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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Washing Towels in an HE Machine

By Dr. Laundry July 1, 2010

Q. I have an HE Washer and I have all white towels that get really nasty throughout the week. I pour bleach into the dispenser and put my detergent into the other dispenser, but my towels still do not look clean. I have only had the towels about 4 ½ months. I have even poured bleach into the machine only and put it on soak, but the machine will not soak up the bleach and it just soaks it in water, which is pointless. Please tell me how I can use bleach with my machine or presoak my towels in a way for them to look nice again.

A. A few more details might be helpful to provide you a better answer (brand of HE washer; source of nasty stains; brand of bleach, etc.).

A couple of things are working against you with the new HE machines. The bleach dispenser is smaller than on regular washers so you can’t add as much bleach or more when you have extra dirty items. The dispenser is programmed to add the bleach at a different time/cycle than in toploaders, and presoaking is not as easy or flexible as in the old toploaders.

Some things for you to try:


  • Make sure you are using either Clorox® Regular-Bleach or Clorox Plus® HE Bleach. You need the maximum strength of sodium hypochlorite active.

  • Fill the bleach dispenser to the top to get the most bleach into the load.

  • Use hot water to get the maximum cleaning power.

  • Consider a short presoak in a sink or bucket(1/4 cup Clorox bleach per gallon of warm water for 5-10 minutes), then wash in hot water using detergent and a full dispenser of Clorox® Regular-Bleach.