Why Cutting Back On Laundry Detergent Might Be The Best Thing For Your Clothes

Laundry detergent is the key ingredient to cleaning your clothes, but too much can do the exact opposite. By consistently using too much detergent in every load, you build up a layer of soap suds in your washing machine and on all your clothing. This build-up can leave stains, dark marks, and rust spots on your laundry. It will also cause the fabric to feel scratchy and hold odors (via American Home Shield).

Tru Earth explains that the average person pours 33% more detergent in their washing machine for every load than they actually need. The build-up this creates affects your machine by trapping water inside the barrel, which damages the pumps and motors associated with rinsing your clothes. It will also add more money to your energy bill because you will need to continuously run extra rinses to get all the excess detergent out of your laundry. For your machine to work efficiently and the detergent to do its job, you must ensure that you use the proper amount.

How much should you use

The amount of laundry detergent you should use is way less than you may expect. The general rule is 1 tablespoon of detergent for an average load, which is about 6 pounds (via Tide). If you are washing more than that, you can add 2 tablespoons of detergent. American Home Shield explains that this rule works for liquid and powder soap. For laundry pods, you should use just one. Many people use such an excessive amount of liquid detergent for every load because the measuring cup on the bottle is about 10 times larger than it needs to be.

If you are unsure what detergent to use, the best thing to do is check your washing machine's use and care manual. It will give you recommendations of what works best with the machine you have. Doing this is essential if you have a new or front-loading washer that needs high-efficiency (HE) detergent. HE laundry soap is different because it won't create as many suds as regular detergent. If you use this type in your washer, check the recommended amount per load and only use a third of that.

Remove the soap scum from your washer

Before you see any results from using less detergent, you must strip your washing machine of the soap buildup. This step is crucial because you will never see a difference without it. Instead, your clothes will continue to get washed in a dirty machine that leaves them smelly and covered in stains. You will need distilled white vinegar to remove the soap scum from your washer. It works well because it has acid that can cut through the built-up soap.

Kelly's Dry Cleaners recommends taking a clean, dry cloth and beginning by whipping down the inside of your machine. Doing this will make the next steps work more efficiently. Then start your washer. Once it's filled with water, add 2 cups of vinegar and run it for a cycle. When it's done, run an extra rinse cycle. Doing this will help to remove the extra soap or smells that are still lingering. Repeat these steps if there is still an odor inside your machine or the drum still has slimy detergent. When your washer is clean, you can safely put your clothes in there without fearing they may come out dirtier than they were to begin with.