How to Use Laundry Pods the Right Way

Trust us, learning how to use Tide Pods will make your laundry game infinitely easier.

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If you’re dealing with a constant cycle of dirty clothes and a questionable grasp of laundry basics, we feel you. Trust us: you’re not the only one who has no idea what those laundry symbols mean. While there’s no way to make your laundry disappear entirely (aside from cleaning it), certain products can make the job easier. Learning how to use Tide Pods (or any other brand of laundry packet) correctly can help. They’re mess free, require no measuring, and are easy to pop in the wash. Plus, they won’t take up space in a crowded laundry room.

Yes, you can master the art of laundry, including how to separate laundry, how to pick the best laundry detergent, how to use fabric softener properly, and more (like how to make homemade laundry detergent). And one of the best ways to start is learning how to use Tide Pods correctly—and why they really work.

The benefits of using laundry pods

You have a lot of detergent options these days. When comparing liquid vs. powder detergent vs. pods, two main considerations are convenience and environmental friendliness.

“Liquid laundry packets are great for consumers who are looking for laundry detergent in an easy-to-use, less-messy form in a premeasured amount,” says Tide senior scientist, Jessica Zinna, PhD. “They are convenient to transport [for shared laundry facilities] and take the guesswork out of measuring with convenient, preportioned doses.”

The format also “allows for the use of more-concentrated detergents,” she says. “This means less water in cleaning product formulas, which results in reduced packaging waste and less weight when transporting these products.” All of that makes them a good choice for the environmentally conscious.

How do Tide Pods work?

You won’t be using laundry pods to hand-wash clothes, of course. But they’re a great option for machine washing. But before you lean how to use Tide Pods correctly, you first have to understand how laundry pods work. These small packets contain a concentrated form of detergent and are comparable to liquid and powder detergents when it comes to getting clothes clean.

“They typically contain liquid cleaning ingredients in a dissolvable film that can be added directly into the washer drum,” explains Zinna. “When the packet comes into contact with water, the film dissolves, allowing the cleaning ingredients to do their job and remove yucky stains and odors from your laundry.”

How to use Tide Pods in the washing machine

Both standard and high-efficiency washing machines work with laundry pods, a type of HE laundry detergent. But there are still some rules on how to do laundry with a Tide Pod to make sure it dissolves properly.

“The best way to use liquid laundry packets is to put them into the drum first [before adding clothes],” Zinna says. “Place the [pods] at the back or bottom of the machine drum, not in the dispenser drawer.”

How many Tide Pods per load is best?

The number of pods you’ll pop in the washer will depend on the size of the load and how soiled your laundry is, just as your washer and dryer settings depend on what’s in the machine. “As washing machines become larger, so do load sizes,” Zinna explains. “This means there’s more dirt going into each load, which requires more cleaning power.”

As a general rule, she recommends following this guide:

  • Large loads: three Tide pods
  • Average-sized loads: two Tide pods
  • Small loads: one Tide pod

That said, dosing directions may vary by product, so make sure to refer to your specific package instructions, she says.

When to use laundry pods

Whether you want to run a quick load of lightly soiled garments or need to deep clean your kid’s muddy soccer uniform, you can use a laundry pod.

For your dirtier loads, Zinna suggests “high-quality liquid laundry packets like Tide Hygienic Clean Heavy Duty Power Pods because they deliver better performance with more-concentrated cleaning ingredients,” she says. Another option for deep-cleaning pods are Arm & Hammer’s Plus OxiClean 5-in-1 Power Paks.

Answers to frequently asked questions about laundry pods

Green laundry detergent pod in water with splash.HUIZENG HU/Getty Images

You may know how to use Tide Pods, but that doesn’t mean you won’t run into issues or have general questions about similar laundry products. Here’s what you need to know.

Liquid vs. powder detergent vs. pod: Which is cheaper?

In general, using liquid or powder laundry detergent will be cheaper per load than using laundry pods. But there’s a caveat: “Because liquid laundry packets often provide better cleaning performance, stain removal, and freshness, they can be a great option if you’re looking for overall value in your laundry routine,” Zinna says.

Are laundry pods bad for your washer?

No, these are totally safe to toss in your washing machine. Not sure if you have an HE vs. traditional washing machine? When it comes to laundry pods, it doesn’t matter—they work in both.

“Liquid laundry packets are safe to use [in] all commercial washing machines, including [high-efficiency] washers,” Zinna says.

Why didn’t the Tide Pod dissolve?

“Typically, the cause of liquid laundry packets not dissolving in the wash is improper use, like adding the packet after clothes instead of before,” Zinna says. The reason that can create issues? The packet needs as much contact with water as possible in order for the film to dissolve. That’s why knowing how to use Tide Pods properly can help.

Your washing machine temperature may also be to blame. “If you are still having issues with dissolution, switch to warmer water during winter months or when water is especially cold,” Zinna suggests.

What’s the safest way to store laundry pods?

If you watch the news, you’ve probably heard scary stories about the Tide Pod Challenge and ending up in the hospital. That’s because the colorful pods are sometimes mistaken for candy by kids.

Store laundry packets in the container they came in; putting them in glass jars can make them look like candy. “Like any other household cleaning product, keep liquid laundry packets out of the reach and sight of children,” Zinna says. “Do not let children handle liquid laundry packets, even with supervision.”


Maryn Liles
Maryn Liles is a home and travel expert who’s covered everything from the best robotic vacuums to the most remote destinations around the world. She's also the founder of Connected Content Co., an SEO and creative content agency that's done work for Reader's Digest along with other companies and publications. When she's not writing, you can find her working on her latest home DIY project, out for a hike or dancing around the house to '80s jams.