Convenience has taken centre stage in the world of laundry with the introduction of washing pods.
These pre-measured detergent capsules promise a convenient way to achieve clean and fresh clothing, with no measuring, no spills, and no worrying about which drawer to put your detergent in.
However, as these pods gain popularity, questions arise about their compatibility with the appliance they’re meant to serve: our washing machines.
Are laundry pods bad for your washer? Are there other disadvantages to be aware of? Or are these pods indeed a brilliant solution to effortless laundry?
Here, we answer these questions and more. This way, you can make informed decisions about your laundry routine and ensure the longevity of your trusty washing machine.
Are Laundry Pods Bad for Your Washing Machine?
Laundry pods are not bad for your washing machine. If they were, there simply wouldn’t be a market for them!
Instead, the opposite is true: Laundry pods are a safe, convenient, and effective way to use the right amount of detergent per wash.
Simply throw a capsule into the machine drum before loading your laundry and choose your desired washing cycle.
That said, laundry pods can leave behind a sticky residue in the drum and pipes if they fail to dissolve fully.
This residue can build up and affect the cleanliness of your clothes and the performance of your washing machine—it’s essential to use laundry pods the proper way to avoid damage.
Why Aren’t My Washing Pods Dissolving?
If your laundry pods aren’t dissolving properly during the wash cycle and are beginning to clog your machine, there could be several reasons.
Here are some common factors to consider:
1. Incorrect placement
Firstly, never insert your laundry capsules into the dispenser drawer. They’re extremely unlikely to dissolve properly here.
They must be submerged in water for the plastic film to break down, so putting the capsules in the dispenser drawer can leave a gunky residue and cause a blockage.
Instead, laundry pods should be placed directly in the drum of the washing machine.
You should always put them into the drum before adding your clothes, as placing them on top can also prevent the pods from dissolving properly.
Throw the pod in the machine first and add your laundry second.
2. Cold washes
Most laundry capsules are designed to dissolve in cold water. However, some brands (particularly supermarkets’ own-branded products) require a minimum of 30°C.
If you’re using cold water for your wash cycle, make sure you use pods designed for cold water use.
Alternatively, you might prefer using liquid laundry detergents if you frequently use cold wash settings.
These liquids quickly dissolve and disperse and work much better than laundry capsules and washing powders in cold water.
3. Water hardness
Water hardness can affect how well laundry pods dissolve. This is because the extra minerals in hard water might interfere with the dissolving process.
Not only can this interfere with the operation of your washer, but it can also make your laundry smell as your clothes aren’t washed properly.
The hardest water in the UK is in the South East and Eash of England, but you can check to see if you live in a hard water area by referring to this map.
If you have hard water in your area, try using water softeners or select pods specifically designed for hard water.
4. Overloading your washer
Overloading the washing machine with too much laundry can lead to inadequate water circulation during the wash cycle.
This prevents the pods from dissolving entirely and distributing evenly, meaning you’ll need to rewash your clothes.
Overloading your washer can also cause damage to the machine drum and mean water cannot drain properly after the cycle has ended.
See our washing machine capacity guide to understand how many clothes your washing machine drum can cope with at once.
5. Pod quality
The quality of laundry pods can vary between brands. If you’re consistently experiencing issues with a particular brand of pods, consider trying a different brand.
Even if using a leading brand, consider that the quality of laundry pods can decrease over time if they’re exposed to moisture or stored for an extended period. Using fresh pods can help ensure they dissolve properly.
Are Laundry Pods Safe for All Washing Machines?
Laundry pods are generally suitable for most types of washing machines, but there are a few considerations to keep in mind:
- High-efficiency (HE) machines: If you have a high-efficiency washing machine, you may need to use laundry pods specifically formulated for HE washers. These pods produce fewer suds, which is essential for efficient operation. However, “HE washer” is a US term, so washing machines in the UK are unlikely to have this label.
- Agitator or impeller design: If you have a top-loading washing machine with an agitator or an impeller design, the movement of the agitator or impeller might not be sufficient to break down the pod casing. In such cases, it might help to use liquid or powdered detergent instead, such as these top-rated delicate laundry detergents.
- Regular rachines: For regular top-loading and front-loading washing machines, you can use laundry pods designed for standard machines. However, make sure to follow the instructions on the packaging for proper usage. Generally, use one pod per wash and throw it in the machine before you load in your laundry.
What Are the Disadvantages of Laundry Pods?
Assuming you use laundry pods correctly, they are safe for your washing machine. But machine damage aside, there are several other disadvantages to consider:
- Expensive – Laundry pods are often more expensive per load compared to traditional liquid or powdered detergents. This can add up over time and lead to higher laundry costs.
- Plastic waste – Many laundry pods are packaged in single-use plastic, contributing to plastic waste. Some brands are working on sustainable packaging options, but the environmental impact can still be greater compared to traditional detergents.
- Pre-measured – Some people prefer to adjust the amount of detergent they use based on the load size, level of dirtiness, and water hardness. Laundry pods come pre-measured, which limits your ability to customise the detergent amount.
- Don’t always work well at low temperatures – Some laundry pods are formulated for specific water temperatures, and using them at the wrong temperature can lead to incomplete dissolving or less effective cleaning.
- Can be harmful to children – Laundry pods can be mistaken for sweets or toys by children, and around 400 children are hospitalised each year because of this. Thankfully, storing the capsules out of reach and sight of children can help mitigate this drawback.
Is It Better to Use Laundry Detergent or Pods?
Whether it is best to use liquid laundry detergent vs. pods – or any other type of washing detergent, such as powders and sheets – comes down to personal preference.
Laundry pods are definitely the most convenient option. There’s no measuring and no accidental spillages.
Simply chuck a capsule in the machine drum before your washing, and you’re good to go! They’re also not bad for your machine and can effectively clean your clothes when used correctly.
However, there are disadvantages to laundry pods, as explained above. Therefore, it might be best to use a different laundry detergent if any of the following applies:
- You often use cold water washes. Liquid laundry detergent dissolves the easiest in cold water. If you frequently run cold washes – perhaps you’re trying to do your bit for the planet or have many delicate garments to wash – opt for liquid detergents.
- You want to keep laundry costs down. The most affordable type of detergent is powdered detergents, which are the best option for anyone wanting to save money doing laundry. You can find cheap liquid detergents and pods, but they’re not as high quality.
- You often need to treat stains. When using liquid detergents, you can pre-treat stains without buying extra products. If you have messy kids and are constantly dealing with stained garments, liquid detergent makes things easier and saves you money.
Hannah is a freelance content writer with a passion for cleaning. She worked her way around Australia by cleaning hostels in exchange for free accommodation and used her cleaning skills to bag her a job as a chalet host for a luxury ski company in France.