Four Household Products You Probably Use Too Much Of

Four Household Products You Probably Use Too Much Of

If you’re like most people, you spend a fair amount on laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid and other cleaning products. Saving money on them doesn’t have to be just about finding a sale or switching to cheaper brands — the chances are you’re simply using too much. Let’s take a look at how much most people actually use, versus how much is needed to get the job done.

Photos by Morgan, (Shutterstock), Pixel Drip, Lee Jordan and Counselman Collection

You’re not going to save an enormous amount of money by paying closer attention to how much toothpaste you use, or how much shampoo you squeeze into your hands — but you should be able to cut your weekly shopping bill, and over time, those dollars add up. Not wasting stuff is also kinder to the planet.


It’s highly likely you’re using too much toothpaste. Dentists will tell you that a pea-sized dollop of toothpaste is enough for most adults, and half as much is needed for children children. In short, if your toothbrush looks like the image above, it’s far too much.

This isn’t just about saving money and not wasting toothpaste though. Too much toothpaste can actually cause more harm than good, not to mention make it more difficult to actually brush for the recommended two minutes due to all of the foam in your mouth.

Laundry Detergent

It’s a well-established fact that most of us use entirely too much laundry detergent. This article in the Wall Street Journal cites a repair technician:

“Nobody thinks they use too much [detergent],” said Vernon Schmidt, who has been a repairman for almost 35 years and is the author of a self-published book, “Appliance Handbook for Women: Simple Enough Even a Man Can Understand.” But apparently most of us are in denial.

Washing machines and dishwashers are made to use far less water now than older models and, therefore, need less. And detergents have also become increasingly concentrated. So a little goes a long way.

“Most people use 10 to 15 times the amount of [detergent] they need, and they’re pouring money down the drain,” Mr. Schmidt said

A full cap is way more than most loads of laundry really require . We’ve even mentioned that you could get away with half the usual amount, and it will do the job just fine. Some of the more concentrated formulas need even less.

Dishwashing Powder

If you’re using dishwashing powder in your dishwasher, it’s easy to use too much. This is less of an issue if you use tablets, since that’s a fixed dosage. Not only is using too much powder wasteful, it can actually seriously damage your dishwasher. A quick way to tell if you’ve been using too much is to check for deposits and build-up on the inside of the dishwasher door, near the detergent tray.

It’s far more important to properly load your dishwasher and keep it clean. Do that and you won’t need to overdose on the powder.


You might think it’s not possible to use “too much” of something that goes into your mouth, is swished around, and then goes down the drain, but it is. If you take the cap off of your mouthwash and blindly fill it up to the top before tossing it back, you’re probably using way too much. Most commercial mouthwashes suggest using only about 20-30ml at once. It’s more than enough to get the job done, and your mouth shouldn’t be completely full of mouthwash anyway — the act of swishing it around inside your mouth is part of what makes it effective, so filling up your mouth diminishes its utility.


  • My wife overuses all cleaning products so I’ve taken to watering them down in the bottle (take an empty bottle, half fill it, then top up both with water). Do it with bodywash, laundry detergent, etc. Doesn’t work for everything though.

  • A good tip for push top dispensing bottles (read on here quite possibly) is to wrap a rubber band just below the head of the pump so it doesn’t go so far down each time it’s pressed. Less comes out for a single pump. Most people tend to use one full pump of liquid hand soaps (sometime more) whereas you can wash just as effectively using a tenth of that (unless you’ve just been changing an oil filter or something else really mucky).

  • Our dishwasher technician suggested we break our Finish tablets in half. My partner dutifully does this but I can’t be bothered and seeing we have the ones with the powerball or whatever it’s called, means we get one load with half powder and no ball and the next with half load and whole ball.

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