Why is my HE washer not cleaning my clothes? Reasons

The most common reason why your high-efficiency (HE) washer is not cleaning your clothes properly is that you are using too much or the wrong type of detergent. HE washers are designed to use less water and energy than traditional washers, but they also require a special kind of detergent that is low-sudsing and compatible with their sensors and mechanisms. If you use regular detergent or too much of it, you may end up with residue on your clothes, poor rinsing, and reduced cleaning performance. In this article, we will explain how to choose and use the right detergent for your HE washer, as well as some other tips and tricks to keep your clothes clean and fresh.

How to choose the right detergent for your HE washer

The first thing you need to do is to check the label of your detergent and make sure it has the HE logo on it. This logo indicates that the detergent is formulated for HE washers and that it produces less suds than regular detergent. Suds can interfere with the sensors and tumbling action of your HE washer, which can affect the water level, temperature, and cycle time. Suds can also trap dirt and bacteria in your clothes, leading to odors and stains.

If you are not sure whether your detergent is HE-compatible or not, you can also look at the ingredients list and avoid detergents that contain sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) or sodium laureth sulfate (SLES). These are common surfactants that create a lot of foam, but they are not suitable for HE washers. Instead, look for detergents that contain plant-based or synthetic surfactants that are biodegradable and gentle on your clothes and the environment.

Some examples of HE-compatible detergents are:

  • Tide HE Turbo Clean
  • Persil ProClean
  • All Free Clear
  • Seventh Generation Free and Clear
  • Arm and Hammer Plus OxiClean

How to use the right amount of detergent for your HE washer

The next thing you need to do is to measure the amount of detergent you use for each load of laundry. Using too much detergent can cause the same problems as using the wrong type of detergent, such as residue, poor rinsing, and reduced cleaning performance. It can also damage your washer and shorten its lifespan.

The amount of detergent you need depends on several factors, such as the size and soil level of your load, the hardness of your water, and the concentration of your detergent. You should always follow the instructions on the detergent package and use the measuring cap or scoop that comes with it. Do not fill the cap or scoop to the top, but to the line that corresponds to your load size and soil level. If you have hard water, you may need to use a little more detergent than usual, but not too much. If you have soft water, you may need to use less detergent than usual, but not too little.

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A general rule of thumb is to use about one tablespoon of HE detergent per six pounds of laundry. However, this may vary depending on the brand and type of detergent you use. Some detergents are more concentrated than others, which means you need to use less of them to achieve the same results. For example, Tide HE Turbo Clean claims to be 10 times more concentrated than regular detergent, so you only need to use a quarter of a cup for a large load. On the other hand, some detergents are less concentrated than others, which means you need to use more of them to achieve the same results. For example, Seventh Generation Free and Clear is a natural detergent that is less sudsy than other detergents, so you may need to use half a cup for a large load.

To avoid overusing or underusing detergent, you should also adjust the amount of detergent according to the type of fabric and color of your clothes. For example, you may need to use more detergent for heavily soiled clothes, such as work clothes, sports clothes, or towels. You may also need to use more detergent for white clothes, as they tend to get dingy and yellow over time. On the other hand, you may need to use less detergent for delicate clothes, such as silk, wool, or lace. You may also need to use less detergent for dark clothes, as they tend to fade and lose their color over time.

Other tips and tricks to keep your clothes clean and fresh with your HE washer

Besides choosing and using the right detergent for your HE washer, there are some other things you can do to improve the cleaning performance of your washer and the quality of your clothes. Here are some of them:

  • Use the right water temperature for your clothes. Generally, hot water is better for sanitizing and removing stains, but it can also shrink and damage some fabrics and colors. Cold water is better for preserving fabrics and colors, but it may not be as effective in removing dirt and bacteria. Warm water is a good compromise for most clothes, as it can clean well without causing too much harm. You should always check the care label of your clothes and follow the recommended water temperature for each type of fabric and color.
  • Use the right wash cycle for your clothes. HE washers have different wash cycles that are designed for different types of clothes and soil levels. For example, the normal cycle is good for everyday clothes that are lightly to moderately soiled, the heavy duty cycle is good for heavily soiled clothes that need extra cleaning power, and the delicate cycle is good for fragile clothes that need gentle care. You should always check the care label of your clothes and follow the recommended wash cycle for each type of fabric and soil level.
  • Use the right amount of water for your load. HE washers are designed to use less water than traditional washers, but they still need enough water to wet and rinse your clothes properly. If you use too little water, your clothes may not get clean enough and may have detergent residue on them. If you use too much water, your clothes may not get enough agitation and may have dirt and bacteria on them. To use the right amount of water for your load, you should follow the load size guide on your washer and fill the drum to the appropriate level. Do not overload or underload your washer, as this can affect the water level and the cleaning performance.
  • Use the right additives for your clothes. Sometimes, detergent alone is not enough to keep your clothes clean and fresh. You may need to use some additives to enhance the cleaning power of your detergent or to protect your clothes from damage. Some common additives are:
    • Bleach: Bleach is a powerful agent that can whiten, brighten, and sanitize your clothes. However, it can also damage some fabrics and colors, so you should only use it for white clothes that are bleach-safe. You should also use the bleach dispenser on your washer and follow the instructions on the bleach package. Do not pour bleach directly on your clothes or mix it with other additives, as this can cause chemical reactions and damage your clothes and your washer.
    • Fabric softener: Fabric softener is a product that can soften, smooth, and condition your clothes. It can also reduce static cling and wrinkles, and add a pleasant scent to your clothes. However, it can also reduce the absorbency and breathability of some fabrics, such as towels, diapers, and athletic wear. It can also leave a film on your clothes and your washer, which can reduce the cleaning performance and cause odors and mold. To use fabric softener safely and effectively, you should use the fabric softener dispenser on your washer and follow the instructions on the fabric softener package. Do not pour fabric softener directly on your clothes or mix it with other additives, as this can cause chemical reactions and damage your clothes and your washer.
    • Vinegar: Vinegar is a natural product that can deodorize, disinfect, and remove stains from your clothes. It can also soften your clothes and prevent detergent residue and mineral buildup on your clothes and your washer. However, it can also weaken some fabrics and colors, so you should use it sparingly and with caution. To use vinegar safely and effectively, you should add about half a cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle of your washer. Do not mix vinegar with bleach or other additives, as this can cause chemical reactions and damage your clothes and your washer.
  • Clean and maintain your washer regularly. HE washers are more prone to odors and mold than traditional washers, due to their low water usage and high efficiency. To prevent these problems and keep your washer in good condition, you should clean and maintain your washer regularly. Some things you can do are:
    • Leave the door or lid open after each wash cycle, to allow the washer to dry and air out.
    • Wipe the door or lid, the drum, and the gasket with a damp cloth after each wash cycle, to remove any dirt, lint, or residue.
    • Clean the detergent dispenser, the bleach dispenser, and the fabric softener dispenser with a damp cloth or a soft brush once a month, to remove any buildup or clogs.
    • Run a self-clean or tub-clean cycle with hot water and vinegar or a washer cleaner once a month, to sanitize and deodorize the washer.
    • Check and replace the water inlet hoses and the drain hose once a year, to prevent leaks and bursts.
    • Check and clean the lint filter and the pump filter once a year, to prevent blockages and malfunctions.
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Conclusion

HE washers are great appliances that can save you water, energy, and money, but they also require some special care and attention to keep your clothes clean and fresh. The most important thing you need to do is to choose and use the right detergent for your HE washer, as this can make a huge difference in the cleaning performance and the quality of your clothes. You should also use the right water temperature, wash cycle, water level, and additives for your clothes, and clean and maintain your washer regularly. By following these tips and tricks, you can enjoy the benefits of your HE washer and keep your clothes looking and smelling great.