How to Use Non HE Detergent in a HE Washer

If you are switching over to a high-efficiency (HE) washing machine, you may wonder if you can use any kind of regular detergent in your new machine. Simply, the answer is no. The only exception, as stated by Consumer Search in the article "Laundry Detergent Review," is that "a few detergents are formulated to work in both types of machines (you just use less soap for HE machines)." Do not confuse this information with the common misconception that it's okay to use regular detergent in smaller amounts in an HE machine.

HE washers require detergent specifically designed for HE machines.

Step 1

Choose only a detergent that includes specific instructions for use with an HE machine.

Step 2

Read the instruction label and follow directions for the amount of detergent to use in an HE machine. This typically means using less detergent than called for when using a regular machine.

Step 3

Launder clothes as usual.


  • While some say that it is permissible to use any detergent in your HE machine by cutting down on the amount used, this can damage your machine. The Soap and Detergent Association puts it best: "Using a regular detergent in an HE washer can create too many suds. These suds can interfere with the washer’s washing/tumbling action by 'cushioning' the laundry, thus reducing soil and stain removal performance and rinsing efficiency. These suds can also cause water and/or suds to overflow from the machine. Excess suds can also cause the washer’s pump to overheat or to add more water—this in turn can lengthen the wash cycle, thus reducing water/energy savings. These excess suds can also lead to residue buildup since they are not as easily rinsed away—and over time, they could lead to unpleasant odors, potential machine malfunctions or damage."

About the Author

Shifrah Combiths has been writing professionally for over a decade. She began her career as copywriter at a fledgling ad agency. She has been published in "Generation Magazine," "achoo!" ALLERGY's Allergy Consumer Report and "Atlanta Parent," and has extensive writing experience on topics including green living, product reviews, food and parenting. Combiths has a degree in English from UC Berkeley, summa cum laude,