Here's How Much Laundry Detergent You Actually Need Per Load

Laundry is a chore that makes its rounds at least once a week, and most feel pretty confident in their laundering know-how. However, that confidence could be misplaced, because the truth is, most of us make one or more of the most common mistakes when using a washing machine and could probably use a refresher in proper fabric laundering. 

According to Aspen Clean, we should be asking and answering many questions with each load: Am I stuffing too many items into the machine? Have I separated lights from darks and paid attention to the care instructions for each fabric? What water temperature and cycle do I need? While all of those are worthy questions — there's one we answer with a simple eyeball measurement, and that is how much Detergent to use. We put more effort into selecting and buying laundry detergent than actually using it properly. So, how much soap is enough? Less than you probably think.

Different soaps for different folks

Shopping for laundry detergent can be confusing. Buying one that is designed to work in your type of washing machine is extremely important to the life of the appliance and also affects the cleanliness of your clothes. Maytag explains that most newer models are high efficiency (HE), which means they are designed to use a lot less water and electricity. HE machines, however, require a specially formulated detergent designed to produce fewer suds that quickly leave the wash basin. And, according to Charlie's Soap, HE detergent can be used in a regular washing machine, but regular detergent cannot be used in an HE washer.

Detergent comes in four basic types with liquid being the most popular, explains Speed Queen. More modern options, such as sheets and pods, are conveniently pre-measured and reduce mess, but they do tend to cost more. Too much detergent can be added to any load, even when using the pre-measured types. It's tempting to pour too much or toss an extra pod in when we think the soiled laundry needs an extra dose of cleaning power.

Standard detergent measurement per load

If you have an HE machine and you're using regular strength liquid detergent, Sloan Appliance Service says to use 2 teaspoons per standard load. Similarly, if you have a regular washing machine, only use a maximum of 2 tablespoons of regular detergent. The measuring caps supplied with many types of detergent are designed to use an abundance of detergent and many can measure up to ten times the necessary amount. 

Over time, using too much detergent can leave a residual film in hard-to-reach places of the machine. This residue can be a breeding ground for bacteria and actually damage the appliance notes Heathline. You may begin to smell a foul odor coming from the machine, or your clothes may not smell fresh after laundering them. To see if your washer has a build-up in it, check the drum for a sticky or slimy feel. To remove this build-up, simply run the empty washer without adding detergent to it. To keep your appliance running its best, don't overstuff it and monitor your detergent usage.