Can Using Too Much Laundry Detergent Ruin Clothes?

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Too many suds are bad for your clothes.
Too many suds are bad for your clothes. (Image: Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images)

It can be very gratifying to slip on an article of clothing that looks clean and smells fresh. Keeping your laundry looking and smelling its best does not mean you need to use more laundry detergent than recommended. In fact, using too much laundry detergent can actually be counterproductive.

Fading

Adding more laundry detergent than the manufacturer recommends has a detrimental effect on the life of your clothing. When you use too much laundry detergent, an abundance of suds develops in the wash water. These suds do not run down the drain with the rinse water. Instead, they cling to your clothing, leaving an invisible layer of film behind. Overt ime, this film causes dyes in clothing fabric to fade and attracts dirt, making your clothes look dingy.

Check the Cap

Removing the cap to the laundry detergent bottle, filling it to the brim with laundry detergent, then pouring the whole capful into the wash load is a common practice. The problem is that most manufacturers do not recommend an entire capful of detergent for a single load, especially if the detergent is a concentrated variety. Read the instructions on the laundry bottle and look for the measurement lines inside the cap before you pour. If the measurement lines inside the cap are difficult to see, bring the cap into a well-lit room and mark the line with a waterproof marker.

Liquid and Powder Detergent

The type of laundry detergent that you choose makes a difference. Liquid detergent works best in cool water but is also safe for use in warm and hot water. The same premise does not hold true for powder detergents. Powder detergents do not dissolve properly in cold water, so hot water is best. Too much powder detergent added to a wash load leaves behind a white residue on clothing that pulls the dye out of the fabric, making bright colors look dull and giving your whites a yellow tinge.

The Washing Machine

Besides ruining the look of your clothing, too much laundry detergent may also ruin your washing machine over time. Excess suds that do not cling to clothes attach to the walls of the washer. This buildup of detergent produces a foul odor over time and encourages the growth of bacteria. Using more detergent than you need results in unnecessary wear and tear on the washing machine. This wear and tear eventually damages the washing machine, requiring a service call or replacement.

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