Difference between HE and Regular Laundry Detergent

By: | Updated: Jan-28, 2023
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Laundry wouldn’t be complete without some sort of detergent – either high-efficiency (HE) or regular. These two are sometimes used interchangeably, but this is a big mistake! They each have individual features and purposes.

Summary Table

HE Laundry Detergent Regular Laundry Detergent
More concentrated Less concentrated
More efficient Less efficient
Ideally used for HE washers, but can also work on regular washers Can only be used for regular washers


Laundry detergent
Laundry detergent

HE, an abbreviated term for “high efficiency,” is a highly-concentrated, low-sudsing detergent formulated for high-efficiency washers.

Meanwhile, regular laundry detergent, also called normal detergent, is a type of laundry detergent used for traditional washers.

HE vs Regular Laundry Detergent

Before stocking up on detergents, it’s critical for consumers to learn the difference between HE and regular laundry detergent as they were specifically made for different washers.


Both HE and regular laundry detergents are typically made with surfactants that facilitate the removal of soil and dirt from different types of garments. However, between the two, HE detergent is more concentrated.


The difference between HE and regular laundry detergent in terms of concentration greatly impacts utility bills. As the name implies, a HE detergent is more efficient than a regular detergent since it requires less water usage. Typically, HE detergents use 12 gallons of water, while regular soaps need four to five times that amount to finish laundry cycles.

Additionally, since HE detergents are low-sudsing cleaning agents formulated to clean and rinse away quickly, HE washers don’t need to run additional cycles to complete the rinsing process. This is in contrary to regular soaps that necessitate extra rinsing cycles, adding up the water and electricity consumption.

Compatibility to Washers

HE detergent is used for HE washers, which are commonly front-loading devices with a HE logo, while regular detergents are designed for traditional top-loading washers. Although it may seem practical to use regular detergents for HE washers, this can actually lead to costly repairs. Why? Because these washers use completely different systems. Unlike HE washers that use a “tumbling” system, traditional washers use an agitating action that turns and twists clothes during the cleaning cycles. This difference places an importance on using the right detergent.

Since HE washers are built for low-sudsing detergents, the excess suds from regular detergents can cause cushioning, which can prevent the washer’s tumbling system to work. More than triggering error codes, the suds can lead to residue buildups and overheating problems.

HE detergent, on the other hand, can be used for regular washers. However, it may affect fragrance since this specialized formula works best when used in a HE washer.

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