How Much Laundry Detergent To Use Per Load

Am I Using Too Much Laundry Detergent?

How much detergent to use
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To answer the question, "Am I using too much laundry detergent?" take a look at your freshly washed laundry:

Then the answer is to the question is, "Yes"!

What Detergent Manufacturers Tell Us

We'll get to the exact amount of detergent you really need to use.

But there is one thing you need to understand up front, the detergent manufacturers wish you would use more. All of the big companies - Procter & Gamble (Tide, Gain), Sun Products (all, Wisk), Henkel (Purex and Persil) and Church & Dwight (Arm & Hammer) - are experiencing limited growth or declining sales of laundry detergent. Why?

With the increased sales of larger high-efficiency washing machines (about 44 percent of United States households have one), consumers are, rightfully so, using less detergent than they once did. Lower water levels used in this type of washer require less laundry detergent. The washers actually offer better performance if you use less detergent. If you use too much detergent and must add a second rinse, you are using lots of extra water and might as well have a standard machine.

A second blow was dealt as home washers have increased in load size capacity. Consumers can now efficiently and effectively wash huge loads.

Fewer loads = less detergent used.

The final hit to free-flowing detergent sales was the introduction of single dose detergents like Tide Pods, Gain Flings, Wisk Deep Clean Power Blasts, all mighty pacs, Purex UltraPaks and Arm & Hammer Crystal Bursts. Premeasured packets now make up about 13 percent of liquid-detergent sales.

Even the most inept at laundry can get the amount of detergent correct. So, there no waste and no need to replenish detergent supplies so often. 

So, How Much Detergent Should I Be Using?

The amount of laundry detergent you should use per load of laundry depends upon the type of washing machine you use, the size of the load, the level of soil on the clothes, the hardness of your water supply and the stated concentration of the detergent (2X, 4X, 10X).

If you are pre-soaking clothes that are heavily stained, use the usual amount of detergent you would use for a full load of clothes.  If you are soaking only one garment, use one tablespoon of liquid or powder detergent.

Detergent Amounts For High-efficiency Washers 

Whether you have a front-load or top-load high efficiency washer, you are using much less water per load than a standard washer. Without all the extra water to distribute the detergent and then rinse it away, you MUST use less detergent. Even if you religiously purchase and use a product with the he symbol, you must still be careful about overdosing.

  • The optimum amount of 2X liquid laundry detergent for a high-efficiency washer is two teaspoons;  4X liquid laundry detergent one teaspoon; 10X liquid laundry detergent 1/4 teaspoon.
  • If you have soft water in your area, use less. For hard water supplies that are untreated, use about 1/4 more.
  • If you are using a premeasured packet, use only one per load. Be sure to follow usage directions to the letter and the packet should dissolve and disperse correctly.
  • For exceptionally soiled clothes, you will be much better off pre-soaking the load than adding extra detergent. If you do decide to use more detergent, add only 50 percent more per load.
  • If you have an extra large capacity washer (some can hold up to 25 pounds of laundry) and you routinely have it completely full of soiled laundry, double the optimum amount of detergent listed. However, if you only do "regular-sized" loads (12 - 15 pounds), use less detergent.
  • If you are using a high-efficiency powdered commercial detergent, add 2 tablespoons to the drum before loading clothes.

Detergent Amounts For Standard Top Load Washers 

Standard top loading washers use around 40 gallons of water in the wash/rinse compared to the 20-25 gallons a high-efficiency washer uses; so overdosing with laundry detergent, while still possible, causes fewer problems. The biggest issue from overdosing is wasting money.

  • To save money and still achieve clean laundry, use only one-half of the amount recommended by the manufacturer. For 2X liquid laundry detergent, this is usually 2 tablespoons or 1/8 cup. Use a standard measure or mark the detergent bottle cap with a permanent marker to prevent overdosing.
  • If you have soft water, use less - about 1 1/2 tablespoons of liquid laundry detergent. For untreated hard water, use the full amount.
  • Use only one premeasured packet - never two.
  • For heavily soiled clothes, presoak or spot treat stains with a bit of liquid detergent rather than add extra detergent to the entire load.
  • Use 1/4 to 1/3 cup commercial powdered laundry detergent.
  • Use 1/4 to 1/3 cup powdered homemade laundry detergent and 1/8 to 1/4 liquid homemade laundry detergent.