How to Use Laundry Detergent Pods Correctly

This simple detergent option works in both front-load and top-load washers

laundry detergent pods on a towel

The Spruce / Taylor Nebrija

Chances are you will use laundry pods like Tide pods or something similar when washing your clothes. Read on if you are unclear about how to use laundry pods, how many single-dose pods to use, and what you need to do if you notice streaking or spotting on your clothes after using these concentrated little packets of laundry detergent.

Quick Steps for Laundry Pods

These steps are for both front-loading and top-loading washing machines.

  1. Take a laundry pod out of the storage container using clean, dry hands, and reclose the container tightly.
  2. Add the laundry pod to the bottom of the drum of the washer. Do not put pods in the dispenser. (If the load is large, you will need to add two pods.)
  3. Place clothes in the washer.
  4. Wash as usual, selecting the appropriate wash cycle.

How Many Laundry Detergent Pods Should I Use?

As you know, single-dose laundry detergent pods cost more to use per load than liquid or powder detergent, so it is wise to use the correct number to save money. For a normal size load of laundry (around 12 pounds), one detergent pod is all you need.

Laundry detergent pods are pre-measured, which makes it a bit easier and more convenient when doing laundry. You can just toss it in the washer drum rather than having to measure out the required amount of powder or liquid detergent. Some pod products already have fabric softener included, so you don't need to purchase any, saving extra expense and storage space in the laundry room.  


If you have an extra-large capacity washer like a front loader that can hold up to 20 pounds of laundry and you have it filled completely, use two pods.

The cleaning ingredients in single-dose detergent pods are concentrated and perform comparably with the specific brand's liquid counterpart in removing stains and soil. Pod formulas are low-sudsing detergents, which is a plus for washers that use low levels of water to get complete removal of soil and detergent in the final rinse. It is not necessary to have loads of suds to get clothes clean. Too many suds can redeposit soil on clothes leaving fabrics dull and scratchy. When you select a single dose product, consider the level of cleaning your family's laundry requires.

choosing the correct number of laundry pods
The Spruce / Taylor Nebrija

When to Add Laundry Pods to Washing Machines

The number one rule to successful use is that the pods must be added to the empty washer drum before adding clothes and water. If the pod is placed on top of a load of clothes, it may not dissolve properly. This can result in streaks and spotting from deposits of detergent left on the wet clothes. Streaking can also happen if the washer is overloaded with clothes and the pod isn't exposed to enough water to dissolve.

adding a laundry detergent pod to the washer
The Spruce / Taylor Nebrija

The pods and packs work well in standard top load washers and high-efficiency (HE) top-loading and front-loading washers. If the washer has an automatic detergent or fabric softener dispenser, skip them. The pod must be placed directly in the drum, never in a dispenser drawer.

The single-dose pods should dissolve completely in both cold and hot water. During the winter, if the incoming cold water is extremely cold, the pod may not dissolve correctly. If you repeatedly experience the problem of the pod not dissolving, try dissolving the detergent pod in a quart jar of hot water first. Add the detergent water directly to your empty washer drum before adding the dirty laundry.

dissolving a laundry pod in water
The Spruce / Taylor Nebrija

Troubleshooting Laundry Pods​

If a pod does not dissolve correctly and the laundry is streaked or spotted, immediately rewash the clothes with no added detergent. Choose the largest load capacity setting to make sure all of the clothes move freely through the water. Do not place clothes that are stained with detergent into a hot clothes dryer. The heat will make the product more difficult to remove.

How to Use Laundry Detergent Pods Correctly

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When using the pods, it is essential that your hands are completely dry when handling them or the outer film will begin to dissolve. You should also keep the storage container sealed when not in use to prevent damage from moisture, especially if you live in a high humidity area.

Important Usage Notes

Dishwasher pellets/single-dose packs are also widely available in the marketplace. They are not interchangeable with laundry detergent packs. If you remove packs and pods from their original packaging to place in decorative containers, be certain to label each carefully so they don't get mixed up with laundry pods. Many dishwasher pellets contain ingredients that can permanently bleach fabrics. Beware!


Detergent pods are cute and colorful and should always be kept away from children, vulnerable adults, and pets. They look a bit like candy, feel like silly putty, and can squirt into eyes or mouths if punctured. Call 911 or poison control immediately if a child swallows any of the product or the pod bursts and squirts into eyes or mouth.​

  • Should you add laundry pods in the washer before or after the clothes?

    Laundry pods should be added before adding any clothes to the washer. Streaks and spots can occur if the pod is placed on the top of the clothes.

  • What should you do if there are spots and streaks after washing with pods?

    Rewash the clothes immediately but use only the water in the washing machine, no pods or other detergent. Make sure to use the highest setting to allow for the most water in the washing machine tub.

  • Do you use more than one laundry pod if have larger loads?

    Those extra-large loads of clothing require more detergent, and you should use two laundry pods to ensure they get clean.

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Day, Rachael et al. Liquid laundry detergent capsules (PODS): a review of their composition and mechanisms of toxicity, and of the circumstances, routes, features, and management of exposureClinical toxicology (Philadelphia, Pa.) vol. 57,11 (2019): 1053-1063. doi:10.1080/15563650.2019.1618466