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How To Use High-Efficiency Laundry Detergents Like A Pro

At Smart O Mat, we are proud to offer high-efficiency washing machines to the people who need them. They’re great washers, but with great washing comes great responsibility. Part of that is understanding how laundry detergent can affect your wash.


In recent years, high-efficiency laundry detergents became a cornerstone of the detergent markets. You might be curious about what it is, when to use it, and whether you should use it for your next laundry batch.


What is high-efficiency laundry detergent?

High-efficiency laundry detergent, also known as HE laundry detergent, is a form of detergent designed for washing machines that use less water. This detergent foams less, contains less soap, but will still clean your clothes adequately.


How can you tell if a laundry detergent is high-efficiency?

Due to the uptick in demand for HE laundry detergent, a standardized sticker has been added to all bottles. If you’re not sure whether your detergent is HE-rated, then look for the “HE” sticker on the front or top of the detergent bottle.

Many brands also take it a step further and use the phrase “High-Efficiency” as part of the specific detergent’s name. So if you see a laundry detergent with “High-Efficiency” in the name, it’s safe to say that you have a bottle of HE laundry detergent.

PRO TIP - High-efficiency detergent bottles are generally smaller than their traditional counterparts, but may cost the same. This is because people don’t need as much HE detergent for a batch of laundry than they would for a traditional load.


Are HE detergents weaker than traditional detergents?

It’s not that they are weaker. It’s that they are built differently and are made to be used with less water. It’s like the difference between dish soap and dishwasher detergent. They both clean, but their uses are slightly different.


When should you use high-efficiency laundry detergent?

If your laundromat has high-efficiency washing machines, you absolutely need to use HE detergent. You can tell whether the washing machine is high-efficiency by looking for an “HE” on the machine.

It’s worth noting that HE laundry detergent can also be used in traditional washing machines too. However, they will offer lighter cleaning at the quantities you’d use in an HE machine. You may have to add more to get the same cleaning power. Most people use ¼ cup of HE detergent if they are working with a traditional machine.


Why do you need to use HE laundry detergents?

So, there are two main reasons why you need to use HE laundry detergent. To make things easier, we parsed out each one into differing sections.


Damage To Clothes

High-efficiency washing machines cannot handle the composition of traditional detergents. It’s just too much soap, and at times, the soap is too thick for the small amount of water that HE washers use.


If you use traditional laundry detergent in an HE machine, you will likely notice soap residue on your clothing. This can also lead to clothes that feel unusually stiff, greasy, or otherwise tattered. If you use traditional laundry soap regularly, clothes washed in a high-efficiency machine may also start to get damaged.


Damage To Machinery

Another major risk that comes with using traditional laundry detergent with HE machines deals with the foaming action. Traditional detergents foam far more than HE detergents. Regular detergents also tend to contain more soap than high-efficiency detergents do.

At first glance, this doesn’t sound too bad. However, in practice, this means that you run the risk of having your laundry’s water flow over due to excessive foaming. More than one person has destroyed a washer because they used too much traditional detergent in an HE model.

High-efficiency washing machines only use around 11 to 15 gallons of water. Traditional washing machines can use as much as 27 gallons for a single load. This means that your traditional laundry soap might end up causing an overflow faster than you think.


Warranty Voiding

Part of the reason why HE detergent use is so important deals with your machine’s warranty. Let’s say that you used traditional detergent and something bad happened—a flood, a breakage in the machinery, or waterlogging, for example.

Most washing machine manufacturers realize that using the wrong detergent can harm their machinery. They also know that people may call the warranty department after using traditional detergent the wrong way. Many will void a warranty because of that, citing improper use of machinery.

It only takes one bad use of traditional detergent to void a warranty. Tread carefully!


How should you use HE detergents in your laundry room?

In most cases, the best way to do it is to read the instructions on the box of detergent and to use them exclusively with HE washing machines. However, these tips can help you get a cleaner clean.

  • In most cases, 1 to 2 tablespoons of HE detergent will be enough for a medium-sized load. This is a good rule of thumb to know if you can’t find the box or if the detergent’s instructions wore off. However, if you see instructions on the bottle, use them instead.

  • Some detergent manufacturers now make pods and sheets with HE detergent. These are great for people who don’t want to measure detergent or who are prone to spills.

  • Stick to HE washers if you use an HE detergent. Traditional washers are plentiful and can use almost any detergent on the market. It’s usually not worth the effort to try to figure out how much extra you need.

  • If you have particularly awful stains, use a presoak before you add them to the wash. Anecdotal evidence suggests that certain HE detergents struggle with difficult stains, so knowing how to work with stain removers will help out immensely. Soaking your clothes in vinegar or using a premade presoak before you wash them will help loosen up stains and lift them out.

  • Buy HE detergents with the features your clothes need. HE detergents come in as many varieties as traditional detergents these days. You can find unscented detergents, detergents for colors, detergents with bleach alternatives…The sky’s the limit.

  • Use a laundry booster for clothes that are exceptionally grimy. This can help reduce the amount of issues you have while you wash.

  • Keep an eye on the type of HE detergent you have. Standard HE detergent will require two tablespoons. However, there are multiple types of detergents that carry the HE badge. We’ll talk about them next.


Special cases for high-efficiency detergent use

Standard HE detergent is pretty straightforward. It’s liquid, it takes only two tablespoons of liquid for a batch of laundry, and it’s easy to measure. However, there are other forms of detergent in this category worth understanding. We’ll go through the basics.


Using concentrated detergents

Concentrated high-efficiency detergents are often labeled by the multiplier it is concentrated by. For example, 2X detergent is twice as concentrated, while 10X detergent is 10 times more concentrated than standard fare.

To use this type of detergent, divide the standard amount of detergent by the multiplier to find out how much you should use. For a 2X detergent, that means you should use 1 to ½ tablespoon. For 4X, ½ tablespoon is the upper limit for detergent.


Hard water problems

Does your area have a hard water problem? If so, you need to add slightly more detergent to your laundry—about 25 percent more. So, for a standard batch of laundry in an HE washing machine, this would mean using 2 ½ tablespoons instead of the typical 2.


On a similar note, you may need to adjust your detergent if your water is unusually soft. Adding 25 percent less detergent can help you get a cleaner, fresher batch of laundry. With that said, extremely soft water is highly unusual.


Using DIY HE detergent

Honestly, DIY high-efficiency detergent is not a common thing and it’s not always a good idea. If you make your own powder washing soap, you might need to switch to commercial detergent if you have an HE washing machine.

There are recipes for DIY high-efficiency detergent on the internet. If these recipes do not have a specific amount of detergent you should use, stick to 1 to 2 tablespoons.

PRO TIP - It’s important to read your washing machine’s manual. Using homemade detergents or traditional laundry detergent in a HE washer can void the warranty in some models. This is yet another reason we strongly encourage people to stick to HE soap.


Using pods or sheets

You might already be familiar with detergent pods. While these pods are more common among traditional laundry detergents, manufacturers are starting to make them for high-efficiency washing machines too.

An even newer advancement in the world of laundry detergent is laundry detergent sheets. These are basically pressed detergents that are shaped into sheets. When the sheets hit water, they dissolve into detergent, leaving no mess behind.

Both pods and sheets are starting to be made for high-efficiency washing machines. Regardless of which one you choose, you’ll find that these take out any guesswork or measuring from the laundry process. One pod (or sheet) per load is perfect. They’re all pre-measured.


Extremely soiled clothing

We all have moments where our clothes get way dirtier than we ever expected, and it’s terrible. The first instinct most of us have is to add more detergent to the laundry barrel and give it an extra long spin. However, this does not work out well with HE washing machines.

If anything, trying that will cause your clothing to end up with more stains. It also could end up harming your washing machine. A better option would be to do a heavy stain pre-treatment like a soak, or to use a stain-specific spot treatment.

Work towards getting those stains out before you put them in the wash. Then, was them with the same amount of detergent you would normally use. If you cannot remove the stains with ease, then it may be wise to try to hire someone professional.


Are HE detergents hard to find?

Thankfully, no. HE detergents are very commonplace and can usually be found in almost any grocery store. With that said, you might not be able to find them in convenience stores or gas stations.

If you tend to pick up laundry detergent on the run, it may be wise to make a grocery list or get it delivered to your home. In some situations, you can also buy HE detergent from a vending machine. So, you should have some leeway on how to source your detergent.


Is getting a high-efficiency washing machine worth it?

Considering how much you need to know about HE detergents, you might be wondering whether getting a high-efficiency washing machine makes sense. Truthfully? It does. In fact, it can save you and your clients a ton of money.

A single family can conserve as much as 11,000 gallons of water per year by switching to an HE washing machine. If you have a lot of families doing a lot of laundry, then you could see serious savings when it comes to water consumption. Besides, it’s an environmentally-friendly thing to do.

It’s also good to know that many people prefer HE machines simply because they are associated with luxury. If you are an apartment owner, mentioning that you have high-efficiency machines can be an excellent selling point for prospective renters.


Get better laundry with Smart O Mat.

Are you worried about rising water costs? Want to attract people to your building with state-of-the-art amenities? Smart O Mat offers a simple, easy way to get HE washing machines (or traditional washers) right into your building at an affordable price.

Are you ready to improve your laundry experience? We’re here for you. It all starts with a phone call that lets us learn what you need and how we can provide it for you. Call us today to find out more.




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