Since I started working on our guide to the best laundry detergent in 2014, I’ve noticed a steady stream of people reporting that Tide detergents leave permanent purple stains on their clothes. Recently Becca Laurie wrote for The Outline about Tide pods, that candy-like bundle of laundry leaving blue stains on her laundry, and the frustrating and unsatisfying way in which Procter & Gamble, the parent company of Tide, s ‘is busy with it.
The problem, according to Lauren Beene, Tide’s public relations manager, is that the capsule doesn’t completely dissolve in water, causing bleach to build up on your clothes and leave a mark. We followed up with the company on this issue in early 2020, and Procter & Gamble Scientific Communications Manager Jennifer Ahoni told us that in 2018 Tide changed the makeup of its pods “with a new Film technology that absorbs water better, allowing better, more complete dissolution in all washing machines and water conditions, including cold water. However, coloring has always been a problem for some people, and Tide suggests that this is due to not placing the pod in the washer before clothes as recommended, or overloading the machine, so there is no enough water to completely dissolve anything that needs to be dissolved. (“To make sure you don’t overload your machine,” Ahoni wrote via email, “make sure your hand is between your clothes and the wall of the drum.”). However, according to Tide, “for the vast majority of consumers this is not a problem,” and the company has no plans to remove the coloring ingredient.
When we first published this article, we reported that there was a discrepancy between how much detergent washing machine makers suggest you use (less) and what Tide recommends (more) – and hypothesized that the detergent manufacturer’s recommended overuse of detergent may be related to the staining problem. Mary Begovic Johnson, Senior Scientist at Tide, wrote to us to point out that the manuals for many washing machines, including our pick, say to use the amount of detergent suggested on the detergent bottle. While this is true, the author of our guide to washers and dryers, Liam McCabe, has had conversations with high profile people at several washing machine companies who have told him that two tablespoons of detergent is enough. even for large loads. Tide recommends using about five tablespoons of detergent for a large load (or about 12 pounds, depending on the industry).
While the exact factors that cause stains for some people and not for others remain a mystery, we know that too much detergent can cause other problems: According to washing machine manufacturers and appliance repairers, too much detergent can clog your machine, and leave your clothes dirty and disgusting.
Beene told us that Tide determines how much detergent to use “based on our extensive testing on various machine models and washing conditions,” and while this is something P&G continues to refine, the company does. currently not intending to change its recommendations.