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Photo by Serenethos

Get Rid of Detergent Buildup for Cleaner Laundry

Have you noticed your clothes not getting as clean as they used to, or towels not smelling as fresh as they once did?

The problem could be detergent buildup in your washing machine. Borrowing a technique from the cloth-diapering world, I decided to try a simple “stripping” process—eliminating extra detergents, oils, etc., that build up over time in the fabric.

Towels are a good place to start the process. Drop a load of clean towels in the washing machine and run a full cycle without any detergent. Use the warmest water possible for the items you’re washing, and use more water than you normally would. For a small load, for example, use the amount of water you would for a medium load, and so on.

When the load starts agitating, peek inside the lid—if you see lots of soap bubbles you’ve found your problem. Once the cycle finishes, continue with extra rinse cycles until you no longer see soap bubbles when the washer agitates. Repeat this process for any laundry you suspect has buildup. It took me only one detergent-free wash cycle and two to three rinse cycles to eliminate fabric buildup, and I’m amazed at how much fresher and cleaner everything is.