Can You Put Just One Item In The Washing Machine?

Yes, you can wash a single item in the washing machine without damaging it  – but should you? 

Washing just one item might seem like a waste of water and energy, but with the right approach, it can be done efficiently. 

Continue reading to learn how to choose the ideal settings for your washing machine, determine the size and weight considerations for your items, and decide if it’s worth running that small wash load.

What To Consider When Washing A Single Item In The Washer

laundry room with pile of clothes

Before you go putting a single item in the washer, take the following into account:

The Size And Weight Of Your Item

The size and weight of the item play a crucial role. Larger or heavier items, such as blankets, pillows, duvets, or coats, require more space and water to wash effectively. Always make sure they are laid out evenly to prevent any issues with the spin cycle.

Delicate or lightweight items, like silk or lingerie, should be washed with similar fabrics to avoid damage or tangling.

The Water and Energy Usage

Modern washing machines are designed to be economical with water and energy, even for smaller loads. 

Many models come with options such as quick wash or delicate cycles, tailored for fewer or more sensitive clothes. By selecting the appropriate wash cycle and controlling the water level, you can reduce water and energy consumption while still achieving effective cleaning.

Your Washing Machine Type

The model of your washing machine can greatly influence the effectiveness of washing a single item. Front-loading machines, known for their efficiency and gentle tumbling action, are generally more suitable for washing single items compared to top-loading machines.

How To Wash A Single Item In The Washing Machine

Always check the wash care labels

Before washing any item in the machine, follow these important steps:

  1. Read the care label for specific instructions.
  2. If the clothing is stained or very dirty, pre-treat these areas with a stain remover or detergent before washing.
  3. Ensure the item is spread out evenly in the drum to maintain a balanced wash.

Choose The Right Settings

Many washing machines provide a half-load or small-load option which helps reduce water consumption. 

Additionally, selecting the eco mode on your machine can significantly decrease power usage, as it uses less electricity compared to a normal wash. 

For washing at lower temperatures, cold water is equally effective as warm water and more energy-efficient.

Select A Slower Spin Cycle

When washing just one item, reducing the spin speed is advisable. A slower spin cycle helps prevent the washing machine from working too hard, which is not as effective when the drum is not fully loaded. 

This may result in a longer drying time, but it’s better for the machine’s longevity.

Pro tip: Even when washing a single item, ensure it’s within the washing machine’s maximum load capacity, usually around 8kg. Putting in something too heavy could damage the machine. 

Is It Worth Washing A Single Item?

open washing machine door

While there is no harm in running a washing machine with hardly anything in it—in fact, an empty cycle is often recommended to keep the machine clean—think about the cost. 

Using water, power, and detergent for only one item can be considered wasteful. However, if you need to wash a single large item like a heavy duvet or rug, the washing machine can handle it efficiently, provided you choose the correct settings and prepare properly. 

Always consider whether waiting until you have more items for at least a half-load could be a more economical and environmentally friendly option.

SEE ALSO: How To Find Items You Lost In The Washing Machine

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you wash a single item in a washing machine?

Yes, you can wash a single item in a washing machine. It’s important to choose the right settings and ensure the item is spread out evenly to avoid any issues.

Will a washing machine spin with one item?

Yes, a washing machine will spin with just one item, though it’s advisable to use a slower spin cycle to prevent the machine from working too hard, which can be less effective when the drum is not fully loaded.

Do small loads damage washing machines?

Small loads do not inherently damage washing machines, but it’s important to ensure the load is balanced and the appropriate settings are used to avoid any potential issues.

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