What Is Laundry Detergent Booster And Do You Need It?

If you want to marvel at the overwhelming abundance of modern life, take a walk down the laundry aisle. You'll find dozens of products that serve the same basic purpose but come in a huge array of brands, scents, sizes, and prices. Keep in mind, the cheapest detergents generally won't deliver the greatest results, especially if you've got tough stains, strong odors, or faded, dingy clothes. Expensive laundry detergents tend to contain stronger active ingredients, like surfactants, alkalis, enzymes, and long-lasting fragrances. But you don't have to spend big to clean big. Laundry boosters are simple additives that you can throw in with your existing detergent to essentially add or amplify the power of these active ingredients. 

If you're struggling with stains, dirt, or odors, a laundry booster may help you take your washing to the next level. These can be a perfect tool to make your detergent more effective and efficient. Just make sure you buy the kind that will help your specific struggles, and know when you may need to address a deeper issue. 

The purpose of laundry boosters

A laundry detergent booster is a product that you add to your laundry to enhance the effectiveness of your detergent. Some products include ingredients like oxygen bleach or color-safe bleach, chlorine bleach, scent boosters, and water conditioners. However, you don't always have to buy a new product to give your laundry a better clean. You likely already have some laundry boosters laying around your house, like white vinegar, baking soda, or borax. 

But do you really need a laundry booster? In some cases, stained, dingy clothes could just be a sign that you just need to switch detergents — or use less of it. As laundry machine test engineer Rich Handel tells Consumer Reports, "I'd never use more than the minimum amount of laundry detergent for most medium loads. Now that detergent is concentrated, using too much can leave residue on your clothes." 

However, if changing up your detergent or using less doesn't help, you may need a laundry booster to balance out hard water or address stubborn stains. If your laundry collects a lot of grass stains, dirt, and dust, or frequently carries odors like fry grease, smoke, sweat, or pets, a laundry booster can certainly be a good addition to your cleaning routine. 

How and when to use laundry boosters

Depending on the problems you're trying to solve, any one of these products can help. For example, if you're struggling with hard water, acidic water, or mineral deposits, try adding borax or baking soda to balance the pH and give your detergent a fighting chance. Adding 1/2 to 1 cup of white vinegar to the cycle is one of the best ways to neutralize odors, soften fabrics, and prevent soap buildup. And boosters like oxygen bleach and chlorine bleach are praised for disinfecting clothes and brightening dingy fabrics.

Before dumping anything and everything into your washing machine, read your laundry detergent label carefully and be aware of any possible chemical reactions. For example, never mix bleach and vinegar, as this creates dangerous chlorine gas. You may also want to consider the total cost of the products. It could be cheaper (and more convenient) to splurge on high-end laundry detergent than it is to add laundry boosters to every load. Laundry boosters also aren't a cure-all for poor washing habits or neglected machine maintenance. So, if you're constantly discovering stains or a musty odor on your clothes, it may be time to clean the inside of your washing machine