CAN TOO MUCH DETERGENT DAMAGE CLOTHES?

CAN TOO MUCH DETERGENT DAMAGE CLOTHES
Clothes and detergent
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Do you know that the actual cleaning of your garment is done by washing machine agitation and the surfactant properties of detergents. Yes, the action of detergents on clothes is a major reason your clothes come out clean from a washing machine. 

But can too much detergent damage clothes? 

UPFRONT
Too much detergent can damage your clothes. The surfactant properties help to separate dirt and stains from your fabrics. On the downside though, it can lead to leaching, that is, the gradual removal of dye chemicals used to color cloth fabrics.
Excess detergents can create white spots on your garment. On a single wash too much detergent does not usually damage clothes. But the cumulative effect of continual use can damage your clothes.

SURFACTANTS IN DETERGENTS

CAN TOO MUCH DETERGENT DAMAGE CLOTHES
Detergent bubble

Surfactant is a major property of detergents. This helps to break down insoluble salts. 

If you wash a stained cloth and are able to remove the stains from it, you have just experienced surfactants at work. When clothes are soaked in water and detergent, the surfactant helps to detach or separate stain particles from your fabric and prevent them from reattaching to the fabrics.  The separated particles are then flushed out by water.

This property of detergents is what helps it to clean clothes during laundarying.

But there is more!

Detergents are not intelligent. When done repeatedly and for a long period of time more than just stains and dirts are separated from your fabrics.

Surfactant

A chemical substance present in detergents that helps in the cleaning agent to penetrate fabrics. They are also used to disperse attached stains and germs from a bacterial.

HOW DETERGENTS DAMAGE CLOTHES

CAN TOO MUCH DETERGENT DAMAGE CLOTHES
Detergent

As explained above, the surfactants separate stain particles from fabrics. But this non-intelligent action does not distinguish stains and dirts from other particles. 

Every time dirt is removed from clothes, a very minute amount of fabric colors is detached from the fabrics also.

This is called leaching. 

Leaching is the gradual removal or separation of colors from cloth fabrics when water passes through it.

So, surfactants separate color particles, and they wash off through the process of leaching.

THE RESULT OF TOO MUCH DETERGENT ON CLOTHES

Put simply, they increase the surfactant effect on your laundered clothes. This in turn increases leaching.

The result is that clothes begin to fade gradually. Except that with much detergent, and coupled with low quality fabrics, the effect is faster and more noticeable.

HOW MUCH DETERGENTS SHOULD YOU USE?

You should have a fixed measurement. 

A helpful guide is the 

kilogram to cup ratio.

One cup of liquid detergent can wash 6kg of clothes.

One cup is 250ml

Half cup is 175ml

CAN TOO MUCH DETERGENT DAMAGE CLOTHES
Liquid detergent measuring cup… enough for 6kg laundry.


Measurement (Cup)Measurement(Liters)LOAD WEIGHTWEIGHT BREAKDOWN
1½ cup175ml3kg clothes3 towels, 3 t-shirts, 1 trousers, 5 pairs of socks, 1 bedsheet, 2 pillowcases. 
21 cup250ml6kg clothes5 towels, 6 lightweight tops, 2 trousers, 10 pairs of socks, 2 bedsheet and 2 pillowcases
39kg6 towels, 12 tops, 5 trousers, 22 socks, 3 bedsheets, 2 pillowcases.
42 cup500ml12kg clothes10 towels, 6 lightweight tops, 4 trousers, 20 pairs of socks, 2 bedsheets, and 4 pillowcases.
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HOW DO I KNOW IF I USED TOO MUCH LAUNDRY DETERGENT?

  1. Have a measurement cup

If you do laundry regularly, you don’t want to measure by guess work or use ‘eye gauge.’ And do not exceed the measurement in the table above. 

Even when the clothes are a little more than the stated weight, you should not increase the detergent measurement. For example, a cup of liquid soap can wash 6kg of clothes. If the clothes are 6.5kg on the weight scale, you don’t need to measure a cup and extra. The same 6kg will be enough to cover the extra 0.5

  1. Too much foam in the wash

A fail proof to determine if your measurement is too much is by looking at the foam in the washer. When the detergent is too much, the foam in the washer will be too much for the rinse to completely clean out. 

It is not unusual to have foam in your clothes, even in the washer, after the rinse and spin. This is an indication of excess detergent that the washer could not rinse off completely.

  1. Detergent smell

A newly rinsed clothes will have some good smell from the wash. Especially with scented detergents. But the smell is strong, it is an indication that some detergent remnant is still on your clothes.

In this case, you might choose to run the washers rinse a second time. Leaving unrinsed detergent will gradually wear your clothes, as unlike soaps, detergents are not biodegradable.

WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU OVERFILL A WASHING MACHINE WITH DETERGENT?

If it is dry detergent, and you’re yet to start the washing or flush it down the drum, you can simply extract it from the washer cover.

Your clothes will still have lather, at the end of the laundering. You should run a rinse cycle one more time.

IS LIQUID OR POWDER DETERGENT BETTER FOR WASHING MACHINES?

Washing machines are built to accept either kinds of detergents. Both dissolve quickly in water and mix effectively with clothes in the washer’s drum.

Whether to use liquid or powder is down to choice, available, and cost. But will work well with any modern washing machine.

CAN YOU DO LAUNDRY WITHOUT DETERGENT?

CAN TOO MUCH DETERGENT DAMAGE CLOTHES

Yes you can. But only with another cleaning agent, like soap, for example.

Of course, if you only have rinsing to do, you don’t need detergents. But that means you would have already done your hand by laundry.

If your goal is to disinfect or whiten your clothes, you can opt for baking soda bleach. 

But as a word of caution, baking soda and bleach are better soaked in water than pouring into the washer.

CONCLUSION

Detergent plays an important role in laundry. And enough amount should be used to get the desired cleaning and sanitizing effect needed when washing.

However, just like any other vital things in life, it is needed in the right amount.

A right amount can make you look, feel and smell good. Used in excess and you’ll damage your clothes.

Striking the balance is the key. You can print the information in the table above and past on your washing machine. This will be a memory aid, and helpful guide when next you have those clothes to launder.

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