Can You Use Regular Detergent In High-Efficiency Washers? (Find Out Now!)

Dakotah Forbes
by Dakotah Forbes

If you’ve bought a washing machine recently, there is a good chance that you have a high-efficiency washing machine. These higher-tech machines are characterized by their larger capacity and lack of an agitator in the middle of the tub. If you still have regular laundry detergent, you might be wondering whether it’s safe to use in your HE washer.

No, it is not a good idea to use regular detergent in high-efficiency washers. Regular detergents create more suds, while high-efficiency washers use less water. Therefore, high-efficiency washers will not rinse out regular detergent effectively. This will lead to problems like over-sudsing and overflowing.

Keep reading to learn more about why you shouldn’t use regular detergent in an HE washer. You’ll also learn how to tell the difference, and what to do if you accidentally use the wrong kind.

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Why It Isn’t a Good Idea to Use Regular Detergent in HE Washers

Using regular detergent in an HE washer can create several problems:

  • Oversudsing/soap that doesn’t completely rinse out of your items
  • Clothing items that are still too wet after completing a wash cycle  
  • Overflowing 
  • Machine malfunctioning
  • Moldy smell 

So, what exactly is the difference between the two?

What is the Difference Between an HE Washer And a Regular Washer?

There are several differences between an HE washer and a regular washer. First, the method of washing is different between the two. A regular washer can be identified by its agitator in the middle of the tub. This is used to move clothing around during the cycle. Popular front-loading HE washing machines do not have an agitator, but rather wash the clothes using a tumbling motion.

HE washers may have longer wash cycles, but the higher spin speed shortens the time required to dry your clothes. HE machines also have sensors to recognize the size of the load and adjust the settings accordingly. This allows them to create a better clean with more efficiency. Regular washers are a more affordable option compared to HE washers.

However, the difference which makes your choice of detergent important is the amount of water used. HE washers often have larger tubs and load capacities. This allows you to wash more items with the same amount, or less, water and detergent compared to regular washers.

What is the Difference Between Regular and HE Detergent?

The primary difference between regular laundry detergent and HE laundry detergent is how sudsy it will become. Regular laundry detergent will produce more suds than HE detergent. This is because it is designed to be used with more water to wash the clothes and rinse the detergent.

HE detergent is designed to be used in smaller amounts with an HE washer that uses less water. So, this type of laundry detergent will not become as sudsy as regular detergent.

How to Tell if your Detergent is HE

It is very simple to determine whether your detergent is HE. If you’ve bought a high-efficiency detergent, it will have a small symbol with lowercase ‘he’ initials. It is oval-shaped and often dark blue and white. While the symbol is usually small, it is very easy to spot once you know what to look for.

What To Do When You Use The Wrong Detergent

There are simple steps you can take when you realize that you’ve used the wrong detergent. They will vary depending on whether your washer has already started having problems.

If You Just Started a Wash Cycle With Regular Detergent

If you accidentally use the wrong detergent, the first thing to do is cancel the cycle as quickly as possible. Turning off your washing machine will help prevent over-sudsing and overflowing before it happens.

Once you’ve canceled the cycle, restart your washing machine with a spin cycle only. This will start the process of removing the regular detergent from your HE washer. Once this cycle finishes, follow up with another rinse and spin cycle in cold water. This will continue removing all of the suds from the washer. After these cycles, you can proceed with a regular wash cycle. Be sure to use HE detergent in this new cycle! Use cold water again in case there is leftover regular detergent that could still lead to over-sudsing.

If Your Washer is Overflowing

If your washer has started to leak due to over-sudsing, there are a few ways to calm it down. If you have white vinegar on hand, add a half-cup to the load or in the detergent dispenser. Dilute it with water before adding to the load if you are concerned about damaging your clothing.

Vinegar will also help in removing excess soap residue from your clothing. You can also add it diluted to the regular cycle if your clothing still feels too soapy.

If you don’t have white vinegar in your home, try fabric softener and water. Add a half-cup of fabric softener to the load or in the detergent dispenser. Once this has been added, follow it up with 4 cups of water.

Once either vinegar or fabric softener has been added to the load, the suds should begin to calm down. You should continue with the spin cycle sequence described above.

Related Questions

Can You Use HE Detergent in a Regular Washer?

Yes, you can use HE detergent in a regular washer. However, the amount of detergent required may vary from typical use. 

How Much Detergent Should You Use in an HE Washer?

When using the correct HE detergent in an HE washer, you should be able to use a smaller amount of detergent per load. However, this will vary depending on the size of the load and how soiled it is. For best results, refer to your owner’s manual or instructions provided by your machine’s manufacturer. 

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There are important differences between HE washers and regular washers, as well as their corresponding detergents. So, you should never use regular laundry detergent in an HE washing machine. However, if you accidentally make this mistake, your washer won’t be ruined for good. There are ways to fix it easily and get your washer back to normal.

Dakotah Forbes
Dakotah Forbes

Dakotah Forbes is a copywriter and content writer specializing in home decor and design. She is dedicated to helping readers find answers to all their home design questions by creating helpful guides and articles. In her spare time, she loves to use her creative spirit to complete her own home decor and DIY projects. Dakotah graduated from James Madison University with a BA in Media Arts and Design and currently resides in Virginia with her husband.

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