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Laundry powder: Commonly asked questions

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Laundry powder: Commonly asked questions

Some people have never used laundry powder in their lives. Others recall using it "back in the day" but when liquid detergent became ubiquitous, they hopped on that train without thinking twice. 

You might be wondering why we chose powder for the Celsious line. There are a number reasons why we love it! Read on for the most commonly asked questions about laundry powder, and find out why we champion the form.

👉🏾 What are the benefits of powder vs. liquid detergent?

Laundry powder is a great option for everyday washing needs (think: clothes, towels and bedding), with many benefits if you care about the environment and your health. It’s powerful on heavily soiled loads, the cost per load is often lower than liquid detergent, and you can easily find powder options in plastic-free packaging.

The US creates more plastic waste than any other country, and sadly, only 30% of HDPE—the type of plastic used for laundry jugs—ever gets recycled (the other 70% gets landfilled).

Aside from needing a plastic jug, liquid detergent can also contain up to 90% water, which is heavy and requires more energy and resources to ship. Water-based products also require preservatives to be shelf stable (sometimes formaldehyde, a known human carcinogen).

Not all detergents are created equal, so it’s important to check the ingredient lists for potential irritants. This goes for both liquid and powder. 

As much as we like our laundry powder for everyday needs, we actually prefer gentle, non-toxic liquid detergents for washing delicate materials like silk and wool, or specialty items like sportswear.

👉🏾 Don't you find laundry powder messy? 

Not really! It's no messier than liquid detergent. Plus it's too easy to let the cup runneth over when using liquid detergent, which is wasteful and not good for your laundry.

👉🏾 How much laundry powder should I use?

Always follow the dosing instructions. Many of us use way more product than necessary, sometimes without even realizing it!

Overdosing is not only a waste of money, but it will not make your loads cleaner. Excess product can build up on fabric and trap odor-causing bacteria. If you’ve ever had a piece of clothing smell musty or unpleasant even though it was recently washed, product buildup might just be the culprit.

If you're using our Corewash laundry powder, 1/2 a tablespoon will do the trick. If your load is heavily soiled, feel free to double the dosage. It doesn't seem like a lot, but trust us, a little goes a long way!

👉🏾 What are some tips and tricks for using laundry powder? 

You’re going to want a powder that can be used in any temperature wash, including cold cycles.

Depending on the washer model, you might find that powder doesn’t dissolve completely and/or clothes come out with a little residue. If that’s the case, just dissolve the dose of powder in a bit of warm water before adding it to the drum or detergent compartment.

Keep a dedicated measuring spoon with your powder, so that it's easy for you to dispense the right amount. Our Corewash comes with a stainless steel spoon, or if you prefer, try this cute ceramic spoon that we developed with Suji Ceramics.

👉🏾 Do I need to do anything different when it comes to stains? 

As much as possible, pre-treat your stains. This applies to all detergents, not just powder. The sooner we spot treat, the better our chances of actually getting rid of a stain.

Once a stain has set, there’s no guarantee it will come out in the wash. A common misconception is that "natural" detergents aren’t strong enough to fight stains, but a stain that has set will be tough for any detergent to fight, regardless of the ingredients.

👉🏾 What should I be aware of when shopping for laundry powder?

US federal law does not require disclosure of ingredients for cleaning products. This is really unfortunate considering our skin is our largest organ and we are almost always in contact with fabric, whether it be our clothes or bedding. Some ingredients are even designed to adhere to fabric, which means prolonged exposure and irritation for people with allergies or sensitivities.

Laundry products can contain carcinogens, skin and respiratory irritants, ingredients that are toxic to reproductive and developmental systems, and environmental toxins. In order to avoid these, check the EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning. They list the known ingredients of laundry products, point out the ingredients of concern, and provide an overall letter score.

We prefer laundry products that have no synthetic fragrance, no optical brighteners, no phosphates, no dioxane, no chlorine, no formaldehyde, no phthalates, no synthetic dyes and no SLES. The easiest way to avoid all these things is to go back to basics. Choose a laundry powder that contains only simple, necessary and effective ingredients.

👉🏾 What if I can't find the ingredients, or I'm unsure if it's the full list?

Unlike food and cosmetics, you won’t always readily find a full list of ingredients, be it powder, liquid or other. It's possible you'll need to dig deeper to find it.

If you’ve done your research but still feel unsure, you can always reach out directly to a company. They should never ignore your inquiry, but they might be unwilling to disclose the full list, under the guise of it being a “trade secret." Red flag? We'll let you make that call.

👉🏾 Do you list the full ingredients for Corewash? 

Absolutely! Corewash is made of only three effective and fully biodegradable ingredients: baking soda, washing soda and coconut-based vegetable soap.


By Theresa Williams and Mutia Adisoma
Photo by Chiori Takamatsu-Schettini