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Homemade Laundry Soap for an HE Washer

You can easily and inexpensively make your own laundry soap to use in all types of washers, including HE. This is a guide about homemade laundry soap for an HE washer.

HE Washer
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January 23, 2009 Flag
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Can homemade laundry soap be used in the HE washing machines?

Brenda from Carrollton, Texas

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January 24, 20090 found this helpful

"Post by jenifer4000 (1) | (01/23/2009)


I make and use homemade laundry soap in my HE washer all the time with no problems. It costs me approx. $3.00 a month to do laundr"


If you don't mind my asking, what brand of He washer do you have & how long have you been using the homemade laundry detergent? Thanks very much!

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January 24, 20090 found this helpful

Washer manufacturers recommend that only HE detergents be used in their front-load and high-efficiency washers, and most will even recommend a particular brand of HE detergent.

There is a good reason for using detergent that is specially formulated for these newer front-load washers. HE detergents are concentrated laundry detergents that are low-sudsing especially for use with low water high-efficiency washers.

If regular detergents were to be used in front-loading and high-efficiency washers, the presence of too many suds could 'confuse' washing cycles, cause delays and make proper rinsing of clothes difficult.

Similar to why dish detergent does not work well in a dishwasher which requires specially formulated non-sudsing dishwasher detergent, performance can be severely affected by the use of improper detergents in low water washing machines.

HE detergents can readily be found where regular laundry soap is sold - look for the 'HE' symbol the next time you shop. There is no difference in price for this particular type of detergent, nor is there any reduction in loads per container. Buying in bulk can reap savings and ensure you have it on hand for all your washings.

I've used both Tide® HE and Ultra Sunlight® HE and found they both clean very well. The Tide® brand has a nice mild fragrance and is safe for septic systems, and the Ultra Sunlight® brand sports the HE, Sensitive Skin and Fragrance-Free labels, a real plus for allergy sufferers.

Using proper HE detergent for your high-efficiency low water washer will enable your laundry appliance to perform as it should.

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January 24, 20090 found this helpful

Saving_Nickles_n_dimes: I have a Whirlpool Duet (2005 model) and I've been using homemade laundry soap for six or seven months now.

There is one thing that I do and have done for a year or so. I buy this product at Lowe's called "Affresh" and run one tablet every couple of months to clean out the outer drum of the washing machine. It helps to keep the soap (store bought or homemade) from guncking up the interior of the machine. It keeps the musty smell away.

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January 28, 20090 found this helpful

Homemade laundry detergent does not have any suds because we don't put a 'sudsing agent' in it. Suds do nothing to clean the clothes - it's just a visual thing - when we see suds, we think the soap is working.

Homemade laundry soap is made by grating a bar of Fels Naptha soap, put it into a pot with enough water to cover the soap + about 2". Heat on low to medium until soap is dissolved , stirring occasionally, and add to a 5 gal. bucket of the hottest water from your tap. Stir well & add 1 cup of WASHING soda (found in laundry area of store). Put into gallon jugs (not milk jugs - plastic is too weak). Use 1/2 c. per load. A bar of Ivory soap can be used instead of Fels Naptha. Soap can gel, so shake before using. Works great & comes to about $1.50 for 5 gal! Been using it for years. If you don't have a laundry tub, use the bathtub & clean it out with the spilled stuff after you are done - a 2fer!

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April 23, 2011 Flag
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Please, can anyone give me some advice?
I have a brand new HE top loading washing machine being delivered next week and I'm worried if I can use my homemade laundry powder in it.


My recipe is:
1 cup grated laundry soap
1 cup washing soda
1 cup baking soda (I have hard water)
1 cup oxygen-based brightener (like oxy)
I don't use borax since its not available in my country.

I usually use 1/2 cup of powder since my old twin-tub machine had the capacity for 17lb "dry" weight of clothes. This new one has the same capacity. I don't get good results using less powder. This recipe suds up a little, but not too much.

Will I damage my new machine if I use this powder or should I buy the expensive HE laundry powder available?
Liquid detergent is not an option coz I don't like them.
Thanks for any help.

By cettina from Malta, Europe

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April 25, 20110 found this helpful

You will probably shorten the life of your washer by not using the proper detergent. We were told to rid ourselves of regular detergent and purchase the HE type. You might get by a while with your homemade stuff but ultimately you'll have troubles. It might also possibly ruin your warantee

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April 26, 20110 found this helpful

Oh dear! Two replies and each one exactly opposite in opinion from each other!

Still don't know what to do. My new HE washer is a candy CTD1208. the technician who installed my machine told me to be very careful what I use in my washer but didn't say which detergent to use. Any more opinions please?

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April 26, 20110 found this helpful

Cettina, I have a front loader, a GE Duet. My biggest suggestion to you would be to NOT use liquid detergent but you say you never do. :) I use the cheapest HE powdered detergent I can get. I did develop the "stinky clothes" problem you hear about all the time, but it went away as soon as I switched to powdered detergent and stopped using fabric softener. I use less detergent than I used to, maybe half.

In my opinion, I can't see why using your own version would damage the machine. It might not work as well as it did in your top loader but it seems like it would just wash through. You might want to run a "clean washer" setting occasionally, to guard against clogs.

Hopefully, we will get some more opinions from other people who have used their own detergent soon. :)

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May 17, 20150 found this helpful

HE washers are notorious for the buildup of mold and mildew regardless of the brand and have to be cleaned frequently and all instructions followed. the stinky clothes refer to are actually mold or mildew located somewhere within the machine. Use only detergent marked h/e and use as little as possible.

I have used powder and liquid so go with your preference but you should only see minimal suds and that is because the detergent formulation is different. Excessive soap and suds build up in the machine which is what ultimately will causes the problems. I also use vinegar as a fabric softener and final rinse. commercial or even homemade softeners also tend to create the odors.

If you do laundry almost daily it usually is helpful, otherwise you must leave the door and dispenser open to dry. they do clean well but require a lot of care. I will be switching back to a regular washer soon due to a back flow problem... suds held in the bottom of the machine.

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September 17, 2007 Flag
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Is homemade laundry soap safe for HE washers?

Lisa from Lebanon, IL

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September 18, 20070 found this helpful

Hi Neighbor! ;0)

I do not have an HE washer, but I did find these links. The answers do not seem really "clear" -- but it seems like those who have used it have had no issues. Read your manual for sure, and then decide whether you are willing to take a shot at it.

My repair guy who came once annually to look over my machines, when I lived in Maryland, was always full of useful tips and information for taking care of my appliances. If you have a repair person you trust, they might be the best to ask.

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September 19, 20071 found this helpful

Yes, it's safe for HE washers. I have been using it for years. Homemade laundry detergent is really soap and doesn't suds at all. It keeps the washer and its lines clean--there is no build-up. If your water is extremely hard, you'll have to use more than the recommended amount.

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January 27, 20080 found this helpful

OK I have to ask. What is an 'HE washer'?

Editor's Note: An HE washer stands for "high efficiency washer". They are typically front loading washers that use much less water than conventional washing machines.

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December 12, 2012 Flag
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Is it OK to use homemade soap in the new HE washers?

By Dell

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December 17, 20120 found this helpful

I wouldn't risk ruining my new washer with homemade crap. These washers use very very little detergent. If you wash one load per day, a bottle will last about one year. Just cover the bottom of the detergent cap with liquid.

Because these washers clean by using the chemicals in the detergent rather than by using water (for the most part), I doubt VERY much that homemade soap would do the job. They aren't strong enough for that. BTW, I use Clean and Clear detergents for sensitive skin.

Good luck

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October 28, 20130 found this helpful

I am getting a HE washer this weekend and I have read about 20 articles that say homemade detergents are safe.

Also Carol, homemade detergents are not crap, they are all natural, no dyes or perfumes and people have been using these ingredients for ages.

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May 7, 2010 Flag
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When using homemade laundry soap, should I use liquid or power for he washer? Mine is a Cabrio top loader.

By Debra from Grayling, MI

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May 7, 20100 found this helpful

Homemade laundry detergent (soap) is low sudsing, so you can use either, depending on your preference.

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May 8, 20100 found this helpful

I have a Cabrio and use a homemade powder form. What I do is after I grate the soap, I spread it out on a platter and let it dry out for about 2 or 3 days, depending on the air in your home. Then I put it in a food processor. It becomes a fine, fine powder (please wear a mask when handling). I've had no problems with this method; I've been using it for about 4 or 5 years.

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September 4, 20100 found this helpful


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