Method Products Inc. estimates that 53% of people use the wrong amount of laundry detergent. Labeled fill lines are difficult to read, load sizes are tough to estimate, and concentrated formulas are often overlooked. Whether it's an error in measuring due to vaguely labeled detergent caps or pouring in a rush, every ounce of extra detergent means less money in your grocery account.
People tend to believe that more detergent means cleaner clothes. In reality, lingering detergent leaves soap residue on clothes making them look dingy, smell odd, and wear quicker. It also builds up in the machines, shortening their life spans. It's an instance where less is more.
They may be responsible for manufacturing the detergent that cleans clothes, but they might not be the most qualified for measuring the needed amounts of their products. Laundry detergent manufacturers list vague recommendations for measuring their product. However, they may be recommending too much.
The Seventh Generation Company advises that the typical manufacturer's recommended detergent levels are nearly twice of what is required for a clean load of clothes. Whether it's a miscalculation or a method for increasing sales, the amount listed on the detergent's cap is far above the needed amount for even the dirtiest loads.
Clothes are supposed to be clean when they come out of the laundry. Yet, if the claims that Americans are adding too much detergent at the advisory of the manufacturers are true, then this experiment will prove it. Wash one large bath towel as normal. Then, throw it into the washing machine in the hot water cycle without adding any additives to the load. Let it slosh around for a few minutes, and then inspect the washer. Is there suds? Is there any soap residue lingering around the rim of the machine at the water line? These are tell-tale signs that you've used too much laundry soap when the towel was previously washed.
What does extra soap mean? First, it means money poured down the drain, literally. A big brand concentrated laundry soap can cost $13 for a bottle that claims it washes 24 loads per bottle. If you're over-measuring or adding extra for heavily soiled loads, then you're not even getting the advertised number of loads per bottle. Now consider the fact that manufacturers recommend too much soap per load, making even the most precise laundry maid waste her pennies. A $13 bottle might be able to wash 48 loads if the amounts are reduced to the actually needed amounts, but in reality a household probably gets 18 loads out of it. Now that's money wasted.
Also, too many suds are hard for your machine to wash away. Detergent can build up on your clothes, making them dingy. Also, extra soap left in the washing machine can become a breeding ground for bacteria and odor. I also wash only with cold water. Every so often, fill machine with water and one cup of vinegar and let it goes through the complete cycle and that should rid of the extra build up of suds.
You can also cut your costs on wash day by line drying. It will brighten the whites and save a bit on electricity. Lay some of your knits or items, not wanting to stretch, on a table or flat on the ground (on a old towel or sheet). I only line dry on beautiful and nice days. Just a few tips for cleaner clothes and saving a little money!
By Dorothy from New Creek, WV
By Pamm from Tulsa, OK
I read this advice on the internet from a conservation group, but can't recall where. To summarize, if the directions call for a cup of detergent, use half a cup. You can always increase it a little. I have tried doing this with dishwasher detergent, and it doesn't work well in my dishwasher (which is on its last legs anyway).
Start the washer (only works in a top-loader), add the detergent (a quarter to a third of recommended) and stir the water and detergent with a wooden or other long handled spoon. Add a little borax or vinegar. You will get the detergent, etc. started dissolving, and the suds will form. Add the clothes and let 'er rip. Plenty of suds, clean clothes.
Use more if you have really dirty clothes, but for run of the mill stuff, works just fine and saves lots of detergent!
I also use baking soda in dishwasher. Just fill compartment and add a little bleach. I haven't purchased commercial detergents in quite a while now. Hope this helps.
In 2 qt. pot, put grated Fels Naptha soap, Borax, Washing Soda and 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil on medium heat, stirring occasionally until the Fels Naptha is dissolved. Continue on a low boil for 20 minutes. Add 6 cups cold water, mix with a wisk until solution is blended. Pour mixture into an old, clean, bucket. Add 22 cups of water to the bucket. (at this point, I mark the side of the bucket with a Sharpie so I don't have to measure the water again) Mix with a wisk until blended. (the texture will look like snot, lol!). If you like, you can add some essential oils, or just leave as is. Mix with the wisk every so often for 24 hours. (I did this the first 2 times I made the detergent. Now I just mix well with the cold water and pour into 2 large containers). Pour into empty laundry bottles. Use 1/2 to 1 cup per load. Stains can be treated with moist Fels Naptha lightly rubbed onto stain. For extra heavy duty loads, add 1/4-1/2 cup of Borax.
By Megan F.