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This big laundry mistake could be ruining your clothes

A washing machine in a laundry room next to a clothes horse
A washing machine in a laundry room next to a clothes horse (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Laundry may seem simple enough to do. After all, how hard is it to throw a pile of dirty clothes into the washing machine and press a button? However, there is one big laundry mistake that we’ve all been guilty of at some point. In fact, this common laundry mistake could not only be ruining our clothes but is costing us money. 

We often think that adding more detergent to our cycle will make our clothes cleaner and fresher. However, using too much laundry detergent can actually do more harm than good to clothes. This big laundry mistake of adding excess detergent, will start to build up soapy residue that hasn’t been fully rinsed out. As a result, this will lead to crunchy or scratchy clothes that will feel uncomfortable to wear on the skin.

This is especially the case if you have sensitive skin, or allergic to certain chemicals. Plus, you don’t want to spend money on a new wardrobe after ruining your favorite outfits. 

Pouring laundry detergent

Pouring laundry detergent (Image credit: Shutterstock)

What’s more, using too much slippery detergent will prevent clothes from rubbing against one another during a cycle, which helps to lift off the surface dirt. So rather than giving your clothes a thorough clean, you might still end up with dirty clothes  — which is counter-productive! Similarly, if you wonder why your once fluffy and soft towels are now stiff and scratchy, too much detergent is a main culprit. But you can always learn how to wash towels and keep them fluffy with these top tips.  If your washer is acting up, here are 7 signs that you need a new washing machine.

A woman holding her nose as she looks at laundry inside the washing machine

A woman holding her nose as she looks at laundry inside the washing machine (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Excess laundry detergent is not just bad for your garments, but can affect the performance of your best washing machine. Once it accumulates inside all the nooks and crannies inside the machine, this creates the perfect breeding ground for mold and bacteria over time. And if you don’t clean your washing machine regularly, you’ll end up with smelly clothes, or a smelly washing machine to deal with. Which also defeats the purpose of having freshly-laundered clothes.

How much laundry detergent should you use?

Loading a washing machine with colored clothes

Loading a washing machine with colored clothes (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Always follow the guidance on your laundry detergent bottles. However, experts recommend using about two tablespoons of liquid detergent, or a ¼  cup of powder for a standard washer. If you have soft water, reduce this amount to about one ½ tablespoons of liquid detergent. For premeasured pods or tablets, use one per load, or if you prefer to make your own, homemade laundry detergent, use 1/8 to 1/4 cup. 

TIP: Avoid bleach-based products, even for removing stains. Not only can this fade the colors but destroy the fabric, making it lose its softness.


Before you start laundry chores, these are 15 things you should never put in your washing machine.  Plus, if you want to speed up laundry day, these laundry hacks will make your life easier and the 7 reasons you should use vinegar in your washing machine. Also, did you know that this is the cheapest time to do your laundry

Cynthia Lawrence
Cynthia Lawrence

Cynthia Lawrence specialises in Homes ecommerce, covering all things homes and garden-related. She has a wealth of editorial experience testing the latest, ‘must-have’ home appliances, writing buying guides and the handy ‘how to’ features. 


Her work has been published in various titles including, T3, Top Ten Reviews, Ideal Home, Real Homes, Livingetc. and House Beautiful, amongst many.


With a rather unhealthy obsession for all things homes and interiors, she also has an interior design blog for style inspiration and savvy storage solutions (get rid of that clutter!). When she’s not testing cool products, she’ll be searching online for more decor ideas to spruce up her family home or looking for a great bargain!