How Much Laundry Detergent Do I Really Need?

More isn’t always better. And that is abundantly clear when it comes to laundry detergent. Year after year, consumers spend more money than they need to on laundry detergents in the pursuit of cleaner, fresh-smelling clothes. Yet, more soap doesn’t mean cleaner clothes, and it could be doing damage to your washing machine.

But if too much detergent is a mistake, then how much detergent do you really need?

Here, we will answer this question and go over some of the reasons why you should be using less detergent when doing your weekly laundry.

How Much Laundry Detergent Should You Use?

When it comes to how much laundry detergent you should use, the first thing to do is check the owner’s manual for your washing machine. The manufacturer of your washer should not only explain how much soap should be used for specific load amounts but also provide recommendations as to what kind of detergents are compatible with your machine. 

As an overall rule, 2 tablespoons is how much detergent you really need for a standard laundry load size. This is considerably less than the detergent amount implied by the soap companies when they give you the extra-large cap for measuring. 

Do you think the soap companies want you to use as little as possible? Of course not! The sooner you buy your next bottle of soap, the better!

How Much Detergent Should You Use for High-Efficiency Washers?

If your washing machine is fairly new and purchased in the last several years, chances are you have a high-efficiency unit. Higher efficiency washers use considerably less water than older machines. As a result, they need very little detergent to operate efficiently. 

Two teaspoons of liquid detergent or two tablespoons of powdered detergent are perfect for your high-efficiency washer! It might not look like a lot in the dispenser, but, trust us, this is how much detergent you really need for a standard load of clothing.

Now, you might be asking yourself, “How much detergent should I use for heavily soiled clothes?” You’ll be surprised to find out that you actually don’t need extra detergent! Spot treating stains and pre-soaking your load of laundry is a more effective way of cleaning heavily soiled clothes. 

How Much Detergent Should You Use for Regular Top-Load Washers?

Traditional washing machines use much more water than their high-efficiency counterparts, so any extra detergent you pour in the washer will be diluted. For regular top-load washers, try to use 2 teaspoons of liquid detergent or four tablespoons of powdered detergent. You still want to be mindful of using too much laundry detergent, as this can harm both your wallet and your washing machine. 

How Do I Know If I’m Using Too Little Detergent?

You can always experiment with how much detergent you use when cleaning your clothes. Even if you are following the guidelines listed above, you might find that you need to dial back or add more detergent to fit your individual needs.

How much detergent you really need for a load might change day by day, depending on the weather and your environment. If you have a load of particularly soiled laundry, it’s okay to use a bit more detergent if you believe it’s necessary.

If you’re a fan of liquid detergent, 2 teaspoons might not seem like much. Keep in mind that the measuring cup you get with your bottle of liquid laundry detergent is about 10 times bigger than the actual amount needed. This is just another tactic used by soap companies to get you to spend more on their products.

What Happens When Too Much Detergent is Used?

Using too much detergent in your washing machine can lead to many nuisances and the possibility of mechanical damage being done to the unit. Here are some common problems that result from using too much soap for your laundry:

Unpleasant odors coming from the machine: Soap scum can promote the growth of mold and mildew inside your washing machine. Over time, the mold and mildew will begin to smell, causing foul odors coming from the machine and in your clothing.

Slime buildup in the basin: Too much detergent leads to an accumulation of detergent residue in the basin of your washing machine. This buildup will result in a deficiency in the washer’s ability to properly clean your clothes.

Damage to the water level pressure switch: Excess soap can intrude the water lines that supply the washer with water. If soap intrusion becomes severe, the water level pressure switch can be damaged, resulting in an expensive repair or a complete washer replacement.

Washer stops mid-cycle: Using too much detergent in a load can cause the water to drain improperly—or can make the machine stop running altogether. 

Stains left on clothing: Noticing dirty clothing in the load of wash you just did? A buildup of mold, mildew, or soap scum inside the washing machine boot can result in dark spots or rust staining your clothes. 

If you’ve noticed any leftover detergent on your clothes, a method you could try to use to remove this detergent is called laundry stripping. Laundry stripping involves soaking your laundry in a tub of hot water, along with borax and washing soda. The process is finished when the water has completely cooled, which can take up to five hours.

What are Other Benefits to Using Less Detergent?

If you’re looking for new ways to be environmentally conscious, being mindful of the amount of detergent you use is one option. When deciding how much laundry detergent you should use, it’s always worth considering how little you can use to get the job done.

Using less detergent can not only be highly beneficial for your clothes, but it can also help the planet. The plastic that detergent is packaged in rarely gets properly recycled, so cutting back on detergent means buying less detergent, which also means wasting less plastic.

The Appliance Doctors Are In and Ready to Help You Out!

The Appliance Doctors are a leading provider of appliance repairs in the Cayman Islands. For over twenty years, we’ve proudly served members of our community with high-quality washer repairs at an affordable price. If your washing machine has been acting up and requires a check-up, give us a call! For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact us today!