If you have a high-efficiency washing machine, you may have wondered if it’s ok to use regular detergent in an HE washer. While you may be able to get away with it in small amounts once in a while, doing so regularly will harm your machine and its performance.

Regular Detergent in an HE Washer – Is it Bad?

Using regular detergent in an HE Washer is like putting regular gas in a car that requires premium. Read on to find out the difference between regular detergent and high efficiency, what happens to your HE washer with regular detergent, and what to do if you used the wrong detergent.

What is HE Washer Detergent?

Traditional washing machines use a constant motion and higher water level to clean clothing, with a sudsy detergent aiding in this process. By contrast, energy-saving washers use a tumbling motion to wash clothes, which requires less water. Less water and this tumbling motion call for a different type of detergent with a specialized formula.

HE washer detergent produces fewer suds than regular detergent but is formulated to still get your clothes clean. For more details, check out our blog on HE washer water levels.

When you’re browsing the grocery store isles or Amazon for high-efficiency laundry detergent, make sure to look for those specified as ‘HE’ products. Most will have a small ‘he’ symbol on the front of the container, like the ones pictured here.

regular detergent in HE washer
Photo Credit: Seventh Generation

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

Using regular detergent in your HE washer could create an overabundance of suds that fill your washer tub, possibly causing a leak from your detergent drawer. Ignoring this problem and letting the wash continue only increases the amount of suds in the washer and could potentially confuse it. This may result in improper rinsing of your clothing or repeated rinse cycles, wasting gallons of water, energy and time.

Repeatedly using regular detergent in an HE washer could cause chronic leaking from the front or back of your machine, necessitating a washer repair. In that case, Tiger Mechanical is here to help and advise you every step of the way.

what happens if you use the wrong detergent in HE washer
Photo Credit: Boss Office Products

What to do If You Used the Wrong Detergent

If you’ve accidentally used regular detergent in an HE washer, don’t panic. Follow these four steps to minimize any effects:

  1. Cancel the current wash cycle
  2. Restart your HE washer and select the Spin cycle
  3. Follow with a Rinse/Spin cycle to remove all regular detergent suds, using cold water
  4. Start a new wash cycle with HE detergent and cold water

How to Maintain Your HE Washer

As with any appliance, regular maintenance will go a long way in improving the performance and longevity of your HE washer. Even if you never use regular detergent in your HE washer, keeping the washer clean should be a consistent part of your high-efficiency washing machine maintenance. Learn more about HE washer maintenance here.