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Science/nature/environment

Avoiding plastic waste is not easy

(26 Posts)
JackyB Sun 24-Feb-19 10:04:30

In an effort to reduce plastic in the bin, I recently bought a box of washing powder, after years of using liquids from plastic bottles. A cardboard box is far more environment-friendly than all those huge plastic bottles, thought I.

OK - the liquids are also available in plastic bags (at least, they are here in Germany) but the brands that do that just don't get the washing clean.

I have tried using the powder by

- putting it in the washing powder drawer, as the washing machine is designed to do it that way
- sprinkling the washing powder on the washing before switching it on
- pouring the washing powder in the bottom of the machine before filling it
- dissolving the powder in a jug of water and putting that in the machine with the washing

But with all methods I still get white, bleached patches on the clothes, and often find little clumps of powder which have bleached spots into the fabric.

I have ruined about half a dozen of my own tops like this and 2 of DH's sports shirts.

Don't want to throw the powder away, but I am at a loss as to how to use it up. It's only a gentle powder for woollens but I usually use this for dark colours and, in liquid form, it's always been fine.

Next time round it's back to the big plastic bottles in the hope that one day you'll be able to fill them up from a barrel in the shop.

I'm sure the powder didn't leave these marks back in the old days before liquids came on the market, but this may be due to the modern machines which use far less water and the powder isn't getting diluted as much.

For the last few washes using the powder I'll have to try and remember to run the extra rinse at the end of the cycle, but this is definitely not the way to help the environment.

Any other ideas as to how I can use up the powder?

Grammaretto Sun 24-Feb-19 10:20:53

I'm afraid we're resigned to wearing clothes which will never pass the whiter than white test!
I don't mind it.
I wash everything at 30degrees and hope the sun will get rid of the stains.

I can't say I have noticed patches but I put the powder or liquid in the dispenser, not directly on the clothes.
I get washing powder and everything else from our community shop which only sells environmentally friendly products. I buy a big flagon and decant.

crystaltipps Sun 24-Feb-19 10:25:50

Maybe you are using too low a temperature? Powder is fine as it’s the same chemicals as in the liquid stuff, just the liquid stuff you are paying for water. Plus it’s better for the machine believe it or not. I use Aldi Almat powder and it washes really well.

JackyB Sun 24-Feb-19 10:26:19

The bleach stains are all on dark colours washed at 30° - usually right down the front. I am wearing the tops with a jumper over the top because a couple of them were nearly new and I'm not throwing them away!

JackyB Sun 24-Feb-19 10:28:29

So far, I have only changed to powder for the woollens wash which can't be used at a higher temperature. For all other washes I have changed to pads to reduce the plastic waste.

Auntieflo Sun 24-Feb-19 10:36:28

JackyB. are you using too much powder? I only use about 1 tablespoonful for a wash. As there are only 2 of us, the load is usually only half. Garments are never dirty, just need freshening up, and 🤞i have never had powder stains on our clothes. I do not like using liquid, as I find it makes the machine smelly

FountainPen Sun 24-Feb-19 10:43:05

I suspect that applying the powder directly to the clothes or letting clothes sits on clumps of it in the drum of the machine may be be too concentrated for more delicate fabrics. However, if you are experiencing the same problems when putting the powder in the dispenser then maybe there is a fault with the powder. You should take this up with the consumer care department for the manufactureres. Whether powder dissolves at 30 degrees or 40 degrees, it shouldn't bleach your clothes. Alternatively, could there be a fault with the water temperature in your machine? Too hot? Have you tried handwashing with the powder to see what happens?

JackyB Sun 24-Feb-19 13:50:23

Thank you for your suggestions - Auntieflo may be right - I am measuring the exact amount given on the packet but as there are only two of us and I do frequent washes, the drum is never very full, so I may be overdosing. It recommends 175 ml - which is way more than one tablespoonful!

Don't think the temperature is the problem. It's a fairly new machine - and I have read that these "ecological" machines tend to wash at too low a temperature.

Squiffy Sun 24-Feb-19 14:36:12

I don't know if this makes any difference, but I put the powder in the empty drum and then whizz the drum round a few times before I put the laundry in so that the powder is dispersed and isn't in a clump in one place. That's the theory, anyway!

PamelaJ1 Sun 24-Feb-19 14:37:20

I’ve used powder for years. Although we live in a hard water area I still only use one scoop and don’t use the biological stuff. If there is a stain then I treat that separately. I have never noticed any marks.

SueDonim Sun 24-Feb-19 14:37:22

Definitely experiment with the dosage for your machine. We live in a very soft water area and use only half of the recommended amount of any washing product.

If you're just wanting to use up the rest of the powder, I wonder if you could dissolve the powder in a small amount of hot water and put that in the machine?

Elegran Sun 24-Feb-19 15:15:21

I was about to suggest stirring it into a jug of hot water before I read your post, Suedonim. I don't use powder, but I imagine that it if you sprinkle it on the clothes it lies there until enough water runs over it to dissolve it, Washing machines don't have hot fill any more, so if you put it into the dispenser drawer it is cold water that washes it down into the drum without dissolving.

Either way, the powder is too concentrated.

Entirelyfading Sun 24-Feb-19 15:33:18

Try Googling ‘Plastic free shops’. There is one near here where I can refill containers with washing liquid, washing up liquid, fabric conditioner, shampoo, hair conditioner etc. The shop also sells loose rice, grains, flour, spices, dried fruit, cereals, oils etc. Perhaps there is one near you.

Maggiemaybe Sun 24-Feb-19 15:43:05

I’ve never had problems with powder. I tried pods once and got pale stains on some darker clothes, tried liquid and had problems with the machine smelling, but no issues with powder, which I use all the time now, at all temperatures. I tip it in directly on top of the laundry, towards the back. Perhaps the brand’s at fault, but you’re using an awful lot. The recommended dose for a full machine is usually around 70ml for soft water, 95 for hard.

One of our local markets has a stall that sells all sorts of things from barrels and drums, including washing liquid. You just take your own containers along to refill. If you do want to go back to liquid, perhaps there’s somewhere near you that does this?

Maggiemaybe Sun 24-Feb-19 15:44:16

Cross posted there, Entirelyfading!

Jalima1108 Sun 24-Feb-19 15:59:40

I still get white, bleached patches on the clothes
I had a problem a while ago with new, cream bedding which I washed before using and it had huge bleached patches on it. That was with a liquid detergent.

The problem was due, apparently, to the optical brighteners in the detergent.
In fact, the white patches did not show up after the bedding had dried and been brought in off the line.

I use less detergent than recommended nowadays and the washing seems to come out just as clean.

Niobe Sun 24-Feb-19 16:28:23

Following this with great interest as I am going to return to powder once I finish my current bottle of liquid laundry detergent. I once tried the capsules but kept finding clumps of the gel capsule stuck to the clothes and had to run the machine again. Yuk!

Grammaretto Sun 24-Feb-19 19:36:25

I bought those eco balls once. They're supposed to agitate the water so you need no detergent.
I think we decided it was just as efficient to use nothing!

rubysong Sun 24-Feb-19 20:14:11

I have large plastic bottles which I take to be refilled, as I do with washing up liquid. I put the laundry liquid in the drawer and all is well. 60 degrees for most things, 40 degrees for socks and jumpers etc. I can't think 30 would get things clean.

Fennel Mon 25-Feb-19 09:13:46

I've always used powder and never found these bleached spots. Recently changed to Ecover as the other gave husband a rash.
You're right about plastic containers - there was a thread some time ago about changing from liquid soap to tablet soap for washing ourselves.

JackyB Thu 21-Mar-19 07:19:38

Right. I've been using less powder and have made sure there are no lumps by running the machine for a couple of mins before putting the washing in. (My machine can be stopped to add items at the last minute for a short time after starting the cycle - very useful!), running the "rinse and spin" programme after the washing is complete, and remembering (not always, unfortunately) to wash everything inside out, I have still not managed to stop these blotches on the washing appearing.

I have spent quite a bit replacing the ruined clothes and have now thrown the packet of powder away, still half full. Off to buy the liquid again today.

As for shops which sell things without packaging, where you can refill the bottles, dream on! There is someone planning to open such a shop about 30 km from here, due to open in December, but they will probably be selling nuts and cereals. If they do branch out into soaps and detergents on tap, it'll most likely be the eco-friendly ones. I've tried them and ruined a couple of woollens that way.

I was brought up to be environment-friendly and to avoid waste, and, here in Germany, it is a big deal, which I thoroughly agree with, which is why I tried the powder in the carton in the first place, but I really can't see how throwing away loads of otherwise perfectly good clothes is environment-friendly.

JackyB Thu 21-Mar-19 07:34:06

Fountainpen and Squiffy suggested writing to the manufacturers and trying out a hand wash. I might try writing to the manufacturers, but with a hand wash I can see what is happening after each rinse and can deal with the lumps as I go.

I hope the machine isn't washing too hot, but I doubt it because it hasn't ruined any woollens that way before.

I've not used anything but liquids for the last 2 washing machines (well I think so, they last 20 years or so!) and have never noticed any smells. I started using them when the German equivalent of "Which" did a test and found the liquids better than the powders. The powders have since got the upper hand again but ask I remembered those awful white spots from days before liquids were invented, I never went back to them, however frustrating it was to throw out those big plastic bottles

FountainPen Thu 21-Mar-19 08:29:40

If it’s not too late, go and retrieve the powder. You may not want to risk it on your clothes again but it can be used for other cleaning tasks (subject to testing on a less visible area of the material being cleaned). I use washing powder made into a thick paste ito clean dirty patches on furniture upholstery (it’s good for removing newsprint marks) and carpet stains. It also works to dissolve oil stains on paving slabs and driveways, wash floors, blinds etc. I’m sure other GNers can come up with alternative uses.

lovebeigecardigans1955 Thu 21-Mar-19 08:46:18

I use wash powder by putting it in the drawer, measuring with a small scoop. I wash everything at 40 degrees and don't get residue on clothes. Is the machine spinning and rinsing all right?
My last problem was leaving a paper hankie in a sleeve so I got plenty of tiny white bits of confetti all over the dark clothes, damn it.

Maggiemaybe Thu 21-Mar-19 09:03:54

I’m surprised you don’t have scoop and save shops in Germany, JackyB. When I lived there in the 70s, Germany was way ahead of us in the environment-awareness stakes. The only thing we had that they didn’t were our milk deliveries! I used to love Spermuell, and being able to give all the plastic packaging back to the supermarket for recycling. Does that still happen?