Tide: Different Loads For Different Scents?

UPDATE: Tide: Mystery Of Different Loads For Different Scents Solved!

Zack in Wilkes-Barre, PA would like to know why each of these three kinds of Tide laundry detergent gives you a different amount of loads – 48, 52 and 64. They all weigh and cost the same, they’re all “2X Ultra” formulation. The only difference is they have different scents, Clean Breeze, Mountain Spring, and Original. Can anyone crack this detergent dilemma?


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  1. arcticJKL says:

    Clearly the Clean Breeze is a stronger scent and needs a higher level of concentrated detergent to provide it, whereas the Mountain Spring scent is lighter and needs less detergent.

    Either that or the marketing division has a lot of data relating scents vs. value.

  2. Lance Uppercut says:

    It’s not because of the different scents. One has bleach, one has Downy and one is regular. The bleach and Downy varieties always get fewer loads.

    • emmpee9 says:

      @dabrown: Yep.

    • MsAnthropy says:


      Exactly. Just read the labels… the bottles contain the same amount of liquid, but in only one of those bottles is that liquid all laundry detergent – the other two contain laundry detergent mixed with fabric softener and bleach respectively.

      And in any case, you can get waaaay more washes than they say on the bottle. I love my 2X Tide for frontloaders – have been using the same bottle for months, I’ve done tons of laundry, and I don’t think I’m even halfway down the bottle yet. Just about enough detergent to cover the bottom of the cap works for me – unless it’s a load of disgustingly filthy laundry, in which case I use, oooh, about 1/3 of what the instructions recommend. I’m sure I’ve got at least 80 loads out of that one bottle, and it’s got a long way to go yet.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      @dabrown: You get a cookie.

      @twophrasebark: I tried using the line on one detergent (can’t remember which) and had to re-rinse them. They were stiff and soapy: I’d have been rubbing laundry detergent on myself every time I used them if I hadn’t. Soapy != clean.

    • SOhp101 says:

      @dabrown: Teh winnar!

      Well to get more specific, you need a lot more Downy for a single load. I’m sure they figured out how to concentrate bleach to take less volume by removing all that water. The regular Tide is just all detergent, so it can wash the most loads.

      And speaking of laundry, this has been beaten like a dead horse but LOOK AT THE LINES on the measuring cup carefully. A lot of detergents have 3-4 lines to show you where to fill but often the lowest two lines are all that you need to do a load of laundry; it says in the directions themselves! The # of loads per bottle also tell you that you will only manage to wash that many loads if you use the lowest measuring line.

    • ClayS says:

      That makes sense. You are saying the detergent may be diluted by the addition of the bleach or Downy?

    • joellevand says:

      @dabrown: Thank you for pointing that out (which I was going to do) and for being near the top of the comments so most people will see that. You’re my hero for today. ;)

  3. Charmander says:

    Yes, at first glance it does look werid. However, looks one of them is a bleach alternative, and the other two are actually detergent, one with some fabric softener added.

    I wonder how much it says to use of each product? They are all 100 oz., but you may use slightly less or more of one of them which explains the variation in loads.

  4. Charmander says:

    Pardon me, I thought one was actually bleach, but it says….with bleach.

  5. stuny says:

    Do you know why Eskimos wash their clothes in Tide?

    Because it’s too cold out-tide!



  6. Ayo says:

    I’m pretty sure it has something to do with the additives which then varies the consistence of the actual cleaning agent. Just my 2 cents. But really, this has ALWAYS been like this, nothing new.

  7. It’s all BS anyway.

    Use a third of what they recommend. It used to be half, but they’re onto that so they made the portion cups and line marks bigger so when you use half you’re no longer using half.

    You following me?

    Our clothes are so clean in this country it’s ridiculous. Nearly everything you wear is full of laundry soap.

    Don’t use so much.

    Ha ha, the laundry people are very upset by posts like this.

    • eelmonger says:

      Yeah, as everyone else says: one is 100% detergent, one is detergent+bleach and one is detergent+fabric softener. Obviously to get the same amount of detergent you’ll need greater volumes of the ones that aren’t all detergent. Also seconding twophrasebark in that you should almost always use less than the recommended amount.

    • quail says:

      @twophrasebark: I’ll have to agree. The chemical/soap industry is interested in pushing product more than telling you the most economical way to use it. It truly doesn’t take much soap to clean your clothes with day to day wear. And if you have soft water you actually NEED to use much less detergent.

      This goes for dish washing detergent as well.

    • Snarkysnake says:


      Second that. I never knew how much detergent is impregnated in our clothes until we got a front loading machine a few years ago. We switched from a top loder and for the first few loads after the switch we used no detergent on the recommendation of a friend. The laundry suds and washed like nobody’s business.Needless to say, I cut wayyyyy down on the amount used and everything looks great.

      BTW- The best measure I have found for a front loader is the Wisk tablets. They have two in a package and if you use just one,it works out perfectly (and a box lasts twice as long).Anybody know if they still make them ?

      • Ajh says:

        Simple answer: Don’t use Tide. There’s cheaper alternatives that work better…

        @Snarkysnake: I don’t think they do. I haven’t seen them around here. I adored them for college. It made things much easier if you could carry just a few squares of detergent rather than a box or bottle.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      @twophrasebark: Also, considering more and more people are purchasing front loading washers – they only need 1/4 of the regular amount of detergent.

      Its always hilarious when I go to the laundromat (I personally cannot afford $1200 for a washer and dryer) and see people dump like a cup and half into the washer because they have a big load. It fills up with suds and doesn’t rinse out. I always get a good laugh out of that, since there are signs everywhere that say “USE LESS DETERGENT!”

    • Brunette Bookworm says:

      @twophrasebark: I never use the amount they tell you to use. It’s so concentrated that I usually use about half of what they say and it gets everything clean. Same with liquid fabric softener.

  8. Ihaveasmartpuppy says:

    All those nasty scents are way too strong – don’t use the recommended amount. PeeeeUuuuuuu….

  9. failurate says:

    Looks like we don’t have an apples to apples comparison going on here.

  10. ElleDriver says:

    I just used the “Mountain Scent” Tide for the first time today, and it smells horrific. I have some clothes drying on a rack, and my whole apartment reeks of it now. I feel like I’m being chemically gassed.

    I watched a TV report that featured and “expert” on clothes washing. He indicated that you get a much better bang for your buck if you use powdered detergent, rather than liquid.

    • FangDoc says:

      @ElleDriver: I use liquid detergent rather than powdered because every now and then (especially with jeans or bedsheets, for some reason) the powder fails to dissolve completely and I get lovely streaks of detergent paste on my supposedly clean clothes. It’s worth the price difference to me to not have that happen. (I know I could fill the washer with water, then dissolve the detergent powder, then add the clothes, but I just don’t have that kind of time.)

      A fabric scientist (yes, they exist) said in a lecture at a quilt show I attended that the main reason we’re all using too much detergent is so we can wash in cold water. She said you really can’t get your detergent completely dissolved, or dirt and detergent completely washed out, in cold water, so we use different brighteners and additives to make it feel and look like we did. We’re better off using half the recommended detergent and washing whites in hot water, darks in warm. The perception is that cold water keeps your clothes looking nice longer, but that detergent buildup can’t be good for them either.

      • raleel says:

        Good comments… I think the store up soap in the clothes is an interesting one, and I’ll have to try it if I can get my wife to let me do a load :)

        I have actually had a hard time finding powdered soap lately at my normal haunts. This has not made me happy.

        @FangDoc: I found the trick to not get the paste is to put the powder at the bottom, before you put in clothes. Seems to work for me, as I’ve not had a powdered streak with that, but have when I put it on top.

      • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

        @FangDoc: Interesting. I don’t really care if my clothes look “new and bright” and my colors have been washed so many times they no longer bleed, anyway. So I just throw them all together and wash in hot water. So what if all my clothes eventually turn grey?

  11. STrRedWolf says:

    Chemistry and math. The amount of fragrance and other additives compared to amount of detergent in the total amount of the bottle will determine the wash.

    So, the 48-wash Downey fabric softener added Tide with that clean breeze scent? One good hunk of it is the fabric softener, with some left over for the fragrance.

    The 52-wash Tide with Bleach Alternative? Slightly less of the Clorox 2 knockoff for an additive, but they spared the fragrance since it’s the “origional scent.”

    The 64-wash Tide? The only additive there is the fragrance, and would be the best bet for the price.

  12. BeeBoo says:

    This is a joke, right, you’re just testing your readers to see if you can pull one over on them?

  13. guroth says:

    I thought it was pretty basic math.

    Jug holds 100oz
    1.5oz of “2x ultra” = 1 load

    Bottle on right contains:
    96oz “2x ultra”
    4oz “mountain spring smell”
    Each load measure is now ~1.56oz because it contains ~0.06oz mountain spring smell.

    Bottle in center contains:
    78oz “2x ultra”
    22oz “bleach alternative”
    Each load measure is now ~1.92oz because it contains ~0.42oz bleach alternative

    Bottle on left contains:
    72oz “2x ultra”
    28oz “downy”
    Each load measure is now ~2.08oz because it contains ~0.58oz of downy

    The real question is: is it more cost effective to purchase the detergent combined with additives or purchase the additives separate?

    I won’t be bothered to go looking up prices of detergents and additives but the formula for finding out is quite simple since the aforementioned jugs hold 100oz.

    Is (% of additive) multiplied by (price of detergent w/additive) divided by (# of oz of additive)
    greater than or less than
    (price of bottle of additive) divided by (oz of additive in bottle)?

  14. rdavid says:

    We’ve been here before.

    Nearly identical post with nearly identical comments: [consumerist.com]

  15. bet4a says:

    @ElleDriver: Powdered detergent isn’t necessarily more economical than liquid. Consumer Reports recommends the following quick picks, based both on the detergents’ tested cleaning power and a reasonable cost per load:

    For HE washers: Cheer 2X Ultra Concentrated Color Guard for High Efficiency HE liquid, Gain 2X Ultra Concentrated Original Fresh HE liquid

    For regular washers: Tide 2X Ultra Concentrated for Cold Water liquid, Gain 2X Ultra Concentrated With Bleach Alternative liquid, Great Value Everyday Elegance 2X Ultra (Wal-Mart) liquid

    There are some good powder detergents, but they’re more expensive. The cheaper powder detergents don’t clean as well.

    • ElleDriver says:

      @bet4a: You’re right – the “laundry expert” did indicate that both powders and liquids have the same effectiveness in cleaning, but it’s how they’re packaged and sold to you that creates the $$ difference.

      Here in Canada, Tide is sold in both liquid and powder versions in packaging that’s roughly the same size and weight, and costs exactly the same. For example, one small liquid bottle of regular Tide can do about 25 loads, but the small box of regular Tide powder can do 30 loads. I’ve never understood this.

      I opt for the powder when I can, as someone mentioned, the plastic bottles can also create a lot of waste.

  16. yasth says:

    Because it will no doubt be mentioned/alleged, not all detergent is the same [pubs.acs.org] of course you still have to determine the benefit/cost action point.

    But yeah this a dumb post by someone who can’t think.

    (incidentally they don’t really just mix downy with tide, you are being screwed massively, as is the case with all chemical additives, but since the market doesn’t have the sophistication to understand they can get away with this). Incidentally, fabric softener type chemicals have been added (albeit in small amounts so as not to over saturate people who use downy type products in addition) to tide for a long time. As have all sorts of fancy chemicals you don’t care to learn even their tasteful branding of.

  17. ironchef says:

    the grocery shrink rays work in mysterious ways.

  18. jhuang says:

    I just noticed this the other day when I was trying to figure out which to buy.. I figured the normal (Mountain Spring) kind would probably be best, but then I took a whiff and decided to go with Tide w/Febreeze. Which smells like awesome.

  19. Rider says:

    Maybe the writers of consumerist should start trying to contact companies and finding out some very simple obvious answers before they post stories.

  20. kostia says:

    But unless each type has a different-sized insert inside the cap (where you measure), how is it possible to get different numbers of loads out of the same amount of liquid? It doesn’t matter if it’s a mix of detergent and fabric softener, or cheese and gasoline, 100 ounces divided by a 2-ounce cap is going to be 50 loads. The only way three 100-ounce bottles can have different numbers of loads is if the caps instruct you to measure differently by being sized differently.

  21. mobilene says:

    If you use a fabric softenter, then what difference does it make what the detergent smells like, since the clothes will come out of the dryer smelling like fabric softener anyway??

  22. jaydez says:

    All I know is that I’ve used the Mountain Fresh one before. Whne you fill the cup up to just the number 1 line for every load you get no where near 64 loads out of it… you maybe get 30 loads. To get the 64 loads you need to use a thimble full of detergent.

  23. moore850 says:

    FYI, consumer reports did testing with detergents a while back to determine which was better at actually cleaning a load of laundry. Not only was there a shockingly similar result between all the detergents, but consumer reports specifically noted how close they were to running the clothes in the wash with no detergent at all. A modern washer can clean clothing with no detergent whatsoever, but to get it to “smell clean”, you have to use some detergent.

    • mike says:

      @moore850: Interesting. Do you have a link to this? I’d really like to read it.

      I’ve been convinced that I don’t need as much detergant as the box says I need.

    • Fist-o™ says:

      @moore850: That is VERY interesting! I think MythBusters should debunk the laundry detergent myth!

      I always put like 1/4 of a lid-full in anyway.

      @FangDoc: I pity you that you don’t have enough time to wait for the powder to dissolve! But hey, that’s life in this modern age, eh?

      I wonder if cavemen ever sat around the campfire saying stuff like, “You know, these new bronze spears are great, but I just don’t have time to pound one out! it’s faster just to flint off my stone spear tip. Sheesh, with the shortage of elk this year, and the Chief demanding higher tithes to support our clandestine efforts to infiltrate nearby tribes, I barely have time for brain-tanning my hides! What’s the world coming to?”

      • Rectilinear Propagation says:

        @Fist-o: You don’t have time to let it dissolve if you’re using a coin operated, timed washing machine.

        It would be completely awesome if cavemen had conversations like that.

        @kairi2: Cheer won’t fade colors but it also tends to leave spots where the detergent wasn’t strong/harsh enough to get all of certain kinds of stains out.

    • emona says:

      @moore850: From what I understand, your clothes get ‘clean’ with no detergent because there’s so much of it already stored up in the fabric from prior washings. That’s why things like the Washer Rock (or whatever it’s called… that rock that supposedly beats your clothes clean) After about 10 washes, they’re not so clean anymore on their own.

  24. chatterboxwriting says:

    Nice to know there’s another reader from Wilkes-Barre!

  25. anatak says:

    It’s entertaining that the one that will supposedly wash the most loads is also the one that does not carry the “Wash more – use less” tag line. Marketing folks crack me up.

    Were they made in the same time period? It’s likely that they made a pcakaging / formulation / marketing BS change all at the same time, with the one on the right being prior to that change.

    just a guess.

  26. John Gage says:

    We have a front loading washing machine. We use about 1/4 of what the label says and it works just fine. I find if we put in the amount it tells us to, the fragrance is WAY to strong.

    Helpful hint for those who use powders: add the powder to the washing machine first and start the cycle before adding the clothes. This way the powder has a better change of dissolving. This only works on top loaders though.

  27. A dermatologist told me to use half or less of the recommended amount (and use the no perfumes/dyes type, too because of my skin allergies). I had terrible rashes all due to too much soap in the laundry and the additives. She said that even with double-rinsing, there is still soap and stuff left behind. It is the additives that stay behind that make your clothes look bright and new. I only use the “Free” type of detergent and just under half of what they say along with a second rinse. Works for me.

  28. kairi2 says:

    Seeking opinions: What is the best detergent to keep colors from fading?

    • floraposte says:

      @kairi2: I’d say 1/4 of what the manufacturer says and in cold water, rather than any particular brand. Probably a front-loading washer helps because it’s gentler on the clothes, but I’ve never had to discard anything for fading with the cold water/low detergent approach. I haven’t used the cap measure in years–I just drizzle a little bit of detergent in, and that’s plenty.

  29. albokay says:

    I know one thing, i used to live in Wilkes Barre Pa and there isnt much more to do than stare at detergent.

  30. Ninjanice says:

    I noticed that my new “2X Ultra” detergent actually has a line above the “fill line”. So basically if you don’t pay attention, you may end up filling the cup up to the top line and use more detergent than necessary. Kind of sneaky…

  31. ZoeSchizzel says:

    Please stop buying liquid detergents in those big plastic bottles. The liquid costs more, and those big plastic bottles are terrible for the environment. The powder in a box works just as well. Even with the powder you should use far less than the recommended amount.

    • cerbie says:


      It’s never more than two table spoons of scentless detergent (only in the case of stains), a little PureCastile soap, and a sprinkle of baking soda, for me (only if there are obviously stains or non-mildew odors, though).

      They then smell like soap and the air in the house, instead of, “chemical plant spill into a mountain spring–I mean Mountain Spring, just Mountain Spring.” On top of that, it’s very cheap compared to the recommended amount of detergent.

      All of them are out to sell you detergent, not clean your clothes. Dr. Bronner may be out to hook you on religion and mind-altering drugs :).

  32. HeyEmmie says:

    All three are different formulations and work differently. Also, things like fragrance and fabric softener affect how well detergents foam. I’m a formulation chemist, I know.

    • e.varden says:


      Then you also know that “foaming” “bubbles” is a visual fraud to stand for “cleaning power”?

      Froth has nothing to do with cleaning power. Just as vacuum-noise has nothing to do with its suction-power.


  33. Keep talking...I'm listening says:

    The size of the caps in the picture are different. Since you use the cap to measure the amount of detergent, you would use less with the green cap than the white, and less with the white cap than the blue.

  34. Ms. Pants says:

    $13.49?! Sheesh! My Purex bottles generally run me about $2.99 at Target and I get no stinky scents to deal with (or else, a lovely scent that is not stinky, depending on my mood) and just as many loads.

  35. summerbee says:

    Ha! Wilkes-Barre is something else, heyna?

    On a serious note, I think fabric softener is a ripoff in itself. I’ve never seen it have any beneficial effect on my clothing.

  36. vladthepaler says:

    I don’t understand why people buy scented detergents anyway. If you want your clothes to smell, just don’t bother washing them.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      @vladthepaler: Well, the perfume smells and the stink of sweat and grime are only comparable if you’re buying the Mountain Spring detergent.

      Is there anyone that likes the Mountain Spring smell?

  37. Keep talking...I'm listening says:

    The worst part about powdered detergents…it leaves crusties in weird places on your washer. I got tired of having to take a butter knife and scrape the dried/caked on powder from the crevices.

    Also, I find I leave a trail of powder all over the grocery store and my laundry room from poorly sealed boxes.

  38. keith4298 says:

    Like it makes a difference? Who uses the correct amount anyway? The caps come with three lines and the instructions say small or large? The third line is for people to waste more and buy it more quickly.

  39. Japheaux says:

    The mountain spring bottle accounts for the altitude level, so you need more of it. The clean breeze was formulated at sea level, so you need less of it. The color clean bottle is just reconstituted Oxyclean and according to BHObama, will even remove lipstick from a pig.

  40. Keep talking...I'm listening says:

    So what would happen if I used Lilacs and Sunshine detergent and Apples and Cherry Blossom Fabric Softener with Springtime Bleach?

  41. I wondered this same thing when I had to stock it for work. Clearly, confusing the costumer with numbers so much that thy just buy it out of frustration trying to figure out the best deal is a great marketing strategy. It also helps if the store lacks “price per unit” labels in most of their departments *hints at a certain large retailer with a new logo*

  42. Sugarless says:

    They all have the same weight, but if you look each has different added items. So you get less detergent when you add the additive like Downy or Bleach.
    The one without Downy or Bleach washes more loads.

  43. maztec says:

    Downy is the worst smelling clothing crap ever and people use way too much of it, leaving their clothes stained with its scent.

    Then again, I may be biased because it is literally one of two things I have an allergic reaction to – and it is by far the worst of the two.

  44. radiochief says:

    My first job out of college was at a private pilot production lab. This company would have accounts from all the major players in private labels and national label production.

    Many thing affect detergents:
    1) Washer load size: for top loading machines you really should only fill half way up. You also should distribute denser load item (sham, blankets, etc…) amongst several loads.
    2) Amount of detergent: use recommended (or less, according to this thread) of soap.
    3) Powdered soaps do work best, but they must be properly dissolved in water first. The same will help liquids too.

    Testing the efficacy of detergents is pretty easy. A load of 3×5 or 4×4 swatches of white cloth (cotton and/or poly) are swipped or dipped in specifically-formulated dirt solution. These are allowed to dry and then are laundered and dried.

    The swatches are then evaluated by a panel of people, and by a host of other tests to see what product/formulation/temperature or volume of detergent worked best.

  45. battra92 says:

    Actually I was on the phone with my mom about this very issue once when she asked me to pick up Tide for her and in the store I mentioned that they were different loads for the additives and asked which one she wanted. She took the regular for the most loads and none of the extra crud.

    Also remember that with many washers you don’t need to use the full amount so sometimes you can stretch those out to more like 70 loads. ;)