Soap sense

Last reviewed: February 2010

Washing machines and detergents have changed and so should your laundry habits.

Pick the right detergent

Regular detergents are too sudsy and can affect the performance of front-loaders and high-efficiency top-loaders. That's why manufacturers recommend HE detergents. Using regular detergents might void the washer's warranty.

Measure the correct amount

Don't just pour detergent into the washer or fill the cap to the top. Today's detergents are more concentrated, so you need less. Too much detergent can affect performance and prolong the wash cycle. Follow directions and highlight fill lines as a reminder.

Prevent mold and odors

The front-loader's door seal can trap moisture and debris that can cause mold and odor. If young children aren't running about, leave the washer door ajar, allowing air to circulate, and wipe dry the door gasket and glass. Clean dispensers monthly. Some companies suggest regularly running an empty load with bleach added. Wipe under and around the dispenser and run another load after that to remove residual bleach. Affresh tablets are claimed to prevent odor by removing residue, but in our tests the residue remained.