Using a HE Washer? Here's How Much Laundry Detergent to Use
High Efficiency (HE) washers are a popular choice for consumers looking for a more sustainable laundry machine. They work differently from 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 Laundry Detergent Should You Use in the Washing Machine?
For HE washers to work effectively and efficiently, you should only use detergents that are specially formulated for HE machines. 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, whether you are using AspenClean, natural Unscented Laundry Detergent, lavender laundry detergent, eucalyptus, or any other eco laundry detergent, you should use 1 oz. for regular loads. 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:
- 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 the 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.
Adding Detergent to HE Top-Loader Washing Machines
- Measure the amount of HE detergent your load requires, following the instructions on the detergent manufacturer’s packaging.
- Pour the detergent into the detergent compartment, or if your HE top-loader machine doesn’t have one, pour it directly into the washing drum.
- Proceed to load your garments loosely into the washing drum, distributing the load evenly around the edges of the wash plate.
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 is the Best Laundry Detergent for HE Washers?
If you have an HE washer, you need to use HE laundry detergent, like the ones you’ll find in our line of eco-friendly laundry detergents.
Laundry detergents with the HE symbol are made for high-efficiency, front-load, and top-load washers. The HE detergents take into account that HE machines use a lot less water than regular washers.
If you’re wondering how much water a typical HE washer uses in comparison to a standard washer, HE washers use just 56.8 to 113.6 L of water whereas standard washers use 109.7 to 170 L to wash the same amount of clothes. With the newer, more technologically advanced models, less than 18.9 L of water is used per cubic foot of the washer drum capacity.
The HE detergents are specifically formulated to be low-sudsing and quick-dispersing in low-water environments.
Not only is HE laundry detergent the best detergent to use for HE washers—it’s the only detergent for HE washers.
Will Regular Laundry Detergent Hurt a High-Efficiency Washer?
By using regular laundry detergent in an HE washer, you risk ruining the machine. Too many suds will be produced with regular laundry detergent.
In the best-case scenario, this means that your clothes will not be fully rinsed off by the end of the cycle.
In the worst case, the excess suds can lead to leaks which could damage the machine’s electronics. This will void the manufacturer's warranty. The leaking could also cause potential damage to your floor.
Further to that, the use of regular laundry detergents in HE washing machines can cause mold growth in the washer. Because there will be leftover suds (along with the dirt that they contain), the interior walls of the washer drum turn into a breeding ground for mold. Besides presenting health concerns, mold causes odor and could reduce the life span of your HE machine.
Can I Use Powder Detergent in an HE Washer?
HE washing machines work with both powder detergents and liquid detergents, as long as they’re HE-friendly. However, you might prefer liquid detergents over the powder kind for a few reasons:
- Liquid detergents dissolve easily regardless of the water temperature. Powder detergents have a hard time dissolving in cold temperatures.
- When it comes to pre-treating stains or spot cleaning, liquid detergents are more convenient. You simply pour the liquid onto the treatment area. If using a powder detergent, an extra step is required; you need to combine the powder and water to make a paste before applying the detergent to the stain.
- Liquid detergent out-performs powder detergent when it comes to grease and oil stains, in particular. The liquid is able to move through the fabric to help release the stain in ways that powder can not.
Previously, powder detergents had the advantage of eco-friendly packaging. However, at AspenClean, our liquid detergent packaging is 100% recyclable and does not use any virgin plastic, making them an eco-friendly option as well.
What Should You Do If You Put Too Much Detergent in the Washer?
If you open the lid of your washer after the wash cycle is complete and you find soap residue in the machine, it's a sure sign that you added too much detergent. Unfortunately, this means that you weren’t exactly successful in getting your clothes clean. Leaving the excess suds in your washer can also ruin your HE washing machine.
Thankfully, you can remedy the situation with white vinegar which will eliminate the residue from your laundry and your machine. No need to worry about your laundry smelling like vinegar; the amount we suggest you use is small enough to prevent that.
Follow these steps to get rid of excessive soap:
- Remove the clothes and set them aside.
- Wipe the inside of the washing machine with a dry cloth to remove the soapy residue. Then place the clothes back into the washer.
- Pour ½ cup of white vinegar into the fabric softener compartment.
- Run the washing machine through a rinse cycle.
- Repeat steps 3 and 4 if necessary.
Vinegar is safe for septic tanks, HE washing machines, and the environment.