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non-HE detergent for High Efficiency washer?

We recently purchased a Kenmore Elite HE3 Front-Loading Automatic Washer. It's a very efficient washer that saves water and electricity. However, we didn't realize that it is designed to use High Efficiency detergent. Actually, I didn't even know that there are HE detergents until I read the washer's manual:

"Use only High Efficiency detergents. The package for this type of detergent will be marked "HE" or "High Efficiency." This wash system, along with less water, will create too much sudsing with a regular non-HE detergent. Using regular detergent will likely result in washer errors, longer cycle times, reduced rinsing performance, and may result in component failures and noticeable mold or mildew. HE detergents are made to produce the right amount of suds for the best performance. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to determine the amount of detergent to use."

We had plenty of regular detergent left over, so my wife asked, "Can we solute our powder detergent in water to use in this washer?" It made me wonder if HE detergents are simply the same detergent that is soluted in more or less water. Is the ingredient any different?

Chieh Cheng
Wed, 10 Aug 2005 23:40:51 -0700

We stopped by Wal-mart on the way home last night. We didn't see a single liquid or powder HE detergent on the shelf. How come these HE detergents are so elusive? Do they even exist?

Chieh Cheng
Mon, 15 Aug 2005 14:28:44 -0700

The answer is "Yes! They do!" I visited the web site for Tide and found Tide HE. From the following excerpt on that page, it sounds like my wife is right; you can use less regular detergent in your high efficiency washing machine--at the risk of less cleaning power.

"Standard detergents can cause over-sudsing when less water is used, and using less detergent sacrifices cleaning power."

The neat thing is that Tide provide a product locator box on the bottom of that page, so now I can actually find a store that carries Tide HE. Looks like Stater Brothers, Vons, Albertsons, K-Mart, Longs Drug Store, and Target all have them . . . just not Wal-mart.

Chieh Cheng
Mon, 15 Aug 2005 14:46:16 -0700

Here are some commonly asked questions regarding this subject:

Looking at the "Do you make an unscented Tide HE?" answer, it seems like the HE market is so small, detergent makers are only still testing the market. Tide only makes one version of the HE detergent. It's no wonder they are so hard to find.

It makes me wonder, if the HE detergents don't sell well, will Tide eliminate it from its product line? And if they do eliminate it, will they simply reverse their stand and suggest that HE washer owners to use smaller amount of standard detergent in HE washers? I guess only time will tell.

Chieh Cheng
Thu, 18 Aug 2005 17:27:21 -0700

I finally found some Tide HE powdered detergent from Stater Bros. And they only had the powder version, not the liquid version. Good thing is that the box is the same size as standard detergents and cost the same - $7.99.

Chieh Cheng
Fri, 19 Aug 2005 13:03:54 -0700

Costco's Kirkland brand liquid is HE detergent its also so much cheaper than tide. Its also one of consumer reports picks

Tue, 01 Aug 2006 12:05:55 -0700

I need to be able to use regular liquid detergent (dye & scent free) in my new he washer. I read above that someone did that but cut back on the amount of detergent. Any specific suggestions?

Thanks for any help.

Thu, 14 Sep 2006 13:34:20 -0700

Sears has a full line of HE detergents at a great price -- sold in the hardware department. They even have a fragrance-free without dyes version in either liquid or powder. The powder is more economical and it's hard to beat the price -- even compared to Kirkland HE at Costco, which is a good price. The Sears detergent is suitable for use in toploaders as well as front loaders -- it has the HE logo on the label -- and comes with a 1/4 cup measure. That's all it takes, 1/4 cup per washload. I highly recommend Sears HE.

I did buy a jug of Tide HE liquid -- fragrance free, no dyes -- on sale at Safeway. It was fine, but even on sale wasn't economical.

To answer the original question, if you take regular, high sudsing detergent and use if sparingly enough in a front-loader to avoid suds, it may not get your laundry clean enough because there won't be enough detergent in the water to get the job done. Front loaders use a lot less water, so there has to be enough detergent to dissolve out the soil and keep it suspended in the water until it is drained and rinsed away. So the right detergent, non-sudsing, is a must.

I did buy a 200 oz. massive jug of Wisk HE at Target for $8.94, not a bad price for the size, but, unfortunately, its lingering fragrance gives me a headache. It reminds me of a cheap men's cologne, something like Russian Leather, the $1.99 a bottle version. I hate it. With a little bleach added, I use it for cleaning the toilet because I can flush it away when I'm done brushing out the bowl.

Todd Leone
Tue, 29 May 2007 16:24:33 -0700

If I had it to do over I would have kept my OLD water guzzling washer!!! I do not like the new HE machine, I do not like it's price, it's cleaning, or the price of detergents for it. I am so disapointed in it!!!!!

carol b
Mon, 27 Aug 2007 05:04:50 +0000

Hi carol b--

I don't know what brand of HE machine you bought, but I find they clean every bit as well if not better than top loaders. If it's a front loader, that reversing tumbling action that lifts and drops the clothes in the water actually works quite well, while using very little water compared to a top loader. That high spin speed of 1000 to 1200 rpm (or even higher in some high-end front loaders) gets the clothes a lot drier than top loaders, so it saves lots of energy in the dryer.

If your clothes aren't getting clean, you should make sure you're using an HE detergent in sufficient quantity (follow the detergent box or bottle directions). those with enzymes will clean better than those without (but don't use one with enzymes on woolens or items with a down fill because the enzymes will digest wool and down and ruin them over time).

As to price, that shouldn't be an issue nowadays. I don't know where you're shopping, but here are some recommendations:

Sears HE detergent (in several varieties of liquid and powdered types) is a great buy and, in fact, it's the only kind Sears sells. It works in top-loading agitator machines, too, and it's so well priced I think you can't beat it. It's found in the hardware department of Sears stores. It works very well and will get your clothes clean. I speak from personal experience on this one.

Kirkland HE detergent can be found only at Costco (Kirkland is their house brand). It comes in powdered and liquid types and is very affordable and cleans quite nicely. My friend Carla in southern California uses this one -- she's a major Costco shopper -- and her Kenmore front loader is getting her clothes very clean and fresh.

Safeway supermarkets (and their wholly owned subsidiaries such as Von's in southern California) now sell Safeway Select HE liquid "2X Ultra" detergent in the bottle. Like other "ultra" liquids, it's concentrated and each measure of detergent is way less than a regular liquid, so don't letter the small size of the bottle deter you. I got it when Safeway was selling it at a "Buy One Get One Free" price -- so the $6.99 per 32-use bottle price which isn't all that great, but better than Tide HE, became a bargain, which is why I bought it.

In time, your HE washer will pay the difference between its price and a cheaper, water-guzzling washer. It will save on your water bill, your electric bill and your gas bill (if you have a gas water heater and/or gas dryer).

I've heard other people complaining about the cleaning ability of their front-loaders, and I note that Consumer Reports doesn't agree with that criticism after much testing. There are a couple of models with a cycle that's too short they didn't like -- a front loader needs about an hour to clean clothes, so don't use the quickie-wash cycle some have for small, lightly soiled items. My sister Tina in Hawaii has a Frigidaire front-loader and hers cleans quite well, as does my Whirlpool.

If your water is egregiously hard, you might try adding one of the following to your detergent to soften the wash water:

- 20 Mule Team Borax (it's sodium borate)

- Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (it's sodium carbonate, not baking soda which is sodium bicarbonate)

- White King Water conditioner (it's sodium carbonate and sodium tripolyphosphate and way cheaper than Calgon water conditioner which is ridiculously overpriced)

Use half the amount recommended on the box because your front-loader will be dissolving it in way less water than a top loader, and put it in the detergent dispense with half the amount of detergent recommended on the detergent package. The water softening effect of any of the three items listed above will improve cleaning in hard water and enable you to reduce the amount of detergent needed by half.

One other thing. A lot of people, because of high prices on name-brand HE detergent at the supermarket, have tried to use regular detergent and deal with oversudsing by cutting down on the quantity of detergent. The problem with that is, then there isn't enough detergent in the wash water to get the soil out of the clothes, keep the soil suspended in the wash water so that it can be drained away. Grease stains and protein-based food stains or blood stains will remain because the detergent solution in the wash water is too dilute to be effective on them.

With a low-sudsing HE detergent, you can use a sufficient amount of detergent to get the clothes clean, a concentrated-enough mixture to remove soil, dissolve grease, and break down protein-based stains.

Todd Leone
Sun, 02 Sep 2007 21:32:28 +0000

Our Wal-mart carries HE detergent. I got Tide "free" and haven't been thrilled with how it leaves my clothes smelling, but maybe that's just how the scent-free ones are. I feel like my laundry smells stale when it's washed - I've started using hot water every time, which helps a little.

Charis M
Mon, 01 Oct 2007 17:07:38 +0000

Front loaders work well and you can get detergent for All's he detergent as low as 2.99 on sale at Shop Rite. Oxydol now makes one that sells for about 5.99 a gallon too.
Use your left over regular detergents for hand washing and toilet cleaning. They do a nice job and leave a good fresh scent.
If you use fabric softener dilute it with a bit of water first as it is very thick. Machines come with instructions on diluting fab softener.

As far as other brands, as more people switch to front loaders, more brands will become available.
If you are concerned over a detergent like Ivory or Dreft being available, just write the manufacturer and tell them to begin production. I have! The more who do that the sooner they will be on the market.

Thu, 27 Dec 2007 01:17:40 +0000

I use only Sun and Earth products since they are environmentally friendly and safer for humans too. Their detergent is naturally low suds so it can be used in he machines with no problem.

The all- natural formula is hypoallergenic, biodegradable, non-toxic and free of allergens, dyes, perfumes and petroleum-based solvents. Safe for babies and he washers and it smells great too!

You can purchase at Orders over $45 ship free so I just load up on cleaning products and only purchase about twice a year.

It also has a very nice natural orange scent due to the main cleaning agent comes from oranges. It smells much better than fragrance free brands. I tend to have allergies to detergents with fragrance and always purchased fragrance free.

I have found Sun and Earth products to be the best cleaners even better than commercial detergents.

Wed, 02 Jan 2008 21:00:57 +0000

Do NOT use regular detergent at lower levels if you want or washing machine to last. The non-HE detergents will eventually gunk-up the washer with a nasty gray soap-scum slime that starts to smell funky (and transfers to your clothes). I got a used Maytag Neptune set and refurbished them myself yesterday, and would not have believed the quantity of black and gray gunk in the door gasket drain tube due to the previous owner's use of regular detergent. You can try to be stubborn in using regular detergent, but it's a false economy, and you risk washing every load with mildewy water.

If you have been using regular detergent in your HE front-loader, you should probably put it through a refresh cycle. (Good to do periodically regardless.) This involves putting 1 cup of chlorine bleach and about 1/2 to 1 cup of Automated DishWASHER detergent (like Cascade) in the detergent dispenser under a heavy-duty HOT wash setting for cottons. Let it run through the full cycle using hot water (with NO clothes in the wash). Then run it again through a hot cycle, empty, with no detergent or additives, to flush out any remaining bleach. (You can advance to the rinse cycle after 5 minutes of wash if you like.)

You should occasionally do a load of whites with hot water and bleach (or repeat this cleaning cycle every so often) to keep the machine sparkling. I understand there is a product called GLISTEN , $3-4 available on Amazon or do a Google search for Glisten dishwasher cleaner, which is another occasional option for maintenance.

Additionally, powdered HE detergents are better for the washer than the liquid HE detergents, they are less likely to leave a residue.

Mon, 21 Jan 2008 01:51:46 +0000

I just bought my machine and have't used it yet. Have anyone ever used powder Dreft or Ivory Snow. From my experience they seem to be low sudsing.

Marian Dorsey
Thu, 07 Feb 2008 04:34:30 +0000

I would recommend taht you do NOT try to use any non-HE detergents in the machines that tell you to use HE detergent. Two days ago, I had to get my GE front loader repaired after owning if for only two years. I had used less detergent that was non-HE for those two years. The repairman who came out to fix it said that non-HE detergents are too sudsy and will eventually breakdown the seal around the tub and cause water to leak into the outer tub. When this happens, it compromises the parts and eventually wears them down. The main bearing that holds the tub in place was weakend by the water over time and caused it to break. Fortunately I had the extended warranty because the parts for these machines are ridiculous! If I had had to pay for the repairs myself, it would have cost over $1800!!! ($1700 of it was just parts.) He said that he has been repairing machines for 31 years and over the past few years, this problem has been the most frequent repair he has had to make.

Thu, 17 Apr 2008 11:06:45 +0000

I just got my HE (LG) washer and dryer today and I am thrilled!! My hubby and I actually stood there and watched it wash, our son came to see....I joked that we need to put chairs there, so we can watch the washer and dryer!

I have a big jug of Purex Natural Elements and Arm & Hammer Essentials. I like the fragrance of both, and that they are made from plant materials.

I'm going to try the above ideas until I can pick up some HE detergent at Costco, but I have another question.

I love OxyClean and use it to whiten clothes, clean the tubs, floors, carpet, sinks, etc.
I doubt if it could be used in the HE washer, but just wondering if anyone has tried it?

Linda Rockhold
Thu, 22 Jan 2009 02:14:21 +0000

yes you can use oxyclean in your fl washer i did 2 loads w/it an it seems to work fine

Fri, 13 Feb 2009 04:01:00 +0000

Can I Use Ivory snow in my he front loader Whirl pool washing machine.If not
what are you supposed to use for babies.

Sat, 06 Jun 2009 02:03:00 +0000

I have a Whirlpool Duet. I use ALL SMALL & MIGHTY FREE & CLEARH HE. You have to be careful because they also have regular Small and Mighty Free and Clear. It can be somewhat difficult to find. I can usually only find it in my local Albertson.

Sun, 25 Oct 2009 06:11:40 +0000

For what it's worth, my apartment building recently replaced their old washers with new HE washers, conveniently just after I had purchased a 6-month supply of regular detergent. They recommend that if you don't have HE detergent then use regular detergent at half the recommended quantity. So that's what I've been doing. That machines have not been over-sudsing and the clothes have been coming out great, so I'm going to continue to use up my regular detergent.

Sun, 27 Jun 2010 04:00:19 +0000

I always used our regular detergent on my children's clothes. My youngest had extremely sensitive skin, so I switched to a fragrance and dye-free detergent (Arm & Hammer). That worked fine. Also, try second-rinsing the clothes, to make sure any detergent residue is washed out. I advise against the use of any perfumed substances when washing baby clothes. Dry 'em out in the sun if you want them to smell really good.

I don't know about the chemicals in HE detergents. I just purchased a machine requiring HE detergent, so need to find a dye and fragrance-free product to which to switch. After 12 years, I can't stand the smell of laundry perfume.

Wed, 11 Aug 2010 00:04:31 +0000

I agree with Carol,if i had to do it over i would have stayed with the old top loader. I bought the Samsung VRT washer and dryer and i wish i had my old Whirlpool top loaders. The HE detergent is always the one not on the shelves and the so-called savings with water and electricity are non existent to me.I will go to Sears and try the ones recommended on this page by others.If the price is right and it works well ,i'm loading up on it.I get tired of running from store to store trying to find HE. That also diminishes the cost effectiveness by using more gas for my car in this quest.

Wed, 15 Sep 2010 13:51:32 +0000

No non HE soap for me. Why risk my $600 LG HE washer? I use Bio Kleen and Ecos. Get them on sale at Kroger's. Costs about 8.5 cents per load. Has HE on the labels.

Thu, 14 Oct 2010 23:18:35 +0000

Pumps naturally cavitate.
Cavitation erodes cheap pump impellers.
Cavitation reduces the pump's ability to be self priming.
By making the pump smaller and impellers smaller it can be made 75 cents or even 2 or 3 dollars cheaper.
I do not appreciate being forced to buy special detergent because the washer manufacture saved 3 dollars with the unintended consequence being excessively cavitating impeller, pump ceasing to be a self priming pump, and excessive impeller erosion. They forced me to spend $30 more in detergent per year for the 15 year life of the washer. I want the washer discounted by $450 to offset the intentionally designed in increase in life-cycle cost. Do I hear class action??? (JT of Indiana) Dear manufacturers (FIX THE PUMP DESIGN !!) PS. Some traditional liquid detergents do not hardly any suds and will work good enough. Important. Don't use too much.

Just Another Engineer
Sun, 24 Oct 2010 09:29:36 +0000

Gee It does not pay to type fast and sent.
Dear Moderator, please fix the grammer in my last message and delete the extra word

Please change
From: excessively cavitating impeller
To: excessive impeller cavitation

From: do not hardly any suds and will work good enough.
To: produce low suds and will work well enough.

ALSO some manufacturers are using seals that fail when exposed to water and detergent. Why select such seal material and why select bearing that are not able to operate when exposed to detergent and water. A sealed bearing costs 75 cents more. I want my washer to used water proof main bearings and detergent and water proof seals.

Just another engineer
Sun, 24 Oct 2010 09:42:11 +0000

I have been using our WP Duet front loading washer for a year. In Aug I noticed a bit of a musty smell. I did some reading and tried a few recommended cleaning tips. Run a cycle on hot with Borax. Still there so I ran another cycle on hot with white vinegar. Problem gone and has not come back. I do wipe the rubber gasket once every 3 weeks or so and leaving the door open to dry it out. I had been using cold water during the summer so that might have started the problem.

I refuse to buy into the HE soap hype. I took apart the machine and looked in the filter (front, bottom of machine) it was pretty clean except for some lint. This Duet does not have the "clean" cycle like the new ones. I think WP is still being sued for the smell problem.

I use A&H liquid soap from WM (7.80) for 96 load bottle. Bought a new brand for 108 loads, generic, for 5.80 on sale to test it. After 4 loads the clothes are just as clean.

I looked at the top loaders, Maytag, WP and LG. The 5.0 models seem really good but I wonder how long they will last. That is a big load on the machine so it will take a beating. I don't care for LG since they got caught lying on the Energy Star ratings.

Anyway, I like the top loaders and the new once claim the new tubs/washers use less water. I like the soak feature of the old top loaders which I think is offered on a few more expensive front loaders. The front loaders might use less water but I don't like the added electronics on most of them.

Sat, 25 Dec 2010 23:15:23 +0000

One reviewer talked about SOAP causing the gray and black gunk in Maytag Nepture's door gasket - - it was NOT the soap! That is MOLD growing in the gasket and the bottom of the drum because Maytag Neptune are not able to get all the water out of the machine.

Mon, 10 Jan 2011 23:38:43 +0000

in response to pediatric formulated or child friendly detergents for HE washers:
I am not a child and do not have children, but have multiple chemical sensitivities and a neurological disease so I cannot tolerate most detergents. We have a samsung HE front loader. My husband uses GAIN Apple Mango Tango on his clothes which does well in our washer and I love the smell but cannot tolerate it.

WISK and ALL HE regular scent are both horrible for me, they both cause an instant rash if I wash my sheets or clothing in them - I cannot even have it near me!!

However, I love and use ALL FREE and CLEAR HE - no rash, no sensitivities whatsoever. Amazing that I am allergic to the ALL regular detergent and scent but not to the ALL free and clear - it truely is hypoallergenic in my case. I would definitely recommend it and the manufacturer does occasionally have coupons for it in the Sunday paper.

[email protected]
Mon, 28 Mar 2011 22:01:09 +0000

Purex make s an infnt formula and it is available in HE formula. Purex Baby HE. Available in my local walmart in Cordova, TN

Sun, 29 May 2011 13:35:22 +0000

Me and my girlfriend got rashes from Tide HE detergent. Stopped using it and all was well. The machine does fine without HE detergent, just use the standard kind.

Thu, 02 Jun 2011 00:31:28 +0000

I have been making my own laundry detergent for a few years now. It does not suds, cleans very well and is environmentally friendly. It is safe for baby things and non-allergenic. Takes less time to make than going to the store to buy. Very inexpensive. For fabric softner use vinegar. I add about 20 drops of lavender oil to a
4-litre bottle and it smells wonderful and helps repel moths. Clothes come out very soft, fluffy and clean-its the best thing to use for baby articles, including cloth diapers, as well as towels and moisture wick-away fabrics. 3/4c-1c for a top loader:
1/4c-1/2c for a front loader. This combination should keep your front loader and your clothes sparkling clean for pennies a load.

Recipe: 1/4 cup Borax, 1/4 cup sodium carbonate (washing soda), 1/2 cup soap flakes*.
* for soap flakes I grate a 1/2 bar of goat or castile (olive oil) soap from the
dollar store--you can also purchase ready-made flakes in many health or grocery
This can be combined and used dry in hot water loads @ 1-2 Tablespoons per load
or if you prefer liquid (as I do)---takes about 15 min + cooling time---very easy
In large pot add 5 litres of hot water, put heat on medium to high, add above
dry ingredients and stir occasionally with wisk until all grains are melted.
Turn off heat and remove pot from element to cool. As mixture cools it will
start to gel. Use hand wisk occasionally and/or an electric mixer as you
would cake batter. You can use any plastic container to store. I have used an
empty dog biscuit container with a lid that folds back on itself and kept a
ladle on top-holds the whole batch. I have poured mixture into a couple of
empty liquid laundry detergent bottles--use a large measuring cup or similar
to scoop into large funnel(do this over sink!. Warning this mixture has a
tendency to separate (gel/liquid), does not affect cleaning ability--just give
container a stir with the ladle or shake the bottle before using. With the
liquid laundry containers you may fine it pours cleaner with the pouring spout
at the top removed (it can tend to come out the top and side of the spout at the
same time otherwise.)

Wed, 15 Jun 2011 18:02:20 +0000

We just got a Maytag top loading HE washer and dryer the day before yesterday...and since we just moved and there is no laundromat within 50 miles we had a LOT of laundry, lol. I did 8 loads or so yesterday and I am in LOVE with my washer and dryer! It's amazing. The impeller is different than the agitators I'm used to but it's an amazing different. Watching the clothes get dragged under and seeing the clothes from underneath coming up is really neat and I was surprised how clean the clothes get in this washer compared to my old standard washer. The only thing that really surprised me was how the clothes aren't totally submerged in water. I understand why and it doesn't bother be but it was something different to get used to. I also haven't had any issues finding HE detergent. I actually HAD HE detergent that I bought by accident, lol. We got Tide Coldwater HE, something with Arm and Hammer, and woolite complete HE...and then we got some tide packs that you add to the drum before loading the clothes and those are for HE as well. We got most of those when we still had the regular washer and dryer. I'm glad I'm not having the problem of not finding the right detergents!!

Kelly Corder
Sat, 13 Aug 2011 16:37:21 +0000

try homemade laundry detergent 1 bar fels naptha (all this stuff is in the laundry aisle of your grocery) grated, 1 cup borax (not boraxo) and 1 cup laundry soda. mix together and store in ziplock or other airtight container. We use 2 tablespoons to a load, 3 tablspoons if its very dirty. The clothes get clean and no perfume smell. If you want perfume smell, use a fabric softener with scent. This is very low sudsing and works beautifully in our HE machine. My daughter has wicked sensitive skin and this is kind to her.

Cathy P
Tue, 28 Feb 2012 19:30:28 +0300

After dealing with my expensive new top load HE, I am going to a used store and find an older model washer that cleans my clothes. I need a machine that will actually get the filth out of clothes. The HE machines suck in every way except the powerful spin. Efficiency my foot.

Sat, 21 Apr 2012 00:16:03 +0400

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