Chemist Does Laundry

If you use liquid laundry detergent you may be using a lot more than necessary. Let’s take a look at the measuring cap from some Tide Liquid.

There are three lines, numbered 1, 2, and 3. The instructions on the container recommend for a medium load, fill to Line 1; for a large load, fill to Line 2. Use more for heavily soiled loads. So ordinarily we shouldn’t need more than Line 2. What volume, in ounces, does each line represent?

I’m glad you asked that. Here are the answers.

Line 1        1.6 ounces

Line 2        2.0 ounces

Line 3        2.7 ounces

Shoulder    4.0 ounces

Top              5.8 ounces

I’m defining shoulder as the line where the threaded part of the cap begins. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if most people routinely fill above Line 2. I would guess that it isn’t unusual to fill between Line 3 and the Shoulder. If you do that you’re using about twice as much product as the manufacturer recommends. Good for the manufacturer (why do you think they supply such large caps?) but bad for you. Pay attention to the instructions and save some money!

The 50 ounce bottle of Tide is supposed to be enough for 32 loads of laundry. What volume, then, are they using for a typical load? 50 divided by 32 gives 1.6 ounces, Line 1 for a medium load. Now you know why the bottle never seems to last for the labeled number of loads!


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