Q&A: Can you use regular detergent in an HE washer?

Consumer Reports News: March 01, 2012 01:04 PM

A. That wouldn’t be prudent. High-efficiency front-loaders and top-loaders use less water than conventional washers and regular detergents produce too many suds. This soapy surplus can affect cleaning performance, extend the wash cycle, cause the machine to overflow, and even cause mechanical problems over time.

So you’re probably thinking, why not use less regular detergent and call it a wash. Even that won’t solve the sudsy situation. Keep in mind that the beauty of HE washers is that they use a lot less water and since they spin at such high speeds, they extract more water from laundry than conventional washers. That means less time in the dryer. These savings in energy and water can add up, so you want your washer to perform in peak condition. (If it's not, check our washing machine Ratings.)

One more thing. You’ll now see more detergents that come with the claim that they can be used in both HE and conventional washers. We’re testing these products now and will report back on our findings. Until then, see our Ratings of laundry detergents, including dozens of HE detergents.

Kimberly Janeway

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