In a previous post, I wrote this:
I'm being serious about the washing machine. I put a light load in there so I'd have clothes for the week (two pairs of clothes and a towel). I washed them the night before, kept them in a clean bag, and when I went to get dressed that morning, the clothes were just as dirty as when they went in.
"But what if it's your detergent?"
Being the skeptic that I am, I thought of that and was planning on getting a new kind of soap, but then I realized that before the renovation, they had older washing machines out there that worked perfectly. And I've discovered that I'm not the only one having this problem. Once they replaced the older machines with these new super energy efficient ones with the highest green energy marks, people started complaining to management about how they aren't cleaning clothes. (They literally said that... "There can't be anything wrong with them. When we were looking at washing machines, we went with the ones with the best energy efficiency marks.") And I haven't changed detergent, either. I'm using the same exact bag now as I was then.
How did management respond? "We gave out instruction manuals telling you exactly how to operate the machines!" Of course I threw mine away without reading it. It's a coin operated washing machine with 4 buttons. 3 of them are temperature settings and one is the start button, that's it. Call me crazy, but I have a hard time believing it's any more complicated than pressing a setting and hitting start. What else could it be? Up up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, Start? Doubtable...
The lid won't open on these damn new ones until it's done, so there's no way to make sure the clothing is getting properly spun, agitated, or even all the way wet. All three of which I have to doubt, based on soap deposits and drip-marks found on the clothing. There isn't even an option to pause the wash to open the lid and check. And yes, I've tried all three temp settings, and there is no way to combine them or set the dirt load. I've even tried performing two washes in a row, and even tried the other machines in there. They aren't able to wash my clothes.
Yes, I do have a public laundromat, but it's the "drop off your clothes here and we'll wash it for you" type, and I don't want a stranger going through my clothes. I could probably just tell them I'm ok doing it myself, but I don't feel like hauling my clothes across town, on foot, like a hobo. I'm going to try some different, stronger detergent types in these machines, and see if I get anywhere. I know a few tricks... If I find something that works, I'll report back and share my findings to help readers with limp-wristed washing machines of their own.
I did a little hunting at my local convenience store for other brands of detergent, and found that I couldn't be sure they even did what they claimed to do. So what did I do? I went home empty-handed and did a load of laundry last night and tried something different.
I literally poured powder dish detergent into the washing machine. It worked. Better than ever. I don't know why it worked when liquid laundry soap failed, but it just destroys it.
For over two years now, I've been struggling with these weak machines. They don't clean a damn thing. Not even light loads. They have few settings, and anything that goes in, comes out smelling fresh but literally, or nearly literally just as dirty as when they went in. So crap has been building up on my clothes and bedding for a long time. Even double washes have had no effect.
Last night, I tossed in a decent load and eye-balled about a half cup to 2/3rds a cup of powdered dish washer detergent, Cascade to be exact because it's what I happened to have laying around. I checked periodically to make sure I hadn't put in too much soap and flooded the room, of course, and when I was putting up my laundry after getting it out of the drier, I didn't even recognize my pillowcase at first. It had become so dingy and dark that I'd forgotten it was red and white. When I pulled it out of my basket, the gunk of two years poor washing was so gone, it was white again. Keep in mind, I've had this pillowcase since 2009, so for me to not recognize it at first is kind of a big deal.
No contest. Two washes with Purex Ultra Gel Packs, laundry still dirty. One wash with Cascade, same exact machine, same load size, same settings, and my laundry came out cleaner than ever. They looked brand new.
This isn't to say Purex is a bad brand, the packs worked well in a more capable machine, but the dish detergent just suplexed the laundry detergent into the next county even with the handicap.
Disclaimer: It doesn't remove stains, just body oil and grease. So it's especially good on unclean pillowcases, and great for sweaty summer clothes, or for clothes where body oil has been hanging out reletively untouched for far too long. For muddy and grass-stained clothes, you're probably out of luck on the dish detergent.
Tips: If your machines suck and you're thinking about giving this a shot, you're probably best off putting the soap in at the bottom of the machine first, followed by your clothes. The machines here suck so much that they leave soap deposites, and it's made even worse if you dump the soap on top like any normal machine lets you do.
If the spin cycle is weak in your machines like they are in my machines, then you may still get soap stuck in your clothes like I do. You might be able to fill your tub or sink and hand-agitate them in there to get the soap out.
Or you could do what I do, if you have a spray attachment in your kitchen, and blast the soap out with a sprayer and some hot water.
For stains, if your machine is weak and laundry soap still isn't cutting it, you can try straight bleach if they're white clothes and vinegar if they're colored. Just bear in mind that vinegar is strong-smelling and you won't be able to wear your clothes directly after the process, but it may help. Make sure that you use white vinegar. Try 3 parts vinegar to one part boiling water. (This may not work on extremely set in stains. I've used the process to deoderize clothes that the cats peed on, but I've never used it for stain removal. I take no responsibility in the event that this ruins your clothing. It didn't ruin mine, but results may vary...)
Goodluck, and may the force be with you.