Thieves Are Targeting Tide Detergent For Resale On The Black Market

Usually when there’s a spike in thefts of common household products, there’s some other nefarious use the thieves have in mind than say, getting your whites really bright and keeping your darks from fading. But in the case of a recent crime wave involving Tide detergent, it seems the soap is being stolen just because it’s such a well-known brand.

The Daily cites law enforcement officials from around the nation who say they’ve been fighting a surge in thefts of Tide laundry detergent. It’s such a problem that retailers are starting to put locks on the product at stores, and some cities are even setting up special task forces to fight the crime wave.

The reasons? Everyone knows what Tide does, the brand name makes it attractive, it’s always kind of expensive at $10 to $20 a bottle, and everyone has dirty laundry to wash, so thieves can resell it.

It’s become, apparently, a “common currency” on the black market — even earning the name “liquid gold” among cops in Maryland. One alleged thief stole $25,000 in Tide before he was caught in Minnesota last year. And lest you think any brand will do — nope, it’s just Tide.

“There’s no serial numbers and it’s impossible to track,” said Detective Larry Patterson of the Somerset, Ky., Police Department, where authorities have seen a huge spike in Tide theft. “It’s the item to steal.”

Some cops say it is connected to the drug trade in certain areas, as police have busted drug dealers and found more Tide than drugs on the premises. It seems users are reportedly trading Tide for drugs.

The heists go down like some kind of wacky comedy, with thieves running out the store doors with shopping carts loaded with bottles, and into getaway cars waiting outside.

Proctor & Gamble, the makers of Tide, are also in the dark as to why their product has become such a hot commodity.

“We don’t have any insight as to why the phenomenon is happening, but it is certainly unfortunate,” said Sarah Pasquinucci, a spokeswoman for Procter & Gamble.

Previously in odd thefts: Baby Formula Is A Prized Item For Shoplifting Rings, Drug Smugglers

It’s a dirty job: Police nationwide take on soaring Tide detergent theft [The Daily]


Edit Your Comment

  1. StatusfriedCrustomer says:

    • StatusfriedCrustomer says:

      [insert money laundering joke]

    • vastrightwing says:

      Imagine the security at the Tide factory where all the bottles are stored. I kind of imagine it like Intel’s security where you have to be searched and go through metal detectors and have all your bags searched. Employees can’t throw out used bottles. Instead, they must be destroyed. Yep. I bet security is very high there. The liquid wouldn‚Äôt be as much of a security risk. What‚Äôs valuable is the bottle with the label on it.

  2. madanthony says:

    Maybe they need to sop up spilled gas after their NASCAR hits a dryer truck.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDave‚Ñ¢ says:

      Wasn’t the Tide to break up the diesel fuel on/in the road surface, which they then washed away? To sop up, you use Poly-sorb, or one of the other myriad of absorbents.

  3. Cat says:

    “Proctor & Gamble, the makers of Tide, are also in the dark as to why their product has become such a hot commodity.”

    I’m pretty sure I know why, and they do too. It’s about $25 a gallon.
    Tide is quite expensive compared to the competition.

    • Marlin says:

      I would use “overpriced” IMO.

      Finally got my wife off the tide bandwagon and guess what, our clothes are still clean. Thanks, All, arm+hammer, Kirkland, etc…

    • Phil Keeps It Real [Consumerist] says:

      Incorrect-O, señorita : Amazon usually has the liquid Tide on sale with free shipping. I recently stock up on a 4 pack of 75oz, perfume & dye free liquid tide for about 30 pesos americanos ! Orale! (O-Rah-Lay!)

    • comedian says:

      $25/gallon? Don’t fall for the hype.

      I bought a 100 ounce (medium size?) bottle of Tide HE last night for $10.99, under $15 a gallon, in CT, a state with astronomically high grocery prices.

  4. deejmer says:

    “Proctor & Gamble, the makers of Tide, are also in the dark as to why their product has become such a hot commodity.”
    Yeah, I’m sure they are really broken up about this…having to sell of this product to their distributors over and over…

  5. mauispiderweb says:

    I buy the cheap crap and my clothes are clean. $25/gallon? Tide may smell good, but F that!

    • You Can Call Me Al(isa) says:

      I only use Tide!

      • Phil Keeps It Real [Consumerist] says:

        I ‚ô• you just for you avatar/icon, your comments….a bit lackluster !

    • catskyfire says:

      Depends on your brand loyalty issues. My mom was a Tide person. She tried switching once, and it turned out her son was allergic to the different brand, so she decided to stick with what she knew would work and not give her son hives. I followed in the Tide loyalty until finances made me try something else. (….But they’ll have to pry the April Fresh Downy from my cold dead hands…)

      • DrunkenMessiah says:

        Hah, that’s funny. My ex-girlfriend couldn’t use Tide because it was the only detergent that made her break out in a rash.

        Honestly, detergent kindof sucks at washing clothes; at least unassisted. Salts have excellent cleaning power for clothes and rinse away much more cleanly. Substances like sodium peroxide, borax, or baking soda dramatically increase the effectiveness of ‘soap’ detergents like Tide. I use a mixture of the three previously mentioned salts in my laundry and only a tiny amount of detergent. Literally a few teaspoons for all but the biggest, most heavily-soiled loads. A 96 ounce bottle of Arm And Hammer liquid laundry detergent has lasted me well more than a year with the assistance of laundry salts. Plus my clothes get cleaner, fade out less and they just smell fresh and clean rather than like some overpowering artificial ‘spring breeze’ crap.

      • mysty says:

        I am the same way. My mom always used Tide. I tried using cheaper stuff and had a reaction to it. I am sure I could find a cheaper one that I am not allergic to, but I just decided to stay with what works. Same with Arm and Hammer Dryer sheets, although they are getting hard to find.

    • tbax929 says:

      I have severe skin allergies, and Tide Free is one of the few detergents that don’t irritate my skin. I’ve tried other “free” detergents but none of them are as good as Tide.

  6. Liam Kinkaid says:

    If they’re selling it on the black market, wouldn’t it be more cost effective to hunt the landfills and recycle yards for used bottles and counterfeit up some fake laundry detergent? It’s not like the people getting scammed are gonna go to cops if they have some stubborn stains that didn’t quite come out.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDave‚Ñ¢ says:

      No, because at those huge sizes, it takes people a while to go through, and the bottles get banged up. Plus, once the bottles go into the truck, they tend to be compacted. Also, things like boxes are hard to re-seal.

    • Murph1908 says:

      I disagree with Stevedave. Your idea is solid.

      1. Go around the neighborhood in which the plastic recycling has been set out for pickup, grabbing all tide bottles.

      2. Make cheap laundry soap from instructions on Consumerist

      3. Sell on street as real stuff

      4. Profit

      You could even cut the stolen real Tide with your cheap stuff to make it smell and look more like the original.

  7. TheMansfieldMauler says:

    I guess baby formula is no longer the currency of the black market.

    It used to be that Enfamil and Similac were preferred.

  8. Straspey says:

    This has become a “Street Phenomenon” —

    Without any rhyme or reason, a certain product or item – such as particular brand of sneakers, or other article of clothing — or an item of jewelery which “everybody” is now wearing – takes on a particular type of value on “the street” which provides a degree of status to certain people who seek recognition.

    This happens at all levels of the economic and social strata – For instance, in some cases, the status is acquired by people who make a point of conspicuously playing with their new cell phone or iPad in public, while pretending not to notice the stares from people nearby.

    In this case, it seems that TIDE has suddenly taken on this mystical status – because while everybody clearly understands that they can wash their clothes with any other brand of detergent — these people now MUST be seen in the laundromat with a giant size bottle of TIDE — and the bigger, the better, because bigger = higher status.

    But since TIDE is the most expensive brand on the market – it’s preferable to buy it half-price from a dealer of stolen goods.

    Coming next to a laundry near you – Counterfeit TIDE from China.

    • Sarek says:

      So you expect a Tide “bubble”?

    • vastrightwing says:

      Yes, imagine that. It would be simple to have a Chinese manufacturer make a cheap soap product and fill knock-off bottles of Tide. The design doesn’t even have to be that good since Tide is constantly changing the bottle shape and design. The only thing that matters is the Logo. In fact, simply go to a bottle manufacturer; have them make bright orange bottles. Fill the bottles with any detergent. Have labels made and profit!

    • Nyxalinth says:

      this does make sense to me. I still keep wondering if P and G is trolling us all though!

      As for China, yeah, and it would probably make our clothes melt the flesh off our bones, if the other crap products that have killed people and pets are any indication…

    • phonebem says:

      “Coming next to a laundry near you – Counterfeit TIDE from China.”

      Not until they figure-out how to make it out of lead…

  9. zippy says:

    When the zombie apocalypse hits, soap, tobacco, and alcohol will be the new currencies.

    • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

      You forgot toilet paper! :)

    • TheMansfieldMauler says:

      Actually, it will be ammo. It can already be used to obtain any of the others.

      • marc6065 says:

        Uh no it won’t, why in the hell would you trade your ammo to someone who did not have any??? To have them come back with a loaded gun to take all your other stuff!!!!!

  10. Dr. Ned - This underwear is Sofa King Comfortable! says:

    With all this Tide going missing it looks like…


    There’s quite a crime wave.

  11. Sarek says:

    Can drug dealers use Tide to cut their heroin?

    • Yomiko says:

      You can cut your drugs with anything. The question is whether you will get a repeat buy if you cut their drugs with Tide.

  12. cosby says:

    Its not just things like Tide. Stuff like razor blades and other bathroom needs are often stolen and resold. These small items that are near impossible to track are a easy resell.

  13. ovalseven says:

    Know why drug dealers like to wash their clothes in Tide?

  14. Costner says:

    I have no brand loyalty in terms of detergent. I have used Era, Purex, Gain, Xtra, and several others all of which are a fraction of the price of Tide. My clothes still come out clean and if I have a stubborn stain I simply pretreat before washing with some generic oxy-clean.

    Why pay three or four times more for Tide when I can get clean clothes with the off brands? I’ll never understand why people fall for the marketing. Especially when the surfactants in Tide are identical to other P&G brands. The core recipe is nearly the same minus a few select ingredients such as dyes and perfumes etc. Yet their marketing budget is far greater, and their profits massive. I guess that big orange bottle must really be attractive to some people.

  15. majortom1981 says:

    Can the tide be used to make a drug? like meth ?

  16. redskull says:

    So are housewives really driving to the bad part of town and meeting someone in a dark alley to buy laundry detergent? Seriously, where do you go to buy black market Tide? I would’t know where to start.

  17. Major Tom Coming Home says:

    It doesn’t surprise me when anything of value is being used to buy drugs. It does surprise me when people openly set up booths at flea market and sell razor blades, batteries, hair coloring, toothpaste, and now Tide. I don’t touch their stuff no matter how good the deal is. 90% of these people are getting the merchandise stolen, but they are never being questioned by the cops, flea market owners, or pubic about how they have so many extra mach 5 razors kicking around.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      Some of these people are also extreme couponer’s these days…so the merchandise is legit if you wish to pay the extreme couponer for their goods.

  18. hoofoot says:

    I’m calling hoax on this. This story sounded so unbelievable that I tried Googling about Tide theft to see how much of a trend this actually is. Every article I could find on it quotes the same The Daily Article cited here. There is literally nothing else about this alleged Tide theft that doesn’t quote this article. So until I see a reputable source verify this, then I’m remaining skeptical.

    After all, The Daily is a Murdoch-owned media outlet, and we all know how willing his media outlets are to lie and mislead in their “reporting.” This entire thing smells like a sensational ploy to get attention and backlinks.

    • George4478 says:

      >>we all know how willing his media outlets are to lie and mislead in their “reporting.”

      The word ‘his’ is completely unnecessary. Misleading, sensationalistic reporting is a feature of all media outlets.

      Unless, of course, you are one of these “the [opposing political side] is always worse” people. Then carry on; my comment will make no sense to you.

      • econobiker says:

        “Misleading, sensationalistic reporting is a feature of all media outlets.”

        No longer news or media outlets but it is the “info-tainment industry” where factoids, sound bytes, and gossip are just “product”.

    • gman863 says:

      ABC World News Tonight carried the story tonight.

      If Dianne Sawyer says it, I know it’s true.

  19. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    I love the smell of Tide, and buy it on sale with a coupon and use it just for my office clothes.

    I’m truly baffled by the trend of stealing it. If you want to look like a big shot at the laundramat, you could just get an empty jug and fill it with cheapo detergent. No one would be the wiser.

    • George4478 says:

      “Those clothes don’t smell right! That’s not Tide; that’s…” *sniff* “…Walmart? You brought Walmart detergent up in here?”

      “I just wanted to fit in!”

  20. gargunkle says:

    This is really stupid.

  21. Frankz says:

    “Police say reports of nationwide spike in Tide thefts doesn’t wash:”

    “Police and retailers are pushing back against a report claiming that theft of Tide laundry detergent is on the rise nationwide and that some cities are devising special task forces to crack down on the alleged phenomenon.” ….

  22. Nyxalinth says:

    So, if I’m piecing everything together rightly:

    Tide has suddenly acquired a status symbol label, likely due to it’s high price

    Thieves are stealing and then reselling it to cater to the sudden upsurge in demand amongst lower income people who have decided it’s a status symbol.

    (Professor Farnsworth face)

    I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.

  23. TouchMyMonkey says:

    Tomorrow’s FARK headlines today!

  24. CubeRat says:

    Honestly, I’ve never used Tide. However, after reading this and the other comments, I’m going to try it. Is there a difference between the liquid vs powered Tide?

  25. Outrun1986 says:

    I don’t think I have ever used tide either, its just too expensive. My household’s clothes aren’t massively dirty, and I don’t have 4 teenage boys who play football in the house. I find that any brand of detergent gets my clothes clean, so I just buy the one that is the cheapest and it always works. In this era of astronomically rising grocery and household good items why should I pay more if I don’t have to?

  26. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    if you paint on the walls with tide it will glow under a blacklight due to the amount of phosphorous they use. i’ve used it a few times in special effects for hallowe’en stuff. haven’t found another detergent that matches tide for lighting up.
    has anyone run a blacklight over the walls of the drug labs where tide was found on the premises?

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      It does? Now I want to try that!

    • RiverStyX says:

      There’s no phosphorus in Tide, lol. Stop making things up, even you should know better.

      Phosphorus is only in soaps imported from mexico and canada, and industrial-grade soaps they use in hospitals and prisons.

  27. mbz32190 says:

    I never understood why people are so loyal to Tide. I buy whatever is cheapest (ShopRite grocery stores constantly has off-brand detergents for $1.99 or less every week). Arm & Hammer is also good when they run it on special….leaves a good smell behind too. Maybe if I worked on a pig farm or something I would buy something better, but I just need something that gets clothes clean and leaves somewhat of a “clean” smell behind. Like most P&G products (Charmin, Fabreeze, countless others), Tide is greatly overpriced, hence the demand for people that want to save a buck or two on it.

    • u1itn0w2day says:

      Same here. Every couple of months Kmart or someone will have the 1.99 for Extra or 5 for 10 dollars.

  28. Tacojelly says:

    It’s really not that hard to figure out.

    (Hard) Drug addicts need to supply habits that can be as much as hundreds of dollars a day, many don’t have employment so they steal. Brand name items that seem a little more expensive than you’d think they’d be if you don’t shop all the time (Body wash, liquor, medicine, detergent) have really good resell on the streets. Either people trying to save a buck go to these street vendors or flea markets, or they sell them in bulk to shiftless retail stores.

    When I worked retail it was Mucinex and Dove body wash. Always bothered me that the people stealing body wash smelled so bad.

    • mbz32190 says:

      I had a roomate in college that liked to “trip” on Mucinex and was always going to Walmart and wiping the shelf clean (not legally). So it probably just isn’t for the “brand”.

  29. Actionable Mango says:

    Is there an actual place where I can earn interest these days?

  30. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I like Tide, but it’s too expensive. Usually I get Arm and Hammer and if I can’t afford that, Purex or Sun. Cheer is out because it makes me itch and sneeze.

    ALDI has this stuff called Tandil that comes in bottles. They used to have the dry stuff and it was great. I think you could compare it to Tide, but they don’t have the dry anymore. :(

  31. gman863 says:

    Excuse me, sir. Is that a bottle of Tide in your pants or are you just really happy to see me?

  32. CreditSense-CreditRecovery says:

    Clothing conscious thieves. Funny, but wrong. Definitely wrong. I’ve watched shows where teenagers run into a store and grab a case of beer, but Tide? Hilarious. (but still wrong)