`t see powders which are still very high in pH anymore because they contain enzymes too.

One might argue this is because the bleaches still need the high pH to get going, but color care powders don`t contain bleach and are still high in pH.
Powders don`t necessarily have to be very alkaline, just think of powders for delicates, they were very common in Europe before liquids widely took their place.

So again I think the detergent industry would make liquids in higher pH if it was possible, but it looks like it isn`t because of product shelf life.

Post# 933168 , Reply# 36   4/18/2017 at 17:25 by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
Light duty laundry products for laundry

launderess's profile picture
Such as delicates, silk and wool were and still are largely based on sulfates such as SLS, alkyl aryl sulfonate, etc... Tough powders they do not contain alkaline builders such as borax, washing soda or silicates.

One of the most common "detergents" used by quilters, special laundries, textile restorers and others is Orvus WA Paste, which is mostly sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS).

Those little blue and white tin cans of Woolite our mothers and many other females kept round for washing nylons, slips, and other "intimate apparel) was originally Sodium dodecylbenzenesulfonate. Those bottles of Woolite were the same along with SLS.

SLS and other anionic surfactants are not fun things to inhale, trust me, I know. So can see why liquids and paste versions came about. Years ago now you could purchase hair shampoo as a paste/crème, but now think everything is liquids.

Post# 933172 , Reply# 37   4/18/2017 at 17:36 by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        

launderess's profile picture
"So again I think the detergent industry would make liquids in higher pH if it was possible, but it looks like it isn`t because of product shelf life."

Well they "could" but why would they want to do so? Between surfactants and enzymes like Lipase the need for the brute force of high pH to saponify fats/oils/grease is reduced for most normal purposes.

Now if one has problems that cannot be shifted via the pH of regular liquid laundry detergent, makers have that covered as well; simply purchase any of the wide variety of "boosters" that are usually nothing more than alkaline substances (usually soda), more enzymes and bleach (oxygen).

On the commercial side laundries have access to "breaks" and other boosters including some pretty nasty things like sodium hydroxide (in a word, lye).

In old times lye was used in the home for laundry (as in lye soap) but I couldn't recommend that today.

Post# 933173 , Reply# 38   4/18/2017 at 17:41 by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        

launderess's profile picture
"It has come to my attention that some sources recommend cleaning a washer by adding quarts if not gallons of undiluted vinegar directly to the machine, and then running a hot wash cycle. This is a far greater concentration of acetic acid than just adding an ounce or two of vinegar to the rinse cycle. Plus, the heat would potentiate the acid attack on porcelain, something that most rinse cycles, which use just cold tap water, would not do."

Don't know about that method, but every packet of washing machine descaler such as that sold by Miele states clearly in directions several rinses with clear water must follow. Some professionals suggest doing a load of wash with a powdered detergent afterwards since the base pH will help neutralize any remaining acids.

Again many people pick up on these "home remedies" or whatever not fully understanding the science behind things. If one gallon of white vinegar is good, then lets go for two or more.

OTOH commercially prepared washing machine cleaners/decalcifer are formulated to give just the proper acidic pH in solution to get the job done without the potential for harm (if properly used).

That being said have used white vinegar to "clean out" my Miele from time to time; but the amount used along with other directions came from tech support.

Post# 933272 , Reply# 39   4/18/2017 at 23:51 by sudsmaster (East of SF, West of Eden)        

sudsmaster's profile picture
The gotcha is that enzymes are useless when it comes to removing inorganic soils from fabrics. So an effective detergent still needs some alkali and surfactant to break these away from the fabric, and a builder to capture them so they can be rinsed away. This is where most liquid laundry detergents perform less admirably than powders. The powders are more alkali, and can incorporate more efficient water softeners and breaks than liquids.

And of course STPP is perhaps the best ingredient to break inorganic soil from fabrics, and to hold it in suspension so it can be rinsed away. Nothing else really comes close.

Post# 933286 , Reply# 40   4/19/2017 at 03:00 by mrboilwash (Munich,Germany)        

mrboilwash's profile picture
Some of your answers have very little to do with my question, you almost akt like a politican sometimes.

I wonder why is so hard for you to admitt you don`t know it for sure and just leave it at that ?

Nobody has all the anwers to life or even just detergents and there`s nothing to be ashamed of !

Post# 933310 , Reply# 41   4/19/2017 at 07:46 by Rolls_rapide (Scotland, UK)        
Liquids: less alkaline

rolls_rapide's profile picture
If that is the case, it might explain why some machines suffer from that foul smelling sludge.

Over time, general dirt, grime and a fairly neutral liquid detergent might tip the pH into the acidic region, allowing biofilms and bacteria to multiply.

Hence the reason for maintenance washes with powder detergent: not only to kill the biofilm, but to tip the pH balance in the tub back to alkalinity again.

Methinks powders are the way to go, except for fine delicates and woollens.

Post# 933399 , Reply# 42   4/19/2017 at 17:30 by Stan (Napa CA)        
Just tested

stan's profile picture
the two liquid detergents I have around..
Ecos liquid tested to a PH of 7
Woolite liquid for darks tested to a PH of 8
Talk among yourselves

Post# 933403 , Reply# 43   4/19/2017 at 17:49 by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
I never

launderess's profile picture
"Some of your answers have very little to do with my question, you almost akt like a politican sometimes. "

Such wicked ingratitude.

Don't worry, shan't bother further. Am done; sort it out yourselves.

Post# 933422 , Reply# 44   4/19/2017 at 19:03 by Stan (Napa CA)        

stan's profile picture
Don't leave, I for one appreciate all that you contribute here!
Steven, you where rude to her. It's not nice to speak to another member that way.

Post# 933438 , Reply# 45   4/19/2017 at 20:17 by Rolls_rapide (Scotland, UK)        
Come back Mrs Bucket!

rolls_rapide's profile picture
You're needed...!

Post# 933442 , Reply# 46   4/19/2017 at 21:36 by Michaelman2 (Atlanta, GA)        

michaelman2's profile picture

I always enjoy your replies and posts.


That you may not have answered the question the "way" the person wanted is not to be of your concern.   


I told someone recently, on this site, to consider the source....please do.


I think I am safe in saying the majority of the group/club, value your research, wisdom and contributions are indeed invaluable.  





Post# 933463 , Reply# 47   4/20/2017 at 00:29 by Supersuds (Knoxville, Tenn.)        

supersuds's profile picture
I think of Launderess as bursting with information she wants to share, and we benefit from it. Can't think of anyone here I'd rather see a post from.

Lots of interesting topics at this site wander off on tangents, so there's nothing unexpected about that. It's part of the fun.

Post# 933471 , Reply# 48   4/20/2017 at 04:10 by mrboilwash (Munich,Germany)        

mrboilwash's profile picture
I`m not ungrateful. I honestly appreciate the information you share with us.

What I won`t tolerate anylonger is that arrogant way of yours looking down on other members who happen to have the nerve to disagree with your wisdom sometimes.
Where is Freddy by the way ?
You have to understand no one here in the group has the intention to throw you from your well deserved "throne" or "stage", but there has to be room for other opinions as well. No one is without fail not even you.

I believe it`s best to address a problem directly and move on instead of endless frustrations for the sake of courtesty.
So I hope we can agree now that we both have our opinions on the pH of detergents but none of us knows for sure and settle this stupid feud of ours once and for all !

Post# 933495 , Reply# 49   4/20/2017 at 07:56 by Iheartmaytag (Wichita, Kansas)        
Dear Laundress

iheartmaytag's profile picture

Now don't you fret.  Onslow is just feeling his beer this day.    The rest of us enjoy your knowledge. 

Post# 933508 , Reply# 50   4/20/2017 at 09:41 by mrboilwash (Munich,Germany)        

mrboilwash's profile picture
Harley, you probably won`t get it as well because my English is just too bad, but there is still a huge difference between construcitive criticism and an insult.
Just go on, don`t be shy I can take it

Post# 933513 , Reply# 51   4/20/2017 at 10:05 by Iheartmaytag (Wichita, Kansas)        
Though You do owe Our Dear Laundress an apology

iheartmaytag's profile picture

I was not attempting to insult you, if I were I'm quite good,  you would have known it; I was consoling Laundress.


And, YES, it is a STUPID feud.  Luckily  one was wise enough to walk away.  Now so shall I.


Post# 933518 , Reply# 52   4/20/2017 at 10:47 by mrboilwash (Munich,Germany)        

mrboilwash's profile picture
So you also think I have to be grateful (!) I`ve even been talked to and have no right to criticize that some of the answers had nothing to do with my questions ?
It`s not about getting exactly the answer I would like to hear, different opinions are great and much appreciated.
No, it`s the attitude of not even bothering to fully read a question but giving an answer. All I`m asking for is a little bit of repect.

And yes this stupid feud has been going on for a long time and I`m not happy about it and I`m willing to sort things out but runnig away isn`t very helpful.

Post# 933587 , Reply# 53   4/20/2017 at 18:53 by mamapinky (blairsville pa)        

I hope you ment you are just leaving this thread. I've learned a lot from you and I'm not done learning.

Post# 933598 , Reply# 54   4/20/2017 at 20:13 by mrboilwash (Munich,Germany)        

mrboilwash's profile picture
Oh and Harley, I almost forgot it`s been a long time ago after all, but aren`t you the one who said I was FOS ? It`s fine, I couldn`t care less. I`m an adult and I`m still here and talking to you.
I suppose we both know your standards of moral haven`t been so high in the past as they are today so what do you think puts you into the position to say I owe anyone an apology now ?

Post# 933601 , Reply# 55   4/20/2017 at 20:50 by mrboilwash (Munich,Germany)        

mrboilwash's profile picture
John, I`m sorry I ruined your thread. I`ve built up a lot of pressure and frustration over time and I just had to let it out. I hope you`re not mad at me too.

Post# 933609 , Reply# 56   4/20/2017 at 22:14 by Michaelman2 (Atlanta, GA)        
Laundress is a trooper

michaelman2's profile picture

She has a thick skin and will be back.   I feel assured.  

Post# 933611 , Reply# 57   4/20/2017 at 22:18 by iheartmaytag (Wichita, Kansas)        

iheartmaytag's profile picture
I am sure you are right. Sometimes egos need a time out.

Gezzz I thought we Scorpios held on to things, chill dude. When you are either feuding, or are attempting to feud with a number of people, you should ask yourself what, or whom is the common denominator.

My comment to laundress was an attempt at humor,in character with Hyacinth, her brother in law Onslow was mentioned.

I do not recall previously having a discussion with you or stating you be FOS ,however, my assessments are usually pretty accurate. Now let's drop this, or move our discussion to non public forums.

This post was last edited 04/20/2017 at 22:42
Post# 933634 , Reply# 58   4/21/2017 at 00:55 by Stan (Napa CA)        

stan's profile picture
Please don't take this the wrong way, my intentions are well meaning...
Incase you didn't know...Accusing someone of acting like a politician is rude and highly insulting here in this country.
It basically means that someone is dishonest or lying. I'm sure it's why she took offense, and I'm sure you didn't mean it that way. Right?
With most of her posts she provided a link for our benefit, not for hers.
Wish I could answer your question for you, but I think it's best answerd by a chemist at PG or Henkel.
If you should find a answer by a chemist that has specific knowledge in this area of expertise, youl share it with us of course!

Post# 933642 , Reply# 59   4/21/2017 at 03:53 by mrboilwash (Munich,Germany)        

mrboilwash's profile picture
Stan, you`re absolutly right I didn`t mean it that way. I wasn`t thinking my comparison with a politician could be understood as lying or being dishonet.
My point was I find it utterly disrespectful if someone doges a question instead of admitting not to have an answer.

I too would hate to see Launderess leave but I`m sure she`s a grown up girl and only meant this thread.
I just had to vent my anger. It`s a new day the sun is shining and I promise I´ll be good now.

Post# 933654 , Reply# 60   4/21/2017 at 07:08 by mrboilwash (Munich,Germany)        

mrboilwash's profile picture
Rethinking the whole situation I know I have overreacted a little bit.

But I also think we both know there is no single bully or victim in this case. We`ve had our difficulties on and off from the day I joined here and I think we both know very well what the saying "It Takes Two For A Tango" means. None of us is the innocent one.

So can`t we just pretend this never happened and move on like two rational adults ?
This is the best of an apology I can offer right now and I hope you`ll accept it.

This post was last edited 04/21/2017 at 07:24
Post# 933680 , Reply# 61   4/21/2017 at 09:26 by sudsmaster (East of SF, West of Eden)        

sudsmaster's profile picture
Vinegar works wonders, but it won't untwist panties.


Post# 933709 , Reply# 62   4/21/2017 at 12:48 by Iheartmaytag (Wichita, Kansas)        
won't untwist panties.

iheartmaytag's profile picture

Precisely why I just stopped wearing them all together.

Post# 933732 , Reply# 63   4/21/2017 at 15:06 by Rolls_rapide (Scotland, UK)        
"Precisely why I just stopped wearing them altogether.&#

rolls_rapide's profile picture
Oo, er, Missus!

Post# 933983 , Reply# 64   4/23/2017 at 01:26 by mrboilwash (Munich,Germany)        

mrboilwash's profile picture
Now that I`ve rearranged my panties back in place I`d like to add one more thing on the topic of vinegar.

Every owner of a Technivorm Moccamaster, the upscale drip coffee maker with a copper brewing element instead of the usual aluminum one should know to better avoid acetic acid in the decaling process because of possible formation of poisonous verdigris or in other words copper acetate.
I don`t think this is transferable to porcelain tubs or the gaskets found in a washer, but my point is in the case of copper and vinegar there is clearly more to it than just the pH, compatibility of the two is simply not given.

Post# 934018 , Reply# 65   4/23/2017 at 09:19 by wringer (x)        
I'm not certain now???

Well, this thread is exactly why I no longer participate in the threads. However, I do read everything on a daily basis and feel compelled to write this as my last comment. I am taking the attitude that dear Rose has and just shake my hair, fix my nails, talk on the phone with my latest man and take the above whatever you want to call it as one persons opinion that differs from anothers. I can only imagine what Oslo's reaction/comment would be about what has been written above. I wrote a personal note to Ms. Bucket way back about my no longer participating in threads due to having several supposedly nice and informed members jumping down my throat and tap dancing on my lungs about something I wrote and the title I gave it. I will always remember what you told me Ms. Bucket; Just ignore it and consider where it is coming from and go on with your life. I say the same to you dear Ms. Bucket. You must remember that Richard and the rest of your family can not live without your comments. This club is the same. We need you to guide us with your knowledge and wisdom. It is time now to go to the luncheon at the church to guide the ladies in what to do. They simply can't manage a luncheon without being told how it is to be organized !!! I look forward to reading many more of you comments here Ms. Bucket as I know everyone else, well maybe not everyone :-), does also. Richard you didn't open the car door for me !!!!!

Post# 934035 , Reply# 66   4/23/2017 at 11:06 by sudsmaster (East of SF, West of Eden)        
copper acetate

sudsmaster's profile picture
Well that reinforces the wisdom of always consulting the owner's manual on proper cleaning procedures. This is especially important with appliances that process food or drink.

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