If you bought a washing machine within the last few years, or have one that has no agitator, then you have a high efficiency (HE) washer. You might be wondering, “can I use regular detergent in an HE Washer?” The answer is very simple. No.

This can seem ridiculous or confusing for those of us who don’t often think of how our washing machines work— After all, soap is soap, right? Well, yes and no. We’ll go in-depth on frequently asked questions about HE washing detergent, including how HE machines work, the difference between regular laundry detergent and high efficiency, and more.

Detergent Details: “Can I Use Regular Detergent in an HE Washer?” and Other FAQs

The reason why you can’t put regular detergent in an HE washer is mostly due to how the machine washes clothes. A high-efficiency washing machine is meant to conserve water by doing washes with as little water as needed. This is why they don’t have agitators and are often larger— to accommodate more clothes in fewer washes. So why does the kind of detergent matter?

FAQ #1. What’s the Difference Between Regular & HE Detergent?

The difference between regular laundry detergent and high efficiency laundry detergent lies in the amount of suds it creates. Regular detergent will create much more suds than high efficiency detergent will, because the amount of water used in the wash and rinse cycles will get rid of them.

FAQ #2. Is it Bad if I Use Regular Detergent in an HE Washer?

Yes. Using regular detergent in an HE washer can cause problems, namely, by oversudsing. These suds will not be fully removed by the rinse and can confuse your HE washer, potentially leading to sudsy clothes and overflowing washing machines. But, if you’re worrying about whether or not will regular detergent ruin an HE washer, it’s not that serious of a matter— you simply need to remove the regular detergent, and you shouldn’t have any more problems.

regular detergent in an HE washer

FAQ #3. What Should I Do if I Used the Wrong Detergent?

If you notice that you accidentally used regular detergent in HE washer, the first thing you should do is cancel the wash. Then, start it again, but only at the spin cycle. Next, follow up with a cycle that is rinse and spin only, in order to remove the suds. Finally, one last wash cycle, normal this time, but with cold water in case there is any detergent left.

If you used regular detergent in an HE washer previously, and now can smell an odor, we have cleaning steps you can take when your washer smells bad. If you have any more serious washing machine issues, call Northeast Appliance Repair for a quick, professional washer repair service.