Listen up, all you frugalites who make your own laundry detergent. It may be harder to justify going to all that trouble once you know that most consumers overdo it on the soap, both in the laundry and in the dishwasher.
According to an interesting New York Times story, appliance repairmen will tell you that adding too much soap to dishwashers and washing machines is the "No. 1 sin."
In the old days, these appliances used a lot more water and detergents weren't so concentrated. Most people use as much as 10 to 15 times more soap than what's required, needlessly wasting their money and shortening the life of their appliances, said Vernon Schmidt, a career repairman and author of Appliance Handbook for Women: Simple Enough Even a Man Can Understand.
The author advises that between one-eighth to one-half of what's recommended on the product label should do the trick.
Suds, Schmidt claims, don't indicate your clothes are getting clean; suds mean you're using too much detergent.
By now you're probably wondering whether you're guilty of overdoing it. Conduct Schmidt's simple test to find out.
"Take four to six clean bath towels, put them in your front-loading washing machine (one towel for a top loader). Don't add any detergent or fabric softener. Switch to the hot water setting and medium wash and run it for about five minutes.
Check for soap suds. If you don't see any suds right away, turn off the machine and see if there is any soapy residue. If you see suds or residue, it is soap coming out of your clothes from the last wash."
As for dishwashers, Schmidt says, there's no law that says you must top off the soap dispenser.
Check out the full story for additional interesting tips on using your dishwasher, dryer and oven.
Frugal Nuggets represent the occasional piece of frugal wisdom for those who have mastered the basics.