This Is How Much Laundry Detergent You Should Actually Use — And Yes, It's Shocking

Unfortunately, we have some bad news for you: You’re probably doing your laundry all wrong.
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Unless you’re unthinkably rich or lucky enough to have someone in your life who handles your household chores, you’re probably doing your laundry at least a few times a month. You’d think that would mean you know exactly what to do to ensure you’re getting your clothes as clean as possible — and maybe even saving some time, energy and money while you’re doing it.

Unfortunately, we have some bad news for you: You’re probably doing your laundry all wrong. Or, at least, we — Raj Punjabi and Noah Michelson, the co-hosts of HuffPost’s “Am I Doing It Wrong?” podcast — discovered we are when we recently chatted with Patric Richardson, aka The Laundry Evangelist.

Not only did Richardson reveal that the only washing machine cycle we ever need to use (and he means ever) is the “express” cycle and that dryer sheets are our enemy, but he also informed us that we’re probably using our laundry detergent wrong too. More specifically: We’re using way too much.

“I think you only need about two tablespoons of detergent [for a load], so a bottle of laundry detergent might last you a year because you only need a couple of tablespoons for your clothes to come out clean,” Richardson, the host of HGTV’s “Laundry Guy,” told us.

He likened using too much laundry detergent to using too much salt when you’re cooking.

“When you’re cooking and the recipe says a half tablespoon of salt, and you put it in, it’s delicious,” Richardson said. “But if you’re like, ‘I love salt,’ and you put in a whole cup, it’s ruined, it’s not better. So that’s how to think about detergent: A little bit is really good, because it does what it’s supposed to do. If you add a whole lot more, you actually ruin it.”

There’s also a scientific explanation for why using too much detergent can mean you’re actually ending up with less clean clothes.

“The dirt and germs come off the clothes and go into the water,” Richardson, the author of the bestselling “Laundry Love,” explained. “They get trapped in the surfactant [compounds in detergent that lift dirt and stains from clothes] and then, when the rinse comes, the surfactant goes down the drain. If you use too much detergent, it can’t rinse out, so the surfactant actually resettles back in your clothes, and all of the dirt resettles back into your clothes with it. So more detergent means your clothes are actually dirty.”

This is why Richardson advises we shouldn’t use detergent pods.

“I don’t like pods because I don’t like that you can’t control the amount,” he said. “You don’t need a pod’s worth of detergent [to do a load of laundry].”

Richardson also gave us tips for zapping static electricity using aluminum foil, told us how to avoid pit stains using vinegar, and much more.

After you’ve had a listen to the full episode above or wherever you get your podcasts, subscribe to “Am I Doing It Wrong?” so you don’t miss a single episode, including our investigations of the ins and outs of tipping, how to score the best deals on airline tickets, how to apologize or vanquish your credit card debt, how to find love online or overcome anxiety, online shopping, tips for taking care of your teeth, pooping like a pro, secrets to booking and staying in a hotel, how to deal with an angry person, and more.

Need some help with something you’ve been doing wrong? Email us at, and we might investigate the topic in an upcoming episode.

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