Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Domesticity Isn't Always Pretty

I sure don't want this blog to turn into "10 Easy Ways to Brighten Your Whites without Using Bleach" or anything, but I had to share this, its a case of my outsmarting myself.

When I was in college and doing the MBA thing, I took several marketing classes. One of the things we learned was about ways to increase the sales of your product by finding ways to get people to use more. "Lather, rinse, repeat" is one example. Arm and Hammer Baking soda is another (it seemed for a while there they had a new use for baking soda every week).

Anyway, I've been suspicious about the amounts recommended for various uses of household stuff for quite a while now.

About two months ago now, I noticed that the glasses in our dishwasher were coming out covered with a bit of a film. They just weren't sparkling clean. I re-wahed some, but it didn't do much. Then I thought that it was just a too-full washer, but over the next few days, the size of the load didn't matter. Then I refilled the rinse-aid dispenser. No good. Then I tried running the washer empty except for some stuff supposed to help clean the washer and get rid of calcium deposits. No help. I pre-washed the glasses. Zip. I was getting a bit frustrated. What's the point of a washer if you have to re-wash half the stuff?

Finally, I consulted the owner's manual and carefully read the directions on the back of the detergent box. they indicated amounts to be used based upon the hardness of the local water. Well, I had no clue what the local hardness in parts per million was, but I knew it certainly wasn't soft.

Based upon my marketing classes, I had been going a bit light on the dishwasher detergent. So this last time I filled it up about 2/3 of the way instead of 1/3 to 1/2.

The glasses were much cleaner. The next time, I loaded the detergent thing up the whole way. Super clean glasses. So now it was clear what was going on. I had been underfilling the soap dish, and thus the water wasn't getting enough of whatever chemical reaction was needed to keep the calcium from sticking to the glass. Busted!


Dewdrop said...

Wow, that's a turn up for the books, as they say!! I usually find that, just like you said, most products are hyped up, and consumers are encouraged by the manufacturers/retailers to use, use and use a product. Often we're advised to use too much of a product - washing powder is a case in point.

Mike Thomas said...

I guess you've never sat through one of those sales pitches by the folks that sell water softening systems. One of the key things they always do is demonstrate how much extra soap you have to use to get laundry and dishes clean using hard water. If you would only install their system you would need only a fraction of that amount of soap and thus you save lots of money, etc. etc.
It's one of their biggest selling points.

Jammer said...

Actually, I have sat through a water softener spiel. Two of them, in fact. The second was especially excrutiating because I kept telling the guy that I didn't need the demonstration, I just needed to talk pricing and stuff. But he was incapable of deviating from his script. So I got the "you have a '57 Chevy dissolved in your drinking water" thing yet again.

I didn't buy it after that fiasco.