First and for most (please don't share this with the detergent companies) you do not need to use as much detergent as they say you do. An over use of detergent is not only hard on your machine, but it's also hard on your clothes, as it never really comes out completely. Use half to a third of what they tell you to use.
Using cold water for most washs loads in really the best, it saves on color for your clothing and your clothes really go get just as clean as with hot water. The only items you want to use hot water on are bathroom towels, kitchen towels, sheets and pillow cases, especially if they are white.
I also recommend using Eco friendly detergents and cleaners, they get the dirt out, are not harmful to our water supply and your clothes will smell great without excessive perfumy smells.
I love Biokleen anything really, but my special favoties are their Oxygen Bleach Plus and Bac-Out which I love for bedding. As far as detergent, Vaska, Seventh Generation, and Ecos are the ones I have used and love .
So Stay Clean and Go Greeen