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Helpful Tips

If you've bought a high-efficiency washer, you've likely cut your laundry water and energy use in half. But if you're not using a high-efficiency detergent, your machine's performance, and some of those savings, could be going down the drain.

High-efficiency laundry detergents are specifically formulated to work in high-efficiency machines, which operate differently than conventional washers. The latter use a tub full of water and an agitating action, requiring a detergent that produces a fair amount of suds.

By contrast, a high-efficiency machine uses a tumbling action, in which the clothes pass through a relatively small amount of water. Thus these washers need a detergent that, among other things, produces much fewer suds. Use a conventional detergent in these washers and excess suds can be produced, performance can go down and, over time, damage to the machine can occur.
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“If you use a standard detergent in a high-efficiency machine, it may not clean properly, it may not rinse properly or it might trick the machine's sensors into extra rinses,” says Trevor Lesyk, sales manager of a Trail Appliances store in Calgary.

“Because a high-efficiency machine uses less water, the concentration of soil deposits in the water is much higher,” says Tide marketing specialist James Cheng. “A high-efficiency detergent has a special soil suspension agent that prevents soils from being deposited back onto the clothes and instead flushes them out in the rinse.”

Look for detergents with a high-efficiency symbol on the front – they are increasingly available in grocery stores – and follow the manufacturer's instructions for amounts to use. High-efficiency detergents for cold water washes are also now available.

Beware of detergents labeled as “high-efficiency compatible,” which are often regular-sudsing detergents. Just using less of a standard detergent is also not recommended in your high-efficiency machine.

For more information on high-efficiency detergents, check this Soap and Detergent Association link:


Look for detergents with a high-efficiency symbol on the front.