Are You Using Too Much Laundry Detergent?

Stop Damaging Your Laundry and Washing Money Down the Drain!

When it comes to getting things clean, most of us believe that more must be better. More detergent in the washer means a better clean, right?

Sorry, but we’ve got to burst this bubble for you. The reality is exactly the opposite.

Using too much laundry detergent can not only waste money by failing to offer that extra ‘clean’ you’re after, but it can also make your laundry dirtier.

washer with towels spilling out

Problems Caused by Using Too Much Laundry Detergent

It’s astonishing how many problems can arise from such a simple and well-intentioned mistake. Even natural laundry detergents and laundry powder like ours can lead to trouble when used incorrectly.

Problem 1. Residue on Your Clothing

Using too much detergent — especially if you’re using conventional detergents — leaves a filmy residue on your clothing. The residue, which isn’t always visible, is a combination of the excess laundry detergent and the dirt, oil, sweat, and debris it was meant to wash away. Bacteria become trapped in the fabric where they cause odors and a more rapid breakdown of elasticity, structure, and fiber integrity.

Delicates, fine knits, and natural fiber clothing are particularly susceptible, as well as sports apparel. Athletic clothing is designed to be breathable and wick away sweat from your body. The chemical residue quickly becomes ‘clogged’, and its performance will decrease quickly.

But it’s not only your clothes that can suffer — your health can too.

If you’re using conventional detergents with hazardous ingredients, this residue is very easily absorbed into your skin. Over time, common toxins lead to significant health problems. Some of these could include; skin irritation, endocrine disruption, infertility, birth defects, developmental problems, and increased risk of cancer.

Problem 2. Wastes Money

Using extra detergent without actually seeing a benefit is an obvious waste of money — we don’t need to tell you that.

But the waste of your hard-earned dollars extends beyond that. When your washing machine detects that there are still suds to rinse away, it will trigger extra rinse cycles, wasting water. More electricity is required to wash clothes since the machine automatically adds extra rinses and pauses to break down excess suds.

Finally, your washing machine may not have the chance to drain properly, which means you’re putting wetter clothes than necessary into your dryer. Longer drying cycles are required, and no matter how many Wool Dryer Balls you throw in, the home energy bill goes up.

wool balls on the dryer

Problem 3. It’s Hard on Your Washing Machine

There are more long-term issues to consider as well. The extra rinse cycles increase the wear and tear on the washing machine’s pump and motor.

If you’ve got an HE machine, you may find that your sensors wear out more quickly than they should, leading to expensive replacements. Residue in the washer can cause malfunctions and encourages mold growth. Usually, this occurs in the gasket, where you can’t see, but you will certainly smell it. Mold and mildew can even transfer a musty odor onto otherwise clean laundry!

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

Thankfully, it’s pretty easy to tell. Signs you’re overdoing it may include:

  • You consistently fail to measure your detergent or intentionally add extra
  • You find traces of detergent residue on laundry (if you’re using a laundry detergent with synthetic fragrances, a strong chemical smell is another indicator)
  • Laundry feels sticky to the touch when wet or waxy after drying
  • Colored clothing is losing its brightness and whites are looking grey
  • Your washing machine smells musty
  • When you look in your machine, there are excess suds in the laundry

powder into the drum

How Much Laundry Detergent to Use for Each Load

If you’re using the correct type of natural laundry detergent for your washing machine and following the recommended amounts given on the packaging, you should be okay. Even so, variations in water pH and the size of the load are important to factor in.

What does load size actually mean for most machines?

  • A ‘normal’ load will fill your washing machine about ¾ of the way full. Or, should equal about 5-7lbs of laundry.
  • A ‘large’ load will almost or completely fill your washing machine. This will be between 8-10lbs of laundry, or more depending on the fabric weight. (Heavy duty fabrics are often heavier.)
  • A ‘small’ load will fill the washing machine ½ or less. Weight could range from 2-5lbs.

Tips for Heavily Stained Clothing:

Instead of increasing the amount of detergent used, change your tactics. Use the same amount of natural laundry detergent, but add a presoak setting to allow the detergent to better penetrate the fibers. If possible, use hot water.

Tips for Water pH

If you have soft water, use less than the recommended amount for all load sizes. If you have hard water, add a splash of vinegar to balance the pH or a ¼ additional detergent.

splash of vinegar into drawer

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