Walmart To Save Planet With Concentrated Laundry Detergents

Walmart says it’s going to save “one of our most precious natural resources”, water, by offering only concentrated laundry detergents from now on.

According to Treehugger, traditional laundry detergent is full of water and foaming agents that make it seem more effective than it is, wasting water and plastic for no good reason. “Collateral damage to be avoided by the new super concentrated and much greener detergents: wasted water, wasted shipping space, excess packaging; added petrochemical consumption and C02 emissions,” says Treehugger.

Why does Walmart care? Apparently concentrated detergents are cheaper because they are less wasteful. Not that you’d know that if you just listened to Walmart:

“People expect businesses to step up and work together to help solve the big challenges facing the world,” Scott told the crowd of approximately one thousand people gathered in New York City. “What we have done is work with suppliers to take water — one of our most precious natural resources — out of the liquid laundry detergent on our shelves. We simply don’t want our customers to have to choose between a product they can afford and an environmentally friendly product.”

Walmart, you crack us up. They’ve begun the supplier bullying process (or, as they describe it “manufacturers began transforming their facilities to accommodate this request”) and you should see your detergent shrink by May 2008.

Wal-Mart to Sell Only Concentrated Products in Liquid Laundry Detergent Category by May 2008 [PR Newswire]
P&G Joins Unilever NV In Concentrated Detergent Offerings [Treehugger]

PREVIOUSLY: Walmart Tries To Make DVDs, Toothpaste, Soap, Milk, Beer, Vacuum Cleaners, and Soda Eco-Friendly


Edit Your Comment

  1. DJ-Pandemic says:

    I say stick it to them and only buy powdered.

  2. burnte says:

    I’m normally all for hauling WalMart out for their hypocrisy and bottom-line-at-all-costs business practices, but I have to disagree here about the “concentrated detergents are cheaper because they are less wasteful” comment.

    Yes, concentrated products like this are cheaper for WalMart and manufacturers. They take up less space, so you can ship more units per case, yet the case won’t weigh more. This means your shipping costs remain fixed, yet you move more product. The product costs less to produce because you use less water per unit. You need less packaging for a smaller product, too.

    But that’s not a bad thing!If Walmart wants to act in a more environmentally responsible manner because it’s good for their bottom line, I’m all for it. If they want to be eco-friendly because they think it’ll bring about Ragnarok, I’m fine with that too. I don’t think we should care WHY companies do the right thing, as long as they do. And frankly, if they do it because it’s less expensive to them, maybe that’s doubly good, because it means those low prices aren’t coming entirely from cheap Chinese labor.

  3. morganlh85 says:

    @burnte: I think they might mean it’s cheaper for US also because they don’t have to spend money and time adding water and frothiness to the detergent.

  4. I’ve used concentrated detergent for years because I have a high-efficiency front-loading Bosch. A little goes a heck of a long way.

  5. SaveMeJeebus says:

    I would bet that the majority of WalMart customers would use the same amount of concentrate as they would the non and increase sales of this stuff. Powdered please thx.

  6. LucyInTheSky says:

    I don’t care if walmart saves the world (and unlikely situation). I will always hate them.

  7. catnapped says:

    Betcha the price goes up!

  8. BuddhaLite says:

    So ummmm if they’re so worried about water does that mean they’re going to stop selling bottled water? Why stop there? Why not concentrate it further into a gel and put it in some type of recyclable paper carton?

  9. OKH says:

    Oh, I see ….this would only be good if it was a government regulation. It’s Walmart, so it’s automatically bad.

    I dislike Wallyworld too, but really, cognitive dissonance has whacked some of you over the head with a sock full of nickels and taken your lunch money.

  10. homerjay says:

    This is nice and all, but its gonna take a HECK’VE’A’LOT more than that to even START to redeem themselves.

  11. ironchef says:

    which begs the question….why do manufacturers insist on selling diluted detergent in the first place?

    This is a smart move. The money moving useless packaging and product needs to be streamlined.

  12. GreatCaesarsGhost says:

    Another Wal hater here who admires this move. So what if it does save them money too. The one thing we criticize walmart most for is the way they do anything to lower prices. One should assume they will be passing savings onto consumers.

    And another thing–this concentrated stuff is the same price as regular now. Given the cheaper shipping cost, it should be cheaper. I bet it will be soon enough.

  13. not_seth_brundle says:

    This is the same spin that you see in hotels. “To conserve our natural resources, we do not change sheets and towels daily unless you so request.” It’s annoying whether it’s Wal-Mart doing this or something else. I’m all for environmentally-friendly policies no matter what the motive, but it’s just annoying when companies pretend that they’re trying to save the planet when they’re really just trying to save money.

  14. CumaeanSibyl says:

    @SaveMeJeebus: All the liquid laundry detergents I’ve ever seen say “Use one capful per load.”

    Since the concentrated detergent has a smaller bottle, and a smaller cap, the instructions will still be “Use one capful per load.”

    And people will do that, because — surprise! — they’re smart enough to use one capful like they always did, instead of busting out the old Pyrex measuring cup or whatever you think WalMart customers do with their detergent.

  15. nardo218 says:

    I don’t see the point of buying these concentrated things. You use less, but they sell it in a smaller bottle, so you still have to buy detergent as frequently, and spend as much or more for it, as you would with the regular kind.

  16. morganlh85 says:

    @not_seth_brundle: But at the same time, this seems to be the only way to get businesses to do their part for the environment — by showing them how it can also help their bottom line.

  17. velvetjones says:

    I worked at a company that makes lots and lots of money selling laundry detergent, and I worked closely with the chemists. Powdered detergent almost always outperforms liquid. Liquid detergent is a gimmick. And have you smelled the concentrated ALL? I can’t stand the fragrance, I can barely wash my rags with it.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if you’re really concerned you’ll get a front loader. I’ve mistakenly washed loads with maybe a tablespoon of detergent and that outperformed the best top-loader on a good day, with a full cup of detergent.

  18. ironchef says:


    You may not see the benefit, but reducing the amount of weight in shipping = less packaging, pollution and fuel used to ship it.

    one report suggests the world uses 299,500 metric tons a year just on soap.

  19. Hobo-NC says:

    Poor liberals with your Wal-Mart hate. You are to be pitied.

    As a CONSUMER reading a site called CONSUMERIST, “bottom line at all costs” sounds perfect to me. Keep the cheap stuff coming, Wal-Mart!!!

  20. Rahnee says:

    If Wal-Mart really wants to help the environment they can STOP being the worlds largest supplier of free plastic shopping bags.

  21. Anonymous says:

    How is this good for the consumer? Wal-Mart is taking our choice away because of something that is good for them and then incidentally good for the environment. In Europe they used the detergent tablets (like we do for dishwashers) and they are better, not to mention lighter and probably less packaging than the liquid.

    I would say I do better than the average American in being environmental, but I have tried the concentrated detergents and I have found them to not be as effective. Maybe because I have a top loading washing machine, but I switched back to regular detergent because I found my clothes weren’t getting clean!

  22. Mr. Gunn says:

    nardo218: They don’t have to sell it in a smaller container. They probably will, because they don’t want to raise the price per unit, but they don’t have to. Nonetheless, it’ll take up less storage space, so what’s not to like about it?

  23. Anonymous says:

    It’s 3x concentrated. Those little bottles are for 32 loads. You’ll use it in the same amount of time it takes you to use a normal sized. @nardo218:

  24. TPK says:

    Why do the shelves seem to have 4 times more liquid options than powder? I use powder, because it is cheaper, at least according to the suggested number of loads on the box/bottle per dollar. Why do so many people buy the more expensive liquids? What am I missing?

  25. Shadowman615 says:

    How does that save any water?

    Once you take it home and put it in the washing machine, the machine will still keep adding water until it’s full. If you add less detergent, the machine will just add more water to compensate.

  26. @TPK: I think it’s just because the powder seems to get everywhere and the bottles are just easier to carry.

    I like using the powder because the washing machines where I live have instructions insisting that the detergent be added first, then clothes, and THEN you can turn it on. I don’t think it will do my clothing much good if the clothes at the bottom soak up the liquid detergent before the water even fills up the machine.

  27. alicetheowl says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: Doing it the other way around keeps the detergent from getting to the bottom, though. Soap is lighter than water, so it rises to the top as the washer fills up. The agitation of the washer helps that process along, so, if you put in the detergent last, it just stays at the top. It might go a layer or two down, thanks to the agitator, but it never gets to the bottom.

    I’ve experimented with this, mostly with powdered detergent. The results of pouring in the detergent last were pretty gross.

    I’ve always used to concentrated detergent, and it has nothing to do with environmentalism. I use the stuff that has no added perfumes or dyes (having perfume in my detergent is an excellent way to give myself a fully-body rash). I’ve had some odd housing circumstances, and have often found myself without a washer and dryer of my own. The concentrated stuff is WAY easier to carry to a laundromat and back.

    And then, when I did finally get a washer and dryer, the concentrated detergent took up a lot less room in that teeny little storage closet where I had to cram the machines.

  28. Shadowman615 says:

    @TPK: The powder doesn’t always completely dissolve in many machines — depending on water softness, temperature, etc. Also the liquid is easier for pre-treating stains.

  29. royal72 says:

    “People expect businesses to step up and work together to help solve the big challenges facing the world,”

    yes of course, because we all know big business has the world’s best intentions at heart. i mean walmart would never rape and pillage their own grandmother, to squeeze that last shiny penny out of her cold, crippled hand.

  30. @alicetheowl: OK, that makes sense, but I still don’t see how you prevent your t-shirts from soaking up the liquid detergent before your t-shirts soak it up.

  31. chungkuo says:

    A box of Borax is about $3 and a box of Washing Soda is about $2. For $5 you’ve got a giant sized box of washing powder that is environmentally neutral. Been using that for well over a year and my clothes are as clean as anyone else’s for a fraction of the cost. Most “cleaning products” you are taught that you need these days didn’t exist prior to WW2 when the new industrial chemical industry needed to make up crap to sell us. Our house is clean and we only use bleach, ammonia, vinegar, baking soda, borax, and washing soda.