Laundry Detergent Pods Can Be Bad For Cleaning Clothes

If we’re not doing it, we need to do it, or we just finished doing it, or we’re going to have to do it soon.

You’d think that because we can’t escape it, we’d have perfected it by now, but too many of us are doing it all wrong.

That’s what we — Raj Punjabi and Noah Michelson, the co-hosts of HuffPost’s “Am I Doing It Wrong?” podcast — discovered when we recently chatted with Patric Richardson, aka The Laundry Evangelist.

Richardson fell in love with cleaning clothes when he was just 2-and-a-half years old and is now the king of a laundry empire that includes sold-out laundry camps, a bestselling book, his own laundry products and an HGTV show, “The Laundry Guy.”

One of the most shocking things we learned during our chat? We’re probably using the wrong kind of detergent and way too much of it, which could be hindering how clean our clothes get.

“I’m always going to use laundry soap … It’s soap that’s made [specifically] for laundry and then it’s grated or ground,” Richardson said. “It’s going to be the cleanest, most gentle [choice].”

But it can be difficult to find, so, if it’s not available, he recommends buying detergent made specifically for baby clothes, which is also going to be gentle. Just make sure you’re not using pods.

“I don’t care if [your laundry detergent] comes as powder or liquid, but 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 … 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 advised that a little detergent goes a long way, like salt.

“When you’re cooking and the recipe says a half tablespoon of salt, and you put it in, it’s delicious,” he 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 a scientific reason for this. Laundry detergent is made up of surfactants, which are compounds that lift dirt and stains from clothes.

“The dirt and germs come off the clothes and go into the water,” Richardson explained. “They get trapped in the surfactant 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.”

We also discussed why he never uses bleach, his trick for destroying static electricity in the dryer using something most people keep in their pantry, and much more:

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

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