Letting somebody do your laundry requires trust. Think about it. 

Not only are you handing them a bag or bin of your dirty clothes, perhaps including some of your more (ahem) intimate articles, but you’re also putting faith in them to do it properly and not shrink, stain or otherwise damage your possessions. 

I’ve been burned before, by wash-and-fold laundry services in Southeast Asia who’ve somehow baked on white stains, professional dry cleaners in big-city Canada who marred the lining of a great pair of tweed pants (RIP), and even my own husband and writing partner, Coleman. He’s unintentionally shrunken at least a half dozen sweaters down to sizes appropriate only for a 12-year-old Lisa.

But I too have betrayed that sacred laundry trust. A couple years ago, Coleman’s favourite denim shirt came out of a load I did in a strange machine in a New York City Airbnb with a piece of chewing gum permanently embedded in the front pocket. Our relationship has never been the same since. 

Part of the trust-eroding issue is caused by human error. Should I have known to check my forgetful husband’s pockets for gum? Yes, yes I should have. But there’s also the fact that the clothes we wear and the machines in which we launder them are becoming increasingly complex.

From pushing our old washing machine’s limits with exercise clothing made from synthetic, poly-blend fibres that behave totally differently than natural fibres when washed, to the presence of both high-efficiency (HE) and non-high-efficiency washing machines across the market, there are a few extra important variables my home economics teacher definitely was not considering back in the early aughts.  

To help sort out the modern washing challenges and bring some trust back to our laundry relationship, we’ve partnered with the experts at Tide. They sent some of their new Tide Power PODS and gave us a digital lesson in clean from their scientific hive mind at the Tide headquarters in Ohio. 

Here’s what we learned: 

The world is full of both high-efficiency (HE) and non-high-efficiency washers, and there’s a big difference

The presence of modern HE and older non-HE machines creates a huge variety of wash conditions and makes it tricky to get a consistent experience. HE machines typically use less water at lower temperatures than non-HE machines, thus expending less energy per load, which in turn does the environment a small favour.

As frequent travellers, we’re never sure what type or size of machine we’ll be using next. In fact, according to our friends at Tide, there are over 900 different laundry combos when you consider different types of stains, fabrics, load settings, water temperatures, and machine types available. One thing we can always be sure of, however, is that we have the right kind of capable detergent on hand—Tide Power PODS are designed to get your clothes as clean as possible regardless of what kind of machine you’re using.

Clothing fabric is becoming more complex

Maybe you prefer to wear clothing made from natural fibres like Coleman and I do, but you probably also have at least a few synthetic items, too. Our exercise gear drawers are full of them. 

But does the presence of these types of garments in your laundry hamper change the way you do your laundry? It should…

 It’s often better to wash natural fabrics like cotton or wool in cold water because they can shrink, whereas some synthetic materials like polyester or dri-fit workout clothes can withstand warm wash settings. 

Still, most of us know that laundering with cold water is good for the earth and are happy to oblige. Washing clothes with cooler water and on a quick cycle can reduce the amount of microfibres released into the environment by up to 52 per cent and cut dye release by 74 per cent, according to research published by the University of Leeds earlier this year.

Interestingly, the same study found that washing clothes at 20°C rather than 40°C saves approximately 66% of the energy used per load. Cold water also helps promote clothing longevity and while many detergents aren’t made for cold water, Tide Power PODS are.

People tend to let stains sit for too long

You may have heard about stains “setting” if they’re allowed to sit for too long. That’s definitely a thing. Basically, the quicker you can remove a substance from the material, the more likely it’ll come completely clean. What’s also true is that the more stained an item is, the more likely it’ll be tossed out.

Not-so-fun fact: The average Canadian gets rid of a staggering 81 pounds of clothing every year. 

Still, being woke to the environmental stress and general unpleasantness of “stain setting” doesn’t mean you’ll always have time to stop what you’re doing and wash whatever it is whenever it gets messy. Your best bet for those situations is to use a high-test detergent like Tide Power PODS, which have more cleaning ingredients than two regular Tide PODS and contain 50 per cent more cleaning power in large loads versus Tide Original liquid detergent. 

And they’re not great at properly dosing detergent to load size

People love to overload their machines and underdose their detergent. It’s just our nature: if there’s value to be had, we want to squeeze every last drop. 

Tide found that customers of its original Tide PODS were often using one pac for what amounted to nearly two loads worth of clothing, which may seem economical but winds up being a shortsighted strategy, as improperly measured loads can result in dingy or faded clothing. Tide Power PODS have been adjusted to reflect our collective ambitious laundry habits and make sure there’s enough detergent to properly clean your clothes.

Click here to learn even more about the benefits of Tide’s new Power PODS. This post is sponsored by our friends at Tide.