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How to Make the Most of Your High-Efficiency Washer

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Understanding high-efficiency washers can be difficult, but it doesn't have to be! Read on to have all of your HE washer questions answered!

Understanding high-efficiency washers can be difficult, but it doesn't have to be! Read on to have all of your HE washer questions answered!

High-Efficiency Laundry: Everything You Need to Know

With the recent shift toward manufacturing and selling high-efficiency washers, many people are left wondering, how do I work my high-efficiency washer, and what can I do to make my high-efficiency washer last?

While there are differences, there are many similarities between high-efficiency washers and the washing machines that you know and love. This guide will help you navigate the transition to high-efficiency washers and keep yours performing like new for years to come.

High-Efficiency Laundry Detergent

HE (high-efficiency) laundry detergent is the first step in keeping your HE washing machine working like new and the key to attaining a perfect clean in your laundry, for several reasons. High-efficiency washers use nearly half (sometimes less) of the water that a normal washing machine uses, but you are able to wash the same amount of clothes.

Because of this high clothes-to-water ratio, high-efficiency laundry detergent is specially designed to best lift and hold soil from clothes to prevent it from redepositing on the garments. HE detergent is also specially formulated to control and reduce the damaging suds that are prone to forming in the laundry that are not eliminated by HE washers.

Always read the label!

Always read the label!

Always Read Care Instructions for Clothes

This usually goes without saying, but many people do not read the instructions for care on their clothes. The garment care instructions can often be found at the collar or one of the side seams for shirts and on the waistband for pants. This is an absolutely essential step in the washing process!

Use the appropriate setting.

Use the appropriate setting.

Use the Proper Settings for Your Garments

High-efficiency washing machines have a wide range of settings, from multiple rinses to temperature, and setting the machine to best treat your garments will optimize the washing power and reduce the risk of damaging your clothes.

Use normal or casual for your t-shirts, jeans, and other casual clothes, as well as bedsheets, tablecloths, and other medium-weight fabrics. Gentle is best for intimates, dresses, and other lightweight articles of clothing. Heavy duty can be used for clothes that are highly soiled and seem up to the challenge of serious agitation.

Some HE washers also include a setting called permanent press, which is used for work shirts, slacks, and blouses, unless dry clean only is stated. Using the proper settings for your clothes will not only help your clothes to last longer but will also leave your clothes with the best clean possible.

General Settings by Fabric

If, for some reason, you are unable to find or read the care instruction tag on your clothes, here is a list of settings sorted by fabric color or type:

  • Darks and Brights (Black, Dark, Highly Saturated Colors): Cold or Cool Water, Wash Separately or with Like Colors.
  • Lights and Whites: Warm Water (I try to stay away from hot).
  • Knits (Sweaters, scarves, handmade socks, etc.): Hand Wash Warm/Cool, often they need to be reshaped and laid flat on a towel to dry.
  • Silk: Hand Wash in Cold Water.
  • Synthetic Fabrics: Warm Water, With Like Colors.
  • Cotton or Cotton Blends: Cool Water, Very Low Drier Setting, Cotton Tends to Shrink.
Spare change can be damaging to a HE washing machine. Empty your pockets!

Spare change can be damaging to a HE washing machine. Empty your pockets!

Remove All Objects From Pockets

It may seem simple enough, but that spare change you put through the wash can be extremely damaging to your HE washing machine. To help your high-efficiency washer last, take the extra time to remove everything from those jeans, and remember, every penny counts!

Always Add Detergent First

Suds can be very damaging, not only to your clothes, leaving soap residue and sometimes even stains, but it is also very damaging to your high-efficiency washing machine. High-efficiency laundry detergent is specially formulated to reduce suds, but to create the perfect, suds-free wash, you must add HE detergent before adding the clothes.

Don't Interrupt the Sensing Cycle

The way that HE washers determine how much water to use is by using scales and other sensors to determine the number of clothes in the machine. The sensing cycle is a highly sensitive time when the HE washing machine makes its magic and sets up the dynamics for the entire wash.

To maximize efficiency and avoid long-term issues, do not open the washing machine while it is sensing (even if you want to add more clothes). If you must add more clothes, wait until the high-efficiency washing machine is done sensing and begins adding water.

Always Follow Bleach and Fabric Softener Instructions

When it comes to bleach and fabric softeners, every high-efficiency washing machine is different, but often there are compartments for both. The instructions for fabric softener and bleach are usually on the inside of the washing machine lid.

Never Pack the Laundry in

No matter how much you want to get done, doing two loads of loosely packed laundry instead of one load of laundry crammed into the machine will save your HE washer. If there are things you really want to get washed, prioritize your laundry. Toss in clothes and let them crumple. Do not push the laundry down; when it reaches the top of the barrel, the machine is full. For sheets, blankets, and other big pieces of laundry, bunch it up into a loose ball and toss it into the washer, do not wrap it around the agitator.

Getting Rid of Mold or a Bad Smell in a HE Washing Machine

Like front loading washing machines, high-efficiency washing machines have a propensity for growing mold and developing funky smells due to the fact that they do not fill up completely with water, but swish it around the machine, not loosening and effectively blasting away mold and bacteria the way that low-efficiency washing machines do. To resolve this problem, purchase cleaning capsules and run the machine on a normal cycle with one of the capsules inside.

Wash Dry-Clean-Only Garments at Home

It is advisable not to wash dry-clean-only garments in a washing machine, but if you would like to save a buck on dry cleaners, you can use dry cleaner sheets. These special sheets wash your dry clean only clothes in the drier.

Many suggest using a stain remover pen that comes with the kit on stained garments because although the sheets remove everyday dirt and residue to leave your clothes feeling and smelling squeaky clean, soft, and fluffy, they do not remove most stains. These dry clean sheets work exceptionally well, and for those of us with sensitive skin, most brands produce fragrance-free alternatives.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Washing Your Clothes With an HE Washer

  1. Add the proper amount of HE laundry detergent.
  2. (Optional): Add bleach and/or fabric softener per your HE washer's instructions.
  3. Read clothing care labels to determine what clothes to add.
  4. Add selected clothes (do not bunch).
  5. Select settings based on types of clothing and preferences.
  6. Start the wash.
  7. Do not interrupt the sensing cycle.
  8. Wait for the wash to finish.
  9. Transfer to drier using proper settings for given clothes.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.