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Is Liquid Detergent Bad for Your Washing Machine? (+ Why)

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Washing machines give us quite the relief where our clothes are concerned. This valuable home equipment has undergone several updates and modifications to make them much closer to independent operations than ever. However, even with the many changes, certain practices still harm washing machines, like using the wrong soap.

Liquid detergent is bad for your washing machine because it usually comes in a more concentrated form and needs a lot of water to dilute properly. It must dilute properly to avoid leaving a lather on clothes—or over-foaming the machine, which can damage your clothes and washing machine. 

Keep reading as I discuss the importance of using the right soap to ensure it works with the proper functioning of a washing machine. I’ll also discuss how washing machines work, how soap is utilized, and why the type of soap used with a washing machine can damage it.

Does Liquid Detergent Damage Washing Machine?

Keep in mind that too much of everything can be harmful, and ignorance is even worse in such cases. The same applies to what kind of detergent is used with the washing machine and how much is used. 

Liquid detergent can damage your washing machine in the long run. As much as the liquid detergent can be used to wash, it’s not the best option. Not only can it harm your machine, but it can also ruin some of your clothes.

Soaps play a massive role in the operations of a washing machine. However, to get the most out of your cloth washer, you need to treat it right, soap-wise!

Using liquid detergent for one in your washing machine can harm it. However, it’s not that simple. Let’s go a bit deeper into the details of how liquid detergent affects washing machines.

Liquid Detergent Requires a Lot of Water To Dilute Properly

Machine machines engage three processes to get your clothes spun. It includes washing, rinsing, and spinning. Although cloth washers specialize in one or two of these processes, most washing machines combine the three processes to get your clothes clean. In this process, it’ll need water and soap essentially.

The modern washing machine is more water-efficient and thus uses less water than traditional cloth washers. With less water to properly dilute the liquid detergent and manage the lather form, your clothes and machine are at risk, primarily when the liquid soap is used in excess.

I wrote a guide on whether you should use hot or cold water for your laundry, that you may want to read next.

Is Too Much Liquid Detergent Bad for Clothes?

As previously stated, liquid detergent comes in a more concentrated form than regular detergent. While this might be a pro on the economic side, it doesn’t count as much when washing clothes with the cloth washer. 

Too much liquid detergent is bad for clothes because the liquid detergent would require a lot of water to become dilute and saturated enough to mix well with the clothes. It’s much easier to mix with water and the clothes evenly with regular detergent. 

Where liquid detergent is used, with a modern machine that uses up less water, your clothes take the damage, maybe even more than the machine.

Firstly, there’s rarely any saturation with less water to dilute the liquid detergent properly. It means that some areas get more soap than others and as a result, your clothes don’t get the needed cleaning they require. Your clothes begin to lose their color and retain stains and dirt due to improper washing in no time.

On the other hand, for the part of your cloth that gets more of the soap distributed to it, with less water being utilized, there’s no guarantee that the soap in your clothing is cleaned out after washing. 

Having a remnant of lather on your clothes may mean that you’ll have to take out your clothes and rinse them again by yourself to get your clothes clean. 

In a situation where your clothes get spun and air-dried in the machine, the chemicals from the liquid detergent will slowly but surely damage your clothing.

I wrote a guide that may interest you: Accidentally Used Too Much Laundry Detergent? Do This Next

Can You Still Save Your Clothes if You Put Too Much Liquid Detergent?

You might be lucky enough to have a washing machine that’s quite generous with sufficient water to dilute the liquid detergent before washing correctly. It doesn’t take your clothes or machine out of the damaged radar, even with this good news. 

You can’t save your clothes from damage if you put too much liquid detergent. Sure, enough water would mean proper soap dilution and enough rinsing. But that doesn’t mean your clothes are safe from damage. Liquid detergent is highly concentrated, after all.

And because liquid detergent is so concentrated, it’s easy to put in a little too much than needed. 

With enough water to dilute for washing comes an excess of soap which is quite harmful to your washing machine. It causes a buildup of chemicals that stiffen your laundry.

Is Liquid Detergent More Expensive?

As liquid detergent isn’t the best option to use with a washing machine, it remains quite an economical option. 

Liquid detergent isn’t more expensive than other detergent forms. It’s way more affordable and economical for cloth washing needs than other detergent types. It might as well explain why many opt for liquid detergent for their washing machine rather than other detergent kinds.

As much as it seems like the more affordable option right off the shelf, it might cost you a whole lot more than a few extra bucks on your grocery list. For starters, a new washing machine once the current one in use is damaged.

Here’s another guide you may like: Doing Laundry At Night: Does it save money, and is it rude?

Is Liquid Detergent Bad for the Environment?

Liquid detergent is bad for the environment compared to powdered detergent. For starters, they come in plastic containers and contain a high amount of phosphate concentrates, ending up in our waterways. Therefore, it creates more pollution and affects the balance of aquatic environments.


When you have loads of clothes just waiting to be washed, the liquid detergent does play its part pretty well. The primary problem with liquid detergent is its concentration compared to the water usage of most modern washing machines. 

However, these machines have been modified to accommodate liquid detergent, thereby grossly cutting down the cons. They now hold a separate container for liquid detergent, powdered detergent, and softeners.

Before going right ahead to down liters of liquid detergent into your washing machine, do well to check if it’s built or designed to accommodate it.

Next, you can learn if powder detergent is bad for your washer, or how to clean your washing machine (yes, it’s really important!).

Pat Ashcraft

Thursday 18th of August 2022

What about DISH DETERGENT in the washer??

Tor Rydder

Friday 19th of August 2022

Excellent question.

It depends on what dish detergent you have. I wrote an article about it a while ago that you could check out for some more info + some other alternatives from around your home:

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