HE (high efficiency) washers have been available for a decade and have become increasingly popular in the consumer market in the last few years. HE washers are available in both front loading and top loading units. There are many more choices in the front loading HE models than top loading HE washers. HE washers use significantly less water and energy than traditional units. The savings will depend on the age and model of your current washing machine. However, an HE washer can use from 20% to 66% less water and save 20% to 50% in energy use. As a consumer, these reductions translate to long term cost savings. There are also significant long-term environmental benefits.
High efficiency washers use low-water wash and rinse cycles. They utilize a tumbling system rather than an agitator. In some models, the water level is so low it's hard to see a pool of water. Even with the reduced water levels, you can wash the same size laundry loads. Once the cycle is completed, clothes may feel dryer because more water is removed.
There are detergents specifically formulated for HE washers and should be the only products used. These HE detergents are formulated to be low-sudsing and quick-dispersing to achieve the best cleaning performance. Traditional detergents can cause excess suds and will not perform well in a low water level system.
To identify the HE laundry detergents, look for a special HE symbol on the detergent box or bottle. Always read the label and use the manufacturer’s recommended amount of detergent for your wash load size and amount of soil.
The article by Marsha Alexander, University of Missouri Extension Housing and Environmental Design Specialist - Jackson County originally was published in the April 2010 edition of Silver Threads