Shannon Lush gets it wrong #6

Shannon Lush once again regaled us with her home cleaning tips on 6PR today.

My general comment on her expertise is that about a third of what she says is good advice; about a third of what she says will work, but is exceedingly complicated (and a much simpler solution is available), and about a third is completely wrong.

In the second category, Simon B asked her how to get coffee out of carpet. Her answer was a complex, three-step procedure involving paper towels, glycerine, and a soap stick. Would it have worked? Probably, but if you understand the chemistry of coffee there is a much simpler solution.

The brown colour produced by the roasting of coffee beans is a class of chemical called melanoidins, the naturally occurring result of any roasting process with sugars and amino acids. The same class of chemical is responsible for the brown colour of the crust of bread that has been baked, for example, or any biscuits.

Consequently, there is a very simple and obvious way to remove these compounds – enzymes. Spray some White King Stainlift laundry prewash on the coffee and you’ll see it disappear after a few minutes – no wiping or scrubbing will be required. An alternative would be to oxidise it with Preen Oxy-Action, but the enzymatic formula of the White King would probably work better.

Image result for white king stain lift

In the third category was her advice to replace 2/3 of your laundry powder with bicarb soda.

Unfortunately, this advice is as wrong as it could possibly be. Bicarb soda has weak cleaning properties at best. If you use it as a paste its scouring effect, along with its mildly alkaline nature, will clean some things. But as I’ve said before, anything bicarb will do, washing soda will do better.

But a few spoonfuls tossed into your wash will achieve zero, zip and zilch.

Washing powders are highly sophisticated formulas that contain up to 9 or 10 different components (surfactants, enzymes, oxidizers, builders, alkaline salts, fluorescing agents, antiredeposition agents, free-flow agents, fragrance, softeners), and you simply cannot replace these with any one chemical – particularly bicarb soda, which has almost no cleaning properties whatever. If a chemical existed with such magical properties, you can be sure that I would know about it, as would the thousands of chemists worldwide that formulate the laundry products that we see on our shelves.

But then after this we learned that apparently using bicarb will make your clothes dry faster, and stop them getting stained as easily in the future. No mechanism was given for this. She seemed not to be aware of the fact that bicarb soda is water soluble and it will all wash out in the rinse and spin cycles.


3 thoughts on “Shannon Lush gets it wrong #6

  1. Can you elaborate on the absence of Phosphates, by government mandate, specifically in United State laundry detergents, and how these help make the laundry whiter ?

    • Phosphates are nothing to do with whiteness. They are nutrients, and if discharged into waterways they can upset ecosystems by causing abnormal plant or algae growth

  2. I agree entirely. Have been very frustrated hearing the ”and that’s it” when its obviously not always correct.

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