Is Washing Machine Taking In Enough Water?

The washing machine must be one of the most time saving technological advancements of the modern era. Go back around 100 years and all laundry had to be carried to a source of water, washed and scrubbed by hand before being wrung to remove moisture and then hung out to dry.

Nowadays most homes have their own washing machine and all you need to do is put the clothes in, add detergent, press a few buttons and walk away. There’s no denying that the washing machine saves time and with modern advancements it saves energy as well.

But what about water usage? In this article I look at the amount of water a washing machine uses as well as whether it uses enough water to get clothes clean and much more besides. Keep reading to find out more.

How Much Water Does An Average Washing Machine Use?

Before we can tell if your washer is using enough water, we need to know just how much water it should be using. The amount of water a modern washer uses is affected by a few factors. Which are;

  • The Drum Capacity
  • The Cycle Selected
  • The Energy Rating

Front Loader Or Top Loader; Which Type Of Washer Uses More Water?

When you stop to think about it, the answer to this question is obvious, but let’s go through it to make sure;

A Standard 40o C Wash Cycle Uses Around;

Type Of WasherAmount Of Water Used
Front Loader50-80 litres
Top Loader120-150 litres
Older washers180+ litres 

Top Loader Washing Machines

An average top loader will use more water than its front loading counterpart. Top loaders use around 150 litres ( 33 gallons) each cycle. This is because the drum needs to be filled with water for each cycle.

Front Loader Washing Machines

Generally speaking, front loaders are more efficient when it comes to water usage. A typical front loader will use around 80 litres ( 17.5 gallons) each cycle. However, there are some modern front loaders that only use around 50 litres (11 gallons) per cycle.

This is because a front loader tumbles the laundry through a small pool of water repeatedly. Many modern front loaders have extra features which improve even more on their reduced water consumption without having a detrimental effect on the cleaning quality.

These features include cycles like; quick washes, eco-washes as well as fabric specific wash cycles.

Overall this means it’s quite difficult to accurately answer the question: how much water does a washing machine use? For an accurate answer you need to take into account the type of washer, the capacity of the drum and the cycle selected.

Is The Washer Taking In Enough Water?

person changing the program on washing machine

Which brings us back to our original question. Modern front loader washing machines tend to use far less water than they did 20 or 30 years ago. However, you might think that there’s not enough water because you can’t see much evidence of it as the wash cycle progresses.

It’s fairly normal nowadays to not see much evidence of water through the door glass when the washer is running. But if you look closely you should see water droplets running down the glass door as the laundry is rotated inside the drum.

How To Tell If The Washing Machine Is Using Enough Water

You used to be able to see the water level rise in the drum as the washer filled up and ran through the wash cycle. Nowadays, the washers are designed to use less water and many have a recirculation pump that reuses the water from the sump and distributes it back around the drum.

The best analogy I can use here is that older front loaders used to completely cover the laundry just like when you soak in a bath. Whereas modern front loaders employ a system much like when you have a shower.

The laundry still gets wet and washed, but it uses far less water.

The best way to tell if your washer is using enough water is to inspect the clothes after the cycle has completed. Are the clothes clean and feeling damp or wet? If so, you can usually conclude that the washer is getting enough water to sufficiently clean your laundry.

Having said that, if the laundry comes out of the machine dry or nearly dry, stained and not smelling fresh, there’s a good chance that your machine isn’t running properly and could be water deficient. 

This could potentially be dangerous because the heating element is working and some of the components of the washer will be made from plastic which could potentially catch fire if they were to get too hot.

The outer drum for instance is made from plastic and coupled with the dry laundry inside the drum, could cause a fire if overheated with no water at all being present. If you suspect that this is the case, you should turn off the appliance and contact the manufacturer if it’s still under warranty or a technician if not.

SEE ALSO: 10 Washing Machine Fires Happen Every Week – Is Yours Next?

What Could Cause A Washing Machine To Not Take In Enough Water?

laundry room with pile of clothes

If you suspect that your washer isn’t taking in enough water, there are a few simple checks you can do. These include;

Inspect The Inlet Hose

All of the water that enters your washer does so through the inlet hose. If the inlet hose is twisted or kinked it could slow down or even prevent the flow of water from entering the appliance.

You should inspect the inlet hose and straighten any twists or kinks.

Inlet Hose Screen

At the end of the inlet hose where it connects to the washer, there is a small screen. This screen is designed to trap any dirt or grit from the water supply and prevent it from entering the washer.

To inspect this screen you will need to turn off the water supply by turning the inlet tap to the off position. Then remove the inlet hose and carefully remove the screen.

Take care as these screens are delicate and can break easily if handled too roughly. Inspect the screen and remove any debris including dirt, grit or limescale deposits.

If the screen breaks or becomes damaged, you will need to replace it. These screens are relatively cheap and easy to find as well as easy to fit.

Check The Inlet Tap

The inlet tap controls the flow rate of the water entering the appliance. If it has been accidentally turned slightly to the off position, it could result in a restricted flow of water into the washer.

Check that the inlet tap is fully opened to ensure an adequate flow rate into the washer.

Check The Inlet Valve

The inlet valve is controlled by the control board and opens and closes when required to allow water to flow into the washer. If the inlet valve has developed a fault, it could remain closed when it should be open.

This would prevent the washer from receiving any water at all or a reduced amount of water. You can check the inlet valve for continuity using a multimeter and replace it if it proves to be defective.

Are There Any Ways To Reduce A Washer’s Water Usage?

open washing machine door

Now that we’ve covered what to do if you suspect your washer isn’t using enough (or any) water, let’s look at ways to reduce water usage. There are a few things that you can do to reduce the amount of water used when washing your clothes, which include;

Buying An A-rated Appliance

Under the new energy rating system introduced in the UK on March the 1st 2021,all washing machines (and other appliances) are rated for efficiency from A-G with A-rated appliances being the most efficient and G-rated being the least efficient.

Washers with a higher energy rating (A-B) are designed to not only save energy, but also use water more efficiently as well. It’s worth looking for features like load sensors, auto dosing and load optimisation which all contribute to energy and water conservation.

Do Energy Ratings Include Water Usage?

In the EU the energy ratings tend to focus mainly on their energy usage and not bother with water consumption. In the UK however, the design of these energy efficient appliances includes reduced water consumption as well. This is because of internal sensors and precision auto dosing for detergents etc.

However, not everyone needs or can afford a new washing machine, but that doesn’t mean you can’t reduce your water usage on your existing appliance.

Adjusting The Washer’s Settings

Many washing machines have settings that can be custom selected to suit your needs and requirements to help maximise its efficiency. For instance using quick wash cycles for smaller loads, selecting lower temperature washes and reduced spin speeds for more delicate items.

Read your user manual to get to know all of the features available on your appliance. This will help you to reduce energy and water consumption and improve the longevity of your clothes and your washing machine.

Regularly Maintaining Your Appliance

You should regularly maintain your washer to keep it running as efficiently as possible. You should ensure that the filter is regularly cleaned, run a hot service wash to remove limescale, detergent residue, mould and mildew spores and generally keep your washer running efficiently.

Regularly maintaining your appliance will help save energy and water consumption as well as prevent certain possible issues that could lead to breakdowns and costly repairs.

Only Washing Full Wash Loads

By waiting until you have a full wash load, you will save water and energy as well as reducing the wear and tear on your washer. This will also help to extend the lifespan of your appliance.

Which Washing Machines Use The Least Amount Of Water?

Two people putting clothes in a laundry basket from the washer

As we have seen there are a number of factors that contribute to the amount of water a washing machine uses. With that said, front loaders consistently use less water than top loaders due to the variances in their design.

However, there are many top loaders that have improved water efficiency with many reducing their water usage quite considerably. These HE (high efficiency) top loaders use around 60 litres (13 gallons) of water which is significantly less than a standard top loader which uses around 150 litres ( 33 gallons).

In the UK front loaders are a more popular choice when it comes to washing machines partly because of the convenience of being able to put a worktop over the appliance. With modern wash cycles and energy ratings you will find a large choice of energy and water efficient front loader washing machines available from all electrical retailers.

SEE ALSO: Why Your Washing Machine Has Low Water Pressure (explained)

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if my washing machine is getting enough water?

You will know if your washing machine is getting enough water if your laundry is coming out clean and damp and smelling fresh.

Is my washing machine supposed to be full of water?

Whether your washing machine is supposed to be full of water depends on the type of appliance you have. If your front loader washing machine is full of water it probably has a problem as front loaders are designed to use less water. On the other hand, a top loader is designed to be full of water when washing clothes.

Do modern washing machines use less water?

Yes, modern washing machines do use less water compared to older style washers. Front loaders use less than top loaders but even top loaders have reduced water usage now compared to older machines.

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