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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Too Much Dishwashing Detergent Is Bad for Your Machine

First, it was the Wall Street Journal on laundry detergent. Now the venerable New York Times has spoken. We are using too much dishwasher detergent, which messes up the machine, necessitating expensive repairs. Ditto for dryer sheets in the dryer. Ditto (as we've already figured) for laundry detergent.

An expert--someone who does repairs and hence does not benefit from your detergent use--suggests we use between 8 and 10 times too much! That would mean--for laundry detergent--that my 3 bottles of generic purchased for $1.50 each, would provide not 50 loads as promised, but at least 400. I guess I'm set for a while.

Ah, and note to Mr. FS who is obsessed with saving water: You are NOT supposed to rinse dishes before putting in dishwasher. That is an order, backed up by scientific fact.


Funny about Money said...

Interesting observation.

Maybe I was reading too fast, but I didn't notice anything in the article about the premeasured detergent tablets for dishwashers. I've found those get the dishes cleaner than powder or gel and are lots less messy. But now I wonder if they also are dispensing too much of the stuff...

We certainly have seen that we don't need anywhere near as much laundry detergent as most of us learned to dump into washer...especially after the episode where I discovered that some (but not all) clothes can be washed with no detergent at all!

Like most of our readers, I can't actually bring myself to do without laundry detergent. However, I've found that a fraction of the recommended amount does the job just fine. And mine is an old-fashioned top-loader. Though it does allow the user to select amounts of water to be used for various load sizes, it's not designed to be water-efficient.

In the kitchen, having learned years ago that dish detergent is sold in those squeeze bottles specifically so that consumers will use lots more than necessary, I've always transferred the stuff to some other container. Right now I'm putting it in a squirt bottle, the sort you'd buy for window cleaner. Not the ones that come with window cleaner -- they're too flimsy. The industrial-strength Home Depot or janitorial supply squirt bottle cheerfully dispenses laundry detergent one small squirt at a time. It uses a LOT less than comes out of the Ivory bottle...a bottle of dish detergent seems to last forever now.

FB @ said...

Well.. we don't use any laundry detergent or dryer sheets now, but when I did, I figured out 4 years ago that just a little capful or one sheet was more than enough

As for dishwashing detergent - agreed. Half should be enough.

Deja Pseu said...

I use about 1/3 the suggested amounts of laundry and dishwasher detergent and never have any problems with things getting clean. I'll also tear those dryer sheets in thirds or halves for smaller loads.

simple in France said...

My MIL in France uses a laundry ball--this weird little plastic ball with spikes that somehow allows you to use less detergent.

Does this exist in the US? Does anyone know why it works? Is it the suds effect of having a spiky plastic ball agitating the laundry?

Chance said...

We switched from the prepacks of dishwasher detergent to powder specifically so that we could titrate the amount used. Now we use about half the recommended amount. The dishes come out just fine. I'm going to experiment with a third of the amount.

Revanche said...

Would Mr. FS be appalled that we usually only hand wash dishes and use the dishwasher to drip dry? I'm not sure where that falls on the scale of wasting water, but at least we're not necessitating repairs with the machine...

I've been cutting dryer sheets up into sections for some time now, not only do they cost too much, a whole sheet is too much for a single load.

*brushes off hands* I'm doing my part! :)

Duchesse said...

I've never used dryer sheets and line dry most things. Dryers are very hard on clothes.

Frugal Scholar said...

@funny et al--Seems like you're all ahead of the fame and the media.

@fb and deja--see above

@simple--never heard of a laundry ball...but I have a feeling it doesn't do much. Anyone know anything?

@chance--In mad scientist mode once more! Keep us posted.

@Revanche--Actually, he does want to get rid of the dishwasher--as his brother did.

@Duchesse--I can see your clothes drying by your AGA. Jealous!

Funny about Money said...

Laundry balls are available here, too. You can get them from those catalogues that mail-order hardware and notions. What they really do is make you feel better about not adding detergent: the same effect can be had for free, by putting nothing but water in the washer with your clothes.

SDXB has also been known to use the dishwasher as a drying rack. He refuses to wash dishes in a washer--everything at his house is washed by hand. Because his vision is less than perfect, he's always breaking glasses...but that's another story. ;-)

Revanche said...

So here's an interesting note to add: the day after I convinced the SO to give Much Less Detergent a try, I was hanging up some athletic gear that'd gone through the wash and By JOVE that thing needed another wash.

"Stenchy" we called it. I'm adding vinegar to that one's loads post-haste!