Aren’t Regular Laundry Soap and HE Laundry Soap Interchangeable?

Nope, absolutely not! They are not interchangeable, you should not use standard laundry detergent in your front load, high efficiency (HE) washer. HE washers require HE detergent. Using regular laundry soap in your HE washer puts you at risk for a sudsy mess and violation of your warranty.

A front-load, high-efficiency washer is not the same cleaning machine as a top load washer, thus you cannot use the same type of laundry detergent.

What’s the difference between an HE washer and a traditional washing machine?

Here are some basic differences:

  • High-efficiency machines use significantly less water (up to 80% less!) than traditional machines
  • High-efficiency machines use a tumbling action to clean the clothes instead of an agitator.
  • HE detergents are ‘low suds’ allowing clothes to tumble freely and get clean. Traditional laundry detergents create suds to get the laundry clean. When clothes are tumbling in a high-efficiency machine, the suds can actually “cushion” the clothes, preventing them from tumbling and getting completely clean.
  • HE detergents are also formulated to hold dirt and dyes in suspension, preventing them from returning to the clothing – something that regular detergents can’t do.

HE detergents are specifically engineered to work with high-efficiency washers. Using regular laundry soap, which is high-sudsing and designed to be used in greater quantities of water than an HE washer provides, is asking for trouble, specifically …

  • You risk confusing your washer cycle and thus not completing a wash cycle, not washing the clothes properly, or not rinsing thoroughly.
  • Unrinsed clothes leave residue behind that can affect the color or texture of your garments
  • Laundry soap residue on your clothing can cause skin irritation, particularly for those with sensitive skin or young children.

Basically, never use standard laundry soap in an HE washer.

Help! I accidentally added regular detergent to my HE washer!

Not realizing and running a full cycle poses risks, but you may get away clean. However, if you have just started a wash cycle and realize your mistake, it’s best to stop and follow the steps below, so as to not take any chances.

  • Immediately cancel the wash cycle.
  • Set the washer to a rinse/spin only cycle with cold water, to remove the suds from the washer.
  • Proceed with a regular washing cycle (do not add HE detergent) and cold water, in case there is sudsing detergent remaining in the wash.
  • Remove any standard laundry detergent from your laundry room so that mishap doesn’t occur again.

High-efficiency, luxury appliances have their own recommendations and operations that should be adhered to, for best performance.


Having washing machine issues? Sudsing, leaking, overflowing, spinning or not spinning, HE washer or traditional washing machine — we handle it all! Give Appliance Doctor a call and we’ll get your washer back into rotation in no time!

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