Having excess suds in pre wash isn’t an issue, but excess suds in main wash is, as they prevent agitation. The main causes of excess suds are inadequate loading, incorrect detergent type of water hardness and excess surfactant for the amount of soiling.
Troubleshooting to prevent excess suds in front loaders:
- Ensure your loading is correct, the laundry in the machine should be between 2/3 and 3/4 full wet for optimum agitation. Correct machine loading for the main wash is important because the surface area influences the amount of friction that occurs. Sufficient surface area and friction, along with detergent and water are the factors that remove soiling. See the video below for an example of suitable loading.
- Use a liquid detergent for soft water areas, a powder for hard water areas. To find out the water quality in your area, contact your water provider, or search for it on the internet.
- Bulk main wash with at least 20% clothing, the grubbier the better!
- As a last solution, if the above methods aren’t solving the suds, reduce your detergent quantity by 1/4-1/2 of a scoop/lid, for main wash.
Take notice of how clean the nappies are out of the wash, the graphic below explains why enough detergent and surfactants are necessary. See the Detergent Index for detergent quantities.
Some machines will continue to wash with excess suds, just extending the cycle to rinse them out, others will do a suds lock, waiting for them to subside before the cycle can continue. Both scenarios are annoying.
💡 To fix excess suds during the main cycle, add 1/2-1 lid of fabric softener down the detergent draw (use some water to wash it down), the excess suds will reduce. The cationic surfactants in the fabric softener will bind to the excess anionic surfactants in the detergent, reducing the suds. This will allow the cycle to continue, and the fabric softener will wash out. See the Fabric Softener page for more info on softener use.
This video is an example of what level of laundry loading will provide sufficient friction to remove soiling. As the cycle continues, the laundry in the machine will compress, and suds will increase with agitation over time. Check the loading approximately a third of the way into the cycle to see if loading is accurate.
This video is an example of under loading in a front loader washing machine, and what level of suds is excessive. There isn’t enough laundry to provide sufficient friction to remove soiling. As the cycle continues, the laundry in the machine will further compress, and suds will further increase with agitation over time. Excess suds cushion and prevent friction, which further prevents the removal of soiling.
See the graphic below for more further info on excess suds and why they occur.