Why Is Laundry Detergent Blue?

Do you ever ponder over why the majority of laundry detergents are blue toned? 

It’s an question that pops up often and the explanation behind it is quite fascinating. 

In this article, we’re going to dissect the reasons and processes behind the prevalent hue of azure in your laundry detergent. 

We’ll even guide you through crafting your very own version of it.

Why Are Some Laundry Detergents Blue?

Well, at the very least, you should know that this isn’t a random marketing gimmick, it’s all based on color science and visual perception.

Laundry detergents are often blue because of an age-old technique known as ‘blueing.’ 

This term may remind you of a beauty hack that white-haired individuals use to keep their hair from appearing yellowish.

The science lies in color perception. 

After several uses, white fabrics tend to take on an undesirable grey or yellow hue. Here is when the subtractive color model steps in – since blue and yellow are complementary colors, adding a trace of blue to these off-white fabrics neutralizes the color imbalance and restored their bright whiteness.

Fast forward to today, this concept has evolved into the use of fluorescing agents or optical brighteners in laundry detergents. 

These synthetic chemicals cleverly transform UV (ultraviolet) light waves to accentuate blue light, while minimizing yellow light – making your white clothes appear even more radiant.

Despite their magical whitening effect, it’s worth noting that these agents aren’t readily biodegradable and could linger on your freshly-washed clothes. 

Ever seen clothes glowing under UV or black light? That’s the optical brighteners in action!

Why Do Laundry Detergents Have Dyes? 

Ever wondered why your laundry detergent glows with an appealing, vibrant hue? 

The answer is simple: dyes. 

But there’s more to it than meets the eye. 

While enticing colors may persuade you to choose one detergent over another on the supermarket shelf, there’s a tale to tell about these dyes.

Laundry detergents have long included dyes in their composition. 

Be it a brilliant blue, gentle green, or radiant red, these colors aren’t just for show. 

They’re primarily added to make the products more visually appealing and add a touch of aesthetic charm to your chore-filled day.

On occasion, this infusion of color has unforeseen consequences. 

Take PODS for instance. 

These innovative bits of detergent were hailed as a game-changer when they arrived on scene. Compact and pre-measured, PODS delivered convenience in a vibrant package.

However, their candy-like appearance sparked controversy when it was found that children mistook them for sweets. 

To prevent such incidences from reoccurring, manufacturers had to rethink their approach and educate consumers about safe storage practices.

Why Is My Tide Detergent Green And Not Blue?

Unexpected surprises can often lurk inside our cabinets and laundry rooms, and opening your detergent to find it’s turned green instead of the familiar blue can leave many of us scratching our heads. 

Here’s the deal: if your Tide detergent has gone from blue to green, it’s likely due to a degradation in one of its components.

Tide’s formulation includes what chemists call surfactants – powerful ingredients that break down dirt and grime on your clothes. 

However, some of these surfactants like triethanolamine (TEA) can degrade when exposed to elevated temperatures or the harsh glare of sunlight. 

The degraded surfactant then forms complex compounds that result in a yellowish substance. 

And you remember your elementary school color wheel, right? When this yellow byproduct combines with the original blue dye of the detergent, you end up with a newfound green hue.

Don’t panic just yet! 

The degree at which your detergent is still useful mostly depends on how deep this green color is. 

A pale tint might not dramatically affect washing performance, but a vibrant sea-green? 

That might be cause for concern.

Nevertheless, it’s always advisable to store detergents in a cool, dark place away from sunlight and extreme temperatures to maintain their efficacy and intended color. 

After all, there are plenty of other surprises we’d rather find in our day besides martian-colored laundry detergent.

How Do You Make Blue Laundry Detergent?

It can be a surprise for some to realize that making your own laundry detergent at home is not only possible but also quite simple.

The process utilizes basic household products, with the inclusion of a blue liquid detergent like Dawn dish soap as our central ingredient.

Dawn dish soap, a popular hand washing liquid for dishes, also makes an excellent foundation for homemade laundry detergents. 

Its effective grease-cutting formulation makes it perfect for lifting stains from fabrics.

Here’s what you need to make your blue laundry detergent:

  • 1/2 cup of washing soda
  • 1/2 cup of borax
  • 1/2 cup of Dawn dish soap (This creates our desired ‘blue’ component.)
  • 4 cups of piping hot water

Start by adding your powdered ingredients (washing soda and borax) into a large container. 

Next, incorporate the Dawn dish soap. 

Pour in the hot water last to help dissolve and amalgamate everything seamlessly.

Use a spatula or equivalent tool to stir everything together until you achieve an evenly mixed solution. 

Think of this step as being similar to whipping up a batch of your favorite cake – smooth consistency is key!

Safety first: allow your blue detergent mixture time to cool before transferring into a plastic bottle or other storage vessel.

For an average-sized laundry load, 1 tablespoon from your batch should suffice.

For those who prefer visual guides over written instructions, check out this helpful YouTube tutorial showing you how to make blue laundry detergent:

Can Blue Laundry Detergent Stain Clothes?

While it might seem counterintuitive, a vibrant blue laundry detergent will not stain your clothes. 

Quite the contrary, it can actually make white garments appear whiter, as we have mentioned above. 

The science behind this lies in the wavelength of blue light, which has the ability to counteract yellow hues. 

When added to detergent, this blue tint helps brighten whites by creating a visual illusion of removing any perceived yellowness in clothing. 

So, there is no need to fret about your favorite white shirt or crisp bed linens turning into an unwanted shade of azure. 

Your laundry detergent is designed with your clothes’ best interest at heart – ensuring they come out clean, bright and as good as new.