Top 5 High-efficiency (HE) Detergents

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It is essential to use HE detergent for washing with an HE machine. SimonSkafar/Getty Images

High-efficiency (HE) washing machines were once a novelty, but now they are widely found in most households. These machines are unique because they use up to 80% less water than traditional washing machines, which translates to savings on the water bill. Modern HE washers use between 13 and 17 gallons (49 and 64 liters) of water per wash, compared to the 40 gallons (151 liters) used by washers that were manufactured 20 years ago. The clothes are tumbled and gently move around in a shallow pool of water instead of using a large water-filled tub with an agitator. Additionally, HE washers spin faster, leaving clothes with less water, resulting in shorter drying times.

It is necessary to use a special HE-branded detergent when washing clothes in an HE washer. Otherwise, too many suds may be created, causing a mess and shortening the life of the machine. So, which detergent should you use? Let’s take a look at some of the best detergents available for high-efficiency washers.

5: Tide Hygienic Clean Heavy Duty 10X Liquid Laundry Detergent

Tide is the current market leader, with various types of HE and standard detergents to its credit. This incarnation uses the power of 10 “concentrated actives” to achieve an extra-hygienic clean. Tide Hygienic Clean Heavy Duty claims to get “between fibers to clean hidden dirt you didn’t even know was there.” This formula is best for clothes that need a little extra cleaning effort.

HE Fact:

HE washing machines create more suds than traditional machines since they tumble instead of agitate. HE detergent must be low-sudsing.

4: All 2X Ultra Oxi-Active

All 2X Ultra Oxi-Active is another concentrated liquid detergent. The oxi component is a bleach alternative and stain lifter, said to remove grass, blood, wine and chocolate. In fact, the product description says it fights “100 percent of stain types.” So, no matter what the offending substance, All Oxi is likely to take care of business.

HE Fact:

Using a smaller amount of regular detergent will not work in an HE washer since it is designed to clean more effectively in low-water conditions. HE detergents are the only solution.

3: Gain Botanicals Laundry Detergent

Gain Botanicals is Gain’s first entry into the “natural botanicals” laundry detergent market. It has no dyes, phosphates, or brighteners, and has a lovely scent of white tea and lavender. 65% of the ingredients in this formula are plant-based, making it ideal for people with delicate skin. This detergent can be used in both HE and traditional washers.

HE Fact:

Using non-HE detergent in your HE washing machine can void your machine’s warranty. The reason for this is that oversudsing can cause a residue buildup in the machine’s rubber gasket, which can lead to mold growth and bad odor. Therefore, it’s crucial to use the appropriate detergent for your machine.

2: Arm & Hammer Clean & Simple Crisp Clean Liquid Laundry Detergent

Arm & Hammer’s Clean & Simple Crisp Clean Liquid Laundry Detergent is an excellent choice for budget-conscious consumers who want to avoid unnecessary chemicals and dyes. This detergent is free of dyes, GMOs, parabens, brighteners, phosphates, and preservatives. It only contains six ingredients, including an active stain fighter, baking soda, water softener, gentle fragrance, and a cleaning agent.

HE Fact:

If you use regular soap in an HE washing machine, it may not rinse properly from your clothes since the machine uses less water. This can cause soap bubbles to remain on your clothes, which is not ideal. Therefore, it’s essential to use HE detergent in your HE washing machine.

1: Seventh Generation Laundry Packs Free & Clear

Seventh Generation’s HE laundry detergent is an excellent option for those who prioritize ethical household cleaners. The brand is cruelty-free, plant-based, bio-based, hypoallergenic, and dermatologist-tested. In fact, it contains 94 percent plant-based ingredients. However, it is more expensive than other detergent brands.

HE Fact:

You can use HE detergent in a traditional washing machine, but not the other way around. HE detergent is usually concentrated, which can save you money. However, it’s important to remember that it’s low-sudsing, so your clothes may not have as much fragrance as you’re used to.

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Originally Published: Oct 5, 2010

Frequently Asked Questions About Laundry Detergent

Which laundry detergent is considered the best option? According to Wirecutter, Tide Ultra Stain Release has proven to be more effective than 16 other detergents they tested, especially in cold water, in lifting various types of stains.

What is a high-efficiency laundry detergent? High-efficiency laundry detergents are specifically designed for washing clothes with minimal water usage. Most washing machine manufacturers suggest using HE detergents only. The use of regular detergents in an HE washer could cause an overflow.

Is laundry powder better than liquid detergent? Powder and liquid detergents have some similarities. Powder detergents are better at removing mud, while liquid detergents are more effective at getting rid of greasy stains. Powder detergent may be less expensive, but liquid detergent allows for easier pretreatment of stains. Powder detergent can eventually cause clogging issues. Ultimately, it depends on personal preference.

Do laundry pods really work? Laundry pods are effective and convenient, although they may be more expensive per load than liquid or powder detergents.

Can I use regular detergent in a washing machine? It is advisable to only use detergents recommended by your washing machine’s manufacturer. The use of incompatible detergents could prevent your washer from properly washing and rinsing your laundry, and in some cases, lead to overflowing. It is not worth the risk.

Additional Information

Related Articles

  • How Washing Machines Work
  • How to Repair a Washing Machine
  • Top 10 Appliances We Can’t Live Without
  • Do Washers Control Allergens?


  • Farrell, Mary HJ. “How to Cut Your Water Use in Half.” Consumer Reports. April 21, 2019 (Jan. 28, 2022)
  • Tide. “What is a High Efficiency Washer?” 2022 (Jan. 28, 2022)


1. What are High-efficiency (HE) detergents?

High-efficiency (HE) detergents are specially formulated to work with high-efficiency washing machines. These machines use less water and energy than traditional washers, and HE detergents are designed to produce less suds, which can interfere with the machine’s washing and rinsing performance. HE detergents are also more concentrated than traditional detergents, so less product is needed for each load of laundry.

2. Why should I use HE detergent?

If you have a high-efficiency washing machine, it is important to use HE detergent because it is specifically designed to work with these machines. Using traditional detergents can cause excess sudsing, which can lead to longer wash times, poor rinsing, and even machine damage. HE detergents are also more environmentally friendly, as they use less water and energy per load of laundry.

3. What are some benefits of using HE detergent?

Using HE detergent can help reduce your environmental impact by using less water and energy per load of laundry. It can also help extend the life of your high-efficiency washing machine by reducing the amount of suds and residue left behind. Additionally, because HE detergents are more concentrated, you can use less product per load of laundry, which can save you money in the long run.

4. What are some top-rated HE detergents?

Some top-rated HE detergents include Tide HE Turbo Clean, Gain Flings! HE, Persil ProClean HE, Seventh Generation Natural HE, and Arm & Hammer Clean Burst HE. These detergents are specifically formulated to work with high-efficiency washing machines and provide excellent cleaning results while using less water and energy per load of laundry.

5. How do I use HE detergent?

HE detergent should be used according to the manufacturer’s instructions, which usually involve using less product than you would with traditional detergents. Most HE detergents come with a measuring cap or dispenser that is marked with the appropriate amount of detergent for a specific load size. It is important not to overfill the dispenser or use too much detergent, as this can lead to excess sudsing and poor washing and rinsing performance.

6. Can I use HE detergent in a traditional washing machine?

Yes, you can use HE detergent in a traditional washing machine, but it is not necessary. Traditional detergents are formulated to work with the higher water levels and washing times of these machines, so using HE detergent may not provide any additional benefits. However, if you have sensitive skin or are looking for a more environmentally friendly option, you may want to consider using HE detergent in your traditional washing machine.

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