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Why doesn't washing powder dissolve in my washing machine?

Updated February 21, 2017

Powder detergents that fail to entirely dissolve in your washing machine can collect inside and damage the appliance over time. Although they're generally safe and effective, incorrect use of this form of detergent can leave a powdery residue on laundry that might prompt you to wash your laundry a second time to get it clean. In some cases, liquid detergent might be a better alternative when powder detergents don't fully combine with water in the washing machine.

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Water Temperature Too Low

Powder detergents don't always dissolve well in low water temperatures. Although product manufacturers might claim that powder is suitable for cold and hot water wash loads, certain products take longer to dissolve in cold water. If you're running a short wash cycle on cold water and use a powder detergent, some of the powder might not completely dissolve during the wash cycle. Reduce the amount of powder you use when doing a small wash load at a low temperature to ensure the detergent dispels in the water.

Poor Water Quality

The water quality can impact the ability of the water and powder detergent to combine and create suds. In general, soft water usually requires less detergent than hard water for the same load size, so a slight adjustment in the amount of powder you use might improve dissolve issues. Furthermore, the minerals in the water can integrate poorly with the powder and limit its ability to completely dissolve. In this case, you might need to forgo powder detergent altogether or at least scale back on the amount that you use in each load.

Collects Inside Laundry

Powder detergent can sometimes get trapped inside rolled pant legs, pockets, pillow cases or even in socks when you pour it into the washing machine after the laundry is already inside. If any amount of powder gets caught inside laundry items, it might not have access to the water to dissolve. Put powder detergent into the washing machine first and turn the water on to give them time to incorporate before placing your laundry inside.


Liquid detergents provide the same cleaning power as most powder detergents. Consider switching to liquid detergent if you're having problems with powder not fully dissolving in your machine. Liquid detergent comes pre-dissolved, so you don't have to worry about a powder residue getting on laundry or collecting inside the washing machine as you sometimes to do with powder detergents.

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About the Author

Christie Gross has been writing since 1998. Her work writing public policy platforms for elected officials nationwide has been featured in national and local newspapers under various client pen names. Gross has a Bachelor of Arts in English and political science, as well as a Master of Public Administration from the University of Delaware.

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