This Laundry Detergent Does Magical Things to My Dish Towels

published Jan 5, 2022
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

When I get in the cooking zone, I’ve got every pot and pan deployed, every burner aglow, and every square inch of counter space in use. At the end of it all, one thing is abundantly clear: Keeping my kitchen towels clean is the furthest thing from my mind. In fact, my towels end up looking like Jackson Pollock paintings (if Jackson Pollock painted with food … and his elbows). They’re invariably a mottled mishmash of tomato sauce, greasy meat drippings, and black goo from my cast iron pans. I made peace with having nothing but stained towels long ago, but it turns out that might have been premature thinking.

I recently tried out Swash, a newish laundry soap from Whirlpool (yep, the appliance manufacturer) and was floored by the results! My typical towel-cleaning routine involves pre-treating them, tossing in a scoop of detergent booster, and adding a soak session to the cycle. These steps help but can’t eliminate the worst stains. Plus, honestly, they’re a pain, requiring me to spend more money on laundry products and additional time to wash each load. Swash promised to be so concentrated, I wouldn’t need to jump through those hoops — and I’m here to tell you it delivered!

Credit: Danielle Centoni

That’s not to say I wasn’t skeptical. The bottle is about the size of a container of dish soap — far smaller than my big jug of laundry detergent from Costco. The label says the cap has a pre-measuring mechanism that dispenses the perfect amount of soap. While there may be some fiddling involved (according to Amazon reviews), just turn the cap upside-down and squeeze it into the machine’s soap dispenser until the liquid stops coming out. I did as directed and roughly a teaspoon — just a teaspoon! — came out. That couldn’t be right. Turns out, it is!

Apparently, the soap is eight times more concentrated than most others, so a teaspoon is all you need for a normal load (or two squirts for a big load). One 30-ounce bottle will wash 83 normal size loads of laundry. The company’s website informed me that people tend to use too much laundry detergent under the mistaken impression that more soap is better. In reality, too much soap can cause residue and build-up on your clothes and in the washer.

Still, I would have sworn a teaspoon of soap wouldn’t do diddly-squat to get my impossibly dirty dish towels clean, but Swash proved me wrong. I used it to wash a load of really gross towels and cloth napkins, didn’t pretreat them at all, didn’t use any boosters or do any soaking, and guess what? They turned out completely stain-free — even the microfiber cloths I had used to degrease my range were looking good!

Credit: Danielle Centoni
Dirty towels before giving Swash a try.

I immediately used it to wash six more loads of laundry that day and the bottle was still so full, it didn’t even look like it had been used. All of our clothes felt soft, and not even slightly slick (which can happen with fabric softeners). Our white bath towels and washcloths turned out so fluffy and bright they were like new. I’ve never gotten them to look that good even with bleach, which usually makes them smell chemically and feel rough afterward. The detergent clearly has a hefty dose of whitening agents built in. 

Another thing I love about the detergent: the scent. We’ve always used fragrance-free detergent because the usual suspects are so overwhelmingly perfumed. But fragrance free is also a little boring. Swash’s Pure Linen fragrance is very delightful and light, just enough to let you know the clothes are freshly laundered when you get close enough for a whiff. It also comes in Simply Sunrise (more floral) and Free & Clear varieties. 

Credit: Danielle Centoni
The results after Swash laundry detergent works its magic. Unbelievable, right?

At a little under $20 for a 30-ounce bottle, Swash seems pricey at first, but then I realized that’s just 19 cents a load. It costs slightly more than the 11 cents per load of the detergent I usually buy at Costco, but because it works so well, it offers more bang for the buck. There’s no big jug to wrangle, no sticky-drippy cup, no pre-treating, no soaking or laundry boosters necessary, and it offers just the right amount of light, fresh scent. I’ve been using Swash exclusively for a few weeks now, and I can’t imagine using anything else.

Buy: Swash by Whirlpool Liquid Laundry Detergent, $17.98 for 30 ounces

How do you clean your kitchen towels? Tell us in the comments below.