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What is high-efficiency detergent?

Updated March 23, 2017

Front-loading washing machines require a special detergent known as high-efficiency (HE) detergent. Using regular detergent in a front-load washer can damage the machine, and it won't properly clean the clothes.

Formulation

HE detergent is formulated to be a low-suds detergent. Some brands of HE detergent produce no suds, while others produce some suds during washing.

Dissolution

Front-load washers use 1/2 to 2/3 less water than a traditional washer, meaning there is less water available to dissolve detergent. HE detergent is designed to dissolve quickly with minimal water.

Washing

If you use normal detergents in a high-efficiency machine, the excess soap bubbles collect around the washer drum and prevent the clothes from fully washing.

Warning

If you use HE detergent and don't see suds, do not add more detergent. Too much detergent in the machine can cause vibrations, leaks and poor spinning action.

Removal

If you have been using the wrong detergent in a front-loading machine, you will need to run several washing cycles with no laundry to clean the system. You can also purchase special products that remove the residue in the machine to ensure it is completely clean.

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