How to get premium
• Done carefully, pre-spotting improves
performance, uses less detergent, saves
money, and lowers environmental impact.
• this article explains the basic chemistry
behind this approach and why it works.
During the past 40 or so years, the surfactants and detergents
industry has made massive efforts to improve laundry performance, sustainability, and convenience. Much progress has been
made when it comes to developing new more effective ingredients,
biodegradable materials, improved enzymes, new formulations,
new delivery systems, drip-roof caps, and new packaging.
Powdered products have given way to heavy duty liquids (HDL).
Europe has tried tablets, and now in North America pods are the
rage. We currently have value brands, mid-tier brands, superior
cleaning brands, color protection brands, skin-sensitivity brands,
concentrated brands, super concentrated brands, and oxidizing/
bleaching detergents, as well as pre-spotters that delivery by stick,
spray, and liquid. Many of these advances have been covered in
However, over my years in fabric care working on stains in
the laboratory and at home, I have observed that how laundry
products are used affects laundry performance and sustainability
just as much—if not more—than the products themselves.
Pre-spotting takes time and effort, but the reality is that
most of us just want to throw a cheap detergent into the washing
machine and magically get clean clothes. There are two major
problems with this approach.
1. Your detergent might not have the best ingredients for your
specific stains and your over-all level of dirt.
2. The available surfactant and polymer molecules are too
dilute to actually find the spot on your shirt and remove all
of the stain.
Fortunately, many times your clothes are not that dirty. Most
are slightly soiled with traces of sweat, body oils, food, dirt, and
dead skin (basically dust sebum). There may be one or two clothing items with more serious spots of food or grease. So, unless you
are washing a load of dirty baseball uniforms or mechanics’ clothes,
your detergent has an easy task—except for those one or two
How often do you get a spot on your favorite shirt or blouse and put it in the laundry hamper
and forget about it? During the weekly wash you neglect to pre-spot it, leaving your detergent to
remove some, but not all of the stain. Then you commit the final mistake and dry it, baking in the
stain. We all hate when that happens.