TIL Tuesday: Tide Acti-Lift & Downy Fabric Softener

I learned how to do laundry in a trial by fire manner. I learned by desperation in the laundry room of my dorm at the beginning of my freshman year of college. Because my mom loves doing laundry – really – I’d never done laundry before. Admittedly some of the habits I created that year stuck with me for a long time (like… uh… 16 years).

For starters, remember, dorm washing machines cost money per load. This is where I developed my patented “Shove as much laundry as you can in the machine” method (trademark pending). Unfortunately, I hung on to this method because the fewer loads of laundry you do – the sooner you’re done, right?

Well, apparently the downside to this method is… well…. your clothes don’t get clean. There’s no room for the washing machine to do the hokey pokey and turn itself about. And without the agitation of the washing machine and the ability for the water to move around – your stuff just isn’t gonna get as clean.


At least I know that NOW.

I learned a lot in my two days in Cincinnati this summer at Proctor & Gamble’s Fabric Care University. Not only did I learn that my love for Tim Gunn is TOTALLY justified, I learned a ton about the actual process of washing clothes.

And, I’ve been lucky to have had the opportunity to try some new products from P&G – which, I happen to love.

Like a fool, when I was in Cincinnati, I told them, “I have daughters. I don’t worry about stain removal. I just want my clothes to smell pretty.” In fact, I had been using Gain for years – solely for the smell factor (it smells SO good). When the folks at P&G showed us how Acti-Lift worked, I was amazed — but thought for sure that there was no way my dainty lil daughters would ever require such a detergent.

Uh. Yeah. Well, summer is peak ice cream eating season (my oldest likes those vanilla soft serve cones with the dark chocolate shell coating). Drip drip.

And then there was the dye from another piece of clothing that rubbed onto my daughter’s favorite shirt.

And I had a pair of JCrew pants that I spilled something on over a year ago that have been sitting in my laundry room for all this time – as if I was waiting for osmosis to make them wearable again. Am I even that size anymore? Who knew.

ActiLift got the ice cream out. No more chocolate. It got the dye off my kid’s shirt. Spectacular. And it even picked up enough of the stain from my khakis that if I hold my breath and move really slowly, I can still squeeze into them again. Oh, and the stain is barely visible (it’s still kind of there – but not as prominently as it was).

Stain removal isn’t something I require ALL the time – but when we do need it, it’s nice to have it. I’ve been digging Coldwater Tide – trying to save some bucks on the electric bill. And yeah, it smells pretty good. Except Mountain Spring. I avoid the Mountain Spring scent like the plague. It’s just not…pleasing to my senses.

The second product I had the opportunity to try was the new Downy. I already used Downy so it wasn’t a hard conversion (April Fresh has always been my go-to). However, so many people at FCU were raving about the Bounce Bar that I ditched liquid detergent in order to try it. I am kind of a little bit in love with the Bounce Bar and how it lets me add an element of lazy to the laundry process.

But I wanted to try the new Downy because it promises “Clean Sheet Week”. The ONLY thing I like about doing laundry is the fresh sheet feeling (well, that and finding jewelry – but there’s been no new gems in my washer for awhile). To extend that feeling for more than the first day? Worth a shot, right?

The first night of use, I was hyper-aware of what the sheets felt like. I was trying to be observant so that when I came to tell y’all about it, I would have a very thorough review. Same with the second night – still felt great. Third night – fabulous. After the third night, I forgot to pay attention. I’m sorry, life got in the way. (Would you still love me if I took notes for all seven nights – I suspect that would be a little too Becky Home-ecky for some of you. And it would probably scare me a little also). So, yes, there’s an extended sense of “clean sheet feeling” – does it last seven days? I’m not sure. But it definitely lasted three. Which is still pretty good. And I’m a fragrance girl, so if I didn’t mention how much I LOVE the new scent, well… I’d be remiss.

Do I love doing laundry? Um. No. Hate it. But I do love the Tide and Downy family of products and they work well enough that my ineptitude isn’t obvious. Thank goodness.

The products were provided to me free of charge but the opinions are my own, as always. And if anyone would like to come do my laundry and be my laundry slave, I’d be happy to hire you and pay you in cookies.

Thursday Ten: Marrow Is SO Pretty Edition

1. Several months ago, I signed up for the National Marrow Donor Program. This week, I received a preliminary call telling me I might be a match. The next steps are to fill out a questionnaire about my health (done) and then they’ll decide if they need to do further blood screening to see if I’m similar enough with the recipient to be a donor. And so, I’m waiting to see right now – even though the thought of having a needle poked into my bones doesn’t sound so fun, I’ll be thrilled if I can give some of my marrow (which I’m sure is VERY ATTRACTIVE) to someone who needs it. Joining the registry is EASY, and if you feel so inclined – please take the time to sign up. The first steps include a super easy cheek swab – you can do it.

2. It’s apparently National Dog Day. My dog is howling outside my window as I type this. We shelled out the bucks to fence in our yard so that he has a secure place to run around. He doesn’t run around though. He basically hovers under the deck. That’s alright though. His splint is off and his puny little chicken leg is on the mend. He’s still VERY high energy – so that fresh outside air will do him some good.

3. My friends from P & G sent me a bottle of their NEW Downy to try and I’m gearing up to try Clean Sheet Week. My favorite part of laundry is having clean sheets – but that clean sheet feeling is gone too soon. Bums me out. So, I’ve got a bottle of April Fresh Downy that was given to me so that I could try this out. I’ll change my sheets and start my test in the next couple of days. I’ll keep you posted.

4. New music this week… I’ve been listening to Chris Blake – who I’ve stumbled over on Twitter. His new EP, “Girl” is available on iTunes – and I bought it this week (He doesn’t love me enough to send me free music, which is okay – because it’s totally worth the dinero to just buy it). I also love the YouTube vid he posted below – though the song in this vid is not from the new EP (but it IS on iTunes, so… y’know… clickety click). I love some of the regrets listed – especially the person who should have gotten their ingrown toenail fixed. Yeah.

5. Last night, my friend and I went to a nearish middle school to photograph her daughter’s cheer squad for their team pictures. It’s been (ahem) a few years since we donned the polyester skirts (GO FIGHT WIN!), and it was a bit of a slap in the (wrinkly) face that it’s been 16 years (ugh) since we were in high school. What a huge difference in teens today from teens back in OUR day (get off my lawn). I still think my mom should count her blessings I was a teen in the age of grunge: big flannel shirts and baggy jeans. Certainly not a fashion trend that did me any favors – but it probably eased many a mother’s mind.

6. Yesterday, The Princess made sugar cookies while the Mother’s Helper was here. Don’t tell her I told you this but… they are like giant white hockey pucks. Hubs told me later that she was pretty disappointed with herself that she doesn’t make cookies “as good as mommy’s”. He told her it would take practice – and that I probably didn’t start out being able to make phenomenal cookies (Which is kind of untrue – my cookies? They’ve always been good. It’s just a curse. I make good cookies).

7. Netflix has an iPhone app? BRING IT ON. Our Wii has been acting very weird lately (as in, it just won’t turn on. At all. No power, no nuffin’). We thought the sucker was a goner. Nope – just a very cranky power cord, AC adapter thingamabobber. Til we get that replaced though, it’s nice to know that I can livestream Season One Prison Break on my phone (oh Wentworth Miller, I have missed you).

8. Started doing the Shred with a large group of virtual friends this week. This is Day 4. I think (they’re all starting to run together). I still love the Shred, though. Can’t deny – the stuff works. And it’s funny – because when working with personal trainers, I respond more to the Bob Harper type (encouraging, nice, tell me about your feelings) – not the drill sergeant type. But she’s not that way in the DVD, and my abs already look nicer, so YAY JILLIAN. I’ll ignore your overuse of the word “buddy” if you keep making my muscles look nice.

9. Speaking of muscles – the 100 Pushup Program is still in effect. I have NOT given up yet. I did a test the other day and can do 50 pushups without stopping. I eked out those last few reps, just to hit 50 – and then sat in the middle of the room in complete awe. I really have no idea how I’m going to get to 100 though. That just seems like a lot. But, I’m DETERMINED to do it.

10. Gearing up to get these kids back in school – just when I thought I had ALL the school supplies I needed…. I get another list. The Princess’s teacher has requested specific colored two-pocket folders. I guess the dude is going to be the persnickety type. Back to the store I go.

Making it work at Fabric Care University

This Monday, I had the opportunity to fly to Cincinnati to attend the Tide/Downy Fabric Care University and visit some friends and make some new ones as part of an event sponsored by Proctor & Gamble. Over the course of the two days in Cincinnati, we got to see the Proctor & Gamble archives (including John Wayne’s HAIR, y’all!), and learn about the history of many of the P&G brands.

One of the things I had been looking forward to with the event Monday evening – and when we arrived, we were assigned to teams and challenged to take a plain white tee-shirt and a bag of extra doodads (think: paint, zippers, glue, buttons, and the like) and create an “innvative design”  a la Project Runway. Oh, and uh… Tim Gunn was one of the judges.

Challenging us and encouraging us to “make it work” as we scrambled for a half hour, he provided feedback just as he does on the show (including tell our group at one point, “You don’t HAVE to use everything in the bag!” Okay, guess we’ll edit!). In the end we didn’t win, but our shirt exhibited our style philosophy of “Playground Elegance”. This challenge was definitely a difficult one – though I’m in love with Project Runway, I’m sort of not very fashionable.

That shirt features a lovely zippered v-neck which allows you to take the shirt from day to night with just a swipe of your zipper, revealing an elegant peek of lace just beneath. Gosh. I don’t know why we didn’t win (Except the winning team’s shirt? WAY awesome).

We then got to mingle with each other and with Mr Gunn (or TG, as Jenny calls him) – including getting our picture snapped with him.

I, of course, am NOT looking in the right direction, which I assure you is totally par for the course with me. Oh well! This event was amazingly well thought-out, the space was gorgeous (it took place in a downtown Cinci art gallery), the hors d’oeuvres were fab (BTW – I spelled “hors d’oeuvres” right on the first try – can I get a whoohoo?!), and the desserts were phenomenal. I had a lot of dessert. Lots. Yum.

After an evening I can only describe as surreal (in the BEST possible way), we returned to our hotel.

The next day? Fabric Care University!

The Proctor & Gamble peeps are awesome and taught us a lot of amazing things – mostly that I have been doing laundry ALL WRONG for the past 15 years or so.  Whoopsie? Also interesting to note is that while I felt like I was one of the last people on the planet with one of those archaic top loading washing machines… I’M NOT! (Brief survey – what kind do you have? Please don’t tell me that you all have those fancy front loading machines that I want so badly!).

I finally learned what the difference is between all those different bottles of Tide on the shelf are. I’ll be checking out the Tide with Bleach alternative – my current laundry pet peeve is whites that look yucky. “Yucky” is not the technical term, mind you. Also hadn’t realized that there are formulations for the special materials used in modern day workout clothes especially tailored for those special designed fibers.

We were all shocked to learn about all the… uh… “matter” that remains on your clothes after a day of wear (and be oh so grateful that I’m leaving it as matter, because the actual terminology of all that stuff your body produces that ends up on your clothes is enough to turn almost anyone into a germophobe!). I’m going to blame that “matter” for why I weigh so much more when the day is over. I’m not heavy, I’m just carrying around dead skin cells.

It was an incredibly informative AND FUN event, and I look forward to sharing more of what I learned in the future. Yeah! I’m gonna talk laundry with you. And maybe I’ll try doing my wash the right way and see how it works. And, I may just go to the store and do a Tide smell test (yes, I pick detergent based largely on its scent. I’m weird).

Disclosure: I was provided with airfare and hotel accomodation for this trip, but the opinions expressed are my 0wn, as always.