Can You Use Regular Detergent in HE Washers?

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HE washing machines, or high-efficiency washers, use less water than regular washers. Because they use less water, they can't easily handle the suds produced by regular detergent, so all HE manufacturers recommend using only HE detergent in HE washers. You can, however, use HE detergent in both regular and HE washers. Here's a closer look at HE washers and detergents.

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Why Use Only HE Detergent in HE Washers?

HE detergent produces less suds than regular detergent, and it is designed to clean clothes using less water. Interestingly, your clothes still get clean; in fact, some experts say they get cleaner with an HE washer and HE detergent because the clothes are constantly in motion with less suds.

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But all experts and manufacturers recommend using only HE detergent if you have an HE washer because regular detergent cleans your clothes by producing a lot of suds, and an HE washer has no way to handle large amounts of suds. Using regular detergent in an HE washer could result in clothes that are still soapy or sudsy. Regular detergent residue in your washer can cause mold and odors that are hard to eliminate, and their use can also void the manufacturer's warranty.

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Tip

HE detergents are formulated to disperse quickly and to suspend soil in a small amount of water, which prevents the soil from being redistributed on your clothing during the cycle.

What Is an HE Washer?

HE washers use 50 percent less water than traditional washers or even less. This translates to a savings of 6,000 gallons per year for average households. Given that they use less water, HE washers take less energy to heat the water, usually just 20 to 50 percent of that used by regular washers.

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Because they have more capacity than traditional washers, you can do larger loads as well, which means fewer laundry loads overall. HE washers have longer wash/rinse cycles and also spin faster than regular washers, which shortens the time your clothes need in the dryer. For these reasons, they are considered energy-efficient.

They are also considered gentler on your clothes because they have no agitator that can damage fabric during the wash cycle.

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How to Identify an HE Washer

HE washers have an HE symbol. You might also note that HE washers have a larger capacity compared to the equivalent size traditional washers, because they don't have agitators the way regular washers do.

For the most accurate information on your washer, consult the manufacturer's user guide, or if you don't have that, search for the model number on the internet to find its specifications.

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