Generally, this website focuses on the slightly more complex personal finance advice and other money issues. However, every once and awhile, I get enough motivation to fire off a tidbit of money saving advice on something smaller and easier. This evening, I finally got pushed over the line by one of those little things that companies do to wring a little extra money out of their customers.
The Laundry Soap Scam
Years ago, laundry soap came in big boxes and big bottles. The bigger the bottle of laundry soap, the more loads of wash it did. Then, laundry soap manufacturers figured out they could concentrate their liquid laundry soap. In doing so, they could ship more product to the stores for the same cost, and stores could keep more product in stock thanks to smaller bottles.
Of course, at first, this took a fair amount of consumer education because people were very used to the concept that bigger meant more. Finally, laundry companies settled on printing on the bottle just how many loads of laundry each bottle could do, and that was that.
Along the way, however, those same companies couldn’t pass up a chance to cheat their customers out of a little more money. If you control the cap, you control the measuring.
You’ll notice on the front of the bottle, it says, “44 loads” or “33 loads” or whatever. If you look closely, you’ll see an asterix.
If you look for that asterix, you’ll need to turn the bottle over. It’s on the back. There, you’ll find that it does 44 loads when measured to Line 2, or that it does 33 medium loads when used as directed.
You may have never read the directions to your laundry soap. Who could blame you? They’re all the same, right? Not exactly.
Go ahead and check the bottle. On one of the bottles I have it says “Fill Cap to bar 1 for medium loads.” On another, it says to fill to Line 2 for medium loads. Both say to use a full cap for large or heavily stained loads.
Think you’ve been filling it to bar 1?
Time to take a look. You are going to need a very bright light, and if you use glasses for reading, you’ll need those too. Now, if you’ve never looked, you may be surprised that the big, easy to see, ridge in your laundry cap is likely nowhere near where bar 1 is. If you’ve been filling all the way to the top of the cap, chances are you’ve been using WAY too much unless you are always doing large, heavily stained loads of laundry.
Take the cap off and look inside. Don’t forget the bright light, it is DELIBERATELY hard to see inside there.
Chances are it is about half-way down from where you might instinctively fill your laundry soap cap for a “regular” load. That means if you are filling it to the obvious line, you are using approximately double the laundry soap, and therefore getting about half of the number of loads listed.
Saving Money on Laundry Soap
To make sure you are using the right amount of soap, always open the cap in bright light. Read the back of the bottle and find the medium load line, wherever it is, however hard it is to see. Now, take a Sharpie or other pen and make a line on the outside of the cap where the fill-line should be when you do laundry.
Now, you won’t be overusing soap when you are trying to quickly do a load of laundry.