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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Bleach Usage Differences Between Regular and HE Machines

By Dr. Laundry April 15, 2010

Q. It seems by reading the manual that comes with the Kenmore Elite HE washer that the bleach actually disperses only in the rinse cycle as opposed to the wash cycle. Is this a correct interpretation for all front loading machines? This is a big departure from having the bleach mix with the soap in the wash cycle at the beginning using a regular washing machine – any comments or advice? Big bleach users should be aware before buying.

A. WOW. It’s amazing that somebody actually reads those manuals. Getting to know your new HE washer is a great idea as they are very different from the old top loaders.

Many things are different about liquid bleach usage in HE washers:


  • The bleach dispenser is located with all the other dispensers, and its small size can lead to challenges getting product into it

  • The bleach amount in the dispenser is less than the toploaders

  • You can’t add liquid bleach directly to the washer once it’s started

  • The liquid bleach is usually dispensed at the beginning of a rinse cycle rather than added with detergent, as with top loaders


The rationale for the later/rinse addition is that the detergent has done a lot of cleaning and the liquid bleach can work with or without the detergent. Adding in the first rinse should do a good job of finishing the cleaning, whitening and now disinfecting the clothes.

Advice- add as much bleach as possible since the HE washers also have larger clothes capacity and you want to get the best cleaning results.

Hope this helps and let me know if you have any further questions.