How Much Detergent to Use in Front-Loader Washing Machine

Front-loading washing machines are the most efficient washing machines available.

Why the Need for Less Detergent

The right amount of HE laundry detergent prevents water leaks.The right amount of HE laundry detergent prevents water leaks.
Not only do they use less water, but they also spin faster than conventional top-loading washing machines, wringing out more water, so laundry needs less time in the dryer. Front-loading washing machines also require less laundry detergent, and most use only high-efficiency (HE) laundry detergent.

A front-load washing machine uses less water than conventional top-load washing machines. Top-loading washers are designed to fill with water that's combined with detergent to create lots of suds; suds and soap clean clothes and then the machine spins the clothes to get out the dirty water. Conversely, a front-loading machine washes clothing without the need for a lot of soap and suds. It uses mostly water and steam with a modest amount of soap to deep-clean clothes and then spins at a higher rate of speed to remove excess water from laundry items.

High Efficiency Detergent

HE detergent is made specifically for low water washing machines, such as front loaders. It produces fewer suds than conventional laundry detergent but just enough to clean clothes using less water. Look for a laundry detergent clearly marked "HE" on its outside label. They're available at grocery stores and retail stores that sell household cleaning products. HE laundry detergents are usually offered in powder and liquid forms.

Amount to Use

Front-loading washing machine manufacturers usually recommend using only HE detergent in their machines. The specific detergent amount depends on the load size, laundry soil condition and your water type. Measure the detergent according to the product manufacturer's instructions for load size. Smaller loads require less detergent than larger ones. For example, 1/2 cap full of liquid detergent or less is usually fine for smaller loads whereas a larger load often requires almost a full cap of liquid detergent. In certain cases, you might need to make minor adjustments to recommended measurements. In general, the dirtier the wash load, the more detergent you need. In addition, hard water typically requires slightly more detergent than soft water to produce the same cleaning power.


Although tempting, don't use ordinary laundry detergent made for conventional washing machines in your front-loading washing machine. It produces too many suds that can damage the machine's bearings. Furthermore, regular laundry detergent sometimes creates a film inside the machine and on laundry items when used in front loaders. In time, the film can turn into mold. No matter what laundry detergent you use, wipe down the wash tub periodically with a clean cloth to remove soapy residue that might have accumulated.

About the Author

Christie Gross has been writing since 1998. Her work writing public policy platforms for elected officials nationwide has been featured in national and local newspapers under various client pen names. Gross has a Bachelor of Arts in English and political science, as well as a Master of Public Administration from the University of Delaware.