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Can Regular Detergent Ruin an HE Washer?

Submit an Entry: Your Laundry Questions and Answers

By Dan D.

My Laundry Question

Can using regular detergent in an H-E washing machine JUST ONE TIME do any real damage?

The whole story: My mother just purchased a new top-loading H-E machine. Unwilling to wait for my help, she used the detergent already on hand. You should have heard her shrieks -- she was greatly perturbed by both the amount of suds AND the mechanical action of the new machine -- she insisted the new machine was broken.

Do not worry. She had three 64-load jugs of regular detergent (two unopened) but I gave these to friends; and my mom now has three H-E jugs.

But I'm wondering if that one single time did any great damage?

Share a Little Background Info

I already told her not to use regular detergent SEVERAL TIMES before the new machine was delivered. Her need for a new machine was sudden, and I didn't have time until the day of the machine's arrival to get to the store, to purchase new jugs of H-E laundry detergent.

I matched jug for jug, same brand, same type, but my mother was VERY ANGRY with my "waste of money and perfectly good detergent". The argument was compounded by the fact a boy at the local Best Buy had told her the H-E logo didn't matter and she could use any type of laundry detergent she wanted. I told her this boy was wrong; but she still doesn't believe me.

Internet searches will immediately turn up answers as to why regular detergents should not be used in H-E washers.

But I'm fussy. I am wanting to know if using regular detergent ONE SINGLE TIME will do any SERIOUS DAMAGE.

The Internet doesn't seem to have an answer to this one nit-picking question.

Incidentally, during the next day, after I read the manual thoroughly, we did a second load with H-E detergent -- world of difference -- no suds! Both loads of laundry seemed to turn out fine; but I am insisting she only use H-E formulas in the future. We haven't tried to wash stained clothing yet -- I'd really like to put this new machine through its paces.

(Also, I am planning to purchase a box of tub-cleaning tablets, for the washer's "tub clean" maintenance cycle -- the instruction manual says a "tub clean" should be done once per month).

Lessons Learned

  • Do not always believe the boys at Best Buy.

Mary Marlowe Leverette, About.com Laundry & Laundry Rooms, says:

One episode with regular detergent in an HE washer will probably cause no permanent damage - especially if the suds did not overflow the washer. Continued use will ruin the washer and will void the warranty if you need to have it repaired during the warranty period.

To help your mother save money, you do not need to purchase a special tub cleaning product. Just follow these instructions.

Good luck!

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