Can you use regular Tide detergent in a high efficiency (HE) washing machine? This is a common question many people have when switching to a new HE washer. The short answer is yes, you can use regular Tide in an HE washer, but it may not be the best option.
HE washers are designed differently than traditional top-loading machines, so they require detergents formulated specifically for them. Using the wrong detergent can lead to problems over time. However, in a pinch, regular detergent will get your clothes clean without immediately damaging the washer.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about using regular Tide detergent in an HE washer:
- The differences between HE and regular washers
- Why HE washers need special detergent
- What happens when you use regular Tide in an HE washer
- When it’s okay to use regular Tide in an HE washer
- Tips for switching to HE detergent
- Recommended HE detergents to use
- Answers to frequently asked questions
Let’s start by looking at what makes HE washers unique.
What’s the Difference Between HE and Regular Washers?
HE washers have quite a few differences from traditional top-loading machines:
- Smaller Tubs – HE tubs are much more compact to allow for less water usage. They hold between 3-4 cubic feet compared to 5-6 cubic feet for regular washers.
- Low-Water Wash Cycles – HE washers use much less water – roughly 15-30 gallons per load instead of 40 gallons.
- High-Speed Spin Cycles – HE washers spin up to 5 times faster than regular ones, removing more water.
- Low-Sudsing Detergent – HE washers require low-sudsing detergent to work effectively with low-water cycles.
- No Agitator – Most HE washers have no center agitator, relying on tumbling for cleaning.
These differences allow HE washers to use less water and energy while still getting clothes clean. But they also mean you can’t use just any detergent.
Why Do HE Washers Require Special Detergent?
HE washers need special low-sudsing detergent because regular formulas create too many suds. The main reasons are:
- Less Water to Dilute Detergent – With so little water, regular detergent over-suds too much. The suds can clog internal parts.
- High-Speed Spin Cycles – These can whip up excess suds, especially with regular high-sudsing detergents.
- No Agitator – Agitators normally help break down suds. With no agitator, suds build up easily.
- Low-Water Rinses – Remaining suds are harder to rinse away with low-water cycles. They can get trapped in clothes or machine parts.
To prevent over-sudsing issues, HE detergents contain special low-foam surfactants, enzymes, and polymers. They clean effectively with a fraction of the suds.
What Happens When You Use Regular Tide in an HE Washer?
Now you know why HE detergent exists. But what actually happens if you use regular high-sudsing Tide? Here are the potential issues:
- Over-Sudsing – This is the #1 problem. The extra suds can overflow out the door or back up inside the machine.
- Reduced Cleaning – Excess suds cushion clothes away from wash water, interfering with cleaning. They may prevent detergent from dissolving fully.
- Trapped Suds in Clothes – Suds left in clothes can make them feel sticky, stiff, or scratchy. Rinsing may not fully remove them.
- Clogged Pumps – Suds can clog the water pumps and internal hoses, leading to malfunctions. The machine may not drain or fill properly.
- Residue Buildup – Excess suds and undissolved detergent can leave sticky residue on the drum, pipes, and other parts.
- Musty Smells – Suds trapped inside the machine can grow mold and bacteria, causing unpleasant odors.
The good news is that a occasional use of regular Tide won’t immediately break your HE washer. But over time, the suds-related problems above can cause performance to decline or even lead to costly repairs.
When Is It Okay to Use Regular Tide in an HE Washer?
Though not ideal, there are some circumstances when using regular Tide in an HE washer should be fine:
- You’re Completely Out of HE Detergent – If you have no other choice, go ahead and use regular Tide rather than washing with no detergent.
- Using Only a Little for Heavily Soiled Clothes – A small amount of regular Tide along with your HE detergent can help boost cleaning power when clothes are very dirty.
- Washing a Very Small Load – For just a couple items, the low water volume reduces over-sudsing risks.
- Running an Extra Rinse Cycle – Adding a rinse cycle helps remove more excess suds.
- Planning to Run a Maintenance Cycle – Regular Tide once in a while won’t hurt if you routinely do maintenance washes.
But unless it’s an emergency, you should avoid making regular Tide your daily HE washer detergent. For everyday loads, choose one made specifically for HE machines.
Tips for Switching to HE Detergent
If you’ve been using regular Tide but want to change to an HE formula, here are some useful tips:
- Read Labels Carefully – Terms like “high efficiency” or “low sudsing” indicate it’s HE detergent. Look for the HE logo from the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency).
- Choose a Similar Brand – Try sticking with a familiar brand like Tide HE or Gain HE for an easier transition. The performance will be comparable to what you’re used to.
- Start with a Smaller Bottle – In case you or family members don’t like it at first, get a smaller bottle before committing to a huge one.
- Use Less Than Regular Detergent – HE detergents are highly concentrated. Use only about 2/3 as much as you did with regular Tide.
- Try a Fragrance-Free Kind – These won’t clash with scented products you add like dryer sheets or scent boosters.
- Give it Time to Adjust – Your clothes and washer may need a few cycles to get used to new HE detergent before you see optimal performance.
- Do Occasional Maintenance Washes – Run a hot water cycle monthly with bleach or vinegar to prevent residue buildup.
With a little trial and error, you should find an HE detergent that works well for your laundry needs.
Recommended HE Detergents to Use
When choosing an HE detergent, look for top brands specifically formulated for the low-sudsing needs of HE machines. Here are some popular, well-performing options:
- Benefits: Trusted cleaning from the top brand, available in liquid or powder
- Scents: Original, Spring Meadow, Mountain Breeze, Oxi, etc.
- Key Features: Proprietary Advanced Cleaning System fights stains, helps remove residues
- Benefits: Provides excellent cleaning and fresh scents
- Scents: Original, Fireworks, Island Fresh, etc.
- Key Features: Uniquely engineered to dissolve fast, GainBottle combines liquid detergent and stain remover
Persil ProClean HE
- Benefits: Powerful stain-fighting formula, safe for most fabrics
- Scents: Original, Fresh, Sensitive Skin
- Key Features: Contains protease enzyme and hydrogen peroxide for exceptional cleaning
Arm & Hammer HE Clean Burst
- Benefits: Helps maximize freshness, convenient liquid form
- Scents: Clean Burst, Fresh Scent
- Key Features: Baking soda-powered, dissolves rapidly for effective low-water washing
ALL HE Liquid
- Benefits: Affordable option from trusted brand
- Scents: Free Clear, Fresh Scent, Sparkling Ocean
- Key Features: Specially designed suds-control system, great for sensitive skin
Look for an HE detergent with the features and performance you want at a price that fits your budget. With a quality low-sudsing formula, you can get all the cleaning power you need for an HE machine.
FAQs About Using Regular Tide in an HE Washer
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about using regular Tide in an HE washer:
Can I use regular Tide Pods in an HE washer?
No, you should avoid regular Tide Pods or any pods not specifically labeled as HE. The outer film doesn’t dissolve as readily in low-water cycles. Pods may get trapped in drums or clog pumps.
Is it okay to use regular Tide for just the prewash cycle?
No, it’s best to use HE detergent for all cycles, including prewash. Any excess suds can remain in the drum and cause issues for subsequent cycles.
Can I mix some regular Tide with HE detergent as a “booster”?
Not recommended. Adding even a small amount of regular Tide to an HE wash can create more suds than the machine is designed for. Use an additive like OxiClean instead for stubborn stains.
How soon after installation can I start using HE detergent?
Begin using HE detergent right away after installing an HE washer. Don’t wait to switch because using regular Tide, even for a few washes, can start causing buildup issues.
What’s the worst that can happen with regular Tide?
In a worst-case scenario, a major suds overflow can leak out the door seal and all over the floor. Excess suds circulating through the pump may require a repair visit to disassemble and clean out the pump.
The Bottom Line
While you can use regular Tide in a high efficiency washing machine, it’s really best to stick with detergents specially formulated for HE machines. They’re designed to effectively clean clothes in low-water cycles without causing an excess of suds.
Switching to an HE detergent like Tide HE is simple and prevents possible machine problems down the road. With so many great options, you can easily find one with performance and scent you love! Just be sure to read labels and follow dosage directions carefully. Your clothes and washer will thank you!