What happens if you use too much laundry detergent

Will the suds spill out of the machine? I’m not talking about using an entire box, just 2x the recommended amount or something along those lines. What will happen.

2x will probably just leave you with soap in your clothes; you’ll have to run an extra cycle with no soap to rinse them out.

I did it once as an absentminded college student, and nothing spectacular occurred other than chunks of laundry detergent materializing in my clothes’ pockets. No real biggie.

What’s more fun is to use dishwashing liquid instead.

Duke’s right for powdered detergent. Nametag’s right about the liquid stuff.

The gist of it is that the washer’s normal rinse cycle will not be long enough to rinse out all the extra detergent. Shouldn’t really hurt anything, although a soapy residue can build up on your clothes if you make detergent overuse a habit.

People often use too much detergent to rinse out. Try doing a washload with no detergent and see if thee are suds. They come from detergent left in the fabric.

I think I always use too much detergent. I use the liquid kind and fill the cup up to “the line” or even higher no matter what size load I’m doing (often medium or smaller). I haven’t had any problems so far, in 15 years or so.

I recently washed my hockey team’s jerseys. We have one of those low-water-usage front loaders. I didn’t know it was low-water usage and used about a half-cup of liquid for each half of the jerseys. I happened to look at the second load during the wash cycle. Soap out the wahzoo!

I figured WTF, as the boys work up a sweat they’ll be followed down the ice by a trail of bubbles.

If you accidentally put in too much detergent and want to get it all out, run a second rinse with 1/2 - 1 cup of white vinegar. The vinegar smell will not stay in your clothing.

Your laundry detergent cost will double!

An extra wash and/or rinse, the cost of water and electricity which should be minor.

I would imagine having detergent residue on your clothes wouldn’t be great for your skin, especially if you’re sweating. I can remember a few occasions long ago where I’ve broken out in a rash because of this.

Yes, that’s my problem too. Even using less than the recommended soap powder/liquid (the manufacture’s would like you to use as much of their product as possible) I still do a double rinse.

Few of you will care about this, but just in case. If where you are washing has a septic tank, the extra detergent will collect there and cause lots of problems.*

[sup]* Like toilets backing up**[/sup] :eek:

I think most people use too much detergent for normal laundry soilage to begin with. The laundry soap people are going to print the instructions for heavily soiled laundry so that they don’t get complaints or lose customers.

Try using half the amount called for on the box/bottle for clothes you just wear to the office. You’ll see.

Depending on what type of washer you have, a smaller load might actually have less detergent build up. Some washers will fill up with more water when there’s less clothes (because they fills to a certain total volume, instead of a adding a fixed volume of water) and the extra water will dissolve more soap.

Another long term consequence of using too much detergent is that soap residue can build up in the washer in all sorts of unfortunate places. In my machine, there is an overflow reservoir near the drain pump to handle excess suds so that the pump doesn’t suck air/bubbles. My reservoir appears to be quite scummed up due to the long drain times and I’ll have to suck* it up and take the machine apart soon. (Which I can’t do unless I move the gas dryer out and a bunch of other “difficult working space” issues.)

Just to echo many others, the amount given on the box is far, far more than needed for most clothes. A Consumer Reports test done a couple years ago found no difference in cleaning between using no detergent and using the suggested amount for lightly soiled clothes. So use a tiny amount for slightly dirty clothes and half the label amount for truly dirty stuff.

Your machine will be happier in the long run.


Running an empty machine with a gallon of vinegar should remove most of the soap scum from the machine. Do it every six months.