Is It Bad To Underload Your Washing Machine?

Doing laundry does not have to be complicated.

However, there are rules you need to follow if you want to make your machine (and clothes) last a longer time. This brings us to the topic of only putting a few dirty clothes in your washer.

Will this habit be okay to do? After all, underloading the washing machine is different from overloading it, which we know is bad for our appliance.

Let’s find out.

Is it okay to underload your washer?

Overloading our washers with dirty laundry can cause a lot of problems. Ever since we started washing our clothes, we heard it time and again: “Filling the washer with clothes will cause it to break”.

But what about underfilling it? Surely, that’s okay and not as bad as cramming all your clothes in the machine, right? Not exactly.

To answer the question, yes, underloading your washer is as bad as overloading it. Why? Because it can cause loads of issues with your washer, dryer, and even your clothing.

When can you say that you are underloading your machine?

Here is a simple way to do it:

An underload or a small load will fill 1/3 or less than half of your washer’s drum.

small load in drum illustration

Medium loads will half-fill the drum with dirty laundry, while large loads will occupy ¾ of the space. An overload means that there is little to no space in the drum, and that it’s already full of dirty clothing.

Both underloading and overloading your machine are bad, whether it’s your washer or dryer. In fact, the optimal volume in doing your laundry is when you’re doing medium to large loads. This makes the laundry fill half but not over ¾ of your machine’s drum.

Yes, there are times when you only have to wash two or four garments. However, it’s best to wait until you have at least a medium load before you start your washer to be more efficient and save your resources.

Clear signs that you’re not putting enough laundry in your washer:

  • The drum is less than half-full
  • The machine is making weird noises
  • The laundry is still quite dirty

Reasons why underloading your washer is a bad idea

By now, you may be curious as to why underfilling your machine is bad. What’s the deal – washing a few clothes is not a big deal, right?

Underloading your machine one time will not cause it immediate damage. It’s doing so frequently that’ll cause you several problems.

Here are the reasons why you should only wash laundry in medium or large loads:

It can damage your washing machine

When you’re not putting enough laundry in your washer, either it’ll be off-balance, causing its drum to spin lopsidedly, or not spin, leaving your garments wet once the cycle is complete.

Manufacturers specifically design the machines to work according to their weight capacities. Some machines can accommodate around 6 or less kilograms of laundry, while others can even wash 20 kilograms worth of clothing.

If you forgot your machine’s capacity, read its manual or look up its model online to be sure.  

It can ruin your clothes

In many cases, what happens when you only wash a few garments is that they have too much space to move around. As a result, the force that spins the laundry can be too abrasive and too much on your fabrics.

A washing machine with clothes in it

Also, not adjusting your detergent and using the regular amount will be too harsh on your clothes. You will notice this when your garments are slimy after the wash or if their colours are fading too quickly.

SEE ALSO: Can You Wash Clothes With Just Water? (here’s how)

It can increase your electricity bills

When you’re doing only small loads of laundry, this will also mean that you’re washing your garments more frequently than you’re supposed to.

Unfortunately, this habit will cause you to use more resources than normal. You’re using more detergent, water, and of course, electricity. Aside from this, you’re probably also using your dryer more, too, if you don’t air dry your clothes.

Just imagine how expensive it can be doing small loads when you can just wait and do a medium load, at the least.

Stop underloading your washer!

Underfilling your washing machine can be a very expensive mistake you’ll regret doing.

Not only will it ruin your clothes and hijack your electricity bill, but also, there’s always the chance that it’ll damage your appliance. What if the damage is enough for you to need a new washing machine?

If you’re like us and would want to keep our appliances in tip-top shape, make sure to fill your washer with at least half to ¾ worth of laundry. Or else, get that repair or replacement budget ready.

Do you have any questions? Feel free to share them below!

SEE ALSO: Clothes Come Out Of Washing Machine Smelling? (here’s why & what to do)

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if you underload your washing machine?

When you underload your washing machine, you’ll use more electricity in the long run due to the frequent washing. Also, your clothes will not be as clean as they should be, and your machine will have a shorter lifespan due to it being off-balance.

Is it better to underload or overload a washing machine?

Both underloading and overloading your washing machine will cause it damage. Stick to putting in just the right amount of laundry to keep your appliances in great condition.

How small can a wash load be?

A small wash load will occupy less than 50% of your washing machine’s drum. This is not advisable as it makes your washer off-balance and less efficient.

Do quick washes use more energy?

Quick washes use less energy as they make use of cooler water and have a shorter spin duration.

What is the most cost-effective way to wash clothes?

The most economical way to wash clothes while still using your machine is to use cold water (30°C or lower). Using hotter cycles can be very expensive as it uses more energy, which will increase your electricity bills.

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