Detergents in the UK come with very specific dose amounts. This is because water hardness varies all over the United Kingdom.
In the UK detergent is dosed by metric volume- in millilitres (mL) to ensure accurate dosage each time, and maintain dosing consistency. Any appropriate container with mL measurements can be used (eg a measuring jug or even an unused baby bottle) however both Unilever and Proctor and Gamble will send out free measuring cups if requested via their websites.
For more information on what is in detergents and the function of the raw materials see our information on Mainstream Detergents, Fragrance in Detergent, Enzymes, Optical Brighteners and Plant based, Sensitive & "Eco" Detergents, and the WashWise information sheet on Laundry Detergent Ingredients.
Dosing accurately relies on three things:
- Amount of soiling (light, medium or heavy)
- Water hardness (soft, moderate or hard)
- Drum size
To calculate how much detergent needed for both pre-wash and main wash it’s easiest to work out the total amount needed for the main wash. Once this amount is calculated, the pre-wash amount will be exactly half required for the main wash.
PLEASE NOTE: the dosages in the graphic below are specific to the detergent used in this example. Please check the detergents label carefully.
How To Calculate The Detergent Amount Needed For a Main Wash
Turn to the dose instructions on the side/back of the detergent label (both powders and liquids).
1. Establish the water quality (ie hardness).
The majority of people will know the water hardness, especially if living in a hard water area, due to the lime scale build up that is visible. If unsure, visit the local water authority’s website (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_water_companies)
2. Always treat nappies as heavily soiled laundry.
Nappies are the very dirty laundry, for this reason always refer to the appropriate dosing for heavy soiling.
3. Find the appropriate amount for heavy soiling in relation to water hardness.
Follow the guide for heavily soiling column for the appropriate water hardness, see corresponding dose.
E.g. the amount needed to wash nappies in hard water is 190 ml
How To Calculate The Detergent Amount Needed For a Prewash
Divide the dose amount for the main wash BY HALF. Eg. If a main wash needs 230 ml, a pre wash will require 115 ml.
No two brands are the same, quality can vary. If nappies don’t appear to be cleaning very well (and other trouble shooting methods have been ruled out), consider increasing/ decreasing dosage, do this in 30-40 ml increments.