How do you know how much soap is enough in a front loader?

HelenBackSeptember 6, 2012

I replaced a 19-year-old top loader and dryer with a Bosch Vision 500 washer and dryer about eight months ago. I love them! Even so, there has been a learning curve for how to load and use the new machines for the best results. I think I have a lot of this worked out, but one thing I'm still unsure about is this: what are the indications that I'm using the right amount of detergent, and specifically, not too much of it?

The washer manual states that I should follow the manufacturer's recommendation for the proper amount of detergent. I am using liquid Kirkland Ultra HE in very soft (conditioned) water. Judging by the foam produced and the suds on the door after final rinse the one time I tried the recommended dosage, that amount is waaaaaaay too much. I cut back immediately, and started experimenting.

While trying to arrive at the right amount of detergent to use, I watched what happened while the washer was running. I decided that in the first wash I would expect to see light suds during the fill and tumble and minor soap residue on the door during first spin; but I didn't want to see anything more than very minimal suds during the second washing and virtually zero soap residue on the door after final rinse and spin. Does this seem the right way to assess to you?

I'm currently using about 1 1/2 tablespoons of detergent to wash a full load. The clothes always smell and look clean after washing and any stains are removed, but the occasional load sometimes seems to dry stiffer than usual. Sometimes, too, there are traces of soap suds on the bottom of the door after final rinse.

Another question is what to expect in this regard when additional laundry products are added. I wash whites with detergent and Oxyclean on either the Hot or Xtra Sanitary settings, and sometimes I add borax to various loads if some clothes have organic or acidic stains. I use about a tablespoon of each and sprinkle over the clothes in the drum before starting the cycle to get the benefit of the hot or very hot water respectively. Is there a better way to add these products? I also notice putting these additives in tends to result in increased suds. Should I be decreasing detergent and/or additives when using them together?


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just toss the oxiclean into the drum as you are doing. oxiclean definitely will cause more sudsing. I use a heaping tablespoon and can see lots more suds (I have soft water).

as to the detergent--sounds like you have cut it back to the correct amount, just as I did.

enjoy your washer!

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 6:21PM
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I also have a bosch but the older nexxt.
I cannot use the oxyclean brand because of really excessive sudsing.. I wonder if it is because it had about 50% washing soda.
I switched to ecover which is 100 % sodium percarbonate. I only need to use 1 tbs of the ecover to get good results.
I have moderately hard water ( 6-8 grains)

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 8:48PM
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FWIW, I find the dosing of the Costco/Kirkland liquid HE detergent to be " bass ackwards". The bottle I bought (free/clear) has a larger dose for HE than for a traditional water hog TL washer on its label instructions. That makes no sense to me, at all.

I gave it away because even at the 1/4 dose my FL requires for our water quality, it seemed to suds up too much for average results in cleaning. I much prefer the Sears Ultra powder. Powders are my favorite, anyway; easier to measure and far easier to clean up spills.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 11:44PM
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I recommend to go to a HE powder. I'm seeing too much residue left in washers from the liquid detergents and this leads to smells in the washer. There is no problem with the powdered detergents this way.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 5:12PM
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Pause the cycle a couple mins after fill has finished, rub your fingers in the wash water. A definite slippery/soapy feel to the water is somewhat an indication of sufficient detergent, that the water conditioning agents are at an effective level. Start with the smallest dosage per the detergent package and adjust up or down as needed. The amount needed will vary per load size and soil conditions.

High soil levels or stained items can benefit from slightly more detergent than the "slippery" point for exposure to a higher concentration of enzymes and cleaning agents

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 5:31PM
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I have gone back and forth, up and down, in and out on detergent dosing. I've used the detergent manufacturer's recommendation, the washer manufacturer's recommendation, what I've read on here and various amounts through experimentation. Here is what works for me, and me alone: 1.5 TBSP for a full 4 cuft load, 1.0 TBSP if smaller load, and 2 TBSP for a full 4 cuft highly soiled load. I have a whole house water softener, so my detergent needs are greatly reduced. My hardness is essentially zero.

Using the above doses, my clothes come out clean and don't require fabric softener. My machine manufacturer (Miele) says, in the manual, to follow the detergent package recommendations. Following the recommendations on the detergent package results in over sudsing. I let the softness of the laundry as it comes out of the dryer be my guide. If it ever comes out feeling even a little stiff or scratchy, I've used too much.

This works for me, others may find they need more or less.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 3:47PM
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Thank you all for your comments. They have been very helpful.

I have full containers of the Kirkland liquid HE and Oxyclean on hand. Nonetheless, based on your responses, I think I will try another detergent and non-chlorine additive just to see how results vary. I appreciate the suggestion to check for a soapy/slippery feel in the wash water in addition to the other criteria I've been using -- that gives me another data point outside of the visual ones I've been using to see how much of the issues are my product choices versus how my machine works.

The comment that differently sized loads or lightly-vs-heavily soiled washes of the same volume require different amounts of detergent makes so much sense. These adjustments don't matter so much when the washer uses 40 gallons per load, but it's logical that they do at 13 gallons. I will definitely be working with that.

Again, thanks all.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 10:35PM
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After a few years of experimentation mainly using 1/2 the recommended amount of detergent (Tide, Wisk, Method) for a normal/medium load (as recommended by some people on this site), I found my clothes were not coming out clean and were a bit smelly. I was also using an off brand oxy product at half amount. I now use the recommended amount of detergent and use OXYCLEAN. My laundry is MUCH cleaner.
(I desolve the Oxyclean in hot water and pour it into the drum. Also, I do two extra final rinses, 5 total.)
BTW, I'm in South Florida and have a Maytag Compact 2.6 FL.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 2:37PM
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