When you shop through links on our site, we may receive compensation. This educational content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice or consultation.

Is HE Detergent Compatible With Regular Washers?

Less suds, cleaner clothes, and detergent that lasts way longer.

You’ve got a fancy new HE washing machine, but you’ve heard you can’t use your regular detergent. That’s right.

Are you wondering why? We’re here to answer all the questions surrounding HE laundry detergent and where you can and can’t use it.

We’ll explain why HE is compatible with regular washers, but not the other way around.

Keep reading for all the top tips and advice so that your clothes are clean and your machine lasts for years.

Key Takeaways

  • HE detergent is designed for high-efficiency washing machines and produces fewer suds, working well with minimal water.
  • You can use HE detergent in a regular washer, but do not use regular detergent in an HE washer as it can damage the machine and leave residue on clothes.
  • HE detergents are more concentrated than regular detergents, resulting in lower costs over time.
  • For HE machines, use around two teaspoons of HE laundry detergent for a regular load, but read the packaging instructions for the specific brand.

What is High-Efficiency Detergent?

Product Image of the Tide Free & Gentle, Liquid Laundry Detergent Soap, Unscented, Hypoallergenic for Sensitive Skin and Free of Dyes, HE Compatible, 64 Loads, 84 fl oz

High-efficiency detergent is specifically made for high-efficiency washing machines. Since these machines use less water, the detergent produces fewer suds and disperses quickly. This allows the detergent to work wonderfully even with minimal water.

It’s essential to use HE detergent in HE machines, including top-loader and front-loader appliances.

Using regular detergent will create way too many suds that don’t wash off the clothes effectively. Plus, it can damage your machine.

To identify HE laundry detergent, you’ll notice an HE symbol on the detergent packaging. It’s a lowercase “he” inside of a circle.

HE Detergent Vs Regular Detergent

There are some important differences and similarities to note when comparing the two.

They actually contain the same cleaning ingredients such as surfactants and enzymes to create suds that break apart stains and clean dirt. The ingredients suspend this dirt before draining it away in the water so that your clothes come out clean.

However, HE detergent is low-sudsing, so you can use it in HE machines with less water. The good news is that it cleans just as well!

HE detergent is also more concentrated than regular detergent. There is less water in the detergent, meaning you’re paying for more detergent and less water. This also means you can use less detergent, resulting in lower costs over time.

Just note that the up-front cost of HE detergent may be larger. But it lasts longer.

Is HE Compatible With Regular Washers?

Yes, you can use HE-compatible detergent in your non-HE washing machine! But don’t use regular detergent in an HE machine.

Can You Use Regular Detergent In a HE Washer?

No. Regular detergent has higher water content and creates more suds which can damage or overflow your washing machine. Plus, it can leave a soapy residue on your clothes which can cause wear and tear quickly.

Always use HE detergent in an HE washer.

Can You Use HE Detergent In a Regular Washer?

On the other hand, HE is compatible with a regular washing machine. These detergents use the same ingredients to wash the clothes just as well. They will produce less suds, but that doesn’t result in less efficient cleaning. It’s just the way the detergent works.

Expert Advice

You might need to use more laundry detergent per load since regular washers use more water. Try using ¼ cup of HE detergent for an average size load in a normal washing machine. This may vary depending on your machine and detergent brand, so experiment with the detergent amount until it produces enough suds and cleans your clothes well.

How Much Detergent to Use In An HE Washer

This is very dependent on the brand of detergent you’re using. Before you eyeball the amount, we recommend taking time to read the packaging instructions so that you end up using the correct amount.

In general, for HE machines, use around two teaspoons of HE laundry detergent for a regular load of laundry. This might seem minuscule, but remember, these appliances aren’t using much water.

The bottom line is less is more. Since HE washers don’t use as much water, putting in too much detergent can be overwhelming for the machine. There might not be enough water per cycle to wash away all the soap residue. If this happens add an extra rinse cycle to wash away the soap.

Compared to non-HE laundry detergent, you’re looking at two tablespoons of liquid detergent or four tablespoons for powder.

For Soft Water

If you live in a soft-water area, try using 1.5 teaspoons of detergent for your HE machine. Leveling down a little can result in cleaner clothes.


What is the Best HE Laundry Detergent?

There are many HE laundry detergents available, but here are our top three recommendations:

  1. Seventh Generation Laundry Detergent Packs: We’ve been using Seventh Generation in our home for years and love it. This formula uses quadruple enzymes to tackle tough, stubborn stains. These packs work in hot or cold water, and they’re made with 94 percent plant based ingredients. No fragrances, dyes, or artificial brighteners.
  2. Gain Laundry Detergent Liquid Plus Aroma Boost: This liquid detergent gives you six weeks of freshness after washing. Your clothes will smell beautiful for weeks! Plus, this detergent works in hot and cold water. Last but not least, it removes tough stains, including pet messes.
  3. Tide Ultra Stain Release Liquid Laundry Detergent: This popular detergent is designed to tackle all sorts of stains, including dirt, body oil, chocolate, and more. It can even be used to pretreat. It’s also great for hard water areas.

Can you use these HE detergents in a normal washer? You sure can! These detergents will work great in all kinds of regular machines, whether from Whirlpool, Samsung, or even an LG TurboWash.

Can You Just Water Down Regular Detergent For An HE Washer?

It might seem like you could, but we don’t recommend it. While the detergents use the same ingredients, they use different quantities and concentrations. Simply diluting normal detergent with water will not create the same result.

If you get it wrong, you can end up with excess suds, which will leave your clothes covered in residue. Plus, it can overflow your machine and damage it.

Using the wrong detergent in your HE machine could also void the warranty.

Last but not least, regular detergent in HE washers can lead to mold and mildew, as well as foul odors. There’s not enough water per cycle to wash away all the suds.

What is the Difference Between HE and Regular Washers?

The difference between HE and regular washing machines is the detergent they use. High-efficiency detergents are more powerful, last longer, and deliver a deeper clean.

How Do You Tell If Your Washer is HE?

The best way to tell if your washer is HE is to look for the sticker on the outside of the machine.

Can I Use Regular Fabric Softener In My HE Washer?

You can use a regular fabric softener in your HE washer. It won’t damage the machine and won’t over-sud the laundry.

Can You Use Baking Soda In a High-Efficiency Washer?

You can use baking soda in a High-efficiency washer. You can also use white vinegar to enhance the performance of the washing machine.

Detergent Drama

You may have thought soap is soap. But when it comes to high-efficiency washers, it’s important to get it right.

If you’ve been wondering whether HE detergent is compatible with regular washers, the answer is yes.

But is traditional detergent compatible with HE washers? Definitely not. It can ruin your machine and leave your clothes dirty.

So invest in high-quality HE detergent — you won’t regret it.

Feedback: Was This Article Helpful?
Thank You For Your Feedback!
Thank You For Your Feedback!
What Did You Like?
What Went Wrong?
Headshot of Beth McCallum

About the Author

Beth McCallum

Beth McCallum is a freelance writer & book blogger with a degree in creative writing, journalism, and English literature. Beth firmly believes that a tidy house is a tidy mind. She is always looking for new ways to sustainably clean and tidy her house, that's kind on the environment but effective in the house, too!