Front-Load Washing Machine

Here Is what is Killing Front Loading Washing Machines

How bad things happen to good {front-loading} washing machines—and what can be done about it.

Front-Load Washing MachineLESS IS BEST | While overdosing on detergent is probably not going to destroy your dishwasher, using too much or the wrong kind of laundry soap will eventually damage and could actually kill your high-efficiency front-load washing machine. Here’s why.

How Laundry Detergents Work

Conventional Laundry Detergent is designed to work in top-loading machines. Depending on the brand, top-loaders can use up to 105 litres of water per fill. More water can accommodate more detergent so scooping cupfuls of powdered detergent—that contain filler anyway—into the tub of one of these warhorses is unlikely to damage it.

High-Efficiency (low sudsing) Laundry Detergent is made for front-load machines, which use from 16 to 34 litres of water and just one-tenth the amount of laundry soap that top-loaders do (in Vancouver, that translates into mere tablespoons of cleaning agent).

Obviously a front-loader needs less soap due to less water but also because the way the clothes rise and drop during the wash cycle stimulates detergent (no matter what type) to suds-up to the max. Conventional detergents are set to time out around the 10-minute mark because top-loader wash cycles are short; HE detergent is designed to stay chemically active for a front-loader’s entire wash cycle, which is much longer than a top-loading one.

The (Detergent) Killer Inside

Using too much of any detergent—conventional or HE—in a front-load washer will corrode the aluminum support attached to the stainless steel basket the holds the clothes, and this piece is expensive to repair. It will also attack the rear tub seal and can lead to rear bearing failure. If that happens, your washing machine is toast.

It is also worth noting that while using conventional detergent in small amounts in your front-loading washing machine will not destroy the unit, it will not clean your clothes effectively. Conventional detergent is designed to suspend dirt in suds while the clothes swirl back and forth, and a front-loader doesn’t work like that. —Ruth Rainey

Thank you to Wayne Coleman of Priority Appliance roulette online Service for his help with research for this article. Priority Appliance Service is located at 100—3171 No. 6 Road, Richmond, 866-232-2211. Visit

Photo: iStock

5 replies
  1. Leslie
    Leslie says:

    Don’t know where you’re located, but pretty much any grocery or superstore type (eg. Walmart) will have HE laundry detergent. The major manufacturers (P&G and Unilever) together make most of the brand names we recognize, Tide, Gain, Cheer, Wisk, All, Ivory, etc., and there are HE versions of these–look for the HE symbol on the package. Personally I use Tide Free & Gentle for HE machines and am very satisfied with it.

  2. shelley
    shelley says:

    I just had a repair guy out due to a failure associated with the wrong detergent. Thing is, I was using HE detergent in my front loader. According to the repairman, not all HE detergents are for front loaders. You need to look not JUST for the HE symbol but also for a picture of a front loader, or reference to a front loader.


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