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How Little Powder Is Enough?

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I have read your blogs and information but I am still a bit off with this new machine.

Soft water area, very soft I think. Recommended maker dose of say 95ml of powder (non bio) results in the new machine over foaming. I can get a wash down to 2.5ml or 5ml powder used and still get too much foam in the final rinse depending on load. So obviously I have to tailor for the load. Tried another powder and it was worse. Liquid tabs are reasonable on colours but not perfect.

Interestingly the suds come up on the first rinse after the first part of the program pumps out the first time, there are no blockages or restrictions. I worked down from Fairies recommended dose to what I have now. The extra rinses I am having to put in are infuriating.

So, how much is enough? If it is a grain and enough to clean then I am quids in, but used to the old machine using 90 odd ml on a full load.

As an aside I notice the 2 hour 11 minutes has just finished in 40 mins. I am assuming the small load time has been adjusted by the machine.

It is a Miele 3164 if that is any use. I have been in touch with the makers but not much help there. So before I fire off a broadside at them, is this the norm today with new machines and powder?

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Book washing machine & appliance repairs

Ransom Spares

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I've had several people with similar problems of excessive foaming and have written an article about it here - What causes too much foam in the washing machine? However, one or two people seem to have real issues with over foaming, which don't seem to make sense. In discussions I've had in another article regarding poor rinsing it's been mentioned that the presence of "foam" in the rinse water isn't necessarily an indication of soap suds (unless it's obviously white detergent suds) and can be other agents. Also, many washing machines these days are not too good at rinsing which may account for some soap suds in rinse water.

Under dosing can cause big problems not least by allowing a destructive grease and slime to build up inside the machine and hoses. The main thing is to make sure you aren't softening the water any further by using limescale tablets or any other water softening device. Also make sure you use a good fabric conditioner which suppresses foaming too (as mentioned in the linked article).

I wouldn't expect a 2 hour 11 minute wash cycle to legitimately complete in 40 minutes. I'd expect the rinses and spins alone to take that long. Keep an eye on that. Also check the instruction book to see if you can increase the amount of water used in rinses either by customising it, changing a setting, or using an option button.

If you are using fabric conditioner make sure it isn't accidentally running into the machine on the first rinse instead of the last, which would also account for some foaming on the first rinses. (Fabric Softener Drains Immediately)


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Warning:  Read this before attempting any diy repairsNo representations or warranties are made (express or implied) as to the reliability, accuracy or completeness of advice. I can't be held liable for any loss arising directly or indirectly from the use of, or any action taken in reliance on, any information on this website, which is given free of charge and in good faith.

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Thanks for the reply.

Not used conditioner for many many years and as we are soft water, no other additives. It seems that an extra two rinses (the rinse only option on the selector) are required when the suds are there. I have read a few American reports that tests have shown that a great saving can be had and no loss of cleaning ability. At this rate a large box will do over 300 or so washes depending on load.

Under dosing does concern me so I popped 60ml as opposed to 90 ml in and achieved the suds from hell at the end, there seems to be a point where it will not trip the alarm but carry on. I did think that perhaps the foam from much reduced quantities was agitated water rather than actual suds but when it is running down the glass like an avalanche on the final spin, then the extra rinses result in suds, I am thinking not?

The 2+ hour wash had three items and I did not press the short wash. 60C, "water plus" used, three pet blankets. "Water plus", that is the system this machine uses for extra water and the user option has been increased as per machine instructions and an engineer called out by Miele did enable the soft water software feature. Whatever that does, it is not a user option and I know not what it is. Niether did the engineer.

So, if a very small amount will clean, I am on a winner. But with such a small amount, it does not seem right though the American papers on seem to indicate it is possible?

The previous machine was many years old.

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The thing about under-dosing is that it doesn't seem to affect wash results but can ruin the machine as described here - What causes washing machine smells?

However, if you are getting excessive foaming it's hard to see that as under-dosing. Conversely if you are hardly putting any detergent in but still getting excessive foaming it's hard to see that as putting in too much. Using fabric conditioner should get rid of the foaming on spin as it's cited as one of the ways to suppress foaming in my "too much foam in machine" article.

Ultimately, if you have soft water, and put the correct amount of detergent in as recommended by the detergent manufacturer there's no way it should over foam. Something must be causing it. Could anything on laundry be interacting with the detergent? Foaming is worse when excessive agitation and heat are present too.

It might be worth trying other detergent, the higher quality the better. If you haven't already, try Aerial.


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Yeah, tried Aerial, it was worse than Fairy and the dosage is less than Fairy as well for the recommended water type.

I am finding this most infuriating. Both machines, old and new, would fill with water and both go round and around and one foams up. Same powder. OK, programming and sensors 15 years apart.

Going to reducing from a large dose again. See if I have missed something, that is try 60ml instead of 90, 90 is defiantly out. Interestingly a liquid tab does not do the same though the end result is not what I expect but virtually clear on a full coloured load.

Get some conditioner as well, try that tomorrow on another white wash.

Are powders the same UK wide? That is are they altered for hard and soft water in the area's they are sold in? I have heard rumours the soap bars are (I do prefer bars of soap).

Edit. It is only a couple months old so will drain and check to be sure.

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I very much doubt if detergents are tailored to areas. Manufacturing is all about economies of scale and producing as many as possible. If the problem continues I would contact the detergent manufacturer of one of the affected brands. The manufacturers of the washing machines tend to dismiss their machines as possible culprits so don't seem interested but if you tell a reputable detergent manufacturer you cannot use their product they might be more inclined to investigate or even have experience of others with the same issue and suggestions. Please let us know if you find anything else out. As I said before, you are not the first to report excessive foaming and suds when even using less than the recommended dosage.


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It was just a thought on the detergent. Un scientific with an empty machine, nothing to wash really, will have a proper wash later today. Aerial bio and Fairy non bio on a 60c both fill the machine with foam on a recommended dose, had to stop the machine and rinse out many times. Cut back to 60ml for Fairy, recommended 90 and 50 for Aerial, recommended 75 and both excessive foam but Aerial needed an extra 2 rinse's as opposed to the Fairy one. Suspect empty machine does not help.

Need to find the soap contact points then, looked last week but may be the parent company has the details rather than the product web site.

Conditioner purchased and will try it. Though I do not like the end result personally.

Edit. Just contacted the powder maker, free phone. Lady reckons there is no way this should happen and asks if I have a high efficiency machine. All I know is its white and goes round and around, recommended checking pipes etc etc.

On checking mine, again, the outlet will be below the U bend natural level I think.

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Interesting reading on the web about excessive detergent being held in the clothes after washes and causing issues.

First, maintenance wash on 90. Waste hose hooked over the sink to eliminate that and see what comes out and made sure the final pump out was clear, it did have soap on the first part but final clear.

Then, three pairs of jeans not worn in a while, that is fresh from a wash a before I got to silly low amounts and suds galore on the swish around after the first drain.

That is a wash with absolutely no powder added at the start.

The first part of the wash uses less than a few inches held in the sink when it pumped out first time but with noticeable suds on the surface. Then the next batch of water is a lot more in volume, this is when it really foamed up (not as bad as with powder). But suds and no doubt about it. Could feel it in the water on pump out.

So I think a few non detergent washes then try a reduced detergent but half the recommended.

This is after a moaning mail sent to the manufacturer saying its rubbish. Oh well, might have to apologise.

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Hi there,

I live in a soft water area and never use more than 60ml of powder per wash, otherwise I end up with suds-galore which is a swine to rinse out. I've not noticed any difference in results and I regularly do hot washes (60 degrees and above) which keeps my whites bright and my machine clean.

As long as you're washing on the correct temperatures and not using quick or cold washes, you should be fine.

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Hi. I have been doing some washes without any powder added, quite a lot actually. I am convinced it is over soaping from the previous machine. The suds level is going down and I am starting to add small amounts to the wash now. Dirty clothes are coming out clean and smelling washed as well. The level of suds in a large wash was quite a surprise and considering no powder actually added was something to see.

I did prove this by washing some bedding that we have had stashed away for years and never used. No powder added and there were no suds, pretty obvious I suppose and it was after a maintenance wash. Dried it then added a small amount of powder and it performed as expected.

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I too am another soft water area user who also suffers from over-foaming and subsequent excess water dripping down and causing a big puddle on the floor. I have a Beko WMA 767 S machine and seem to get random occurrences of foaming. Today I washed some towels and a hoody (13 items all together) and got the dreaded foaming. I am using about 60ml of Ariel Actilift powder with no softener as I have read this is bad for towels. I have been using the quick wash (1 hour 48 mins on washer display but more like 1hr 30mins in practice) and use this program for all my washing and wash at 40 celsius. I use the quick wash program as the Beko manual says to use this for smaller amounts so I assumed my load would constitute a small amount. As the foaming happens randomly, it's hard to know what is causing it. I don't think I'm over-filling the drum with washing or using too much/too little detergent. The recommended amount Ariel says to use is 75ml for a 4-6kg load (no idea what my load weighs but I'm guessing less than 6kg), I thought perhaps 75ml might be too much powder so I used slightly less.

Should I try washing on a normal full wash (around 2hr 8mins on the display) and use the recommended 75ml dosage of powder? There is also an extra rinse function available that I could try.

I'm not sure what to do now but I know it's like playing roulette whenever I do washing as to whether I'll have a mopping-up session at the end.

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I have an article where I mention fabric softener and towels where I describe how the softener can have a waterproofing effect on them making them less absorbent. I'm pretty sure most people still use softener on towels though because they prefer them as soft as possible. I personally prefer them slightly rougher and more absorbent.

Fabric softener also suppresses soap suds, though as it is only introduced in the last rinse it shouldn't really make that much difference but you never know, it might be worth using it in loads that tend to over foam. Try to take notice of exactly what type of load you have in when it happens and exactly where on the cycle it happens.


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Well I'll try flushing the system first to get rid of any remaining soap residue by doing a full wash with nothing in the machine. I think the foaming is happening just before it goes into the final spins where the machine shakes and makes a lot of noise. I'll try using softener too and see if that helps. It's difficult getting the correct dosages though because most of the detergents and softeners you buy come without measuring devices or a terrible guide about what to use with no real way of measuring it exactly.

I'll suppose I'll just have to keep my eye on a whole wash cycle and try to pinpoint where it starts foaming, although as it's quite random when it occurs (it doesn't happen regularly and sometimes I can go weeks with it being fine), the results may prove inconclusive.

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I nailed the issue by doing a wash with no added powder. None. Zero. It would seem my issue was powder retained from previous washes in the old machine. The amount of suds after a wash with no added powder was amazing.

As I said above, I washed some bedding that had never been washed. You know, that bed set that was a gift but never used. And a small amount of powder, the box recommended 75ml. I know do not think any more than half that so put 35ml in. The wash came out OK with no over suds. That is to say the machine and powder did what it should so I eliminated those as a problem, together with the wash with no added powder I am happy I know the cause.

What would happen with mine. The first dose of water would be a low amount, enough to mush the cloths up and that would go on for an hour or more of the program. I always do the long wash after reading articles from the website here (I think?).

On the first empty, a few suds but not a lot. The next batch of water would be a lot, part way up the door where as the first water fill would not come anywhere near. Then the suds would kick off, the second fill that would come part way up the door. With the powder added and the powder retained I could trip the over sue alarm.

So. Going to take a stab in the dark. Some of your wash got more washing agent held in the material from a previous machine or this one and others have not?

I am getting clearer and clearer water now and have started to use small amounts of powder, it is always non bio. I have found that some brands foam up more than others. When I get to need to use powder again, it will be in reduced amounts rather than recommended.

I use smaller amounts for smaller loads where I know the suds will be all gone if I used none. I used the extra rinse and full time program. I run a maintenance wash once a week, that is a 90 deg C program.

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I probably do have some remaining suds in the system and as you said, a maintenance wash should get rid of this and clear the system ready for a new load. I will try using around 35-40ml of powder but it seems to me ridiculous that you have to use less than half of the recommended dose in order to avoid foaming in the first place. Plus, will the clothes be getting as good a clean as with the recommended 75ml dose? I'll try doing a longer wash also but I remember having a similar issue in another house I lived in a couple of years ago when I used to do the full wash (not quick wash as I do now) so perhaps living in a soft water area makes the likelihood of foaming even more so.

From what I've read here, it seems there's a lot of trial and error involved to see what works best for you. This is quite annoying as it results in multiple foaming/wet floor scenarios and a waste of lots of electricity, water, detergent and time and effort. Why haven't either the washing machine manufacturers or the detergent/softener companies found a solution to this?

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Just to be clear, I did the maintenance wash to clear the machine, eliminate that. I made sure the final rinse on that was clear. I have put the waste pipe over the sink to see what goes on.

Just to add here, I took the waste pipe off so I could see what was happening to the waste water and I made absolutely sure I blanked off the spigot on the sink waste pipe or you get flooded.

My over suds was an issue with the cloths retaining washing agents from previous washes in the old machine, not from powder in the machine. This new efficient machine showed up what had gone on.

To prove it I did a wash with no powder put in. The wash became very soapy from what was retained in the clothes.

I did find that different powders will get different results. I printed off a spread sheet I drew up so I could log the results before I found out what the cause was. You can draw it up on a pad of paper, I just used the computer. So I would log load size, wash temp, amount of powder or if it was a tab. Type of powder (bio, non bio), added softener and then the result. What became clear was it was all over the place with no definitive main cause.

This seems to relate to what was washed. So coming into spring I was using less of some clothes and more of others.

I am now at the point where I will add some powder to some washes but I am going to work up. No way am I going to ever load up with the recommended dose anymore.

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Try using full cycles too, instead of quick washing.

Quick washes, unless specified, are only designed to wash a half load, so it's possible that the increased water levels, combined with the larger load are contributing to the over-sudsing.

Try sticking to proper cycles - cottons and synthetics 40 and 60 - you might notice a difference.

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We are already using a smaller than recommended detergent dosage to try and improve a satisfactory final rinse but still ended up with hard towels, I did a lot of searching on line to find a cure for the scratchy towels, our towels had plenty of retained detergent as proved by rinsing in several buckets of water, but what info I picked up from, mainly American forums, was to avoid using fabric conditioners, something we dont do anyway, as they leave residues in the machine. As far as the scratchy towels go we give them an extra rinse, a good spin in the spin drier and when almost dry on the line finish them off in the tumble drier, end result they are much softer, not as new but softer.

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One thing that I've found that results in a lot of left over detergent is people using "quick wash" too much. In 90% of modern washing machines, quick wash skips a rinse, so the machine only does 2 rinses instead of the standard 3*, reduces the interim spins between the wash and rinse and cuts the final spin speed down. This is fine for most clothes on people with relatively average skin sensitivities, but for anything heavy like towels and bedsheets that absorb a lot of water or for anyone with sensitive skin, it's vital to use full cottons or synthetics cycles with the maximum spin speed selected and extra rinse, where necessary.

*Indesit and low-end Hotpoint machines only do 2 rinses as standard, so be sure to use the extra rinse feature.

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Aye, I bet most people have no idea how to use quickwash and what its purpose is for. They just see "quick" and "wash" and think that's exactly what I want!

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Aye, I bet most people have no idea how to use quickwash and what its purpose is for. They just see "quick" and "wash" and think that's exactly what I want!

Yup. Quick wash these days is more like what "half load" used to be.

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