Mother and baby playing with clothes in the laundry room.

How Much Detergent to Use in Washing Machine – and Why it Matters

Is ‘how much detergent to use’ a regular laundry conundrum you face? It’s a common myth that the more laundry detergent you use, the cleaner your clothes will be. But that’s not how laundry detergent works. Adding more detergent than is needed makes it harder to rinse out and could leave a residue on your clothes that may end up smelling or attracting more dirt (not to mention, cost you more money because you’ll get through your detergent quicker and need to buy more).

However, use too little detergent and your clothes may not be as clean as you want them. And because the dirt hasn’t been fully washed away, if you’re using a washing machine, you could get a build-up of dirt and mineral deposits that end up back on your clothes. So it’s important to understand how laundry detergent works to make sure your clothes get the best possible clean.

How Much Detergent to Use in Washing Machine?

Unfortunately, there isn’t one correct amount of detergent to use for everyone. How much you need may depend on how dirty your washing is (are you just freshening up some tops, or tackling some seriously muddy sports kit or a mealtime sauce spillage?), how much water you’re using, how hard the water is in your area, and whether you’re hand or machine washing. The amount of water we use affects how concentrated the laundry detergent will be in the water. For example, a top-loading machine typically uses 40 litres of water to wash a 2-3 kg wash load, while a front-loader uses 25 litres of water for the same load – that’s three times less.

If you’re hand washing, meanwhile, you can have far more control over how much water you’re using and measure how much laundry detergent to use accordingly. In hard water areas, the minerals already in the water react with the cleaning agents (called surfactants) in your detergent, taking them out of action and resulting in less cleaning power. Ordinarily, this would have meant that you’d have to use more detergent.

However, the good news is that we know who has hard water and have already adapted our product for your region to cope with this issue! If it all sounds a bit confusing, there are full dosing instructions on our packaging for whatever type of wash you’re doing.  

Do More Bubbles Equal Cleaner Clothes?

We know many mums like to see a bit of foam to know that they’re getting their laundry clean, but it’s a myth that bubbles = cleaning power. Essentially, bubbles are really just air and it would be perfectly possible for us to create a formula that still had all the surfactants and enzymes you need to get your clothes clean but that didn’t foam at all – but we know you like bubbles so we won’t!

However, just because you can’t see many bubbles, doesn’t mean your detergent isn’t working. Anyone using a front-loading washing machine may actually want to avoid too much foam as it could damage the machine (if it starts coming back out of the dispensing drawer, it’s not a good sign). This is why we’ve designed our front-loader detergents to foam less. Of course, if you’re washing by hand or using top-loaders the bubbles have somewhere to go.

But if you do find you’re creating lots of foam in your hand or machine wash, do ensure you rinse well to avoid any build-up of detergent residue.  

Saving the Planet One Wash at a Time

Knowing how much laundry detergent to use isn’t just better for your laundry results – it will also mean you are doing your bit towards protecting the environment. The less detergent we all use, the fewer raw materials and less packaging and transport is required to get it to you. And the less rinsing you need to do, the less water you’ll use.

With our powerful compacted products such as Surf excel matic Top-load and Front-load you’ll find you really don’t need much laundry detergent at all to get clothes outstandingly clean. When you multiply your contribution by that of every mum doing every load of laundry around the world, it all adds up. So by doing something as simple as using the correct amount of laundry detergent dose for your wash, you too could be saving the planet, one wash at a time.

For more information on how much laundry detergent to use, visit our special dosing advice pages for hand-wash powders and washing machine powders.