High Efficiency Laundry Detergent Tips and Buying Guide

Updated November 9, 2021
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Woman pouring liquid laundry detergent into cap

With the increasing popularity of front-loading washing machines, high-efficiency laundry soap is gaining importance. So, don't be lost in the laundry detergent aisle. Instead, explore the top high-efficiency laundry detergent brands on the market. You'll even get some tips on how to use it.

Hot High Efficiency Detergent Brands

Best Overall:
Tide 3-in-1 HE Turbo Pacs

The unique pod format makes getting the amount perfect, and these powerful pods are great for rejuvenating whites.
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Top Natural Cleaner:
Seventh Generation Free & Clear

This HE detergent is hypoallergenic and uses plant-based ingredients.
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Best Budget:
Arm & Hammer HE Detergent

With a high load volume and a larger bottle, this detergent offers a lower cost option that is great for larger families.
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Best Scent:
Gain HE Original Liquid Laundry Detergent

Keep your clothing smelling fresh and beautifully clean with the power of Gain.
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Best Sustainable Detergent:
Biokleen HE Laundry Liquid

This product considers your carbon footprint by choosing composable and recyclable packaging.
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Top Stain Figher:
Persil ProClean

Tough stain fighter for older kids designed to keep clothes cleaner longer.
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Best for Sensitive Skin:
All Free and Clear

An easy-to-use detergent that doesn't bother even the most sensitive of skin.
Read more.

When it comes to a great all-around detergent and stain fighter, you'll want to reach for the Tide 3-in-1 pods. This super-concentrated formula works in hot and cold washes to clean, remove stains, and protect color. And you don't have to worry about trying to measure it out. You simply throw in 1, 2, or 3 pods, depending on the size of your load. And with a deeper clean comes that fresh, lasting scent with a satisfaction guarantee.

The pros of this powerful high efficiency detergent are pretty hard to overlook. But, there are a few things you to keep in mind before dropping your hard-earned dimes on this product. The convenience of just dropping in 1 of the 81 pods comes at a hefty price tag for HE detergent. The pods can also get stuck together and leave a nasty mess in your laundry room if you try to cut them apart. However, I always just use the stuck-together ones in a larger load.

What We Like
No measuring
Lasting scent
Powerful stain removers
Child guard zipper
What We Don't
Light on lather
Get stuck together

Seventh Generation Free & Clear is a natural high-efficiency detergent you can use without worrying about chemicals and skin reactions. It uses plant-based ingredients and doesn't include any dyes or perfumes. You can also get a whopping 99 loads out of the 140 fl. oz. container. And, it doesn't need harsh chemicals to get things clean. In fact, it can lighten and completely remove baby food and formula stains.

While Seventh Generation doesn't have a smell to it, clothes can come out smelling a bit musty if you have hard water. It has nothing to do with the formula but the water itself. You're also going to have to use a stain fighter like white vinegar or peroxide for tough stains like blueberries or pasta sauce.

What We Like
USDA certified bio-based product
No dyes and artificial brighteners
Safe for babies and children
What We Don't
Musty smell with hard water
Can be hard to find at stores
Need to pretreat messy stains
Arm & Hammer HE Detergent

Arm & Hammer HE Detergent

When you have a large family, laundry can get expensive. But it doesn't have to be. Arm & Hammer HE Laundry Detergent works on both high efficiency and normal machines. This comes in various sizes, but the 213 fl. oz. bottle can clean 142 loads of laundry. That's a load of laundry for less than 10 cents. What a steal!

The power of clean comes with a rather powerful scent some can find overbearing. But, if you like scented clothes, then this is for you. You also need to follow the instructions carefully to make sure you get the most bang for your buck. It can be easy to use too much if you don't use it carefully.

What We Like
Powerful clean
Fights stains with baking soda
What We Don't
Strong scent
Package can leak
Gain HE Original Liquid Laundry Detergent

Gain HE Original Liquid Laundry Detergent

The strong signature fragrance of Gain HE Original Liquid Laundry Detergent in the 100 fl. oz. bottle is hard to miss. It's a fresh scent that I often associate with clean laundry. So, when it comes to one of the best scented HE detergents, Gain makes the list. It also has a powerful cleaning agent and can remove embedded dirt and grime without deflating your bank account.

While Gain does have a fresh scent, the power of the detergent weakens on gentle cycles. Since Gain is formulated for cold water, this is when it works to its full potential.

What We Like
Pleasant scent
Powerful stain fighters
What We Don't
Coldwater detergent
Not as powerful on gentle cycle

If you are looking for a laundry detergent to help you live a sustainable lifestyle, Biokleen is the laundry soap for you. This detergent clearly states all the ingredients included within the HE detergent and comes with a compostable outer shell and a recyclable plastic bag holding the detergent. This eco-friendly brand uses no artificial colors or preservatives to make the detergent, and it's not tested on animals.

Biokleen is also a powerful detergent that can remove most everyday dirt and messes. Big messes like jelly will need a pre-treater to eradicate the stain. And it does have a slight fragrance, which can irritate those sensitive to smells.

What We Like
Composable and recyclable packaging
Need little product to clean
Good stain-fighting power
What We Don't
Not entirely fragrance-free because of extracts
Need an extra rinse

A laundry detergent with an effective stain fighter is a must for families. Persil ProClean takes the cake when it comes to stain-fighting power. It even beat out Tide in a side-by-side comparison. Not only is this good for your clothes, but it can keep them looking new longer. The Persil Liquid Laundry Detergent, ProClean Scent, is made for HE and regular washers and can be found in multiple sizes, including the 82.5 fl. oz.

The main complaint about Persil ProClean is the smell. The detergent has a strange sweet smell that turns some people off. The fragrance is also pretty strong, so it's unavoidable if you don't like it.

What We Like
Strong stain-fighting capabilities
Designed for HE and regular washers
What We Don't
Strong sweet fragrance
Expensive if bought outside of Walmart

You can't have a detergent laden with harsh chemicals, perfumes, and dyes when you have sensitive skin. All Free and Clear doesn't have any of that. In fact, it leaves no smell at all on your clothing. It's also rated for people with sensitive skin, according to the disclaimer on the bottle.

Since the formula is missing the softeners and perfumes, clothing comes out stiffer with no smell. You also need to use pre-treaters on clothing with tough stains to remove them completely. But for a detergent for sensitive skin types, the 82.5 fl. oz. bottle is a steal for families on a budget.

What We Like
No dyes
No scent
Good for sensitive skin
What We Don't
No fabric softener
Leaves yellow residue if use too much

Difference Between High Efficiency and Regular Laundry Detergent

Manufacturers of front-loading washers recommend that you use only high-efficiency detergent in their machines for both optimum cleaning and to avoid creating too many suds. High efficiency laundry soap can be used in some top-loading washers; however, this is generally not recommended. Why? Well, it's not cost-effective in a top-loading washer. For example, Whirlpool notes that you'll need to use ¼ cup of HE detergent in a top-loading machine instead of only 2 tablespoons in a normal HE load.

Detergents for Hybrid Washers

Hybrid washers have a top-loading design but are high efficiency by using sensors. Knowing whether you should use high efficiency laundry detergent and how much will depend on the manufacturer. Therefore, it's important to look at your user manual to ensure you are using the right detergent in the right amounts.

Using HE Laundry Detergent

When it comes to HE laundry detergent, it's important you use the right amount for your load. Additionally, you use about a third less per load if you have soft water. The concentration of the HE detergent is also important, but in general, you can follow this handy guide.




Small Load

1 teaspoon

1 tablespoon

1 pac

Medium Load

2 teaspoons

2 tablespoons

1 pac

Large/Soiled Load

3 teaspoons

3 tablespoons

2 pacs

Extra Large Load

4 teaspoons

4 tablespoons

3 pacs

These can vary based on the brand of detergent, concentration, and water hardness. Always follow the manufacturer's recommendations.

Choosing the Right HE Detergent

When choosing a high-efficiency laundry detergent, it's important to do so carefully. Check reviews at online sites, read your manufacturer's recommendations, and talk to other consumers before selecting a detergent. Remember, water hardness, load size, and the type of clothing you wash are the major factors to consider when choosing your detergent. You know now, so get washing that laundry.

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High Efficiency Laundry Detergent Tips and Buying Guide