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How much Laundry Detergent should you use? Too Much of a Good Thing May Not Be That Good

Remember that episode of The Brady Bunch when Bobby got his good suit dirty and he decided to wash it himself? He ended up with a laundry room filled with suds & water that he needed to swim through to escape. Yep, Bobby made that age-old mistake of using too much laundry detergent. While maybe over-using detergent may not fill your laundry room with foam – it does not guarantee cleaner clothes, either. Most people use far too much soap for their suds – and it is their clothes that suffer. Of course, it seems to make sense that the more soap you use the cleaner your wash will be. Wrong! When it comes to laundry detergent, less is more.

Washing Machine Basics
Washing machines perform three main functions or cycles: wash, rinse & spin dry. Each cycle is just as important as the others in keeping your clothes fresh & clean.

Wash Cycle: This cycle distributes soapy filled water throughout a garment, pushing dirt & debris out of the fabric pores. If too much detergent is used, the fabric pores can fill with soap & become narrow not allowing all that nasty dirt (and soap) to be washed away.

Rinse Cycle: This is the cycle where all that dirt & detergent are flushed away. But if you use too much detergent – one, two & even three spin cycles may not be enough to wash away all that soapy grime. It is kind of like washing your hands with a lot of soap. You need to rinse them longer & often with stronger water flow to get rid of the soap & dirt. Your washing machine has a set time for each rinse & unfortunately unlike us, it cannot feel when all the soap is washed away.

Spin Dry Cycle: This is when all the excess water (and leftover detergent) is pulled out of your clothes. If you use too much detergent all may not be extracted, leaving behind residue that can make the colors of your clothing appear dull. It can affect the lifespan of your garments, too.

Try this test. Next time you do a load of wash, watch the water coming from the machine into the sink during the final spin dry cycle. Ideally, there should be minimal (ideally none) sudsy water. The water should be running clean at this point. If not, the extra detergent you used (and probably some of the dirt you are trying to wash away) is being left behind in your clothing.

So, How Much Is the Right Amount?
First – do not follow the manufacturer recommendations on the detergent bottle or box. In general, you can use far less than what is suggested. You may want to try cutting the suggestion in half. A couple of tablespoons for a medium load should be plenty. By using this amount, you will not only have cleaner longer-lived clothing – you will also save money by using less detergent.

What if I have a water softener?
Laundry detergent becomes more efficient with the use of a water softener. This means a little does a lot. It has something to do with the way the molecules interact & all that. The bottom line is — you only need a couple of tablespoons of detergent per load if you are hooked up to a water softener.

The bottom line: less is more when it comes to detergent & washing clothes. By using less, your clothing will go further & so will your pocketbook.

If you don’t think your washing machine is getting your clothes cleaned, give Art Adams Appliance Repair a call.