Most of us use our washing machines several times a week or more, but how many of us are confident that we’re using the correct amount of washing powder each time we do our laundry?
If there’s not enough powder then the clothes won’t be cleaned well enough and won’t smell as fresh. But using too much powder can cause problems too, such as powdery residue and suds left on clothes, or garments left feeling too stiff. Too much powder can also block the filter on the washing machine and increase wear and tear on your appliance.
Trying to work out exactly the right amount of powder to use might seem confusing, but if we follow some basic advice we can get it right each time and get the best possible cleaning results.
Don’t guess the amount of powder!
Many of us are in a hurry these days and might try to estimate the amount of powder we need in each wash but ignoring the guidelines on the washing powder packaging is a big mistake. It’s almost impossible to judge how much powder you’ve added just by sight!
Most manufacturers offer free dosing devices for powder or washing liquid, so it’s worth sending off for one and using it each time you do use your washing machine. Some brands, such as Persil, include a dosing device in each pack. Check the instructions for the dosing device, as some simply measure the amount of detergent, which you then need to add into your machine dispenser drawer, and others can be added directly inside the washing machine drum.
If you really struggle to find time to measure your detergent, you could always consider buying washing powder tablets or pods.
How many clothes are you washing and how dirty are they?
It makes sense that dirtier clothes will need more detergent, to remove the extra dirt and stains.
According to Persil, a standard load of laundry needs around 110 ml of powdered detergent, but heavily soiled clothes may need an extra 100-210 ml. For any brand of detergent, a good guideline when washing heavily stained clothes is to fill the dosing device to the next line up from usual.
You should also consider the amount of clothes you’re washing in each load. Manufacturers might refer to a normal or large load in their dosing instructions. An average sized or normal load weighs around seven pounds and will fill three-quarters of an average-sized washing machine drum. If you’re adding more clothes than this, you may need a little extra detergent.
As a general rule, if you can’t fit your hand between the top of the drum and the laundry, your machine is overloaded. This can result in the clothes soaking up all the water, preventing the detergent from dissolving properly.
It’s also worth remembering that if you’re doing a half-load of laundry, you need to use half the amount of powder than normal.
Even if your laundry is dirtier than usual or you’re doing a larger wash, don’t get tempted to add too much powder. It’s better to pre-soak dirty items than to use too much detergent in the main wash.
The UK is mostly made up of limestone and chalk which causes hard water, and around 60% of homes in England and Wales have a hard water supply. Washing powder doesn’t work as effectively in hard water areas because less lather is produced to clean the clothes properly.
It’s a good idea to check the water hardness level for your area by looking online (see this map) or contacting your water provider, then follow the correct measurement guidelines on the detergent packaging. It’s likely you’ll need to use a bit of extra powder to get your clothes clean if you live in a hard water area, and slightly less in soft water areas.