Can You Use High Efficiency Detergent In A Regular Washer?

Some of the uninformed decisions we make at home can make or break a lot of things. Take for example choosing to use regular detergent as a substitute for a dishwasher detergent, or deciding to use domestos cleaner in a washing machine for disinfection. 

This can cause a breakdown of the machine and no manufacturer would ever have the time to listen to fish pleas. 

When it comes to using a high-efficiency detergent in a regular washer, it’s doable actually, but don’t expect to have the same washing efficiency as you would in a high-efficiency washer. Additionally, standard washers would require more quantities of high-efficiency washing machine detergent to be able to match the right dose for a specific load. 

And the rest of the article, you’ll learn more about using high-efficiency laundry detergents in a standard washing machine, what alternatives you can use at home when you run out of laundry detergent, and also the interesting question of whether or not you can use standard detergent in a high-efficiency washing machine.

It’s best to use High-Efficiency (HE) detergents in High-efficiency washing machines, but it will also work for standard washer too. 

High-efficiency laundry detergents are designed specifically with high-efficiency washers in mind. So don’t expect them to work perfectly in standard washers, although most of the time you won’t be able to notice any difference in the wash performance when you use a high-efficiency laundry detergent in the standard washer, except maybe when you have a large load to tackle. 

High efficiency machines are designed to save water and energy. Because of that, their detergents are designed to be highly concentrated and be able to work in low quantities of water.

If you’re using a high efficiency laundry detergent and a standard washer, you may be required to use a bit more of the detergent than if you’re using it in a HE washer. The maximum you should ever use for a small to medium loads is ¼ cups however. 

Can I use regular detergent in a HE washer?

While you can use high-efficiency laundry detergent in a standard washer, the opposite is not true, meaning that you cannot use standard laundry detergents in a high-efficiency washing machine. 

High-efficiency washing machines work with low water, and because standard laundry detergents produce a lot of suds, you’ll be dealing with a whole lot of problems when you use it there. 

For instance, you’ll have so much suds that prevents some kind of soiling from being flushed away with the wash washer. These will end up redepositing on your clothes and making them look dirty after washing! 

Too much suds will also trigger more rinse cycles which means more water and energy consumption— defeating the purpose of purchasing the high-efficiency washing machine in the first place.

Another thing is that the machine will grow mold and odor causing bacteria easily because not all of the suds will be flushed out completely from it, and those that are left out will serve as breeding ground for pathogens to thrive and cause whatever problems they want to cause.

Another thing is that the suds would impede cleaning of the clothes, so consistent reliance on standard detergents in a high-efficiency washing machine will result in clothes that easily accumulate soiling and smell even after washing, because they weren’t cleaned properly to begin with.

And these are just some of the problems you’ll encounter when you use a standard detergent in a high-efficiency washing machine.

What can you use as an alternative to laundry detergent?

When you notice that you’ve run out of laundry detergent, don’t freak out, as there are so many alternatives you could use to achieve a decent cleaning on your clothes. 

Before we begin to list them out however, you want to make sure you’ve done the homework of extracting as much detergent from the bottle as possible, because most of the time, you actually have enough dose in there to be able to run a decent batch of laundry for you. 

So add a little water into the bottle and shake, then pour it into the washer water and do the laundry. If the laundry returns dirty, use any of the alternatives we’ll provide below.

Have some of them. 

Baking soda and hot water

You can use baking soda and hot water to wash your clothes, but the clothes have to be lightly soiled otherwise it won’t work. 

To use baking soda and water, fill up the washer with hot water and then add one half cup of baking soda into the water. Add in the laundry and run a heavy wash cycle (if the nature of cloth permits). Baking soda will work to remove odor and light stains from the clothes. 

Dishwashing detergent like Dawn

I bet you never knew that you could use dishwashing liquid to wash your clothes. They’re perfectly safe to use for cleaning clothes as they are mild. 

What you shouldn’t do when washing with dishwashing detergent is to use them in the washer, because they’ll produce too much suds that’ll cause many problems to the washer and clothes. 

With dishwashing detergents, clean by hand, since you’ll have a much better control over the amount of suds produced.


Baby shampoo is also another product you can use at home to wash clothes when your laundry detergent runs out. 

When using shampoo, follow the same procedure as you followed for dishwashing liquid, meaning that you shouldn’t use them in any type of washer!  

They’ll produce too much suds that’ll cause problems for the clothes and the washing machine. 

Final Thoughts

High-efficiency detergent will work best with high-efficiency washing machines because they are formulated to specially perform in these mediums. However, they’ll do a good job at cleaning your clothes if you put them in a standard washer. 

One important thing to note is that you’ll end up using far more detergent than you would if you were using a high-efficiency washing machine, and that’s understandable because the regular washer uses a lot of water to clean clothes, and high-efficiency detergents are designed to work with small quantity of water!