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DCL

Long before high-efficiency washers and three-times concentrated solutions, my family cut our laundry detergent use in half. How? And, more important, why?

During an elementary school field trip to a local environmental group's office I learned that just half the recommended amount of laundry detergent is more than enough to clean clothes.

The eco-conscious kid I was went home and declared an end to laundry detergent overuse, with surprising benefits. By cutting our laundry detergent use in half, my family reduced the amount of suds that ultimately ended up polluting our waterways. Skin irritations disappeared and I breathed easier with the more mellow scent from my detergent (I now only use unscented formulas). And, of course, reducing our laundry detergent use saved us money.

With the rise of high-efficiency front-loading washing machines, detergent use was slashed (too much soap is bad for the machines). But even though the cap has gotten smaller, you're probably still using too much.

So how much laundry detergent should you be using?

Tips and Tricks to Use Less Laundry Detergent

1.Use the amount of laundry detergent recommended for a light load of laundry when you're doing a full or even a heavy load.

2.Half is max. Do not use more than half the maximum recommended amount, even with heavily soiled loads.

3.Mark the cap. The recommended use lines are sometimes hard to read. Using a black permanent marker, draw a line at the halfway mark and you'll always be able to see how much you should use.

Bonus Tip: If you haven't make the switch to an eco-friendly, natural laundry detergent, there's no time like the present.

Cara Smusiak writes on behalf of Naturally Savvy.com about how to live a more natural, organic and green lifestyle.