difference between regular laundry detergent and high efficiency

Is it Ok to Use Regular Detergent in an HE Washer?

If you have an HE washer, you’ve likely heard that it can only be used with HE detergent. Is it ok to use regular detergent in an HE washer anyway? In short, no, it isn’t. Regular detergents can create excess suds that compromise your machine and leave laundry dirty. Learn more about why HE detergent is essential with HE washers and what to do if regular detergent is used.

Why Using Regular Detergent in an HE Washer is a Bad Idea

HE detergent was designed to work with an HE washer’s movement and water usage. Using regular detergent in an HE washer can interfere with these factors and ultimately result in short and long-term problems. We’ll detail what those problems are and how to lessen the effects of regular detergent if it’s accidentally used. But, first, here are some important facts about HE detergent.

What is HE Washer Detergent?

The main difference between regular laundry detergent and high efficiency reflects HE washer’s more efficient operation. HE detergents are specially formulated to clean clothes with lower water levels and tumbling motion unique to HE machines. 

Here’s how HE detergents work:

  • Fewer suds: HE detergents don’t create as many bubbles as regular detergents.
  • Suds disperse more quickly: The few suds that are created break up faster and more easily.
  • Suspending stains: Both HE and regular detergent lift stains and hold them in suspension, preventing them from re-infiltrating clothes. HE detergents are designed to effectively suspend stains in lower amounts of water.

What Happens if You Use Regular Detergent in an HE Washer?

Will regular detergent ruin an HE washer? With repeated use, it could. Using regular detergent in an HE washer creates more suds. Excessive suds cause common washer problems that also affect the cleanliness of your clothes.

This is what can happen when you use regular detergent in an HE washer:

  • Less effective cleaning: Excess suds interfere with the washer’s tumbling motion, creating a barrier that limits cleaning performance and rinsing.
  • Buildup of residue: Suds aren’t easily rinsed away, leaving behind particles that can generate smelly mold and mildew.
  • Washer damage: Overflowing and overheating can occur as a result of too many suds. 
  • Decreased efficiency: The washer may use more rinse cycles to dispel suds, creating longer wash times and increased energy and water usage.

regular detergent in an HE washer

What to do if You Used the Wrong Detergent

If you accidentally used regular detergent in HE washer, don’t let the wash cycle continue. This will only generate more suds that can negatively affect your clothes and your machine.

Here’s what to do if you used the wrong detergent:

  1. Stop the wash cycle.
  2. Restart the washer by selecting a spin cycle.
  3. Follow with a rinse/spin cycle using cold water.
  4. Resume a regular wash cycle with cold water.

Even if you don’t use regular detergent in an HE washer, malfunctions can happen from time to time. When they do, rely on the washing machine repair experts at Appliance Genie to solve the problem!