Are You Using Too Much Laundry Detergent?

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Green Living

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Before high-efficiency washers and concentrated solutions, my family cut our laundry detergent use in half. How did we do it? And why?

During a field trip to an environmental group’s office, I learned that just half the recommended amount of laundry detergent is enough to clean clothes.

As an eco-conscious kid, I went home and declared an end to laundry detergent overuse. The benefits were surprising. By reducing our laundry detergent use, we reduced the amount of suds that polluted our waterways. Skin irritations disappeared, and I enjoyed a milder detergent scent (I now use unscented formulas). Plus, we saved money.

High-efficiency front-loading washing machines also slash detergent use (too much soap harms the machines). However, even though the cap has gotten smaller, you’re probably still using too much.

So, how much laundry detergent should you use?

Tips and Tricks to Reduce Laundry Detergent Use

1. Use the recommended amount for a light load of laundry when washing a full or heavy load.

2. Half is the maximum. Do not use more than half the recommended amount, even for heavily soiled loads.

3. Mark the cap. The recommended use lines can be hard to read. Draw a line at the halfway mark with a black permanent marker, and you’ll always know how much to use.

Bonus Tip: Switch to an eco-friendly, natural laundry detergent for an even greener lifestyle.

Cara Smusiak writes for Naturally about natural, organic, and green living.


1. How much laundry detergent should I use?

It depends on the size of your load and the level of dirtiness. Generally, you should follow the instructions on the detergent bottle. For a normal load, use about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of detergent. For a larger load or heavily soiled clothes, use more detergent accordingly. Using too much detergent can cause excess suds, which can lead to poor cleaning and rinsing results.

2. What happens if I use too much laundry detergent?

If you use too much laundry detergent, it can lead to excess suds, which can be difficult to rinse out completely. This can cause your washing machine to work harder, leading to wear and tear and potentially even mechanical failure. Additionally, excess detergent can leave residue on your clothes, leading to skin irritation and allergies.

3. Can using too much laundry detergent damage my clothes?

Yes, using too much detergent can damage your clothes. It can cause the fibers to break down more quickly, leading to a shorter lifespan for your garments. Excess detergent can also cause discoloration, fading, and even the loss of elasticity in some fabrics.

4. How can I tell if I am using too much laundry detergent?

You can tell if you are using too much laundry detergent if you see excess suds during the wash cycle. Your clothes may also feel stiff or have a residue on them after washing. If you notice any of these signs, try using less detergent on your next load.

5. Can I use less detergent if my clothes are not that dirty?

Yes, if your clothes are not heavily soiled, you can use less detergent. Follow the instructions on the detergent bottle for the size of your load, but use less detergent for a less dirty load. This will help prevent excess suds and save you money on detergent.

6. Is it better to use liquid or powder laundry detergent?

Both liquid and powder laundry detergents are effective, but they have different benefits. Liquid detergent is easier to measure and pour, and it dissolves quickly in water. Powder detergent is more concentrated, so you can use less and it lasts longer. It is also better for cleaning heavily soiled clothes. Ultimately, the choice between liquid and powder detergent comes down to personal preference.

7. Can I use fabric softener instead of laundry detergent?

No, fabric softener is not a substitute for laundry detergent. It does not have the cleaning power necessary to remove dirt and stains from your clothes. Fabric softener is used to make clothes softer and reduce static cling, but it should always be used in addition to laundry detergent.

8. Is it okay to mix different brands of laundry detergent?

It is generally okay to mix different brands of laundry detergent, but it is not recommended. Different brands may have different ingredients and concentrations, which can affect the cleaning power and sudsing ability. Additionally, mixing different types of detergent, such as liquid and powder, can cause clumping and poor cleaning results.

9. Can I use laundry detergent for other cleaning tasks?

Yes, laundry detergent can be used for other cleaning tasks, such as cleaning floors, bathrooms, and even outdoor furniture. However, make sure to dilute the detergent properly and test it in a small area first to avoid damaging surfaces. It is also important to note that some detergents may contain bleach or other harsh chemicals that can harm certain surfaces.

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