What's the cheapest answer when you need HE detergent?

Cheaper HE Detergent

by Dollar Stretcher Contributors

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Cheaper HE Detergent

I have a front load washer and use the expensive HE detergents. Has anyone else come up with a cheaper way to wash clothes? I have used regular detergent in a very small amount, but I don't think it's getting the clothes clean with such a small amount. Thanks!
Sherry in IA

Best Buy HE Detergent

I also have a HE machine and have loved it since the first day. My husband worked for the manufacturer, so we got a great deal. Some helpful information I got from the engineers that designed the thing was to use far less detergent than the manufacturer suggests. Since ours was a test model, I was challenged to try a variety of detergents and amounts used.

My best buy is Kirkland HE liquid laundry detergent from Costco. I buy the 300-ounce size for $10.99 and it lasts three to four months for our family of six. I use about a 1/4 of an inch depth in the measuring cap for the largest loads and even less for the smaller loads.

Overall, the cost savings in water and electricity and the great cleaning ability of the machine have impressed me beyond the cost of any detergent.
Christine from Tennessee

Sears HE Detergent

I found out about the same problem (expensive HG detergents) when I bought my front loader. In addition, I also need to use a perfume free and dye free detergent (even more expensive!). One of the least expensive options I found was at Sears. They have their own laundry detergent brand made by a third party and the best part for me is that it comes in various size containers. Occasionally, they rotate which ones are on sale, too. Sometimes they are out of my specific type and size and this guarantees that I don't waste time and gas when restocking.

Homemade HE Detergent

I use a detergent that was recommended on Mary Hunt's Cheapskate Monthly website. I have used it for about four months and I am very happy with the results. According to the website, this detergent is great for front loading washers. Use two bars of Fels Naptha® Soap grated up, one cup of Arm & Hammer® Super Washing Soda and one cup of 20 Mule Team® Borax. Mix it up and store it in an airtight container. Use two or three tablespoons per load. I am very happy with the results. There is no fabric softener needed.

Instead of HE Detergent

I use 1/3 cap of regular liquid detergent. I recommend WalMart's Best Buy brand. I was told by a service technician that sudsing is not good for a front load washer. Also, it depends on your water quality. I have very soft water, so I don't need as much. Not seeing suds does not mean the detergent isn't doing its job. The best way to tell how the washer is doing is by checking the clothes to see if certain stains come out after washing. Start out using less detergent and increase the amount by small increments if needed. Some loads need more than others. For example, I don't use as much detergent when I wash towels. I will use a little bit more for my husband's work clothes. Your family's laundry needs should determine how you wash your clothes.

Too Much HE Detergent

I also have a front loader and use HG soap, but I only use a tad bit in the bottom of the dispenser cup and then add some sort of oxidizer. When I lived over in Europe, we were told that if your machine still had bubbles on the door when you were done, then you added too much soap so use less the next time. I also use mostly vinegar with a splash of liquid fabric softener for the rinse cycle. I find that it takes more of the soap off the clothes, which helps get them cleaner, and it keeps my eczema from flaring up. The splash of fabric softener helps give it a nice fragrance.

Soft Water = Less HE Detergent

We have very hard well water that tends to require more detergent, but I have found that adding Borax (suggested by my grandmother) softens the water, which allows me to use less detergent in my front loader. I have also tried baking soda and an additive like Borax called White King that helps to keep my whites whiter. They are all available in the laundry detergent aisle in our local grocery store.


I also have a front load washer and was appalled by the price of HE detergent. I read on the Internet somewhere that you can use 1/4 the amount of regular detergent (non-HE) and your clothes will come out fresh and clean. Since I switched to non-HE six months ago, my clothes are just as clean. A bottle of laundry detergent (128 oz.) lasts me about two months now! Not only am I saving energy with the HE machine, but money on having to buy less laundry detergent.

Boost HE Detergent

A tiny amount will get the clothes clean. Most of the product used to be filler. When the powers that be decided to be "environmentally-friendly," they took about half of the filler out. I use about one or two tablespoons of any laundry soap. For better cleaning of food stains, I add about 1/2 teaspoon of Cascade dishwasher soap with enzymes. Sometimes, I add 1/2 teaspoon of super washing soda to boost the power of the detergent.

A regular box of Cascade will easily do two years of laundry. When the box has been opened about six months, I move it to the kitchen and open a fresh box for the laundry. I am still using the original box of washing soda (3+ years of use and 90% of the box is still there). My front loaders are running fine. I do use a full dispenser of white vinegar as softener with every load. The vinegar prevents soap residue from building up, softens as well as the commercial products, is a powerful deodorizer, and is cheap.

Check for Store Brands

Purex has a cheaper HE detergent as well as Aldi's. I would check out store brands, too.

Just a Little Dab Will Do

We were advised by our washer repairman to use regular detergent. We used as little as possible, adding more and more until I was sure the clothes were clean. It doesn't take very much. We have also used vinegar or baking soda or both to boost the cleaning power on really stinky clothes.

Try Crystal Wash. 1000 loads of laundry - no detergents, no dyes, no chemicals, no perfumes.

Watch for Sales

I buy my HE detergent from Sears one to two times per year when it is on sale. Two boxes generally lasts my family of six for six months and costs $24 total. It breaks down to $4 a month, which I think is pretty cheap.
D in TN

Happy with Her Homemade

I have a front loader, and I make my own detergent. It only takes about 10 minutes and my laundry gets plenty clean. (I have 4 boys and a husband who get plenty dirty!)

I use one bar of Fels Naptha Soap® soap and grate it (with a cheese grater). Then I just add an equal volume/amount of washing soda and borax. (All three of these ingredients can be found in the laundry aisle. I mix it very well so that the grated pieces of soap get crumbled even further. Then, I store it in an airtight container.

To use, I just add one tablespoon to the detergent dispenser and wash as usual.

I have been using this for the last three years and have been very happy with it.

Reviewed December 2017

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