Correct Dosing of Detergent in Washing Machines

There seems to be some confusion around the whole question of detergent dosing which relates to the amount of water being used in modern washing machines.  There is some suggestion that over-dosing of detergent can cause skin irritation.



As we all know, modern washing machines are designed to be both more efficient and to be kinder to the environment.  However, by using less than the recommended dosage of detergent can mean that your laundry is not cleaned thoroughly and, conversely, using too much detergent can mean the washing machine is unable to rinse all product out of your clothes, leaving detergent residue.

Neither of the above scenarios are good for your laundry or for your machine.  The manufacturers of detergent work very closely with washing machine manufacturers to ensure their detergent will work well with the machines, and fit in with the recommended dosage for your particular model.

This is the reason why detergents can be purchased in ready-made tablet form and gel caps, both of which meet the dosage recommended by the machine manufacturer.

One of the perceived downsides of washing machines using less water than in the past is that the washing programmes are now much longer, some are averaging 2 hours per load.  This is to compensate for the decrease in the volume of water used.  

All modern machines have a range of programmes to meet the different type of materials used in the manufacture of clothes, bedding etc. and therefore the programme times are different.  For instance, for silks and woollens, the washing cycle is much lower than the cycle you would use for towels.  Not only does the washing take less time for the delicate fabrics, but  the water temperature is much lower.

There is also the option for a quick wash, this is generally designed for a one or two item wash only, and generally last between 15-20 minutes.  These programmes are obviously not designed for a full wash.

However, it would seem there is a growing number of people who are using these quick wash cycles purely as a matter of choice.  As stated above, these programmes are designed for one or two items only, and if you choose to wash a complete load on this type of programme, your clothes will neither be washed nor rinsed properly.  The water temperature will be far too low for most items, and continued use of these programmes will result in people wearing clothes that are not clean.  They might just as well be hung out on the line for an airing, and skip the washing cycle altogether.

The only way to keep the integrity of your wash, especially the rinse cycles is to use the correct washing cycle for your laundry.  This type of progamme would use the following process:

  • Initial water fill, heat to selected temperature, proceed to washing action
  • First rinse
  • Second rinse
  • Third rinse
  • Spin

This type of programme generally runs for about 1.5 to 2 hours to complete.  Compared to a 15 minute quick wash progamme, it does not take much to work out why you should use a full cycle programme for your main wash.

Although it is not automatically obvious, you would use the same dosage of detergent for the quick wash as for the full progamme cycle.  Hence you would still use either a gel cap or tablet detergent for each wash

People are also reverting to overfilling their machines to reduce the amount of time used for a family wash.  However, this is not a good idea because:


  • Too much laundry means that the items are too closely packed together, not allowing the water or detergent to penetrate to each item
  • Too much weight will mean the drum cannot spin efficiently
  • The laundry cannot be rinsed thoroughly due to the items being packed together
  • When you remove the items from your machine, you will find that parts of the wash are not even wet, and other items are still covered in detergent
  • The whole exercise has been a total waste of time, the washing load will need to be split down into at least two washes, and the whole process will need to be started all over again

Reaction to Detergents

A certain number of people will always, unfortunately, suffer from skin rashes of some sort, and those that have more severe skin problems such as ezxema, will obviously only use products that have been specifically designed for sensitive skin.  It is highly unlikely that a sudden skin rash will be caused by a standard detergent, whether it is bio or non-bio product should not make any difference.

Detergent manufacturers spend millions on developing new products, and these have to go through rigorous testing before they are allowed to be launched on the market. They are very open about their testing protocol and are very happy to share this information with anyone who has an interest in the subject.

There are always exceptions to any rule, but these should be regarded as rare. We can all rely on the safety of our products in this country, due to the testing that is carried out across the industry.

Future Washing Machines

Without a crystal ball it is very difficult to predict accurately what will happen to washing design in the future.  Manufacturers respond to their customers’ needs and demands.  It is quite possible that keeping the low energy ratings and protecting the environment will stay high on that list, but reducing the overall time for washing programmes is sure to be the next target.



















Disclaimer: The information provided has been prepared as a guide only and the steps taken are likely to vary for different appliance models. We strongly recommend using a qualified engineer to undertake major repairs and fault finding.


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