Save on Laundry Detergent With This Simple Tip

Measure laundry soap carefully at Happy Simple Living

Have you ever wondered why laundry detergent manufacturers provide us with such confusing measuring cups? You don’t think it’s so we’ll inadvertently use more than we need to — and thus buy more, do you? Nahh, surely they wouldn’t want us to waste their product just to make more profits.

(“They might or they might not be trying to trick us into using more detergent, but don’t call me Shirley!”)

One of these days I’m going to make my own laundry detergent, perhaps using this recipe from our friends at DIY Naturals. For now, though, I use the most eco-friendly phosphate-free detergent I can find in recyclable packaging, at the best price. “70 Loads,” the box proclaims.

Still, it comes with this confusing scoop. According to the directions, line #1 is for “medium” loads. Is a medium load a regular load of laundry? “For family size loads, fill scoop to top line.” (Who among us doesn’t wash family size loads of laundry?) But “fill scoop to top line” sounds like you’re supposed to fill the scoop, whenย  the top line isn’t the top of the scoop, it’s the line marked with a ‘2.’ And then, of course, you have the option to fill the scoop all the way to the top.

It takes some talent to fill the scoop to the ‘1’ line. I had to pour some out, then scoop some back in, then sprinkle a little more out. Writing this post made me wonder – how much detergent does it take fill the scoop to Line 1? In my case, it was about 1/3 cup.

Measure your detergent - Happy Simple Living

Filling the cup to Line #2 took 2/3 of a cup, and filling it to the top was almost a cup. In other words, if you fill the scoop every time you do a load of laundry, you’ll actually only get 23 or 24 loads out of that 70-load box.

You readers are so smart, you probably already pay close attention to exactly how much detergent you use. But if you’ve been a little befuddled as I have, you may want to take a moment to investigate exactly how much detergent you need to do an average load of laundry and carefully measure out just that amount from now on – or even a bit less. Small adjustments can add up over the long run, especially when many of us reduce our detergent usage a bit, load after load. We’ll all save money and help the environment. Shirley, that’s a win/win for everyone!

I also use the Cold cycle for most loads, rinse just once, and hang our laundry on the clothesline whenever possible. How do you manage the laundry operations in your household? Inquiring minds are dying to know.

Hugs,

The signature for Eliza Cross

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of a dozen books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

18 comments to Save on Laundry Detergent With This Simple Tip

  • Erin

    I love my Charlie’s soap. I order it from amazon once every couple of years (and we’re a cloth-diapering family of six- so we do a lot of laundry- and that’s how long a $100 bucket of detergent lasts us). You use one tablespoon per load and it comes with a tablespoon measure- fill it to the top and you’re done. It costs 11 cents per load.

  • Just yesterday, in my laundry haste, I poured the detergent to overflowing. Definitely too much !!!!! Maybe those pre measured packets are worth the extra cost ???!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Kruidig Meisje

    I use usually half a cup, which comes out great. Unless there is a specific dirt in the load(just came back from biking holiday, so used a bit more today).
    But I also save on laundry by airing and re-using my clothes. Most clothes don’t have to be washed after a day of wearing (bike clothes NOT included ๐Ÿ˜‰ ), I will usually give them a second and sometimes a third day. This reduces your washing loads by 50%, and so your washing costs by the same amount.
    Currently we are on 1 load/person/week. This is including bed linnen and towels. Any tips to further reduce are welcome!

  • […] Cross @ Happy Simple Living writes Save on Laundry Detergent With This Simple Tip – Save some greenbacks and be good to the environment by researching the amount of detergent […]

  • You’re right about that – the caps are huge on the concentrated liquid detergent bottles, too! Thanks so much for sharing the tip about using the permanent press setting on an HE washer to combat lint.

  • Patchouli Pagan

    It’s interesting that no matter how “concentrated” the detergent manufacturers make the product, the caps remain huge. That’s not an accident. They want you to keep using more! The HE washers do better with less, usually to the first line of the cap.

    And yes, the lint problem with HE washers is ridiculous. If I wash anything black, I always have to use an extra wash, which basically defeats the idea of an HE machine. It helps if you use the permanent press setting, as it uses more water than the water stingy cottons setting.

  • That is a great tip! Have you noticed a difference in the quality of the washing since you started carefully only using 1/3 of a cup?

    • I haven’t noticed one bit of difference since I started measuring more carefully. And I have a very active son who provides some laundry challenges (just like the TV commercials, right?) so I do think, in our case, we can get by with using a bit less.

  • DianaB

    I have always used less than the full cup, it’s too much for a full load of laundry. No doubt the soap company want us to use more. My clothes always come out very clean. Of course, I add more for heavy duty clothes. Also, I use my dryer only for a quick dry and take out the clothes and hang them. Saves the dryer and the clothes. It all adds up.

    • DianaB, thanks for making a good point about the dryer. I’ve noticed, too, that if I dry the load for 5 to 10 minutes all the wrinkles get out. Then when I hang everything on the line everything is nice and smooth.
      xo

  • Joyce

    Oh I have always used less than the recommended amount of laundry soap and dishwasher soap. And I line dry always. Today i was forced to hang inside as there was a threat for rain before i got home from work.

  • Oh my… I fear I am equally, if not more befuddled on this particular topic. I have a super capacity HE washer… which uses MUCH less water than a standard washer. I use a liquid detergent… which has 4 different lines on the cup. Eee gads! How on earth do I know which line to choose?

    I guess I sorta go by how dirty the laundry is. I’ve been doing a lot of “cat pee” loads lately, and I admit, I give them a bit extra as well as some enzymatic cleaning solution.

    I have noticed that things get cleaner if I add a tablespoon of borax to the load and put some vinegar in the softener compartment.

    But my biggest problem with laundry is lint. Apparently HE washers don’t do such a good job of rinsing away the lint. They advise not washing linty things with non-linty things… but in a 4-cat household, I’m dying to know where the non-linty things are! Anyhow, I LOVE line dried clothes, but don’t enjoy the several hours with the lint brush that I generally need to get them clean afterwards!

    Grumble, grumble, grumble. I guess I’m just in a laundry quandary!

    • Ha! Your comment about linty clothes and cats cracked me up. I’m going to try your tip of adding a tablespoon of borax to the load and some vinegar in the softener compartment, too. Thank you!

  • When I bought detergent I would use 1/3 of the recommended amount and a small amount of baking soda (maybe 1/4 cup) per full load, and I always wash in cold water. I started this as an experiment to see just how little detergent I could use and still have clean clothes after reading that it isn’t the detergent but the agitation that cleaned the clothes. Lately I have been washing with just a 1/2 cup of baking soda and finding my clothes look great. I also pretreat any organic stains with hydrogen peroxide which even works on blood.

  • jodi

    I recently switched to soap berries. Not only are they better for the environment, but they clean well and are economical. They cost $8.39 (CAD) to wash 150 loads.

    Before I switched, I found that I never used the amount of detergent recommended and my clothes always came out clean and fresh. I agree that the manufacturers are encouraging you to use more than is necessary as it is better for their bottom line.

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