With the increasing popularity of front-loading washing machines, high efficiency laundry detergent is gaining in importance because they are required in these machines. Front-loading machines initially cost more than top loaders, but save a great deal of water over time. The average top loader uses 40 to 50 gallons of water per load, and top loaders use only 25 gallons. This is an important difference both in terms of economy and in terms of protecting the environment.
What Is High Efficiency Laundry Detergent?
High efficiency detergent is formulated to produce fewer suds than conventional laundry detergent. This is important when you have a front-loading, high efficiency washing machine. These machines do not use enough water to efficiently rinse the suds created by conventional detergent. Manufacturers of front-loading washers recommend that you use only high efficiency detergent in their machines for both optimum cleaning and to avoid creating too many suds. High efficiency detergent can be used in some top-loading washers; however, this is generally not recommended. The cost per load is likely to be higher, because more high efficiency detergent will be needed per load in a top loading washer. The website The Laundry Alternative, Inc. has a detailed discussion of high efficiency detergent.
Brands of High Efficiency Detergent
Most major laundry detergent manufacturers now offer high efficiency detergent, as well as conventional detergent. The following brands feature high efficiency versions:
- Amway SA8
- Arm & Hammer
- Kirkland (Costco's house brand)
- Mountain Green
- Seventh Generation
High Efficiency Detergent Reviews
The website Consumer Search has detergent reviews for high efficiency washing machines, including all front loaders and a few top loaders. They rated the following high efficiency detergents as the best:
- Tide HE with Bleach Alternative Liquid Laundry Detergent - at 37 cents per load, it was rated highly for stain removal
- Tide HE Liquid Detergent - at 30 cents per load it performed well, but not as well as the Tide with Bleach Alternative
- Gain HE Original Fresh - at 19 cents per load it did not perform as well as Tide
- Kirkland Signature Ultra 2X - at 16 cents per load it performed almost as well as Gain
The Diaper Jungle has a thorough discussion of the use of high efficiency detergent with cloth diapers. They provide a rating chart for various high efficiency detergents, and they also have a useful discussion of the pros and cons of using a front loading washer and high efficiency detergent for diapers. Even though this site is dedicated to laundering cloth diapers, much of the information here can be applied more generally to use of HE detergents.
Other Factors in Choosing HE Detergent
If you have a top-loading washing machine, you'll need to choose a high efficiency laundry detergent carefully. Check reviews at online sites, read your manufacturer's recommendations, and talk to other consumers before selecting a detergent. Rememebr water hardness, load size, and the type of clothing you wash are the major factors to consider when choosing your detergent.