Review Tuesday – Ecover non-bio laundry liquid and concentrated fabric conditioner…

I rarely do reviews – although, if you want to read some, I recommend – but I was sent a goodie bag from the kind people at Ecover last September. I’ve only just got round to writing this review because I had moved into a new flat with a new (to me) washing machine and I wanted to finish my old laundry products then go through my Ecover supply so I could have a ‘real’ comparison. I think that, when you review a freebie, it can be tempting to sugarcoat things. I try to maintain some semblance of objectivity and integrity and I have with these products.

I put them to the test with every type of wash I could try – they faced school uniforms; the usual dark, bright and white washes; upholstery; curtains; trainers; bedding – both adult and child (including one wash after a nighttime ‘accident’); gym kit; cashmere; something I’m only supposed to dry clean; towels – both my fluffy ‘spa’ ones and the kids’ disgusting post PE versions and, finally, handkerchiefs covered in snot and – once – a little bit of vomit. In short, the full gamut, the whole shebang, the least and most taxing of tasks – basically the Olympic games of laundry…the entire Olympic games.

That meant that I did a variety of washes – for example, the accident and the handkerchiefs needed a boil wash. I also put on a couple of fast wash and dries. I did use the dryer pretty often. I started with my new laundry regime in January of the most miserable winter the UK has experienced in years, after all. However I did hang stuff out if it was practical too.

I should tell you a little about my laundry conditions. I have a new, eco friendly washer / dryer. It’s not massive in terms of capacity – about 5kg max – but it’s adequate for us and we had no problems fitting any of our loads into it. We also have extremely soft water – direct from a Welsh spring. That means that detergent gets bubbly fairly easily. It also means that I should be able to use the exact amount of product that the manufacturer recommends. It’s also possible to use a lower temperature most of the time.

All things considered, I’m pretty lucky when it comes to laundry. It’s certainly more cost efficient than for most people. It also made me determined to stick to the instructions given on the backs of the bottles.

I had been using generic supermarket products – Tesco if you want exacting data. They’re ok. I’ve used them forever as they’re reasonably priced and I mainly wash inexpensive items that are quite hardy. I sometimes opt for a super posh fabric conditioner as I like my clothes to smell luxurious – especially because they aren’t. In fact scent is important to me. Clean clothes should smell good when you put them on. Why not? It’s a little treat that isn’t too costly.

Ecover’s non-bio laundry liquid came in a fairly dull looking 1.5l bottle that is supposed to provide enough washing liquid for 17 washes. You only use a capful. It felt a bit weird using such a minimal amount – they say you can use an extra capful if your wash is larger or extra dirty but I’m cheap. It wasn’t happening. Yes, dear readers, I made sacrifices for you.

The Ecover concentrated fabric conditioner comes in a 750ml bottle and that should suffice for 25 washes. You can probably imagine that the amount required is tiny – less than half that of the laundry liquid. I love my fabric softeners so I was dubious about the possibility of effective loveliness. I got the gardenia and vanilla scented version which comes in a very jaunty yellow bottle. That cheered me up. Cheery cleaning products are underrated – they should be the norm. After all nobody actually enjoys the job.

On to the test results. Basically I loved the products. Remember how I said that I didn’t want to sugarcoat it? Well sometimes you need to be…let’s say ‘diplomatic’. I don’t have to be this time. I did my due diligence for you and I wasn’t confident. People were critical. Lots of them picked over the fact that their whites weren’t razzle dazzling. Fine – but it’s non-bio. You can always add a capful of bleach if you’re hung up on your clothes looking as bluey white as my skin is during the winter.

The towels were immaculate. As were the sheets and bedding. Kids’ bedding goes grey and bobbly quite easily, I find. It didn’t happen with Ecover. The towels also stayed fluffy and the kids’ weren’t as cardboard-y as usual. In fact they were soft. Towels got a deluxe 60° wash and bedding got 50° or 40° – depending on the results of the mum smell test (checking for eau de vile vinegary child sweat) or visible dirt – how do they get mud into their beds?

The everyday washes were better than normal. I only ever use a 40° wash max. day to day. It’s the recommended temperature and it will do for me.

The school uniforms and gym kit went in together and were fresh and undamaged afterwards. They didn’t lose colour or go stiff and horrible.

Upholstery and curtains have their own washes on my posh new machine. Everything came out soft and fluff free. As did my cashmere jumper and scarf – and, thank God, neither shrank.

More surprising were the dry clean only trousers. I bought them on a whim without checking the label. Why make trousers dry clean only? It’s not like they’re a posh dress you only wear on high days and holidays. Anyway, that doesn’t matter now – it turns out I can throw them in the machine.

The trainers were the big surprise. I have too many pairs and I love the variety known as ‘white runners’. The trouble is that it’s so freaking wet in Liverpool. They’re never properly white. Even in the summer they get dusty and go greige. Well I washed a new pair – after one outing threatened to be their death knell – and they and their cute little ribbon laces are back to good.

Lastly the disgusting handkerchiefs. Poor poor washing machine. Poor poor Ecover. Happy happy mum. Soft soft children’s noses. I would like to add a note re the handkerchiefs. We have tissues – we use them at home. However, Child 1 is reticent about asking for a tissue during class as she’s self conscious about sniffly noses disturbing her teacher’s delivery. She absolutely loves her teacher. I can’t tell you how excited she was when they announced that Miss Saleh (actually it’s Mrs but the kids don’t seem to like the idea of sharing her with a husband) would be teaching the class for a second year running. All that means that they behave like something from a finishing school manual.

You know that the wash works well but I need to add something about the fabric conditioner. It smells delicious. It’s delicately scented – but I found that it was long lasting and grownup. It didn’t clash with perfume. It wasn’t fruity. It didn’t smell like out of season seaside towns. There was no hint of cake tins. We didn’t get a cheap aromatherapy oils vibe. Perfect for adults. The kids didn’t care at all, of course – but they did like how soft it made their laundry feel. So did I.

When we finished the bottles I was a little bit gutted, actually. I’m testing another brand right now but it’s nowhere near as pleasing. To be honest I might sack it off and go back to Ecover.

A word about the price. The laundry liquid is expensive – but the fabric softener is relatively reasonable. They work out at the upper price end of the middle range of laundry products if you buy them together – but, for me, they would be worth it.

Ecover is known for its environmentally friendly credentials. It’s worth saying that Mark Bremans – the chief executive of the company – has said publicly that the products are not that. He maintains that no cleaning products are at the moment and the company has to constantly work towards the goal of being greener. For the moment, however, they are up there competing to be as kind as possible.

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