Can I Use Regular Soap In An HE Washer?

By: The Cleancult Team

August 16, 2018

Many people wonder if they can use regular detergent in a high-efficiency washer. As a matter of fact, what is a High-Efficiency Washer? What does that even mean? And if we have to use special laundry detergent on them, are there any alternative detergents for these types of machines or do we always have to use special HE Detergents? Well, there’s definitely a difference between regular laundry detergents and those designated as “High Efficiency” or with the HE logo. Keep on reading so you know when to use each of those and if they’re interchangeable.

Are HE soaps and regular detergents interchangeable?

The short answer is very simple. Nope. They are not. In fact, for your washer’s and your clothes’ sake you should never use regular laundry detergents in a high-efficiency washer. Not even green laundry detergents, regular laundry detergent pacs or tablets, or powder laundry detergents. ONLY HE detergents should be used in these washers. And why? Well, because either top-loading or front-loading High-Efficiency washers are designed to use very low water levels and a tumbling washing action. For this reason, HE detergents are created to be especially low--sudsing and formulated to provide clean washloads in these energy-saving washers.

Regular laundry detergents, on the other hand, are formulated to be high-sudsing and to be used in greater quantities of water. So, the use of any other kind of detergent in a high-efficiency washer, not only can confuse your washer cycle and stop the machine, but can prevent it from washing properly or rinsing thoroughly. A failure to rinse away thoroughly the clothes could result in damage to your clothes and even in damage to your health! Leftover chemicals in your clothes can both affect the color and texture of your garments and penetrate on your skin, where they could cause allergic reactions or even eczema or other skin conditions!

But fret not, these detergents are actually very easy to find in grocery stores. With the rising popularity in HE Washers (because of their savings on energy and water, no doubt!) brands have come to release readily available HE versions of their most popular detergents. Even green laundry detergents and laundry pods have HE-versions. In fact, most laundry pods nowadays are certified to be used in HE machines. When buying laundry detergents, watch for the HE symbol but also ensure that all the soap bottles you pick up from the shelf each carry the HE logo.


Even though you might be tempted to use more detergent than you normally would because of the low sudsing qualities of HE detergent, refrain from that! There is no clear tests that point out to suds being synonym with cleanliness. What actually cleans your clothes is the friction between garments and water that happens when the washer is on the washing cycle.

If you see a mass of bubbles or realize that you’ve used the wrong detergent, don’t panic. It’s simple cancel the washing cycle, and restart the HE washer and select the spin cycle. Afterwards, follow with a rinse/spin cycle with cold water to remove the suds from the wash load. Finally, proceed with a regular washing cycle with cold water, to remove any leftover detergent.