As detergents have improved, more and more options have become available.
There are biological and non-bio options, powders, liquids and liquitabs, and bleach and bleach free variants. That’s before we get to the different scents, too.
Guide to basics: So where to start?
Bleach and enzymes are used to remove stains and whiten garments. So these are best for getting really white whites. Powders contain bleach, so try Ariel Original Washing Powder for your white load for whites that shine bright. Another benefit of using a detergent that contains bleach is that it kills bacteria: hypochlorous acid, the active ingredient in bleach (and the same compound our immune system releases to fight microbial intruders), causes the proteins making up the bacteria to unfold, thus destroying the puny prokaryotes.
So while bleach is great on white clothes, you want something bleach free for your coloured garments. Liquids and liquitabs are bleach free, as well as colour variants of powder.
Enzymes, meanwhile, are proteins that break down stains and grease. While biological detergents are perfect for most clothes, some people prefer detergents without enzymes, mainly for very delicate clothes, such as silk, satin, chiffon, wool and cashmere dresses. Non-bio detergents contain no enzymes, bleach or brightening agents, and because of this, they’re also less likely to cause skin irritation for people with a sensitive or ageing skin.
What are the main ingredients that go into your detergent?
Surfactants are the core stain removers in the detergent. They remove anything greasy from fabrics, and they work well on stains and food residues
Builders deal with hard-water molecules during the washing process, allowing surfactants get on with their job of removing stains. So, the harder the water, the more builders your detergent should have.
Enzymes break down amino acids in protein-based stains such as blood and egg, so they are more easily removed. There are several different types of enzymes present in your washing detergent, each of which works to break down and remove a specific type of stain.
Polymers help to trap and hold dirt and dyes. Each polymer performs a specific function, such as keeping stains from depositing themselves onto other garments after they’ve been removed by the surfactants.
Fabric conditioners reduce friction and static, and help to give fabrics a soft, silky feel.
Stabilisers help provide the detergent formula stability and keep the enzymes active.
Convenience and versatility
Choosing which type of detergent is about more than just personal preference, then. Gels are great for washing coloured loads, as they contain no bleach. Likewise liquitabs, like Ariel 3in1 PODS Washing Tablets, are also great for their simplicity: just place one Ariel 3in1 POD in the bottom of the drum before the wash for outstanding laundry results.
Tablets also have this convenience, but can contain bleach, making them perfect for whites. Washing powders are also great for whites, and you can dose flexibly into the dispenser drawer.
Liquids are the most versatile of all, though. While they don’t contain bleach, they are perfect for pre-treating tough stains. Ariel Original Washing Liquid with a pre-treat cap is perfect here, allowing you to treat your stain simply and easily before the wash.
How much to use?
With all these detergents, though, the most important thing is knowing how much detergent to use. Too much and you’re wasting Ariel laundry detergent, while your garments may get detergent marks on them. Too little and you may not get clean clothes after the wash.
Always check the dosing instructions before dosing into the washing machine: the amount of washing and how dirty it is plays a part here.