You’re Losing Money & Harming The Environment By Wasting Laundry Detergent

First published on Eath911 by an expert licensed appliance tech with 30 years of experience repairing home appliances, this article summary shares some very enlightening info on our bad laundry habits. Number one bad habit of adding more detergent if we think there’s an extra dirty load of laundry at hand. This in fact does not help and actually harms the machine, and the environment, as well as costs you cash. So stop overloading on laundry detergent right off the bat.


Using Too Much Detergent

  • Front-loading machine: people think it’s prudent to fill the soap tray all the way to the “full” mark. 
    • Front-load washing machines use high-efficiency soap and require much less than top-loading machines.
    • Try using about half as much soap as you have been; we can bet your clothes will feel better and actually come out cleaner with less detergent.
  • Top-loading machine: people will add an extra cap or scoop of detergent for an “extra” dirty load.


  • Energy waste & machine stress– too much soap produces a bubble overload, which doesn’t drain. 
    • A backup of bubbles causes the motor to spin too fast and overheat (this is when you might see a “SUDS or SD” error message on your machine).
    • For example, on a Whirlpool front loader, this can cause the door to stay locked and the washer continuing to drain until it’s unplugged. 
    • A waste of energy and mechanical stress on the washer.
  • Sticky Clothes– when too much detergent is added, the machine is not able to adequately rinse it all away.
    • The extra soap will stay on your clothes, towels, bed linens and actually can make your laundry feel mucky and irritate your skin.
  • Loss of cash– simple math, use more detergent than needed, and you’re literally throwing your money down the drain. 
  • Mold– when extra soap leaves a residue in your washer, which is a warm moist environment, it can become a food source for black mold
    • This type of mold is quite toxic to humans and can cause a number of serious health issues.
    • Secondly, it smells terrible!
  • Bad for the environment– wastewater treatment plants and septic systems aim to remove all pollutants. But using an overabundance of detergent adds to the system’s load and it may not be able to remove all those chemicals. 
    • It also raises water treatment costs for the community.
    • And the odds are increased that harmful substances will be released into the environment.
    • One such detergent ingredient, nitrogen, promotes algae growth in freshwater sources. Thai growth devours oxygen levels and ends up harming marine life. 
    • Soap surfactants (additional stain fighters) are toxic to water supplies and marine life as well.


Detergent Sheets

This is truly an environmental breakthrough in the plastic wars. Moving from huge plastic bottles, which by the way can only ever be recycled twice before they end up in landfills forever, to pre-measured sheets of solid detergent is a gift. The benefits include:

  1. Premeasured so you can’t overload on detergent (well you can add more sheets than necessary but don’t!). 
  2. No more sticky soapy residue in your machine or on your clothes.
  3. Environmentally friendly by taking plastic out of the equation and vastly reducing the cost of shipping those heavy bottles full of watery-based liquid detergent.
  4. Less fuel needed for transportation means a lower shipping carbon footprint.
  5. Prevent most of your laundry mishaps, generate a lot less packaging waste, and save some money by switching to detergent sheets.

And for a nontoxic laundry detergent with only four safe ingredients, consider making your own with this simple recipe shared at Earth911.

If you’d like tips on how you and help your washer last longer, and reduce pollution, check out this guide here.

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