It’s definitely tempting, if you haven’t managed to get a laundry done in a while, to just empty your laundry basket into your washer and call it a day.
This is actually not a great idea, it turns out. As well as meaning you’re not getting the best cleaning power out of your washing machine, it will also mean that your clothes aren’t actually getting as clean as they could be.
Loading your washing machine correctly can improve the efficiency of your machine, giving you better cleaning results and extending the lifespan of the washer in some cases. Overloading can cause several problems, including wrinkled clothes, soap staining and improper cleaning. Loading your machine properly will also help you cut down on waste.
There are several steps to loading a machine correctly, which we’ll go over in this guide.
I’ll also talk about what issues you might face if the machine hasn’t been loaded properly, so you know what you’re avoiding.
Why Overloading a Washing Machine is Bad
If you overload the machine, then a bunch of issues will start popping up!
Wrinkled clothes: With the clothes packed so tightly into the machine, there isn’t really room for them to breathe, meaning the clothes are likely to be crinkled and creased when they come out the machine.
This means you might need to iron them or press them for a while afterwards, which will take a lot of time.
Less effective cleaning: Again, since the clothes are packed together so tightly, there isn’t space for the water to get in between and clean certain areas.
Combine this with the wrinkling and there will be plenty of parts of your clothes that haven’t been touched by soapy water.
The cleaning, then, will be much less effective and you may find that some parts of your clothes haven’t been cleaned at all.
This will usually meant that the clothes will smell damp and not clean when they come out, which means they might have to go right back in again (but not all of them).
Washing machine damage: If you consistently overload the washing machine, this can actually eventually cause lasting, relatively serious damage to the machine.
Because of all the extra weight, spinning can start to bend the frame of the washer and even damage the motor.
This can lead to costly repairs or replacements.
Fabric damage: This only applies to top-loaded washing machines.
If the level of clothes inside the machine is above the agitator, they can actually sustain damage to the fabric from rubbing against the agitator during the wash.
All these issues can be avoided with proper loading and will save you a lot of time and leave your clothes fresher.
There are different rules for each kind of washing machine, so we’ll look at them in turn.
General Loading Considerations
Some things that you always want to check before loading the machine which will help with cleaning efficiency.
Check pockets: Always check the pockets of whatever you’re washing.
Not only will things left in the pockets such as metal items like keys potentially damage the washing machine, but if you have small electronics like car keys in the pockets, these can actually be damaged by the water as well!
Things like tissues will flake apart and leave small white bits of debris stuck to your clothes.
Zip up zips: To avoid metal bits flying about, always zip up zippers and fasten buttons and hooks.
This will prevent tangling and damage to the washer.
Turn clothes inside out: To prevent fading, you can turn darker clothes like jeans inside out.
This is also good for t-shirts with logos on them that you want to keep in good condition.
These general tips apply to all washers, so let’s get to some specifics!
How to Load a Top Load Washer
There are both standard and high efficiency washers so they’ll have slightly different loading rules.
As mentioned before, top load washers have a central agitator which spins the clothes around.
The most important part here is to make sure you don’t load the clothes above this.
You want to spread the clothes around the agitator in a balanced way.
Keeping the weight down will also prevent the washer from becoming unbalanced and “walking” across the room from the vibrations.
When washing larger items like bedsheets, make sure not to twist them around the agitator. If you can, place the sheet on one side and balance it with another sheet on the other side.
If the washer does not have an automatic detergent dispenser, add the recommended amount to the bottom of the empty drum.
It’s important that this is added before any clothes, to make sure that the detergent dissolves properly and avoid it sitting on clothes, which can cause staining.
If you’re using laundry pods, this isn’t such an issue, as they can behave in the same way as an automatic detergent dispenser.
High Efficiency Model
Rather than a central agitator, these models have a rotating drum but most of the same steps can be followed.
Since they use a lot less water than the standard models, it’s really important to make sure you put the detergent in first otherwise it definitely won’t dissolve properly.
The key thing with loading is to avoid piling the clothes in the centre of the drum.
Evenly distributing them as best you can around the edge of the drum will give you the best results and keep the machine balanced.
These steps will ensure a good wash and keep your top load machines in good health.
If you live in Europe, like me, then you’ll be more familiar with the front loading machines, which we’ll look at now.
How to Load a Front Load Washer
Pretty much all models of front load washing machines have laundry detergent dispensers so there’s less confusion in that area.
For these washers, it’s best to put the dirtiest clothes in first, to ensure that they get the most soapy water, which they need.
If you have the patience, the clothes should be loaded in one at a time to prevent tangling, which will give you a less effective wash.
Front load washing machines actually tend to work better the heavier the load is, so if you can match your load close to the maximum recommended load (found in the manufacturer’s guidelines), this will definitely help.
Again, overloading will lead to drum damage such as warping which can really ruin the washing machine.
For front loading washing machines, a good rule of thumb is that if you can fit your hand into the drum with your clothes, then that’s full enough.
If you can’t fit your hand in, then take some of the clothes out before starting the cycle.
Once it’s loaded satisfactorily, you can start the cycle.
So, as you can see, there’s actually a lot more to loading than meets the eye.
A lot of it is up to your best judgement, but you can always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions if you’re unsure, which will give you the best results.
As long as you’re not stuffing clothes in and feeling it becoming properly crammed, you’ll be fine.
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