Getting the Most of Your Appliances: Part 1

Some questions just seem too deep and profound to even ask. Or perhaps you just think the answers are obvious? Well, I am going to take a step up to the next level and ask anyway, “How much soap do I really need to use in my washing machine and dishwasher?” and the inescapable conundrum, “Does my clothes dryer need more attention than just cleaning out the lint filter after each run?”

I hope I haven’t ruined your day with such mind boggling miasmas of mystery, but I really need to know. Not one to be satisfied with the information and instructions found on the product’s labels, (after all, the manufacturer has a vested interest in consumers using more of their product than might be necessary), I decided to find out the answers for myself.

As it turns out, my suspicions are correct. According to appliance repair people and other appliance experts, the greatest single mistake committed by naïve consumers is the use of too much soap. Not only are washing machines and dishwashers made to use much less water than in the past, the soaps themselves are far more concentrated than in days of yore. According to Vernon Schmidt, an appliance repairman for almost 35 years, “Most people use 10 to 15 times the amount of soap they need, and they’re pouring money down the drain.”

Schmidt, author of the book “Appliance Handbook for Women: Simple Enough Even a Man Can Understand,” believes that, depending on the hardness/softness of your water, about an eighth to half of the manufacturer’s recommendation on the label should be quite sufficient.



Rachel Forsythe has a B.A. in English Literature and worked as an editor for a local weekly news magazine. She is now a stay-at-home mom, raising three younger boys and two older daughters. Her favorite activities are hiking, reading, traveling, bike riding, skiing in the winter and surfing in the summer. She also loves to cook. Be in touch with Rachel at Rachel[at]

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