How to Use Laundry Powder

How to Use Laundry Powder — Meliora Cleaning Products

When it comes to laundry detergent, we believe that powder is better than liquid for many reasons. To ease the transition from liquid to powder, we’ve put together a guide with every how-to and FAQ you need to use our Laundry Powder with confidence!

How to use Laundry Powder

Laundry Powder is easy to use, but it must be dissolved during the wash cycle to effectively clean your clothes. For best results, follow these steps:

  1. Use the right amount of powder for your machine and load
  2. Place powder directly in the washing machine drum before adding clothes
  3. Use the right temperature setting for your machine and season

We’ll walk through each of these steps in more detail.

How much Laundry Powder to use per load

How much Laundry Powder you should use  depends on your washing machine and the size and soil level of the load you’re washing. Start with 1/2 tablespoon if you have a high-efficiency (HE) washer or 1 tablespoon if you have a standard (non-HE) machine. This is based on a typical washing machine size of approximately 3.1–4 cubic feet and a load size of about 12–16 pounds. 

The stainless steel scoop that comes with our Laundry Powder canister measures 1 tablespoon, meaning that you may only use about half a scoop per load.

Use Half a Tablespoon of Laundry Powder per HE Load — Meliora Cleaning Products

Most newer machines are high-efficiency, meaning they are designed to use less water and energy. If you’re not sure what kind of washer you have, first check your machine. If it has an “HE” logo on it, then it’s a high-efficiency machine. Otherwise, check the user manual that came with your machine or search for it online. You can usually find the model number under the lid on top-loader machines or behind the door on front-loader machines.

High-Efficiency (HE) Washing Machines — Meliora Cleaning Products

You can adjust the amount of powder used based on the size of the load. For very small loads, use a bit less. For very large loads, add a bit more. You don’t need to be too precise, so you can eyeball the amount you use. The goal is to get enough powder to effectively clean your clothes while completely dissolving in the wash (more on that later!).

The same goes for the soil level of the load. If your clothes are particularly dirty, such as from gardening, exercising, or cleaning the house, you can add a bit more powder for more cleaning power. If your clothes aren’t too dirty and just need a light clean, you can use less powder.

Where to put Laundry Powder in front-loader washing machines

In front-loading washing machines, simply add the powder directly to the drum before adding clothes. This will ensure that water can easily reach the powder, helping it dissolve. It also prevents powder from getting caught in the folds of your clothes during the wash cycle.

For best results, do not add the powder to the dispenser drawer. Many washing machines are designed for liquid detergent, and the drawer may not get flushed with enough water to dissolve and wash out the powder. Undissolved powder doesn’t clean your clothes and can build up in your machine over time, causing unwanted odors and dinginess.

Every machine is different and some may have an effective water flush in the drawer. If your powder doesn’t seem to be working when added directly to the drum, it’s worth trying the drawer instead. Oftentimes, the drawers have a small door that you will have to move from “liquid” to “powder” when using powdered products.

Adjust the Drawer for Laundry Powder — Meliora Cleaning Products

Where to put Laundry Powder in top-loader washing machines

In top-loading machines, lift the lid and add the powder directly to the drum before adding clothes. Just like with front-loading machines, the bottom of the drum is the best place for water to reach the powder and dissolve it near the beginning of the wash cycle. Once again, we recommend skipping the dispenser drawer on top-loaders.

What temperature water to use for laundry

Most laundry detergents and soaps require water that is at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.56 degrees Celsius) to work properly. This is true for powder, liquid, pods, sheets, tablets, and any other form of detergent. Although liquid detergent is already mixed with water in the bottle, warmer water is required to fully incorporate it with the water inside the machine.

So, what setting should you use to reach the right water temperature? In most modern washing machines, the ‘cold’ setting actually uses a mixture of hot and cold water to reach 60 degrees F, the minimum viable temperature. That means that in most cases you can use powder detergent on the cold cycle and get great results while saving energy and money.

However, there are some exceptions:

Cold weather laundry

‘Tap cold’ does not add hot water to adjust the water temperature, unlike the ‘cold’ setting. It simply uses water straight from the pipes in your home, meaning the actual temperature varies depending on the conditions outside. During the cold winter months, this might mean a dip below that ideal 60 degree water temperature.

For best results, we recommend using ‘cold’ instead of ‘tap cold’ if your machine has both options. If you’re doing laundry in really cold weather, you might want to use ‘semi-warm’ or ‘warm’ to ensure that the water gets to the right temperature fast enough.


Cold water is great for most everyday washes, but sometimes you may want to sanitize a load of laundry. According to the CDC, “you probably do not need to sanitize or disinfect unless someone in your home is sick or someone sick has recently visited” because “cleaning alone removes most harmful viruses or bacteria from surfaces.“ However, if you do need to sanitize clothes or bedding, hotter water can help.

Care instructions

Certain fabrics may require specific water temperatures. While cold water is best for delicate, dark, and colorful fabrics, some items may benefit from warmer water temperatures. For best results, always defer to the care instructions on the product tag.

Thankfully, our Laundry Powder is safe for most fabrics, including lights, darks, colors, synthetics, wool, and silk.

How to open the Laundry Powder container

Our plastic-free Laundry Powder is packaged in a paper canister with steel ends. To open it, follow these steps:

  1. Cut the adhesive tab that connects the lid to the can
  2. Loosen the lid slightly
  3. Remove the lid from the can using a twisting motion
  4. Wipe the lid and the top of the can to remove any loose powder

Let’s break that down:

Start by gently cutting the adhesive tab that holds the lid in place using a table knife.

Cut the Adhesive Tab — Meliora Cleaning Products

Holding the can by the bottom end, you can then loosen the lid slightly by running a table knife along the edge between the lid and the can. Don’t press too hard during this step, as there is nothing to cut other than the adhesive tab and you don’t want to damage the canister.

Gently Loosen the Lid — Meliora Cleaning Products

Firmly grasp the can in one hand and the lid in another. Use a back-and-forth twisting motion to loosen the lid while slowly pulling it upward.

Twist the Lid to Remove — Meliora Cleaning Products

Once you’ve removed the lid, check for any loose powder where the lid connects to the top of the canister. Wiping this area with a dry cloth can help reduce friction caused by powder caught between the can and the lid.

Wipe Away Loose Powder — Meliora Cleaning Products

How to store Laundry Powder

Laundry Powder can be stored in the paper-and-steel it comes in or in the container of your choice. It does not expire. However, if exposed to moisture or humidity, the powder can harden and clump up. This does not reduce its effectiveness, but it should be broken up or crumbled back into a powder before use. If you plan to store laundry powder in a humid environment, we recommend using an airtight container, such as a hinged jar with a rubber gasket. For heavy launderers, our zero-waste Laundry Powder bucket is a great bulk option that includes a resealable lid.

Whatever container you choose, you can save money and reduce waste with our Laundry Powder refill bags. Each bag contains the same amount of powder as the canister, but comes in a recyclable, compostable kraft paper bag.

Frequently-asked questions about using Laundry Powder

Can I use Laundry Powder in a high-efficiency (HE) machine?

Yes! Our Laundry Powder is designed to work in both HE and standard washing machines. We recommend using 1/2 tablespoon in HE washers and 1 tablespoon in standard washers. The canister and refill bag each include enough powder for 128 HE loads or 64 standard loads.

Can I use Laundry Powder with a septic tank?

Yes! There are no ingredients in our Laundry Powder that would interfere with the normal operation of your septic tank. We use all biodegradable ingredients, and no antimicrobials that could kill off the bacteria in the tank. All of our products are septic-safe except for Oxygen Brightener, which includes oxidizers that kill bacteria. 

Does Laundry Powder clog pipes or cause plumbing issues?

No! Our Laundry Powder is ultra-concentrated and made entirely from baking soda, washing soda, and soap — no fillers! It should dissolve completely in the wash cycle, provided the water reaches at least 60 degrees fahrenheit. Most machines reach this temperature, even on the ‘cold’ cycle. However, the water may not get warm enough using the ‘tap cold’ setting or if it is particularly cold outside when you're doing laundry. 

We also recommend using only a small amount of powder (1 tablespoon for standard machines and 1/2 tablespoon in high efficiency machines) and placing the powder on the bottom of the drum before adding clothes.

Some washers are designed to only use liquid detergent, so we would recommend checking your user's manual if that is a concern. Our Laundry Powder is septic-safe, so it won't hurt your septic system (or the environment!).

Does Laundry Powder expire?

No! Our Laundry Powder is naturally shelf-stable and does not contain preservatives. 

Preservatives are “natural or synthetic compounds that help slow or prevent bacterial growth in a wide range of products, including foods, medicines and personal care products.” Bacterial growth is common in products which have water as a primary ingredient, such as liquids and gels. All of our products are concentrated dry powders or solid soaps that do not require added preservatives.

Does Laundry Powder contain preservatives?

No! Our preservative-free Laundry Powder does not expire and is naturally shelf-stable. 

While you may notice the powder clumping in really humid environments, this will not hinder the effectiveness at all. Simply break the clump apart before using the powder.

Does Laundry Powder work with cold water?

In most cases, Laundry Powder will work well in the ‘cold’ cycle, but you may want to use ‘semi-warm’ or ‘warm’ in cold weather.

Laundry Powder, like all other laundry detergents and soaps, requires water to be at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.56 degrees Celsius) to work properly. 

In most modern washing machines, the ‘cold’ cycle mixes cold and hot water to reach this temperature. However, some machines also have a ‘tap cold’ setting that does not add hot water and may therefore not get warm enough to activate detergent. Additionally, cold weather can lower the temperature of water in your pipes and prevent the wash cycle from becoming warm enough. In this case, we recommend a warmer setting.

Does Laundry Powder work with hard water?

Yes! We use washing soda (sodium carbonate) in our Laundry Powder as a water softener so it will work in a variety of water conditions. 

Hard water refers to water with higher levels of dissolved minerals like calcium and magnesium. Washing soda prevents calcium and magnesium from interacting with the soap in the powder. This helps the soap do its job of cleaning instead of getting caught up in hard water deposits and soap scum.

Here's an interesting map of water hardness in the United States.

Why are there no suds when using Laundry Powder?

Many laundry products on the market have ingredients added specifically to give a sudsy appearance that is often associated with effectiveness. These added ingredients are rarely necessary and are sometimes unsafe to people and the planet. Low-sudsing formulations also work better in HE machines, which use less water.

We believe in creating people- and planet-friendly Laundry Powder that works without any unnecessary additives. While you may not be able to “see” the cleaning during the wash, you’ll be able to see, smell, and feel that your clothes are clean.

Is Laundry Powder safe for baby clothes and cloth diapers?

Our Laundry Powder is designed for washing clothing for those with sensitive skin, including clothing for babies and children. Our products are recommended by the Getting Ready For Baby guide as well as the MADE SAFE® Healthy Pregnancy Guide.

We don’t recommend using the Laundry Powder on microfiber (plastic) diapers because of the microplastic pollution released when washing this type of fiber. We have limited testing and feedback on this type of diaper.

You can read how to clean cloth diapers here.

Is Laundry Powder safe for pets?

Our Laundry Powder is a safe for pet items, including beds, clothes, and more. We strongly recommend using our Unscented Laundry Powder, since dogs and other pets are especially sensitive to scents and some essential oils.

What fabrics can I wash with Laundry Powder?

Laundry Powder is safe for most fabrics, including lights, darks, colors, cotton, linen, synthetics, and even wool and silk. Always defer to the care instructions on the product tag. We recommend testing any new or delicate fabrics in an inconspicuous area before cleaning fully.

Find a complete list of fabrics you can clean with our products.

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Meliora Stainless Steel Scoop for Laundry

Laundry Powder Detergent - 128 HE (64 Standard) Loads - Plastic-Free

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Want us to dig deeper into eco-friendly cleaning products?

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