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Why Doesn’t My Laundry Detergent Suds Up? (And is it bad?)

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We often measure the cleanliness of our laundry with how much the laundry detergent suds up during the wash cycle. However, that is not the only sign of clean laundry results. Technology has made it possible that fewer suds can indicate clean laundry too. 

Your laundry detergent might not make suds because you are using the wrong detergent. Certain detergents are specifically developed to be energy and water-efficient and do not make suds. Overloading the washing machine is another reason the laundry detergent might not bubble. 

Thought laundry detergents are all the same? So did we, and if you are using laundry powder instead of laundry detergent, there’s a couple of reasons why that’s not sudsing up too. More on that later. 

Why Doesn’t My Laundry Get Sudsy?

As you will see, there’s a surprising number of reasons why your laundry detergent is not creating enough suds, and in some situations, that is even normal. 

High-Efficiency Laundry Detergent Makes Fewer Suds

We mentioned above that certain laundry detergents are developed for energy and water-efficient washing machines. It’s called HE (High-Efficiency) laundry detergent. Generally speaking, high-efficiency washing machines refer to front loaders. 

Although many modern top-loaders are more energy and water-efficient than their older counterparts, they do not nearly compare to front-loading washing machines. 

Because front loader washing machines use much less water and much more ‘force’ than top loaders, the detergent is made to work with so much less water than top loaders. Too many bubbles in your front loader washing machine can also cause the washing machine to overflow with bubbles harming the electronics of your appliance. 

Another reason the laundry detergent makes fewer suds is to ensure that the laundry detergent rinses out entirely during the rinse cycle of the wash. 

More on this here: Why Your Clothes Smell Like Detergent After Washing.

Does Overloading The Washing Machine Mean Less Suds?

If you load too much laundry in your top loader washing machine, the laundry detergent won’t dissolve properly, preventing the creation of suds while washing. 

To rectify this, you can:

  • Remove some items from the machine, 
  • Allow water to run into the machine to mix with the detergent before adding laundry
  • Wash large items such as bedspreads and duvets separately or one at a time

Can You Put One Item in the Washing Machine?

Does More Detergent Mean More Suds?

Laundry detergent manufacturers make detergents according to specific recommendations for use. Using too little detergent might not make suds because the ratio between water and detergent is incorrect.

Therefore, you should always use as much laundry detergent as the manufacturer recommends without deviating too much. 

However, if you use a high-efficiency washing machine with regular laundry detergent, you should use less detergent. Otherwise, you could learn the hard way, like I did, and have an unplanned bubble party with your washing machine.

Less is more when it comes to some detergent too.

Bad Water Quality Uses More Detergent To Make Suds

You might not know this, but bad water quality can affect the amount of suds your detergent makes. When it comes to water, we talk about hard water and soft water. 

Soft water is what you would generally have running through the taps in your home. It is treated and should not contain any other mineral than sodium. Soft water is a joy to work with, your soap of any sort would bubble up quite a bit, and you could fill up a bubbly bathtub in no time.

On the other hand, hard water contains several dissolved minerals such as calcium and magnesium and sometimes even chalk and lime. These minerals make it difficult for the laundry detergent to dissolve correctly, resulting in less or even no suds. 

If you are aware that you have hard water in the area where you live, there are mainly two things you can do to make the water more dissolvable. 

  • Install a water softener. This is a device that your plumber can install on your main water lines. It removes most of the minerals that make the water hard and benefit all your plumbing and connected appliances.  
  • Add more detergent. Suppose you experience that the laundry detergent does not make suds, and you think it is because of the water. In that case, you can increase the laundry detergent by adding ¼ extra of what is recommended by the manufacturer. 

Learn more about washing machine care and water quality in this article that I wrote.

Incorrect Water Temperature Will Not Make Enough Suds

Another culprit of laundry detergent that doesn’t make suds is an incorrect water temperature. Water temperature can impact how well the laundry detergent dissolves in the water. 

In truth, liquid laundry detergent does better when water is below 86°F and laundry powder and pods when water is warmer, above 86°F. Laundry powder and pods dissolve better in the warmer water and produce suds. At the same time, the liquid laundry detergent does not need so much heat to dissolve.

More on temperature here: What Temperature to Wash Clothes (Celsius and Fahrenheit).

Why Do Certain Laundry Detergents Not Dissolve?

Using washing powder or pods is sometimes a bit trickier than liquid detergent. Besides the incorrect water temperature, another reason for laundry powder and pods not dissolving is placing it in your machine at the wrong time. 

With a top loader, laundry powder should be added after a few inches of water have run into the machine. Add the powder, then allow time for more water to run into the machine and for the powder to start to dissolve. Only after this can you start adding the laundry. 

With a front loader, you should always add liquid and powder detergents to the dispenser drawer in your machine. 

Laundry pods work a bit differently from liquid and powder detergent. It should be added to the drum before any of the water or clothing. 

If you have a front loader, pop it into the machine towards the back of the drum, then add your laundry. You can select any wash cycle of your choice and proceed as usual. 

When using a top loader, you can follow the same procedure as for the powder detergent. 

Conclusion

Although there are many reasons why your laundry detergent doesn’t make suds, it does not call for panic. Instead, troubleshoot to see if you can find the problem. Additionally, you can always start using a different type of laundry detergent to get what works for you.  

Always be wary of making too many suds, especially in a front loader. Besides being harmful to your machine, it will not remove all the detergent, and your washing machine will either self-correct and wash until it senses all the suds are out, or you will have to add another rinse cycle once the wash cycle has finished. 

Next, I recommend learning about what time of day to do laundry to save money, or how to line dry your clothes.

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