Use Every Last Drop Of Laundry Detergent

Reader Mark came up with a way to get at that last bit of laundry detergent, the stuff that intransigently clings to container walls, refusing to drip into your measuring cup. By punching a hole in the bottom corner of the container, Mark is able to extract enough detergent to clean a small or medium load of clothes. Do you have other ways of freeing residual detergent? Tell us in the comments.


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  1. Cowboys_fan says:

    Like everything else, gravity seems to do the trick for me. I saw on a science show once that if you swing a jar/bottle/whatever down toward the ground, lid down, then the fluid will be forced near the cap. Works great w/ dishsoap, shampoo, ketchup, etc.

  2. hrmann_2000 says:

    I just fill it with a little water, slosh, and pour into the washer.

  3. RoyInHell says:

    Yeah… just fill it with water! Isn’t that much easier and more efficient than cutting holes in the bottle?

    Plus, you should rinse out any bottles before you recycle them anyway.

  4. mrmysterious says:

    You can always put the cap on and let the thing sit upside down for a couple of days. Then open it upside down and SNAP, you have you detergent in the cap.

  5. therethinker says:

    Why don’t you just swing the bottle in a circle? The centrifugal force will force the stuff to the lid.

  6. floofy says:

    Adding a little bit of water is most certainly easier than risking cutting your abdomen!

  7. smallestmills says:

    Ugh, my dad is one of those who insists on dicking around with the last 1/2 ounce of anything just to use it all up. Laundry detergent is one thing, but crusty old ketchup at the bottom of the bottle? I just make sure to buy a new bottle when I’m almost out so I can spend my time making Consumerist comments instead.

  8. homerjay says:

    The “add water” technique reminds me of when I was a kid. If there wasn’t enough chocolate syrup left in the Hersheys bottle to squeeze out, I’d just fill it with milk and shake it up then squirt it right into my mouth. Perfect chocolate milk every time!

  9. categorically says:


    My city tells us not to rinse out the bottles because it wastes water.

  10. JohnsRUs says:

    Since when did the Consumerist become “Hints from Heloise?”

  11. mattbrown says:

    i scoop it out with my fingers, like a jar of peanut butter. Then put it on my face, and video record myself dancing around my room with a black light on for later enjoyment.

  12. tylerkaraszewski says:

    This post has changed my life. I’m glad I keep the Consumerist in my RSS reader, so I never miss these important posts.

  13. Cowboys_fan says:

    @therethinker: Thats what I was trying to say! You said it much better.

  14. snowferret says:

    I also do the water sloshy thing.
    Also it’s worth noting that I’ve noticed the “suggested serving” of detergent they want me to use is increasing. I have two of those little cups, from the same company, same detergent, same size cup, but the line is higher on the newer cup.

  15. j-o-h-n says:

    @cageyjames: In the case of detergent, you’re just going to pour the water into the wash, so you are not actually wasting it.

  16. joemono says:

    What about the freegans? What will they use? Won’t somebody think of the freegans?

  17. wring says:

    @JohnsRUs: srsly! well it IS a saturday i.e. slow news day (unless Lindsay Lohan is running over someone/getting an overdose). Oh dangit I’m not in ohnotheydidnt am I?

  18. Dacker says:

    Even easier than water is a temporal solution.

    Most detergent bottles and caps, like the one pictured, are easily stood on-end. This new, common design puts every drop into the cap and will not run out and malke a mess when the cap is removed.

    In other words, just stand the damned jug on it’s cap and wait overnight!

  19. SkyeBlue says:

    You can get an extra load of of a box of the powdered laundry detergent also. You just fill the empty box with water when your machine is first filling, swish the water around in the box a bit and pour it in.

  20. CapitalC says:

    The real solution is to stop doing laundry. This site is “” not “”. Really, we should all throw out our dirty clothes when we’re done with them and go shopping for new ones. :D

  21. lore says:

    Or, just throw out the last half oz when you recycle the jug. My 80 fl oz Cheer detergent cost me $5.99 + tax for a total of $6.51 (full price). That translates to 8.1 cents an oz. The remaining half an oz might be worth 4 or 5 cents. Certainly not worth my time and the potential mess it would make. If I really wanted the remaining detergent I’d just stand it on end.

  22. bohemian says:

    I turn it upside down, get a small load that way. They put water in the jug, slosh it around and get another small load that way. Then scrub all the soap residue off the outside of the bottle that dripped and get a third small load that way. This probably only works with the super concentrated liquid soap like method brand.

  23. I’m with Dacker on this one, upturn it and leave it, make sure it is almost empty though or there will be be some overflow and you don’t want that1

  24. @snowferret: “Also it’s worth noting that I’ve noticed the “suggested serving” of detergent they want me to use is increasing.”

    I’ve seen it suggested that you wash your clothes with the suggested amount, then REwash them immediately with NO detergent and open mid-cycle to see how many suds you have. Because the suggested size is just too much detergent to wash out efficiently. Apparently you can use half the suggested amount and STILL have leftover detergent in your clothes to make lots of suds!

  25. Skyoodpov says:

    Put the cap on.
    Grab from the bottom of the bottle.
    Spin arm in windmill fashion.
    Put the bottle down, upside down (sitting on the cap)
    Wait a minute…
    Screw bottle off of cap.

    Centrifugal force FTW!
    Learned this trick for stubborn ketchup. Catsup?

  26. Sherryness says:

    That’s what I always do. “Snap.” LOL


  27. TechnoDestructo says:


    That’s idiotic. It’s going into the washing machine anyway, which is going to fill with water. Also, it only takes a couple ounces of water to rinse a bottle out (actually filling it is LESS effective than putting 2 or 3 ounces in a couple of times.)

    I hope you didn’t vote for whomever is telling people this (or whomever hired them).

  28. laundry is overrated. I simply buy clothes from goodwill (shirts are ~$2-3 ea, pants ~$3-5). when they don’t pass the sniff test (somewhere between 3 and 7 wears) they get donated again. Rinse and repeat (but without the water, of course)

  29. acambras says:


    I think this is the laundry detergent manufacturer’s version of “lather rinse repeat.”

  30. marsneedsrabbits says:

    Well, first of all, I use less than half of the suggested amount of detergent, and my clothes are clean at the end of the cycle. They aren’t filled with detergent residue after the wash, so they stay cleaner through the day and last longer because they don’t have to be washed as much.
    At the end of the bottle, I slosh water in it & pour the resulting glop in the wash with the clothes.

  31. krunk4ever says:

    @mrmysterious: Excactly what I was going to say. What happened to the simplest way (no hole punching required) of just turning it upside down?

  32. krunk4ever says:

    For a quick way to extract the final amounts of detergent, another simple method I use is to pour warm water into the laundry detergent bottle, swirl it a bit and give it some time for the laundry detergent to dissolve. Then pour the whole thing in with your laundry.

    Mixing it with water makes it less viscous (or thick in layman terms), making it easier to pour out. Water’s not going to do anything to it either since you’re probably pouring detergent directly into the water anyway.

  33. hyp3rphonic says:

    Instead of waiting for the drip method, I actually just put the almost empty container in the washing machine with the clothes. After the wash, the bottle is perfectly clean (ie. empty of detergent) along with my clothes. And *instant gratification* – no waiting for the bottle to empty via dripping or cutting!

  34. ToadKillerDog says:

    Thank goodness that I am not the only one to do this. I also sometimes illuminate the room with strobe lights placed inside the bottles. I used to use candles in them but I started getting a weird odor and was seeing the color October.

  35. GinaLouise says:

    This actually WAS a Heloise hint (from a vintage 60’s paperback) but I also use just half the recommended amount of detergent. Detergent companies just want to sell more bottles and make you wear itchy clothes. And yeah, I’d rather put some water in and shake up the results than punch a hole — those bottles are so sturdy, diabetics are sometimes advised to use them for hypodermic needle storage. Fun fact!

  36. CyGuy says:

    Personally I’m in the rinse with water camp, but another option would be to put the nearly empty bottle CAPLESS upside down in the washer after your last load of the day, then when you return to do your next load, the detergent has all dripped out directly into the machine.

  37. Twofoot says:

    Instead of poking a hole in the bottom of the jug, I take the cap and tap the spout hard enough to fall into the jug, freeing the liquid to escape.

  38. johnmcclen says:

    Uh, in all candor, who gives a hairy fig if we get the last drop of detergent? The stuff is not made of gold. Sheesh.

  39. ironchef says:

    water. duh.

  40. jmschn says:

    As everyone mentioned…water…everything has to be bells and whistles these days doesn’t it?? cut a hole in the bottom and be proclaimed front page consumerist?? go figure…

  41. judahb says:

    my dad manufactures this detergents crap so we dont really have a prob with sucking the can dry

  42. Consumer-X says:

    This tip has just edged out “finding ways to use the jelly that canned hams are packed in” on my list of things life is too short to worry about.

  43. itsjos says:

    i also put in a little water, shake it around and dump it into the machine, this works well with shampoo and conditioner but not with food/condiment products :(

  44. mrcolinbrooks says:

    Come on people, Put a little water – hot if you can be bothered. Shake the bottle (wth the lid on!!)

    Then crack on with talking about something a little more intresting

  45. CapitalC says:

    @itsjos: Especially not when you dump the last of your mustard into the washing machine. ;)

  46. voodoodle says:

    i use a similar technique to get the last little bit of weed out baggies…

    knock all the shake into a corner and twist/rip the corner off = perfect shake bowl

  47. HungryGrrl says:

    Personally I find that when you’re down to shake, it’s also time for some scraping, because resin+shake is much more pleasant than either one alone.


  48. lore says:

    @GinaLouise: I’m sure other needle users could use them, too ;-)

  49. Jim says:

    @confusedrabbit: @Eyebrows McGee: @snowferret: We had serious issues with our washing machine earlier this year because it was clogged up and smelled like a dead rat floating in a grease trap, largely due to “undigested” detergent. It is apparently a very common problem, especially in front-load washing machines because it sticks in the seals, then other dirt and stuff sticks to the detergent/goo. The repair man (we couldn’t stomach the smell or substances removed) told us to use half what the bottle says, we do, no more issues or smelly machine and clothes.

  50. notallcompaniesarebad says:

    @hrmann_2000: You sir, win this thread. Only downside, I suppose, is not being able to see exactly how much you’re putting into the wash, so you run the risk of over/under detergenting.

  51. bnissan97 says:

    I do what HRMANN does.

    Well kinda, I use powder.

    But when I had liquid I pour water in and slosh.

    Same happens with the Spray-n-Wash refills. I pour water in it and add to wash loads figuring those loads get a extra boost.

  52. reznicek111 says:

    Just bring an awl to the laundry room; that way you can punch a hole to drain the last bit of detergent from the bottle AND have a handy self defense against muggers. ;)

  53. mediaphile says:

    centrifugal != centripetal

    in almost all manners in which one might use “centrifugal force” in casual conversation, the correct term is centripetal. just sayin’.