How much detergent in a front loader?

sshrivastavaDecember 20, 2012

I came across this very useful article on wikiHow and thought I'd share:

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@sshrivastava: Good info but am concerned about the 2Tblsp Max comment. Comments?

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 9:26AM
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To be technically correct, soap is rarely used nowadays, having been replaced long ago by synthetic detergents that perform much better under a variety of conditions.

1. Hard water does of course have an impact on detergent dosing.

2. 1 tablespoon (3 teaspoons, of 2x or 3x liquid) in soft water may be sufficient for a small/moderate load but not for a large load/heavy soil.

3. Likewise 2 tablespoons (6 teaspoons, of 2x or 3x liquid) may not be sufficient for a large load/heavy soil in hard water.

4. Water conditions may change from time-to-time so adjustment of dosing may be needed accordingly.

5. Using too little detergent also is a source of mold and foul odor due to accumulation of laundry soils that aren't getting flushed away and instead stick to the interior of the machine.

Liquid detergents can exacerbate the mold problem in some cases depending on how they react with local water conditions. Liquids are built on a slimy, sticky base carrier that can accumulate, particularly in cases of washing only in cold water

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 10:45AM
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The terms "soap" and "detergent" are used interchangeably here, I think you are being a little too literal. The wiki is discussing "detergents" because they address liquid vs powder, etc. I have soft water and am always conservative about dosing - never more than 2-3 TBSP for a full 4 cuft load in softened water. However, if I run a sanitary cycle using only water (no laundry or detergent) I get a nice coating of suds on the inside of my machine. How does one explain that if not from detergent residue?

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 12:54PM
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I have been experimenting with 1-3TBSP of persil in my 5.1 cuft machine (5.1 cu. ft. IEC / 4.42 cu. ft. DOE).

I found doing two sets of King sheets i used about 2.5TBSP and it seemed a bit low. I don't have super hard water just middle of the range.

I think what dadoes says makes sense... on the link it states "no more than 2" which maybe true for a soft water environment like sshrivastava's in house water softner.

I think the advice i was given here was 5 mins in the wash open the door and feel the water to see slipperiness, on the opposite end if suds form reduce dosage.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 2:25PM
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The question of detergent dosage still perplexes me. I've been erring on the side of caution the last few months and have been dosing about 1-2 TBSP for most of my loads (2-3 TBSP the year prior). Yet when I run an empty wash cycle, I get suds even after running the machine empty five times in a row on sanitary. The suds are only present in an empty machine when the water is hot, once cold rinse water comes in there are no suds at all.

Is it conceivable to be using too little detergent yet still get suds in an empty machine? I'm completely baffled.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 8:39PM
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Have you measured the ph level of the water in your washer during an empty wash? It should not be alkaline - like most detergents are. I think we even had one person here whose water was so soft it also created suds during detergent-less, empty washes.

My water is 21 gpg. I'm not even getting suds with a full cap of liquid Tide...


    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 9:34PM
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Okay, the person was... you!

Posted by sshrivastava (My Page) on Wed, Jun 15, 11 at 17:52

I HAVE GREAT NEWS FOR YOU! You have a whole house water softener just as I do, so I decided to run the clean machine cycle and see what happens. Guess what? I have tons of suds too! [...] So here's my experiment... I agitated my softened tap cold water in some tupperware and I had no suds. Oh dear, this doesn't look good... maybe I have a ton of buildup in my machine. Yikes! But the weird thing is that if I run just a rinse cycle, not clean machine cycle, I don't get any suds! WTF? Then it hit me... rinse cycles are COLD and clean machine uses HOT water and raises the temp to 158F. The water I was agitating in the tupperware was COLD. I popped it into the microwave for about 1 minute to raise the temp to scalding, then agitated again in my tupperware. Guess what happened? SUDS! But only in hot water, not cold.

(Haven't read the entire thread, though.)

Here is a link that might be useful: Do I need to run Clean Machine cycle regularly?

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 10:00PM
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@sshrivastava: in your machine perhaps it has buildup from previous excessive dosage? maybe run the clean cycle once a month.

ELUX finally replaced my machine so i I did a full load tonight with 2 TBLSP of persil. It was just the right amount i think, i will try 3 next time to see if that is excessive.

Also anyone recommend any north American brand of powder detergent that's on par with persil megaperls?

    Bookmark   December 22, 2012 at 2:07AM
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FOLLOWING UP - I opened the door to my pin trap/pump and I found a grey, slimy substance coating the plastic. I was able to rub it off easily with my finger. It was not oily in any way and had no odor. I'm truly perplexed and cannot decide if I'm using too much detergent or too little.

Charlie's Soap says to use 2 TBSP in an empty washer to remove residue. Using as little as 1/2 TEASPOON in my empty machine causes sudsing half way up the door glass. Could I really only need so little? And would that grey slime in my sump pump be caused by too much or too little detergent?


    Bookmark   December 22, 2012 at 1:42PM
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@ whirlpool_trainee - thanks for that reminder, I had completely forgotten! I just threw some warm softened water straight from the tap into my blender and turned it on for 30 seconds. SUDS! My water must be so soft that bubbles caused by agitating the water do not quickly disperse on the surface due to the low surface tension of softened water.

In my case, the suds are a misleading indicator. The fact that I've been using 1-2 TBSP lately AND now found grey slime in my pin trap is telling me that I'm NOT using enough detergent. I will try increasing the dose. Oy!

    Bookmark   December 22, 2012 at 1:55PM
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I know that gray stuff. Not sure where is comes from. I found it in all washers so far whenever I opened the trap. This is probably what you're referring to:

Here is a link that might be useful: pause at 30 sec

    Bookmark   December 22, 2012 at 3:36PM
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This is a smidgeon less than four tablespoons of liquid Era HE (to line 2 on the measuring cap), with two tablespoons STPP added. Average-size load of bath & kitchen towels in a Whirlpool Duet (2006 model). A water softener salesman tested my water at 11 grains several years ago (I do not have a softener).

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 2:50PM
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@ whirlpool_trainee,

YES THAT'S THE STUFF! So do I need to worry about it?

    Bookmark   December 28, 2012 at 7:21PM
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In the video, this washer is not mine, the filter definitely has built-up on it and the drum does smell like there's also a good amount of gunk in there. I just looked at the filter of my Duet (easy job since mine has the access panel) and it also has some of that grey stuff on it. But far less than the Miele filter plus my drum smells just plain clean.

So I'd say it depends on how much there is.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2012 at 10:07AM
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@whirlpool_trainee: so what is the grey stuff is it just residue from soap or a byproduct of a chemical reaction from the soap?

    Bookmark   December 29, 2012 at 1:00PM
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That looks like biofilm, which is not surprising considering the standing pool of water - about a liter or so - that remains in the sump after every wash.

To minimize this occurence as much as possible, I drain and wipe dry the drain filter area after each week's wash (in addition to wiping down the rubber boot, leaving the door open, rinsing out the detergent drawer and cavity, etc). It's about 2 years now since I've had my front-loader, and it's still in pristine condition.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2012 at 6:55PM
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Don't know what causes this. The outer tub of my Duet is perfectly clean as is everything else. I agree that it must come from standing water combined with detergent and/or fabric softener. I don't mind that little bit of water. On the Duet and many other washers, it is actually necessary because there is a floating ball on top of this pool of water that keeps the connection from the outer tub to the drain hose closed. It prevents detergent from "falling" into the drain when it is first flushed into the tub.


    Bookmark   December 29, 2012 at 7:08PM
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Toploaders also retain some water in the pump and hoses.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2012 at 7:12PM
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