Can all washers use high-efficiency detergent?

One major difference between HE detergent and traditional detergent is the amount of suds produced.

Front-load washers are all the rage these days, and not just because of their sleek look. They also provide a lot of energy savings, so you can save a few bucks and fly your green flag. Besides cutting down on power usage, front-loaders also use about 40 percent less water than the top-loaders with their silly baskets full of suds. (You're welcome, Mother Earth.) They do this by filling only the bottom portion of the tub and tumbling the clothes into it. So what's the deal with that special detergent for front- loaders?


High Efficiency Detergent

You may notice when you buy your energy-efficient washer that it recommends a high- efficiency (HE) detergent. This is a specially formulated cleaner that allows it to work with less water than a traditional detergent. HE detergents are manufactured to create fewer suds, so using a regular detergent in your HE washer can prevent the clothes from rinsing properly -- turning you into a sudsy mess the next time you're caught in the rain. What's worse, regular detergent can even trigger error codes on that high-tech machine of yours. And buildup from excess suds may lead to a visit from your local repairman. Take it from our personal experiences -- it's an expensive call to make.


Top-Loaders and HE Detergent

Most top-loaders, as we all know, work by filling a water-tight basket full of water and twisting and turning your clothes until they're clean. They're generally less energy-efficient than the front loaders, but there are some HE models available that load at the top. In any case, using HE detergent in a top load washer is just fine. Even the non-HE models will work with the HE detergent. Since it's based on a low-suds formula though, you may not be thrilled with the level of fragrance. But since it's a more efficient concentrate that will save you some money, it's worth it to give the HE detergent a try in your regular washer. Just remember the law of the wash -- HE detergent is fine for both, but only HE detergents can used in the HE machines.


Lots More Information

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  • "Clothes Washers.", 2010.
  • "High Efficiency Washers and Detergents." The American Cleaning Institute, 2010.
  • "Troubleshooting.", 2010.