The Ultimate Laundry Detergent Quiz

Estimated Completion Time
2 min
The Ultimate Laundry Detergent Quiz
Image: iStockphoto.com/Graça Victoria

About This Quiz

There is nothing like putting on a freshly laundered garment after a refreshing shower. What exactly goes on when your clothes are swirling about in the washing machine? The answer lies in the powers of laundry detergent. Take this quiz to learn why.
How many loads of laundry does the average American household do a year?
100
200
300
According to The Wall Street Journal, the average American household does about 300 loads of laundry a year.

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When did the first laundry detergent hit the market?
in the 1930s
Procter and Gamble introduced the first laundry detergent in the 1930s, called Dreft. In 1943, they launched Tide, which took on even tougher stains.
in the 1950s
in the 1960s

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What did people use to clean their clothes before laundry detergent was first produced?
dishwashing liquid
soap flakes
Before the first laundry detergent was introduced, people used soap flakes. Laundry detergents are more effective at cleaning clothes, because of their unique chemical ingredients.
baking powder

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What does surfactant stand for?
a surface active agent
Surfactant stands for a surface active agent, which means it is a chemical able to connect to two different types of molecules at the same time. This explains its ability to clean; one side attaches to the dirt and the other to water, pulling the dirt away from the material.
a super active substance
a superior fact agent

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How many types of surfactants are there?
four
There are four types of surfactants: anionic, nonionic, cationic and amphoteric or zwitterionic.
six
nine

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What is more effective for removing mites and mite allergens from clothing?
Laundry detergent is more effective.
Water is more effective.
They are equally effective.
When it comes to removing mites and mite allergens, water is just as effective as laundry detergent, because mites are water soluble. This is good news for allergy sufferers who are also sensitive to chemicals.

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What is a disadvantage of using soap?
It does not break down dirt as effectively.
It leaves a residue.
Soap is also a surfactant, but it leaves a residue; dulling colors, graying whites and leaving a ring of scum around the washing machine.
It is more costly than laundry detergent.

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What type of surfactant is best used in hard water?
nonionic
Nonionic surfactants are best used in hard water, because they have no charge and so will not bind to the positively charged calcium and magnesium in hard water, rather than dirt and grease.
cationic
anionic

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What is an example of a builder?
bleach
soap
sodium tripolyphosphate
A builder is added to detergent to neutralize chemicals contained in hard water, like magnesium and calcium. Sodium tripolyphosphate is an example of a builder.

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What makes clothing appear whiter and brighter?
the temperature of the water
enzymes
peroxide
Bleach, which contains peroxide, is a commonly used whitener. Fluorescent whiteners are also used, which absorb ultraviolet light and emit blue light, making clothing look whiter and brighter.

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What is the function of proteases?
They break down proteins.
Enzymes are added to laundry detergent to act in the same way they act in the body -- to break down food particles. Proteases break down protein, lipases break down fat and amylases break down starch.
They break down fat.
They break down starch.

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What filler is used in powder detergents?
baking soda
sodium sulphate
Sodium sulphate is the filler which gives powder its grainy texture. Liquid detergents use water as a filler.
water

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What is more effective, a powder or liquid?
Powder is more effective.
Liquid is more effective.
They are equally effective.
Which laundry detergent to use is a matter of preference. Powders and liquids are equally effective.

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Why do clothes get worn out from being washed?
The chemicals in the detergents deteriorate the fabric.
The water deteriorates the fabric.
The rubbing of the clothes against one and other during the agitation cycle deteriorates the fabric.
It is debatable whether the chemicals in laundry detergents break down the fabric. More likely, it is the rubbing of the clothes against one and other during the agitation cycle that deteriorates the fabric.

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What is an advantage of laundry powder over laundry liquid?
Laundry powder does not dissolve as well as laundry liquid.
Laundry powder is cheaper.
Laundry powder is cheaper than laundry detergent; it also comes in cardboard boxes, making it more environmentally friendly.
Laundry powder is more effective.

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What is an advantage of laundry liquid over laundry powder?
It contains less chemicals than powder.
Laundry liquid contains less chemicals than powder, because it uses water as a filler, rather than sodium sulphate.
It is cheaper than powder.
It dissolves better than powder.

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What is the carbon footprint of laundry detergent per year?
120 pounds per family (54.5 kilograms)
240 pounds per family (109 kilograms)
480 pounds per family (218 kilograms)
Carbon footprint refers to the amount of carbon dioxide produced when manufacturing, shipping and using a product. It is estimated that the carbon footprint for laundry detergent for the average American family is 480 pounds a year.

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How much energy is used to heat up the water in your washing machine?
20 to 25 percent
60 to 65 percent
80 to 85 percent
From 80 to 85 percent of the energy used to do a load of laundry goes to heating up the water. If you use a detergent that works well in cold water, you will be saving a lot on your electricity bills.

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Why are concentrated formulas better for the environment?
They put less chemicals into the environment.
They require less packaging and less gas for transporting them.
Concentrated formulas are better for the environment, because they use less resources like water for production, plastic for packaging and gasoline for transportation.
They contain less chemicals.

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What chemical do green laundry detergents usually not contain?
phosphates
Green laundry detergents usually don't contain phosphates, perfumes or dyes and are usually biodegradable.
bleach
surfactants

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iStockphoto.com/Graça Victoria
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