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How Do I Choose the Best HE Laundry Detergent?

HE detergent can be very effective at removing stains.
A bottle and cup of powdered laundry detergent.
Sodium tripolyphosphate, which is often included in laundry detergent.
Liquid HE laundry detergent.
A HE washing machine.
It's somewhat uncommon for a top-loading washing machine to use HE laundry detergent.
HE laundry detergent.
A high efficiency washing machine.
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  • Written By: Jeremy Laukkonen
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 30 October 2014
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The most important factor to consider when looking for the best high efficiency (HE) laundry detergent is the amount of suds a product produces during a wash cycle. In order to find a good HE laundry detergent for your front-loading washer, you should look for a product that is within your budget, and which also produces a low level of suds. Another important consideration is whether anyone in your household has sensitive skin, since in that case you will want to look for an HE laundry detergent without any harsh chemicals, scents, or dyes. You will further need to decide whether to buy a liquid or powder detergent, since both of these varieties are available in high efficiency versions.

High efficiency laundry detergents are a class of products that are intended for use primarily with front-loading washing machines. Some top-loading machines are also designed for use with high efficiency detergents, though they are less common. The main difference between HE laundry detergent and regular detergent is the level of suds that are produced during a wash cycle. Traditional laundry detergent typically produces a lot of suds, which can actually damage high efficiency washing machines, and lead to the growth of mildew and mold. This is due to the fact that the additional suds can escape the drum and leave residual moisture within the washing machine.

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The best way to find a laundry detergent that will not damage your front-loader is to look for products that are specifically marketed as HE, or high efficiency, detergents. If a product claims to produce a low level of suds, it will typically also be well suited for use in a front-loading or high efficiency top-loading machine. Expensive products are not necessarily better, as long as the detergent you choose is specifically designed for use with high efficiency washing machines.

If anyone in your household has sensitive skin, then you may also want to take that into consideration. In this case, you should look for an HE laundry detergent that lacks any harsh chemicals, or other compounds that people in your household are sensitive to. It is still necessary to select a low-suds or high efficiency product though, even if you are making your decision based primarily on skin sensitivities. This may limit your options, however, and a more expensive product may be your only choice.

Another important decision you need to make is whether to choose a powder or liquid HE laundry detergent. If your washing machine specifies one over the other, then you should be sure to follow that recommendation. It is typically also better to choose powdered detergent over liquid detergent if your high efficiency washing machine has a delayed start option. Liquid is usually a better choice though if you are using a cold water wash cycle, since powders sometimes fail to fully dissolve in cool water.

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