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It is a common misconception that HE machines are terrible for cloth diapering because they use less water than traditional standard machines. This is absolutely not true. When used correctly (as they were intended to be used) they can be great at cleaning cloth diapers. Here at Fluff Love & CD Science, we love our HE machines. We especially love the savings of precious resources such as water and electricity, and the money saved on the water and utility bills. Do keep in mind that in a HE washer your cycle times will be longer; this is what allows them to effectively clean using less water and electricity. There’s really no way to speed up your wash routine when washing in a HE machine. Many of our members find ways to work their longer wash cycle times into their lives, such as starting their main wash before they go to bed at night and then drying everything in the morning.
Because many HE washers do not have agitators, they rely on the clothing rubbing together in the wash to scrub things clean. This is why it is so important to make sure that your HE washer is filled with enough laundry. Once you have filled the washer the proper amount by adding smaller-sized items such as baby clothes or hand towels in with your diapers to complete the load, try not to analyze the wash action of your machine. It will look different during different stages of the wash cycle, depending on whether it is balancing or weighing (not all HE machines weigh the laundry, but some do), agitating, rinsing, spinning, etc. HE front loaders and top load machines that tumble on a horizontal axis universally need to be 2/3-3/4 full of laundry to achieve proper agitation for the main wash cycle. Keep in mind that we treat all front load/horizontal axis machines as high efficiency and recommend HE detergent, even when the machine predates the HE logo and labeling, and in countries that do not utilize HE labeling. Many HE top loaders do best at half full, although there are a few that do best 2/3-3/4 or even greater than 3/4 full of laundry. We recommend that you look up your specific washer in our washing machine index or post in our Facebook group for specific help about how to properly load your washing machine with laundry for optimal agitation. Be sure to have a picture of your control panel and model number handy!
Example of a front loading HE machine. All front loading machines are treated as HE machines whether they explicitly state HE or n