How to Properly Launder with Your non-HE Machine

When it comes to effectively washing laundry in non-HE machines, there are two important factors.

  1. Use the proper amount of a good detergent that corresponds with soil level.

  2. Use the water level corresponding to the load size.

    • The water level is the amount of water that enters the tub for a given load size. Levels include low, medium, high, and extra high. In a standard top loader, you want heavily soiled items to look like a stew, close enough to touch and rub each other clean and not swimming around on their own. Too much water will look like a soup and not have enough friction to get them clean. Too little water will look like chili and the items will move in a block without rubbing each other. Lightly soiled or everyday laundry should have a soupy-stew consistency.


At a minimum, every standard top loading non-HE washer will feature three main wash cycles: normal, permanent press, and delicate.
  • Great for everyday laundering at normal soil levels.
Permanent Press
  • A cycle designed to reduce wrinkling through various methods including slower spin and agitation or a partial drain and fill method to cool the water. Offers gentler agitation for dress shirts, pants and other business attire.
  • A constant agitation wash at a shorter and/or slower speed than normal. Designed for laces, silks, and other sensitive items that would be harmed by more abrasive agitation.
Heavy Duty
  • A cycle that can be selected for sturdy fabrics such as towels or jeans. It also is appropriate for heavily soiled items. This cycle offer a longer wash cycle with high-speed agitation and a high-speed spin to remove as much moisture as possible.
  • This cycle is designed for bleachable white items. This cycle will dispense the liquid bleach at the correct time. This cycle has a high-speed wash and spin speed.
Rinse and Spin
  • This cycle does not use detergent and does not provide deep cleaning. It can be used to remove minor blemishes on clothing.
Extra Rinse
  • A feature that lets a user set a second rinse cycle.
    • This is a truly unnecessary option. If you are washing an item that is heavily soiled, opt for a pre-rinse or light wash cycle. If you are interested in this option due to detergent sensitivities ensure you are loading your machine properly to allow the best agitation as to not interfere with rinsability. If it is a true sensitivity to the detergent residue at normal levels consider switching to a different detergent. This option is wasteful of water, energy, time and lastly can actually be damaging to fabrics. All fabrics are prone to hard water mineral build-up. This can lead to dinginess. Extra washing also equals extra wear on fabrics causing them to prematurely age.


Soil Levels
  • Within the main cycles are soil levels. The soil levels are typically “light,” “normal,” “heavy,” and “super,” and increase the cycle time and agitation depending upon the selected soil level.


Water Temperature Selections
The setting on a machine that dictates wash and rinse water temperature, typically cold, warm, hot, and assorted combinations.
  • Best for dark colors
  • Used for heavily soiled items that need warm or hot water for optimal cleaning. In order to be energy efficient, this warm or hot cycle is followed by a cold rinse.
  • Used for heavily soiled items that need warm or hot water for optimal cleaning. In order to be energy efficient, this warm or hot cycle is followed by a cold rinse.


Proper cleaning is very simple and easy. You should not be using too little detergent in too much water. If you find yourself needing to strip due to this issue it is an indicator that they are not properly cleaned and you need to change your wash routine. Properly cleaned items will not require stripping or bleaching.


For directions on washing with a HE machine, see our page “How to Properly Launder with Your HE Machine.”




By Kinsey Marie and edited by Nanci Rizzo