Using a HE Washer? Here's How Much Detergent to Use
High Efficiency (HE) washers are a popular choice for consumers looking for a more sustainable laundry machine. They work differently to traditional washers and rely on specially formulated HE detergent to wash effectively and efficiently. If you have a HE washer, be sure you read these tips for how much detergent to use with each wash.
What is a HE Washing Machine?
A noticeable difference between a HE washing machine and a traditional washing machine is the mechanism used to launder garments.
Traditional washers use what is called an agitator to move clothes against each other. This is a column in the center of a static drum with paddles along the bottom. HE front and top loader machines use a moving drum that rotates clockwise and counterclockwise to tumble the garments against each other. A drum without an agitator allows for larger loads to be washed in HE machines.
HE washers are also more efficient in terms of water, energy and detergent. Traditional agitator machines submerge the garments in water completely so that they can be moved around by the agitator to loosen soils, whereas HE machines are designed to clean with much less water.
In a front loader HE machine, clothes are tumbled in and out of a shallow pool of water using the rotating drum and paddles affixed to the sides. In a top loader HE machine, clothes are tumbled using wobbling disks or wheels.
Rather than drain and refill the washer for the rinse cycle, HE washers use high-pressure water sprays and longer cycles to rinse. The moving drum also spins rapidly to finish the wash and partially dry the clothes, which reduces the time needed in the dryer.
Many new HE machines also use smart technology to detect the size of the load and the type of fabric so that the washer can run using the right amount of water at the correct temperature. Often items in a HE machine are saturated and not fully submerged which saves on water and energy used to heat the water for a warm wash.
How Much Detergent Should You Use in the Washing Machine?
For HE washers to work effectively and efficiently, only specialty formulated HE detergents should be used. These detergents can be identified by the 'HE' logo and are more concentrated, low-sudsing and disperse quickly to work well in low-water washes.
You should always adhere to the dosage specified by the detergent manufacturer and measure out the quantity every time. For example, 1oz of AspenClean Natural Laundry Detergent should be used for a regular load. The inside of the bottle cap is marked to help you measure out exactly how much you need.
The following descriptions can be used as a general guide to laundry load sizes:
- A small load size will fill the washer drum by a third and weigh less than six pounds.
- A medium or regular load of washing will half fill a drum and weigh about six pounds.
- A large load will fill a drum three-quarters and weigh about eleven pounds.
Extra care should be taken not to overfill any type of washing machine as the clothes need room to get clean.
You should also add a little more detergent to your wash if you are in a hard water area. This is because excess minerals in hard water can interfere with the effectiveness of laundry detergent.
If you are unsure about the amount of detergent that you've used, get into the habit of checking your clothes after the wash. Too much soap will leave your garments covered in a sudsy residue and too little will leave them unclean.
What Happens If You Use Regular Detergent in a HE Washer?
Detergents that are not formulated for HE washing machines aren't designed to be low-sudsing. If they are used in a HE washer, more suds will be produced because of the tumbling action mechanism.
Too many suds can cause a wash to stop or overflow. It will also affect the efficiency of your machine by triggering multiple rinse cycles. If a HE machine detects any suds left over after the first rinse cycle, it will add more rinse cycles which use more energy and water.
Suds also 'cushion' the garments in your machine and prevent them from rubbing against each other. As this rubbing helps the wash, it's likely that your clothes won't come out as clean if you use regular sudsy detergent in a HE washing machine.
Using a smaller amount of regular detergent will not work either. The amount of detergent that you would need to use for minimal bubble production will generally not be enough to effectively clean clothes.
What Should You Do If You Put Too Much Detergent in the Washer?
If you accidentally use regular detergent in your HE washer, you should stop the cycle before too many suds form.
If you see this happening, cancel the wash cycle, then restart at the spin cycle to drain the water. Then run the clothes through another rinse cycle to rinse the detergent off. This shouldn't produce too many bubbles as the clothes aren't tumbled in the same way as the wash cycle. If you want to be extra careful, you should remove the clothes from the machine and hand rinse them in the sink.
You can then proceed to wash the clothes (with the correct detergent) after you no longer feel a soapy residue.
It's also a good idea to run your washing machine through a maintenance or cleaning cycle after the wash to ensure that excess soap doesn't build up in your machine.
If your laundry room or floor is covered in suds, sprinkle salt over the area to help dissipate the bubbles. Then use a microfiber mop to collect the salt crystals and excess water before it can damage the floor.