Can I Put Liquid Detergent In The Drum?

It’s always important to add laundry products the right way into the washer to ensure you’re getting optimal results.

Some laundry products need to be added during the wash cycle while others must be added only during the rinse cycle, like fabric softeners, laundry sanitizer and vinegar.  

We already know that detergents are needed in the wash cycle, but is it okay to add them anyhow you like without running into problems? 

Can you add them to the drum, and before you load the clothes and wash water in? 

Liquid detergent can be added to the washer drum prior to adding wash water and loading the drum. Another way liquid detergent can be dispensed in the washer is using the detergent dispensing box provided somewhere at the top of the machine. You can also add liquid detergent to the washer water prior to adding clothes. Then swish and swirl to mix things up. 

Laundry detergents are actually quite flexible in the way that they work and aren’t that sensitive in comparison to pods or powdered detergent. So how you really add them into the washer should not affect the effectiveness and efficiency they provide during washing.

Pour liquid detergent directly to the drum

You can put liquid detergent into the washer drum as an alternative to automatic dispensing. Simply measure the amount of liquid detergents you’re using based on your load size, then pour the detergent into the drum. Stuff in your clothes, set the cycle and begin your wash. 

Whatever you do however, just make sure to avoid puting liquid detergents directly on clothes and allowing them to sit for some time can actually cause discoloration in that area.

Pour liquid detergent into the wash water

One alternative is to also add the detergent directly into the wash water for top loaders. Then you swish and swirl to incorporate everything before you add in the clothes.

To do this, take a measurement of the detergent using the detergent cap provided with the detergent, and then add it to the wash water.

The dispenser may not be the best way to add liquid detergent

Nowadays, with modern detergents, you won’t even find the need to add liquid detergents by yourself into the drum or wash water. You can simply pour the liquid into the detergent dispenser and let it do the magic for you automatically. 

Having said that, know that the dispenser of some washers might not really be superb at executing this task, and they may end up holding back some liquid detergents inside of them, or loosing it to the walls of the brief pipe that lead to the wash water, which will reduce the amount of detergent you’re actually supposed to be using. 

If you find out that your detergent dispenser is faulty in this regard, it’s better to add them directly to the drum.

What about pods? How do you add them?

Now that we’ve talked about liquid detergents and how you can add them into the washing machine, let’s move over to pods. So how do you add pods into the washing machine?

Unlike liquid detergents, pods are actually sensitive to how you put them into the washer. Use them the wrong way and you’ll end up with problems such as poorly dissolved detergent or streaks and stains on your laundry.

The best way to add pods to a washer, be it a front or top loader, is to toss it into an empty drum before adding in clothes and then running cycle.

What about powdered detergents? How do you add them?

Many washing machines come with compartments where you can add and dispense powdered detergent automatically. 

And unlike liquid detergent, it’s difficult to run into problems with using powdered detergent in the dispenser. Unless of course you’re using an expired powdered detergent which has built up clumps that are difficult to dissolve and break down even with the application of water. 

If however you wish to adopt a different method of using powdered detergents in the washer, you can always add them directly to the wash water, on top of clothes in the washer, and also even directly to the washer drum before you begin any cycle.

Can you add fabric softener directly to the drum?

Fabric softeners are formulated with a very tough chemical that can actually stain your clothes when they get into direct contact with them. So you want to try as much as possible to avoid pouring fabric softeners directly to clothes during the rinse cycle, and instead, add them to water pockets that normally separate or bury clothes.

How to add other laundry products into the washer

Laundry sanitizer

Laundry sanitizers typically come with instructions on the product label to tell you how to add these products to laundry or use them for sanitization. Typically, you’ll be required to add sanitizers during the rinse cycle either by hand or using the fabric softener compartment. 

Like laundry detergent, you want to minimize as much as possible, contact between the sanitizer and the clothes and always target the water pockets in the washer during rinsing. 


Bleach is dispensed in the wash cycle. You can add it to the wash water, or to the bleach dispenser of the washing machine.

If you want to soak clothes outside the washer, you can create a solution of bleach and water according to the manufacturer’s instructions, then add the clothes in and allow a contact time of nothing less than 10 minutes.

When using chlorine bleach you want to make sure that you’re adding the bleach at least 5 minutes after the cycle has begun, to avoid destruction of whiteners and enzymes present in the detergent. 

Final Thoughts

Liquid detergent is completely insensitive to how you put it in the washing machine. You can put liquid detergents directly into the drum before you run a cycle, you can add them to the wash water directly, and you can also use the liquid detergent dispenser for automatic dispensing when your machine comes with it.