What is the Difference between High Efficiency and Regular Detergent?


High Efficiency (HE) laundry detergent is specially formulated for HE washing machines, which use less water than regular washers. You should never use regular detergent in an HE machine due to differences in how they suspend soils and dyes in water and the amount of suds generated.

1.HE Detergent vs. Regular: The Basics

You’ve seen the across the laundry aisle, but do you really know the basic science behind the difference between high efficiency detergent and regular? All laundry detergents are designed to freshen clothes, remove odors, brighten fabrics and wipe out stains as they clean, but the way they do this varies.


HE detergent can be used in all washers, but traditional detergents cannot. Always use HE detergent with HE washing machines. These detergents are specifically designed to be compatible with low-water conditions. Traditional detergents are formulated to hold soils and dyes that wash off your clothes and are suspended in wash water in the higher water volumes generated in top-load, non-HE agitator washers. HE laundry detergents are formulated to be low-sudsing and quick dispersing to hold soils and dyes suspended in wash water in the low water volumes found in HE washers. All ARM & HAMMER detergents are high efficiency detergents, so whether you prefer liquidpaks or powder your clothes will get a deep clean and you will save water*.


Using regular detergents in HE washers can create too many suds. This can interfere with the machine’s tumbling action, which reduces stain removal performance and rinsing efficiency. Additionally, excess suds can be harmful to the machine due to risk of overheating, excess use of water, and residue build-up that can cause malfunctions or damage.


In contrast, high efficiency detergent can be used in regular washers. You may notice fewer suds but clothes will be just as clean as if you were using a traditional formula.

2.HE vs. Regular Washers

So how do you know which type of washer is which? Traditional washers are always top-loaders and never front-loaders. High efficiency washers tend to be front-load washers, though there are some high-efficiency top loaders. The difference in a HE top-loader vs. a regular top-loader is the space inside the drum. Most HE top-loaders are designed to handle low-water volumes and do not have agitators, which gives them more space for larger loads.


Before using any detergent in any type of washer, ensure you’ve read the manufacturer’s guide to know the proper use and care of your machine, how much detergent to use and what type of detergent can be used.


Check out our facts about high efficiency washing machines for more information on HE vs. traditional washers.

3.HE vs Traditional Detergent: Which is Right for Me?

High efficiency detergent is the ONLY choice for high efficiency washers, but if you have a traditional washer it really comes down to personal preference and what you feel gives you the best clean.


ARM & HAMMER Laundry Detergents are formulated for high efficiency washers and are compatible with all machines. Below are some of the different types of formulas & forms so you can choose which is the best high efficiency detergent for you:


*When using High Efficiency washing machines

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