What is the Best Detergent for a Front Load Washer?

Front load washing machines require a different kind of detergent than regular old top load machines.The reason being that front load machines operate differently, using much less water than a top load.Liquid DetergentPowder DetergentThere are many tips available online citing ways to use regular detergent in a front load. Some of these include mixing equal parts fabric softener and detergent or even adding foam down, which is used in spas, with your detergent. While these may seem sensible they can actually cause substantial damage to your front load washer and to your clothing.

Regular detergents are made for top load machines that fill up with water, get your clothes all sudsy, spin the dirty water out and then rinse your clothing.  A front load machine is made to wash your clothing with much less water and energy and gets your clothing much cleaner without all the suds. These suds can actually get into the bearings of your front load machine or leave a film that will eventually mold.  A front load machine is made for high efficiency washing and therefore only high efficiency (HE) detergents should be used. Not to mention that front load machines use far less HE detergent to wash a load of clothing than regular detergent and therefore you spend less money.

So, which is the best HE Detergent to use?Well, there are a few things to take into consideration:


When considering whether to use powdered detergent or liquid detergent there a few things to think about.Some machines will state in their manual to use either powder or liquid but that doesn’t mean that’s the final say on it.Some machines with Delay Start options suggest using powder if using this option so as not to risk liquid detergent pouring into the machine too early.If you do not use the Delay Start option than liquid would be fine.Also, depending on the setting of your water temperature, if you use cold wash settings most often than liquid detergent is your best bet as powders do not always dissolve properly at lower temperatures.The minimum temperature needed to dissolve detergent is 30 C.If powder detergent is not dissolving properly it can cause build up within the washer.Some will argue however that the “chemical” makeup of your detergent used to clean your close is more concentrated in a powdered state and therefore cleans your clothing better.Using liquid detergent requires less actual detergent per load and can be more cost effective but one more thing to consider is whether you have hard or soft water.Many liquid detergents contain softeners and may not work as well if your water is already soft.

Colors vs. Whites

There are many people out there that use several detergents depending on what they are washing.One for colors, one with a bleaching agent for whites, and there are even detergents specifically marketed for black clothing.While it is helpful to have a detergent with bleach to help keep white clothes bright there are now many detergents that having bleaching agents inWhite Laundry Foldedthem to keep your whites white while also being safe for colored clothing.There are powdered and liquid detergents that are made with OxiClean to wash any color clothing and keep it looking its best.Most people wash their black clothing with normal detergent and don’t think about it for a second.If you are concerned about fading you may purchase a special detergent such as Woolite for those items but if you’re trying to compact your laundry supplies, regular detergent should be fine.There are also home made remedies that can be added to regular detergent for colors to help with light or dark clothing.The bottom line is how serious you are about your laundry.If you want the absolute best and are willing to spend the time and the money than you can buy a detergent meant to keep colors bright, a bleaching detergent to keep whites white and a detergent specifically made to keep black clothing from fading.If you are looking for a one step, time and wallet friendly fix, try a detergent with a bleaching agent that is safe for colors and whites.And you could always use a regular detergent and add your own bleach or OxiClean to loads of white clothing.


This is really a matter of personal choice.Most people enjoy the fresh scent of clean laundry and some like their laundry to smell down right flowery.Then there are those who don’t want their clothing scented or can’t have scented detergent due to sensitive skin or allergies. There are many different choices when it comes to scent.Most brands of detergent carry the same product in multiple different scents so you can choose the one you like most.Some have a scent all their own.It is much easier to find scented detergent than unscented but it does exist.  Most major brands produce an unscented version, such as ALL Free & Clear but they are not always carried in stores.It may be easier to find a brand that makes detergent for baby clothes.These detergents are not only unscented but are usually dye free and sometimes chemical free as well. You can also find some All Natural Detergents that come scent free.

Pricey vs. Store Brand

Many name brand HE detergents are pricier than the same brands regular detergent. On one hand, you use far less HE detergent than you would regular detergent per load so you do save over time but you can save even more by purchasing a store brand or cheaper brand HE detergent.Detergents are all basically made the same and while some have added bonuses such as OxiClean you will find that some store brand cheaper detergents can wash your clothes just as well as the name brand detergent.Store brands may not always come with the extras or the scent choice that you’d like but they can definitely save you money.

Some recommended detergents to try:

2x Tide HE Liquid Laundry Detergent

ECOS Laundry Detergent

Sears UltraPlus Detergent with OxiClean



Laundry Detergents

The bottom line to choosing the best detergent for you front load washing machine is to always use an HE detergent, take these things listed into consideration and then try them out.Think about the water conditions and temperatures in your home, the color, dirtiness, and size of the loads you do most often, what you expect from your detergent, and how much you’re willing to pay.

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-Tina Newberry Copyright 2008