Awash in a washday


Tidal wave

  Feeling suddenly fatigued in the supermarket laundry-products aisle the other day while looking for some Tide, Mr. Tidbit finally realized that he was confronting a mind-numbing example of the grocery phenomenon typified by Special K and Fiber One: He likes to call it Pointless Product Proliferation.

  He could see that there are four basic forms of Tide: regular liquid, high-efficiency liquid (for high-efficiency washers), pods, powder, and high-efficiency powder. Each comes in several varieties. Guess how many there are in total. No, go on: Guess! No fair looking ahead.

  OK, be that way. Mr. Tidbit is now going to name them all. If you think it’s a waste of time reading the list, consider how much time Mr. Tidbit wasted compiling it.

  From Tide’s website, he learned that the regular liquid has these options: Original, Ultra Stain Release, Tide Plus Coldwater Clean (specially formulated for cold water), Tide Plus Bleach Alternative, Tide Plus Febreze Freshness – Spring & Renewal Scent (the latest scent-renewal technology; dual-scent pearls activate upon movement to provide your fabrics with bursts of freshness all day), Tide Plus Febreze Freshness Sport (helps fight sports odors, especially sweat), Tide Plus A Touch of Downy (softer fabrics, with added April Fresh scent pearls), Free & Gentle (hypoallergenic; free of dyes and perfumes), Simply Clean & Fresh (lower priced [in a yellow jug], with baking soda to target tough odors), Simply Clean & Sensitive (lower priced [yellow jug], gentle on skin), and purclean (65% USDA certified bio-based; apparently it’s also free of upper-case letters). That’s 11, but checking out the Target website to verify that the yellow-jug items are indeed lower-priced (they are), he found that Original liquid also comes in Clean Breeze scent (in addition to Original [Tainted Breeze?] scent).

   Tide’s website also shows that the high-efficiency liquid comes in nine of those variants (Mr. Tidbit will spare you the list), and that there are four powders, three high-efficiency powders and five pods. (He didn’t look to see whether there are more of any of those at Target.)  So that’s 33 kinds of Tide, all of which come in two or three (or four) sizes. Being conservative, at only two sizes each, that’s 66 different choices of Tide. No wonder Mr. Tidbit couldn’t find the one he wanted.


Al Sicherman

Author: Al Sicherman

Al Sicherman and his used dog, Gus, live in Minneapolis. Al is on the left/

5 thoughts on “Awash in a washday”

  1. Not to worry, Al, the multitude of brands will ultimately give way to newer, more (insert your favorite adjective/noun/verb here)-able versions of what a simple bar of soap did for us. And yet the plastic jugs in which they come will NEVER go away.

  2. I must admit that I’m surprised there isn’t a lemon-flavored option …

    Thanks for your sevice!


  3. My new favorite term: pointless product proliferation. Brilliant! I too have noticed the vast variety of laundry detergents. Amazing! You have to wonder how our mothers and grandmothers managed to do the laundry without all these soaps from which to choose. But then, what product doesn’t come in numerous varieties?

    1. I’ve been making my own laundry soap for some time now out of grated fels naphtha soap, washing soda, and borax. It’s so cheap and it does a good job, although I have to add bleach sometimes to get out stains. Clothes come out so soft.

  4. I’m so old I remember when there was only one kind of Cheerios; now the various permutations and combinations occupy half an aisle.

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