Friday, February 25, 2011

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Are your clean dishes still dirty?

The new phosphate ban is affecting the common grocery brands cleaning performance. Below is a good article explaining what has people calling the repair man and so frustrated with their dirty dishes.

Our 2-in-1 Dish Detergent is formulated with cleaning enzymes which remove food, grease and the elements which counter balances the phosphates and petrochemicals. They are expensive ingredients which is why they are not found in the common grocery brands or other natural products.  We recommend adding some Scented Vinegar for extra sparkly glassware.  Adding All-Purpose Bleach Alternative is great if you have really hard water, super caked-on pots/pans and filmy issues you are trying to rid of.

Why your dishes won't come clean anymore
By: Richard Mullins
Originally Published: January 25, 2011 via

Charles Yezak keeps a secret stash hidden in the kitchen. He can't buy any more. It's illegal in many states now. So he only dips into his stockpile on special occasions. Not fine wine. Not Cuban cigars. It's dish detergent. Not just any dish detergent.

"This is the stockpile I bought before the changeover," Yezak confesses with a hushed voice while shopping the cleaning supply aisle at a Walmart Neighborhood store in Tampa. "It actually works – not like the new stuff."

Turns out, they really don't make dish detergent like they used to. And that's causing something of a disaster for everyone who gets stuck doing the dishes. It began last July when Cascade and most other detergent brands eliminated a key ingredient from their formulas, phosphate. Now people are finding their dishes covered in a white gunk that just won't come off, and some are tossing out sets of dishes and replacing their dishwashers – only to find the gunk appear again in a few days. PTA meetings, cul-du-sacs and soccer practice fields are abuzz with the calamity, and sales are skyrocketing of any product that promises to fix the problem.

Phosphates work fabulously in dish detergent, experts say, helping soap break up grease and suspending the naturally occurring minerals found in hard water so the minerals flush away. Unfortunately, phosphate is also a wonderful fertilizer for agriculture. That means every load of dishes also poured phosphates into the drain water, ultimately reaching lakes and oceans and encouraging huge algae blooms that plagued sea life.

With that in mind, detergent companies years ago eliminated phosphates from laundry detergents. Last July, 16 states jumped on board and banned phosphates in dish detergent. Even though Florida didn't join the ban, it must use phosphate-free detergent since manufacturers eliminated the substance in all their products. Shortly thereafter, consumers began to notice.

"Holy cow, we got bombarded, our phone literally rang off the hook with calls," said Don DiChristopher, owner of A DiChristopher Appliance Service. Hundreds of calls came in. "We started turning down repair calls." DiChristopher sent technicians out to frustrated customers who had already thrown out several sets of dishes or replaced their machines altogether. Technicians tore the machines apart, but couldn't find anything broken. Tracy Urso of Westchase assumed the problem was her old washer, and bought a new, high-end appliance. "But," she said, "our glasses were not much better." On Cascade's own online forum, one customer vented. "I had 20 guests in my home from a wedding, and was embarrassed with glasses, dishes, pans and silverware, all covered with white film." Another consumer posted "Cascade is ruining my silverware and coffee cups – huge residue. FIX IT!!!"

That white film on dishes is mainly made up of magnesium, calcium and aluminum – the elements that help make water "hard." The stains don't easily rub off, even with soap. Over time, that gunk can build up in dishwashers, DiChristopher said, clogging motors, sprayers and bearings. Given enough time, a dishwasher can become useless. While those minerals are common in many foods, Cascade officials published an online FAQ about the problem and said "we always recommend that consumers wash any residue on dishes before using them again." In other words, rewash the dishes you just washed.

The special irony for Florida is that this state is one of the world's largest producers of phosphates, primarily for agriculture fertilizer. Agriculture, construction and water treatment centers are the biggest users of phosphates. While Cascade officials say dishwashing represents just 3 percent of the phosphate in the environment, "Cascade is doing its part," and removing it. All this has triggered a bonanza in sales of any product or home remedy that promises to remove the gunk.

Sales of higher-end dish detergents are up, in particular eco-friendly, alternate or "complete" versions that come in a small "puck" of hard powder with a bubble of liquid shine enhancer. Electrosol Jet Dry Powerball soap sales rose 22 percent from last year, according to market researcher SymphonyIRI. Cascade "Complete" sales rose 30 percent. Method "Smarty" detergent sales rose 54 percent. The home-spun solution of white vinegar is also taking off. While DiChristopher considers it a myth, homeowners like Urso now religiously pour a cup into each wash cycle. Store-brand vinegar sales are up three percent from last year, while sales of Heinz-brand vinegar are up more than three percent. Stores like Target and Walmart are expanding shelf space for gallon-sized jugs of vinegar. Sales of Finish-brand detergent have taken off as well, notably after Consumer Reports magazine recommended it in tests of phosphate-free detergents.

However, the rising star of this new gunk-removing bonanza is "Lemi Shine." The Midland, Tex.-based company was relatively low-profile until last year, selling small bottles of granulated citric acid with a lemony smell – primarily to help in cities with especially hard water. The 20-employee Envirocon Technologies Inc. that makes Lemi Shine is producing at a breakneck pace, said spokesman Marty Hammond. Nationwide, Lemi Shine shipments are up 80 percent from last year according to IRI, and "our business has doubled in the Florida market." Dishwasher repair companies now tell anyone with a cleaning issue to first try Lemi Shine.

Detergent companies aren't likely to go back to including phosphates unless current laws change.

But in another layer of irony, the phosphate ban doesn't apply to commercial facilities like restaurants or hotels, so bulk packages of detergent are available at supply companies. Restaurant Depot in Tampa sells a box of professional detergent with phosphate, for $7.95, or a case of six boxes for $45.31. Some distributors still sell phosphate detergent on eBay. Meanwhile, Target, Walmart and Publix have started devoting more space to alternate detergents, and Lemi Shine and Finish-brand detergents are among the leaders in that growth, said Publix spokeswoman Shannon Patten.

Here's what you can do if you're stuck doing the dishes…

Don’t bother

Don't replace your dishwasher. And don't bother trying to scrub your dishwasher or call a repair technician. The next wash cycle will put the gunk back on your dishes.

Hot Water

Hot water helps. Since your washer probably gets water from your sink supply, run the sink faucet as hot as possible before starting your machine.

Lemi Shine

Many consumers swear by the little-known Lemi Shine dissolves residue. And appliance technicians say it can fix "etched" glasses and dishes that seem hopeless. Sales of Lemi Shine have doubled in Florida. Walmart sells a bottle for $3.77 that lasts 18 cycles.

Some consumers swear by white vinegar, and some detergent makers recommend it. Put a cup or bowl right-side up in the bottom rack, and run a normal cycle, and another cycle to wash the vinegar out. Other consumers pour vinegar into every load.

Go upscale

Upper-tier products work better, according to Consumer Reports, but not as well as old formulas. The magazine recommends Finish Quantum tablets, Finish All-in-1 Powerball tabs, Cascade Complete All-in-1 Action Pacs and Cascade with Dawn Action Pacs.

Other methods
Buy a water softener. Appliance repair technicians say the white gunk only appears in homes with a hard water issue.

Some eBay sellers are offering detergent with phosphates. And some restaurant supply companies still sell that variety.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Are you pregnant or know someone who is?

Then head on over to The Laundress Baby Blog for Lindsey's latest post:

Friday, February 4, 2011

Washing Down, Fiber Fill and Synthetic Blends

We have received numerous requests on how to wash down - especially this time of year everyone is specifically asking about the proper care of down jackets.

Gwen decided to wash her down jacket and we’ll show you the step-by-step how to clean it properly – just in time for the next snowstorm!

First off, there are a few things you should know…

Proper care of down, fiber fill and synthetic blends is important and can be very simple. Some easy maintenance routines and tips throughout the year go a long way for our staples! Steamers and outdoor clothes lines in general are helpful for maintenance.

Steaming these items will remove mites and allergens which can be harmful and spraying with our Fabric Fresh frequently will help your items stay fresh along the way with its anti-bacterial properties. Spot treating in-between washing is also helpful to maintain stain-free items.

Down jackets can usually just be washed once a season and always before seasonal storage. Spot treating is also good along the way for stains. The synthetic outer and inner linings are often tricky to remove stains from, so pre-treating is usually necessary.

Back to Gwen's jacket...

Tools You’ll Need:
Wool & Cashmere Shampoo, Wool & Cashmere Spray, Stain Solution or Wash & Stain Bar

Storage Bag, Stain Solution, Scented Vinegar

For spot-treating: wet The Laundress Wash & Stain Bar and stain, working the Bar directly into the stained area.
-If stain has faded, but isn’t completely gone, repeat the process until satisfied.

Pre-treat Stains:
The Laundress Stain Solution is formulated specifically to target and break down stubborn stains such as red wine, sauce, chocolate, grass, coffee/tea, grease, blood, yellowing and more.

-Apply Stain Solution to the stain.
-Work the Solution into the stained area with our Stain Brush and warm/tepid water.
*When treating stain from blood, always use cold water

Odor, Must and Mildew:
To remove strong odors, use The Laundress Scented Vinegar, as it is effective in removing stubborn, pesky odors on textiles caused by smoke, body oils, mildew and more.
-Add ¼ cup in a washing bucket or add to your washing cycle in the machine.
-Launder as normal.
* Vinegar is safe for down so this is a great method to use

 You can wash your items in the machine, which Gwen is doing, or to hand wash, see directions below...

Machine Washing:
-Pre-treat any stained areas before washing. Please note there are lotions and face products that can and will permanently stain these items.
-Front loading machines are often best for washing as they have larger drums and are safer without an agitator.
-Wash with warm/cold water on a delicate or woolens cycle with 1/8-1/4 cup of The Laundress Wool & Cashmere Shampoo.

Hand Washing:
-Fill a large basin or bath tub with tepid water and add 2 capfuls of The Laundress Wool & Cashmere Shampoo.
-Agitate the water and detergent with your hands.
-Soak for ½ hour.
-Rinse well & squeeze as much excess water out by pushing the item, never wring or twist.

Dry/Finishing: We recommend drying these items on a low heat and low tumble cycle. Adding clean tennis balls (Gwen covered hers with our Cleaning Cloths, but tube socks would work well too!) is very helpful to redistribute and fluff up the feathers and down/filling after washing. (Both a combination of machine drying and line drying is ideal, if possible. An alternative to machine drying is airing outside and line drying in the brightest sun – it’s the best and most effective for anti-bacterial purposes.
*Use caution when drying large down items in the dryer - these items can get overheated, clog the vents and cause a fire hazard.
 And you're done!  For more details, tips, etc...continue reading below...
Ironing: You’re off the hook; these items do not require ironing! However, we do recommend steaming for allergens and steaming feather-filled items is always good too. We also recommend using our Wool & Cashmere Spray with your steamer for its anti-bacterial and natural moth/bug repelling properties.
*Do not use starch on these items.

Tips & Tricks:
For larger items that require professional size machines, take your tools i.e. the Wool & Cashmere Shampoo to the laundry mat to do yourself or ask your Laundromat or Laundress to use your product. (This is what we did for years in New York City before we had our own machine).

Fabrics should always be stored clean (washed) in a dry place. Attics and basements are the worst. Do not store in plastic. The Laundress All-Purpose Storage Bag, cotton bags or acid free paper is best to avoid bugs and deterioration. Also, never store cotton and linen with starch, as this causes yellowing and will attract bugs. Use The Laundress Wool & Cashmere Spray with its natural moth/bug repellant properties for storing and storage areas.

Dry Cleaning:
Dry cleaning chemicals are not good for you or your fabrics and especially feathers. We never recommend dry cleaning these items.

The Laundress NEVER recommends chlorine bleach! Chlorine bleach will weaken ANY fabric and reduce the lifespan of the fibers -- especially never use chlorine bleach on down or synthetic-filled bedding.

Other Items To Be Washed

Please note the laundering schedule and tips per item below. You will see some items are better to be laundered in an industrial-sized machine to avoid fire hazards and insure proper drying.

Always cover your pillows with a cotton liner. Washing the liner in a bi-weekly rotation with your sheets is recommended. Our heads have natural oils that keep our locks shiny so it is good to have an extra layer between our pillow cases and pillow inners. It is helpful and healthy to fluff and spray with our Wool & Cashmere Spray when making the bed and air outside on a line throughout the seasons. Steaming seasonally is also helpful for the item and your health.

Washing pillows isn’t that imperative as the fabric cover is mite proof so they cannot get into the pillows. We recommend laundering the pillows professionally, with a trusted laundering service or in an industrial machine. It can be very tricky to get them sufficiently dry so that they do not mildew from the inside out.

Duvets and Covers:
Like pillows, duvet inners are also protected by its covers. Duvet covers should be put on a washing rotation of 1-3 months depending on the fabric and your lifestyle (i.e. wash silk less, wash more if you have pets, etc.)

If used with a duvet cover, duvets should only need to be laundered every few years. Fluffing and spraying with Wool & Cashmere Spray when making the bed along the way is helpful too. Tossing in the dryer and “airing” in the sun is beneficial seasonally and will take care of dust mites on the outside of the fabric. Steaming seasonally is also helpful for the item and your health.

As with pillows, we recommend laundering duvets professionally because of their size and to ensure proper drying with a trusted laundering service or in an industrial machine. It can be very tricky to get them sufficiently dry so that they do not mildew from the inside out.

Down/synthetic fiber fill blankets without covers should be washed more often than items with covers. Spot treating is always good in between washings, as is airing on the line.

Feather Beds:
We love our feather beds here at The Laundress! Some doctors or back specialists may not…

We find it is more comfortable when you shake up and “ruffle the feathers” each time the bed is made. The feather bed should also be flipped and rotated to keep the feathers equally, well feathered. Airing out twice a year (again, outside on a line) is best. Feather Bed covers should be washed seasonally, at least 4 times a year. We recommend laundering featherbeds professionally because of their size and to ensure proper drying with a trusted laundering service or in an industrial machine. It can be very tricky to get them sufficiently dry so that they do not mildew from the inside out. Again, having a cover will prevent mites from getting into the bed itself so it’s very important to have a removable cover for your featherbed for this reason. We also recommend steam featherbeds seasonally or as often as you desire.

Sleeping Bags:
Due to the nature of sleeping bag use - being on the ground with moisture and dirt, we recommend washing after every use to keep clean and avoid unwelcome growths and odor. Pre-treating stains is recommended with The Laundress Stain Solution as stains found on synthetic linings and covers can be stubborn.

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