A person pours Swash detergent into a Whirlpool washer Load and Go dispenser

There’s something satisfying about tossing dirty clothes into the laundry and waiting for them to emerge fresh and clean again. But when it comes to laundry detergent, you may be surprised to learn that more isn’t always better. In fact, using too much laundry detergent may cause problems for your clothes and your washing machine over time. Confused? Don’t worry — our guide can help.

How much detergent is too much detergent in my washer?

The amount, or dose, of laundry detergent your machine needs may depend on both the type of detergent you use and the type of washing machine you have.

Most liquid detergents feature caps with measuring lines inside, but these may be difficult to read. That’s why Swash™ Laundry Detergent features an innovative Precision Pour Cap that makes dosing fast and easy so you get the right amount of detergent in every load.


Read More: How Much Laundry Detergent To Use

An overflowing cup of blue liquid laundry detergent.

Should I use more detergent for extra dirty clothes?


It sounds like a no-brainer — if your clothes are extra dirty, you'll need more detergent to get them clean. However, this isn't the case.


Washing machines clean clothes in part by allowing clothes to rub against each other; this friction helps work dirt and stains out of fabric. Using too much soap can reduce this friction, which means that your clothes may not get as clean as they would otherwise.


Can too much laundry detergent damage your clothes?


In addition to trapping dirt and building up over time, using too much laundry detergent can cause numerous problems for your clothes. As detergent builds up, it can leave behind an invisible layer of film that can trap dirt and hard water minerals, giving clothes a dingy or faded appearance.


If you want to keep your clothes looking their best, opt for the right dose of detergent with each wash load. While measuring with spoons or scoops is one solution, Swash™ Laundry Detergent can help reduce the guesswork. Just one squeeze of the bottle will give you the right amount of detergent for a regular-sized wash load.


A folded piece of gray knit fabric.


Can too much laundry detergent make my clothes itchy?


As laundry detergent builds up on clothes, fibers can become more coated with residue, causing the fabric to become stiff.


Beyond the impact on clothes, using too much laundry detergent in your wash may also irritate skin. Detergent build-up can cause some people to develop contact dermatitis, which can lead to itching, rashes and other uncomfortable symptoms.


If I use too much laundry detergent, is it bad for my skin?

Over time, repeated exposure to detergent films may cause contact dermatitis in some people. This condition is triggered when your skin comes in contact with irritating substances. Using the right amount of detergent allows for it to rinse away more easily, which can help prevent detergent build up.

Can too much laundry detergent make my clothes smell?

Using too much soap in the washing machine leaves more than dirt and detergent film. Detergent that isn’t rinsed away also means that odour-causing bacteria isn’t rinsed away either. Over time, without proper care of the machine, this bacteria can multiply and linger on your clothes, causing them to smell dirty or musky. This is especially true for exercise gear and other high-performance fabrics, since their synthetic material and tight weave can trap more bacteria in sensitive areas.

A woman tying a white athletic shoe.


If I put too much laundry detergent in my washing machine, will it damage the washer?


A person pours Swash into a washing machine detergent dispenser.

The same film that can coat your clothes if you use too much laundry soap in the washer can affect your appliance as well. Detergent build-up can clog hoses, valves and other components, preventing water from draining properly.


Over time, this creates a moist environment that supports the proliferation of mold, mildew and bacteria. This, in turn, can lead to mold and mildew growth on rubber gaskets and bad odours. At worst, using too much laundry soap in your washing machine can cause drainage issues and permanent damage to your washing machine.


To prevent detergent overdosing, some washing machines actually store liquid detergent in a special compartment and dispense it automatically. For example, some Whirlpool® washing machines offer a Load And Go™ Dispenser that adds the correct amount of detergent for each load.


I accidentally used too much laundry detergent. What should I do?


If you think you have added too much detergent to a load of laundry, you'll want to remove the excess before putting your clothes in the dryer. One way to get extra laundry soap out of clothes is simply to rewash the clothes, ideally before they're dried. Use the hottest water the fabric can tolerate.


To prevent detergent build-up in your washing machine, it's important to clean your washer at least once a month. Use your washing machine's cleaning cycle in combination with a specially formulated cleaner like affresh® Washing Machine Cleaner to break down detergent build-up and rinse it away.


A person dropping an affresh tablet into a top loading washing machine.


Get the right amount of detergent every time with Swash™ Laundry Detergent


Using the right amount of detergent is important for both your clothes and your washer. That's why Swash™ Laundry Detergent helps take the guesswork out of Laundry Day with a Precision Pour Cap that gives you the right amount of laundry detergent every time. Its slim packaging makes it easy to store, and it comes in two different scent profiles to fit your preference. Explore our collection, then stock up on Swash™ Laundry Detergent today.


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