Blue high efficiency detergent and an opened dispenser

What is HE detergent? Comparing HE vs. regular detergent

By now, you’ve most likely heard of high-efficiency (HE) detergent, but what is all the hype about, and should you really be using it? The short answer—yes. 

Learn more about using high-efficiency detergent, how it works and its benefits below.

Blue HE detergent flowing into a dispenser Blue HE detergent flowing into a dispenser

What is HE detergent?

High-efficiency laundry detergent is specifically formulated for high-efficiency washing machines, allowing you to reach an optimal cleansing in low water levels and a shorter cycle.

HE detergent also yields fewer suds than standard detergent and disperses dirt and dyes quickly, minimizing the likelihood of soils redepositing on your garments.

How does HE detergent work?

HE detergent functions by producing less sudsing than regular detergent. While regular detergent may also effectively clean your clothes, it may lengthen the washing cycle and utilize more water than necessary. In addition to HE vs. regular detergent, learn more about the differences between powdered vs. liquid laundry detergent.

Here is how HE laundry detergent works to get your clothes clean:

  • Creates suds to help break apart stains and release soils.

  • Suspends stains, soils and dyes in water, so they’re not redeposited on clothes.

  • Freshens clothes to keep them looking their best.

Colorful clothes soaking in a washer Colorful clothes soaking in a washer

How do I know if my detergent is high efficiency?

When shopping for laundry detergent, look for the “HE” symbol on the container or packaging to ensure the detergent is made for your HE washer. The HE symbol is comprised of a lowercase “h” and “e” inside a circle.

Can you use regular detergent in an HE washer?

No. Regular detergent shouldn’t be used in HE washers because it produces too many suds in low water levels. This can potentially lengthen the wash cycle, affect the cleaning performance or overflow the machine. High-efficiency washers work at peak performance with HE detergent.

Can you use HE detergent in a regular washer?

Yes! If your washer doesn’t require HE detergent, you can still use it for an optimal washing cycle. Since regular washers use more water, you’ll need to use more HE detergent per load than you would in a high-efficiency washer.

Person pouring Swash® Laundry Detergent into a dispenser Person pouring Swash® Laundry Detergent into a dispenser

How much HE detergent should you use?

When using HE detergent in a regular washer, you’ll need about 1/4 cup for a normal-sized load. There might be fewer suds, but you’ll still get a good clean.

For a normal-sized load in a high-efficiency washing machine, the recommended HE detergent amount is usually 2 tablespoons.

However, the recommended dosage is also dependent on the detergent concentration level. Different types of detergents may have different concentrations.

Please consult your owner’s manual or detergent manufacturer’s recommendations to better understand the proper detergent amount for your washer model.

For example, Swash® Laundry Detergent from Whirlpool Corporation* is 8x concentrated, so you need less than regular detergent. Swash® Laundry Detergent is safe for all washing machines, including HE.

*Swash and the recommended brands are owned and distributed by Whirlpool Corporation.

Shop Swash® Laundry Detergent

Tips for using HE detergent

When using HE detergent in your high-efficiency washer, there are a few more guidelines to follow for optimal results:

  • Don’t mix powder and liquid detergents in the same dispenser at the same time as this may clog the dispenser.


  • Use softener dispensing agents in your HE washer only if your use and care guide recommends them.
  • If you’re looking for tips on how to cut oil and grease out of clothes, follow our step-by-step guide.


Care Tip:

Think about washing your hands

If you use too much water, you’ll dilute the soap before it can clean your hands.

Care better with HE

If you’re looking for a new high-efficiency washing machine, Whirlpool brand can help. 

Shop our washing machines to find the right HE model for your family, or learn more about the innovative washer features, like the 2-in-1 Removable Agitator, that can help you handle laundry day with just a little more ease.

Find out how much water an HE washing machine uses and other tips for using HE washers.

Shop Whirlpool® HE Washing Machines

More laundry tips and tricks

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