There is nothing I love more than seeing behind the scenes, whether it’s at a concert or a factory. It’s one of the most educational experiences imaginable and recently I had the chance to tour the P&G Fabric Care facility in Cincinnati and learn more about the development, research and testing that go into beloved P&G products including Tide, Downy and Bounce.
When it comes to product development, P&G pulls out all the stops. Once a product is created, the research and testing that goes into it helps to ensure that it performs as expected is nothing short of phenomenal. We started our tour by learning about the torture tests that are done on fabrics so that people can see the difference in the products for themselves.
My personal favourite test was a comparison of three white designer shirts. One was washed ten times in a leading detergent. One was washed ten times in Tide+ Bleach Alternative. And one was washed ten times in the leading detergent and then five more times with the Tide detergent. The difference between the first and second shirts was obvious; the shirt washed in Tide looked like new while the other shirt had yellowed and showed discolouration around the seams and pockets.
But it was the third shirt that had me excited. By washing the yellowed shirt with Tide+ Bleach Alternative, the shirt’s discolouration was actually improved! Two of my very favourite white items of clothing had recently ended up a dingy grey after I foolishly washed them with coloured items and when I saw the results of the Tide torture test, I wanted to rush out and throw my whites into the washer that minute!
We also took a look at some other clothes that had been washed with Tide and Downy products, and saw the way that the products helped to prevent colour fading and fabric breakdown. Then it was time to visit an area that I couldn’t wait to learn more about: the perfume and scent division!
There are not very many fully trained perfumers in the world and P&G employs about 10% of them. Considering that the company is not a perfume maker, that’s rather impressive! But scent is an integral part of many P&G products and knowing how to create widely appealing scents and then incorporate them in such a way that they’re working as intended is something that requires the skills of a master perfumer.
One of the things I found most interesting was that different techniques are needed to add scent to different products. With a laundry detergent, scent has to be added in such a way that it remains even after the washing process designed to remove all scent and soil from clothing. A liquid dish soap, on the other hand, needs a pleasing scent initially, but that scent needs to wash off completely with ease.
My personal favourite area was the research lab, and it was a place that really gave me a glimpse into the effort that P&G puts into perfecting its products. The lab technician showed us a few of the machines that the company uses to analyze fabrics after washing. From light microscopes worth $40 to a $700,000 scanning electron microscope operated by a scientist that was formerly employed by NASA, the company makes sure that its analysis of a product’s effectiveness is as thorough as possible. Seeing the way the lab uses those tools to zoom into the fibre level of clothing and analyze the dirt left behind was absolutely amazing.
Our final stop on our tour was the testing facility, an area where the products are used in a real-life environment to test their effectiveness. The area featured row upon row of washing machines and dryers of all makes and models, all being used to test the effectiveness of the laundry care products.
And as if that wasn’t cool enough, the area even had a special water control center so that the hardness and mineral content of the water could be adjusted to simulate different regions. In other words, P&G tests its products to see if people in New York and people in Toronto will both get great results even though their water composition is completely different. Now that’s a thorough testing process!
I left the P&G Fabric Care facility with a ton of knowledge and I have to admit I was more impressed by the experience than I had expected to be. It’s not easy to get people excited about washing clothes but seeing behind the scenes at the facility had me eagerly anticipating doing some laundry. And while the technology and research that goes into the products is impressive, the passion of the people that work there are just as integral in my opinion.
So many people herald the “Tide clean” as being the best clean and after having seen how much work goes into perfecting its products, I can see why. P&G products have been perfected, tested and compared against the competition to ensure the best possible clean while keeping clothes looking new for longer. And since I’m a bit of a fashion lover, that’s why P&G is the only brand I’ll be using for my clothes from now on!