Less laundry detergent still gets clothes clean

Michael's sensible laundry tip:

This one helps the budget and the planet all in one.  The recommended scoop (or squirt) size for laundry detergent is far too much.  Identical cleaning results can be obtained with 1/3 the suggested amount.  You'd even be surprised how clean laundry gets WITHOUT soap – although children's clothes do get exceptionally dirty.  Using less detergent lets you save money and puts fewer nasties (like phosphates) in the water.

Agreed. I use about a tablespoon of powdered detergent in our front-load washer (and not the HE kind — just regular detergent) with fine results.

Comments

  1. michelle davis says

    great hack! also try switching to non-phosphate/eco-friendly brands like seventh generation, method, and shaklee! use less and do a good thing for the enviro!

  2. Jason says

    We recently bought a front loader HE washer/dryer and I have to say it was worth it. It uses 60% less water, it’s Energy star rating is among the highest, uses a tiny amount of detergent and it handles huge loads like a champ. Another option that we liked was the sanitary cycle, since we rarely use bleach. It’s nice to run the baby clothes through about once or twice a month. Downside is they are expensive. If you bargain shop you can can save 15-20% or more. We bought the floor models and saved a bunch.

  3. Brian says

    Same thing goes for almost all cleaning agents: cleansers, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, etc.

  4. hedra says

    And if you can’t BEAR to not fill the cup to the line, you can also consider thinning it with water. (I do that with my shampoo, when I remember to!)

  5. Kathy says

    I was actually told by an appliance repairman that repeatedly using the “recommended” amount can actually cause problems in more modern appliances, usually the kind with the more complicated dispenser mechanisms. He apparently repairs a lot of gunked up dispensers, caused by using too much detergent.

    We use a tiny, tiny amount. Probably even less than a tablespoon, unless the items are really dirty. Everything is clean and fresh-smelling on that small amount of detergent.

  6. Kristi says

    Last year I bought a front-loader and then went to Costco and got one of those big 2-1/2 gallon dispensers of detergent. I definitely use more than a tablespoon, but I use less than the “minimum” line on my measuring cap. Sharpie to the rescue! I’ve created new measuring lines on the cap with a black Sharpie, I only have to re-write them every few months. And that 2-1/2 gallons of detergent? Lasted me SIX months!

  7. isabel says

    Add a scoop of baking soda and that tablespoon of detergent will go even farther. You can get massive bags of baking soda dirt cheap.

  8. Elana says

    Too much soap (ie recommended amount) actually gets your clothes dirtier, since the detergent stuck in the fibres gets dirty easily, and makes clothes grungy. Remember, detergent makers don’t care about how clean the clothes are, just that you buy more detergent!

    We also use 1/4 cup of white vinegar in the rinse (instead of fabric softener), to help remove soap residue. Works great as a softener, and you can add a drop or two of essential oil to fragrance it (rose is lovely, so is lavender, and tea tree also is a antiseptic).

    Almost all clothes come clean on the cold setting, btw. We wash all our stuff in 30 degree washes (that’s cold here, the coldest you can wash, celcius) and it’s all clean. Just do a hot wash once a week or so, with nothing in it, to get any gunk in the washer out. that’s what the repairman said.

  9. N says

    We started using less detergent when we switched to cloth diapers and the instructions that came with them said to do that. Hmm, obviously we were using too much for our regular laundry when you could see soap bubbles left in the door gasket when the wash was done (yep – we should have thought of that on our own).

    Also, we fill the dispenser in the dishwasher almost half way, and even dishes and bowls from our messiest cooking experiments come out squeaky clean.

  10. N says

    We started using less detergent when we switched to cloth diapers and the instructions that came with them said to do that. Hmm, obviously we were using too much for our regular laundry when you could see soap bubbles left in the door gasket when the wash was done (yep – we should have thought of that on our own).

    Also, we fill the dispenser in the dishwasher almost half way, and even dishes and bowls from our messiest cooking experiments come out squeaky clean.

  11. weedragon says

    Elana said something about adding 1/4 cup of white vinegar to the wash to get rid of soap scum. Another benefit of using white vinegar is it helps colors stay super bright for a really long time. I used to do this in high school and my clothes always looked new! (a plus since I didn’t have alot of clothes)

  12. maggie says

    You can do that in the dishwasher too – we had to get a new d/w recently, and were told in the showroom to just use a tablespoon of detergent.

  13. Alison says

    The same goes for dishwasher powder. You only need around a tablespoon, rather than filling the whole dispenser. My large box of powder has lasted me 4 months already, and its still half full.

  14. Sandy says

    My son and I both have seasonal allergies and rhinitis. The Pediatrician recommended cutting our detergent use in half and that helped tremendously with both of our allergies. We still do have allergic reactions triggered by pollen but just in general, our runny noses have subsided.

  15. April says

    These are great tips! However, it is important to know how hard your water it. The harder the water, the more detergent needed or you will have the hard water deposit (read minerals) left behind on the clothes and the dishes. We have a rating of 16 on our water, and I can’t use less than the recommended amount. Believe me, I’ve tried!

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