Can You Put Detergent Directly On Clothes? (+The Correct Way)

It is crucial to choose the right detergent for your laundry. You must also know how to use detergent while using the washing machine. If you are wondering if you can put the detergent directly into the clothes, you are in the right place.

Putting the detergent directly on clothes will leave hard to remove white spots and stains in your clothes. Fill the drum with water to dissolve the detergent before loading the clothes. If you have an in-built detergent drawer in your washing machine, put the detergent in it.

In this article, I will help you find alternate ways to put the detergent instead of putting it directly on clothes. You will also know the mistakes to avoid while using detergent in the washing machine.

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Why is using detergent drawers better?

Most front-load washing machines have a built-in detergent drawer.

Detergent has to be diluted before it comes in contact with the clothes. 

When you have the detergent drawer attached to your washer, it is better to load the detergent into the detergent drawer instead of directly putting it into the drum or the clothes.

When you put the detergent into the drawer, it dilutes the detergent and makes it less concentrated.

Doing this will prevent the stains in your clothes while putting the detergent directly on the clothes. 

Also, putting the detergent into the drawer will let it reach the clothes after they get wet with water.

Pros and cons of adding the detergent directly into the clothes

Putting the detergent directly into the clothes will not do any good instead damage the fabrics of your clothes.

If your washing machine doesn’t have a detergent drawer, you can put the detergent in the drum before loading it with the clothes.

Putting the detergent directly into the clothes has the disadvantage of leaving spots and strains in your clothes.

The concentrated detergent that leaves spots on the clothes is hard to remove, making you unable to wear the clothes again. 

Putting the detergent directly in the clothes is beneficial when there is a stubborn strain of grease or oil in the clothes.

In such a case, you can directly put the detergent into the particular area to make the dirt fade away.

In the end, putting the detergent directly into the clothes is not recommended.

Dissolve it with water before you load the machine with clothes.

Mistakes to avoid while adding liquid detergent to the machine

Next time you use a liquid detergent, ensure to avoid these mistakes.

  • Avoid adding less liquid detergent during the cycle. When you add less detergent, you cannot expect fresh and clean clothes at the end of the cycle.
  • Another common mistake is adding excess detergent. Adding more detergent will leave white spots and residue on your clothes. The excess detergent will give a -dull look to your clothes. Also, it will start to build up in your washer leading to bacterial and mold development accompanied by a bad odor.
  • When you are using liquid detergent, avoid running the washing cycle with hot water. Hot water will reduce the effectiveness of the liquid detergent.
  • Before choosing the detergent for your washer, refer to the user manual. Use the detergent that will suit your washer. Some washers need specific detergent for efficient results. In such cases, use the specific detergent mentioned in the manual.

How to use powdered detergent in the washing machine? 

Powdered detergents are cost-effective compared to liquid detergents. 

To get the best results out of powdered detergent, you must use it correctly. 

Follow this step-by-step process while using a powdered detergent. 

  1. Instead of mindlessly loading clothes in the washing machine, you can categorize them to make the washing cycle effective.
  2. Count them and categorize them as denim, soft fabric clothes, and sweaters, and also you can categorize them based on colors. It is important because soft fabric clothes need less detergent than denim. Categorizing them this way will help you measure the right amount of detergent.
  3. As mentioned earlier, only add detergent after loading the clothes. Instead, fill the washing machine with enough water and pour the detergent.
  4. Before loading the clothes, dissolve them well. Doing this will protect your clothes from fabric damage and white spots. 
  5. There is another method in case you want to avoid adding powdered detergent directly into the washer. Measure enough powdered detergent, and dissolve the detergent in a cup to make it a paste. Add the detergent paste into the washer or the detergent drawer if your washing has one.
  6. After adding the detergent paste, load the categorized clothes into the washing machine. Select the correct cycle depending upon the dirt and the category of clothes.
  7. To get the best result from powdered detergent, use less and let the cycle run for longer to make your clothes look clean and fresh. 

How much detergent should you use? 

Using excess powdered detergent will not make your clothes extra clean; instead, it will damage the fabrics of the clothes, making them look dull. 

If you see these signs in your clothes, you are using too much detergent:

  • White spots on clothes
  • Sticky clothes at the end of a washing cycle
  • Clothes are getting stiff.
  • White clothes will look gray.
  • Hardened detergent deposits in your washing machine, also leading to bacterial and mold formation. 
  • A bad odor from your washing machine. 

To avoid all these troubles, you must use the appropriate amount of powdered detergent.

It depends on the effectiveness of your powdered detergent. 

Check the label of the detergent you purchased and use it as mentioned in the label.

There is another factor you must consider when you are using detergent. 

There are two types of washing machines: High efficient and traditional washing machines.

A Highly efficient washing machine requires less detergent than the traditional washing machine.

Those highly efficient washing machines are designed to use less detergent while giving the best results. 

The efficiency of the detergent is categorized as 2x, 4x, and 10x. 

For example, suppose you are using a detergent of 2x efficiency.

In that case, you can add 2 tablespoons of the detergent for the traditional washing machine and 1 teaspoon of the detergent to the high-efficiency washing machine.

The amount of detergent will vary depending on the water: hard or soft. 

If your water pipes are supplied with hard water, your washing cycle requires more detergent.

On the other hand, if you are using soft water, then you need relatively less detergent. 

Let’s dive deep into how much detergent you should use based on the type of machine.

High-efficiency washing machine

In the case of a high-efficiency washing machine, you cannot use regular detergent.

You must purchase detergent with the tag” HE.”

These detergents are specially made for high-efficiency washing machines.

Even though you are using this detergent, you must be careful about the amount of detergent you use. 

Let’s say you are using 2x highly efficient washing detergent; then you must use at most 2 teaspoons of the detergent.

In the case of 4x detergent, one teaspoon of detergent is optimal. 

If you use 10x detergent, you must use only ¼ teaspoon of the detergent for the 13-pound laundry. 

As mentioned earlier, you can use relatively less detergent than this if you use soft water for your washing cycle. 

Pre-measured packs are available, unlike liquid and powdered detergent, which you measure by yourself.

If you use those packs, refer to the label and use it accordingly. 

If the clothes are greasy and dirty, instead of adding extra detergent, you can choose to soak the clothes.

Even if you use excess detergent, you must stay within the mentioned amount; you can add 50% of the mentioned quantity. 

If you have a large washing machine capable of holding double the clothes than an average washer, you can use double the detergent mentioned here.

Another practice you must ensure while using highly efficient detergent powder is to put the detergent directly into the drum giving the detergent more exposure to water to let it dissolve well before loading the clothes.

Because putting it in the detergent drawer will only dissolve partially due to less water exposure.

Top load washing machine

The top load washing machine requires 28-45 gallons of water to complete the single cycle.

Due to the excess water required, overdosing on detergent is common in these washing machines. 

To avoid this, you can use a measuring cup with a permanent mark on it to make it easy for you to use it every time. 

If one or two clothes are heavily dirty, you can add the liquid or powdered detergent directly into the strain instead of adding excess detergent to the complete washing cycle.

If you use 4x detergent for the top loading washing machine, you can use 1 tablespoon of detergent for the best results.

Where do you put liquid detergent in a front-load washer?

Most front-load washing machines are high-efficiency washing machines with a detergent drawer to load the detergent.

Loading the detergent into the drawer will let it dissolve completely and distribute it throughout the drum while loading the clothes.

If the detergent drawer of your washing machine is clogged with dirt and debris, you can do it by removing the drawer from the washing machine to soak it in hot water.

After soaking it, you can use a brush to clean the dirt to remove the clog.

While most front-load washing machines have a detergent drawer, the older models don’t have it.

In such a case, you can put the detergent in the mess bag or the drum to let it dilute before loading the clothes.

Avoid loading the front load washer with too many clothes, reducing cleaning efficiency.

Common mistakes to avoid while using a washing machine

Faults and repairs of the washing machine are happening due to the common mistakes people make during the wash cycle.

Here are the common mistakes you must avoid while using a washing machine.

1. Keeping the washing machine on the uneven surface

Keeping the washing machine on an uneven surface will affect its functioning.

The uneven surface will make the machine vibrate with a loud noise. 

In the long run, it will damage the motor and cause permanent damage.

Keeping the washing machine on a leveled surface will help eliminate this trouble. 

Inspect your washing machine has a detector to indicate if your washing machine is on an uneven surface.

If yes, inspect it to see if your washing machine is not in trouble.

2. Not unloading the clothes immediately after the cycle is completed

If you practice leaving the clothes in the washing machine for a long time, even after the wash cycle is completed, you must stop doing it. 

It will pay a way for the bacterial and mold development resulting in the foul smell in the washing machine.

To avoid this, unload the clothes from the washer immediately at the end of the washing cycle.

3. Not cleaning the detergent drawer regularly

As detergent drawers are frequently in contact with detergent and water, there are chances of bacterial and mold development if left uncleaned for a long time.

If you continue to wash the clothes without cleaning the drawer, germs penetrate the drum through the detergent drawer, causing health issues. 

Final thoughts

In the end, putting detergent directly on the clothes is not good for your clothes. Doing this will damage the fabrics of the clothes and make them look fady and dull.

Instead of putting the detergent directly into the clothes, you can practice the methods I mentioned in the article. Taking good care of the detergent drawer will help clean clothes efficiently. Clean it regularly if you are directly putting the detergent into the drum.

Consider referring to the user manual of your washing machine to learn which detergent to use and where to put the detergent for effective cleaning.

Reference: Laundry Detergents, How Laundry Detergent Works, Laundry Hygiene and Odor Control, CDC Guidelines.

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Jeniffer Smith

Hi, I am Jeniffer Smith, a housemaker and blogger, and I grew up in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. I have been researching and fixing appliances and other things around the home and kitchen from a young age to help my single mother. Every time something went wrong, I couldn't rest until I fixed it. And ever since, I have enjoyed fixing things around my home, and I am always ready to help my friends and family with advice and hands-on help. Since we were always looking for affordable ways of fixing things, we rarely hired experts and tried to fix most things ourselves. That interest brought me to write for this blog, as I realized my knowledge could help many people trying to fix things around their homes on their own without spending hundreds of dollars.

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