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Q&A with home economist on laundry


Mary Carver, a professional home economist in Ottawa talks to Canadian Grocer about how the laundry category has changed, and where it’s going.

Canadian Grocer: How has laundering changed over the years?

Mary Carver: Today, with laundry rooms on the main floor, bedroom level or incorporated into luxurious kitchen plans, machines are quieter and more beautiful. With fewer people patronizing dry cleaners, most garments are laundered at home on specified cycles.

How have products responded in turn?

Laundry detergents have changed as washing machines have evolved. With top or front loading HE machines –some of super size, others of apartment size. It seems there is a washer and a detergent for every need. We've come a long way from wringer washers, scrub boards and bar soap or even high-sudsing detergents.

What’s driving the laundry category today?

Single-use packets (pods) of concentrated detergent appear to be driving the market in a new direction due to convenience (premeasured means more accuracy, less spillage, less waste of product).

Products are also using less packaging (less environmental impact), and higher concentrated formulas means less weight to carry home than a 5 lb bottle. I also see an increased demand for fragrance-free laundry products as another driving force today.

What do consumers want from laundry products?

Consumers want convenience, simplicity, ease of use, a product that cleans well and is green or at least non-toxic to the environment. However, when budgets are tight, consumers will often choose best price as best logic.

What laundry product doesn't currently exist yet that you wish was available?

Having one all-purpose laundry detergent that cleaned well and removed all stains that was safe for the environment would be a dream come true and could replace two or more laundry products that most consumers currently keep on hand.

I also see a gap between concentrated detergents and fragrance-free.  Often highly concentrated products have a stronger fragrance, which can be an irritant.

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