How Laundry Detergent Pods Could Be Ruining Your Clothes, Experts Say

If you're not using them correctly, you're putting your clothing at risk.

Laundry detergent pods have made it more convenient than ever to wash your clothes. You no longer have to worry about measuring out the correct amount of detergent, but instead can simply grab a pod and toss it in. The convenience is only worth it if you're using these pods correctly, however. And if you've been pulling your clothes out of the washing machine only to find them damaged with stains or streaks, it might be because you're not. Read on to find out how laundry detergent pods could be ruining your clothes, and what you can do to prevent that from happening.

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Laundry detergent pods need to be able to dissolve properly.

Detergent pods in a green plastic box on a white background
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It's important to understand how laundry detergent pods work. The key? Their contact with water in the washing machine.

"Detergent pods are designed to dissolve completely in water, releasing the cleaning agents evenly throughout the wash cycle," Muffetta Krueger, cleaning expert and founder of Muffetta's Domestic Assistants, tells Best Life.

This dissolution process is essential for "effective cleaning," Karina Toner, operations manager at Spekless Cleaning, adds.

"When the pod doesn't dissolve completely, the cleaning agents and enzymes within may not be evenly distributed," she explains. "This can lead to residues adhering to clothes, causing fading, streaking, or even skin irritations due to trapped detergents."

In other words, laundry detergent pods can ruin your clothes if they aren't able to dissolve properly—and that's exactly what will happen if you don't use them correctly.

RELATED: What Happens If You Leave Wet Clothes in the Washing Machine, Experts Say.

They should go in the washing machine first.

female hand puts laundry pod into the washing machine
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There are several problems that can arise when your laundry detergent pods don't dissolve correctly, and a major contributing factor comes down to when you're putting them in.

"One common mistake is adding detergent pods directly on top of the clothes in the washing machine," Toner says. "Pods should always be placed at the bottom of the drum before adding clothes."

When you put your pod in first, you give it a better chance of fully connecting with the water as the machine fills up, which will then allow it to dissolve, says cleaning and laundry influencer Laura Mountford.

"On the other hand, if you place the pod on top of the clothes, it is likely to fall into the seal of the washing machine door and not dissolve properly," she warns.

RELATED: How to Clean a Washing Machine, According to Cleaning Experts.

You also shouldn't overload the washer.

Laundry inside a washing machine. Close up.
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Laundry detergent pods also only work well when the washing machine is filled to its correct capacity.

"It's crucial to follow the manufacturer's guidelines for load size," Krueger says. "If you overload the washer and add too many clothes, the pod might not dissolve properly."

According to Krueger, an overloaded machine won't allow room for the proper dissolution of detergent pods.

"When the washer is too full, there might not be enough space for the pod to dissolve and distribute evenly among the clothes," she shares. "This could result in some items receiving too much detergent, while others receive too little."

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You may need to adjust the water temperature as well.

Hand turning on washing machine
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The temperature of the water you're washing your clothes in can also have an impact on the effectiveness of your laundry detergent pods. While most pods are made to work with both cold and warm water, the latter is most effective, according to Toner.

"Using cold water settings may not provide enough heat to fully dissolve the pod, leading to detergent residue on clothes and within the machine," she cautions.

In fact, the maker of Tide Pods suggests changing your water's temperature in order to achieve better results.

"Switch to a warm setting during winter months or whenever water is exceptionally cold," Tide states as a tip on its website.

Kali Coleman
Kali Coleman is a Senior Editor at Best Life. Her primary focus is covering news, where she often keeps readers informed on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and up-to-date on the latest retail closures. Read more
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