New Technology and Design in Laundry Detergent

Through much of Europe, laundry detergent pre-measured in tablets and sachets has been popular for years. But in the U.S., pre-dosed products have been largely unsuccessful. According to insiders, consumers usually pick up their laundry habits during adolescence from their mothers, and changing them is almost impossible.

Consequently most laundry detergents flow away into our waterways. The hard-to-read caps on laundry jugs mean most people unknowingly use far more detergent than they really need to, and worse yet, that the excess detergent doesn’t make clothes any cleaner, it just washes down the drain and out into the world.
It’s not only costly for the environment, but as well for the consumer the moment he uses concentrated laundry detergent, a recent trend very popular with the detergent industry.

Since Unilever’s launch of its All Small & Mighty 3x-concentrated laundry detergent in 2006, many detergent manufacturers have cut down on packaging and enhanced consumer convenience with concentrated formulas, most of them 2x concentrated. But concentrated or not, many bottle caps still hold more than is needed for an average load.

The big detergent manufacturers argue, that they don’t want to boost sales by confusing consumers, because they don’t want their customers disappointed in how the product makes their clothes look and washing machines wear. Making the caps difficult to read “isn’t our intent whatsoever,” they state. However the consumer is at least suspicious of the real intention of the manufacturers by making the measure caps unreadable or pretty hard to read.

Like Sun Products Corporation, Procter & Gamble also shows images of the actual caps and fill lines on its Tide, Cheer and Gain labels (Consumer Reports indicate that the clear cap from Tide 2x Ultra has well-marked and numbered lines). And the cap of Method’s Squeaky Green has a rim to catch spills.

But many consumers don’t read the label on their detergents. A 2003 survey from the Soap and Detergent Association showed that 49 percent of Americans never read the directions on a laundry detergent package.
And don’t presume lot changed in the last six years, as it seems to be consumers’ natural behavior to overdose.

So it all comes back to the fact, that the consumer has to be spoon-fed to dose laundry detergent correctly. San Francisco-based Method claims to have the answer.

Eco-friendly as they say they are, Method has made a quantum leap in concentration, giving consumers an 8x-concentrated formula in a sleek, hand-held plastic bottle with dispensing pump.

The bottle looks more like a liquid hand soap than a product capable of doing 25 or 50 loads of laundry. It’s easy to hold in one hand due to its weight, easy to use (highly functional pump, reduces waste and those annoying detergent drips) and easy to store (due to its small size).

The new packaging, recyclable and made from 50 percent recycled plastic, is pretty amazing in terms of its simplicity. The industrial design elements that went into the creation of the new packaging address many of the key complaints consumers have about current laundry detergent bottles.
The new detergent uses dramatically less water compared to other brands currently on the market. The packaging uses 36% less plastic than their previous formulation and is made from 50% post-consumer recycled HDPE plastic.

With a precision-dosing pump replacing the traditional laundry jug cap, Method’s new design allows for easy, accurate dispensing of detergent directly into the machine. Four times activating the dispensing pump of Method Laundry Detergent is all that’s required for a medium-sized load of laundry.
The precision-dosing pump design can avoid the incidental detergent overdosing, or filling the cap above the recommended line for a load of laundry.

In addition, Method has received the world’s first Cradle-to-Cradle certification (I didn’t get the information whom certified them and never heard of this certification. But who am I?) for laundry detergent, recognizing the formulation safety, green packaging design and manufacturing process.


7 responses to “New Technology and Design in Laundry Detergent

  1. I think modernism make something measurably better than it existed before a particular group of people. Tide’s brand management smartly recognized that a consumer segment emerged that was very price conscious, yet still desired the safety/trust of the Tide brand.

    Best Regards,

  2. Anton,
    Great post! Cradle to Cradle Certification or C2C is a program created by McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC).

    MBDC was started in 1995 by William McDonough and Dr. Michael Braungart to create the “Next Industrial Revolution” through the introduction of a new design paradigm called Cradle to CradleSM Design, and the implementation of eco-effective design principles.

    I think we will hear a lot more about C2C and packaging going forward.
    Any idea if the Method product made Silver, Gold or Platinum C2C level?

    Best regards,
    Ed Martin

    • Thanks Ed for the information. I’ll put the info in my dictionary for further reference. The C2C term is already old for some years, but I didn’t know there was a certification for it. BTW I have no idea what level Method reached. Company info doesn’t say anything about it.

  3. have tried in 2 differant local supermarkets today and both looked at me as if I had three heads when I asked for “method” laundry soap….when and where can I find it??

  4. Pingback: The Growing Problem of E-Commerce Waste·

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