Washing Machine Load Capacity Guide

First-time washer users may find themselves wishing for a washing machine load capacity guide. It can be confusing to know how much to load into the machine for the optimal wash. Don’t worry, this guide and a little bit of experience will make you a pro in no time!

Today, we’re going to clear up all the myths and give you straightforward answers with our ultimate washing machine load capacity guide! Skip to the bottom for information on recommended sizes for families, and a chart on how much clothes typically weigh.

Put simply, understanding the drum capacity of your washer is key. Without weighing each item you put in the wash, you can look at the tables below and get an idea of how much each size machine can handle.

Large capacity machines at the coin laundromat obviously hold more than a compact machine stacked in an apartment. Keep reading to find out more about the standard washer and what it can handle. Remember, more isn’t always better!

Is Overloading a Washing Machine Actually Bad?

As soon as you saw this article, you might well have thought “but is it seriously bad to overload my washing machine?”.

Let’s get this out of the way first as it’s a pretty fair (and common) question. After all, you want to use up all its space!

We can’t deny that it’s tempting to fill your washer’s drum to the brim. However, this isn’t such a good idea.

Firstly, your clothes won’t be cleaned properly. When you pack it full, the fabric can’t move around the drum. Especially with modern washers that are made to be water efficient. You’ve got to have room for the water to move around the clothes.

Too tightly-packed of a washer results in poorly washed clothes and possibly even more stains if one pair of muddied shorts rubs onto a t-shirt for the whole cycle.

Secondly, it might cause drainage problems. How? Because if there are loads of clothes blocking the channels, the water won’t be able to drain.

This can even lead to flooding in the laundry room, which is not fun.

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The most important reason, however, is because it could cause harm to your machine (which will cost you a lot of money to fix). Broken suspension rods or shock absorbers can be costly to repair.

When you put all your items in, it might not feel very heavy. But, when they’re sopping wet, everything becomes extremely heavy.

This results in an unbalance and will greatly impact your machine’s performance.

Check out this article on the unbalanced error code (UB) in a Samsung Washer.

Interestingly, Underfilling Can Be Bad Too

When it comes to washing machines, ensuring the load is “just right” is essential. Goldilocks in a washing machine! Underfilling can be just as much of a problem as overfilling. Why? Let’s find out.

When you put a small load in your washer, it creates an imbalance in the spin cycle.

In this case, all your clothes will clump together on one side of the drum. This is where that loud, irritating sound comes from.

Depending on the washing machine you have, underfilling it may cause it to simply not spin

Finally, there’s the cost factor. You are paying a load of money every time you underfill your washing machines. I don’t know about you, but water in my city is expensive!

Not to mention that you’ve wasted your time, detergent, and energy too. The trick is to simply wait until you have enough items to fill the drum correctly.

How Do I Determine the Capacity of My Washing Machine?

Alright, now we’re getting into the nitty-gritty. If you’re good at maths, you’ll probably love this section as we’re going to be calculating the volume.

washing machine load capacity guide

The Formula (skip this section if you don’t like math)

The formula for calculating your washing machine’s capacity is as follows:

(pi) (r squared) (D)

The values for each of these are:

  • Pi = 3.14
  • r = diameter divided by 2 (we’re going to look at how to measure this on your washer in a moment)
  • D = depth (i.e. the height of the cylinder)

How to Calculate the Capacity Using the Formula

Quick note: Make sure you measure everything in feet. Right, let’s get straight into the step-by-step.

Step One: Find the Radius of The Drum

Measure straight across the front of the drum. This will be the diameter. Then, divide that measurement by 2, and hey, presto, you’ve found the radius!

Step Two: Square the Radius

All you have to do here is to multiply the radius by the radius.

Step Three: Multiply by Pi

Now, take the radius squared and multiply it by pi. You could get really specific with this but there’s no need. Just multiply it by 3.14.

Step Four: Multiply by the Depth

To find the depth of your drum, just measure the height of the cylinder. Then, multiply step three’s answer by the depth. This is the volume capacity of your washing machine in cubic feet.

If all of this is too much math for you, simply go to your washer’s instruction manual to find your drum capacity and recommendations.

How Many Clothes Can Go In a 7-kg Washer?

We could spend ages trying to explain just how many clothes can go in a 7-kg washer. So, instead, we’ll make a handy-dandy quick-glance table that you can easily refer to when you’re about to throw stuff in the washing machine.

For those of you who don’t have a 7-kg washer (i.e. the standard size), you’ll benefit from this table too as we’re going to look at 6-kg to 10-kg drums.

 6kg Small Drum7kg Standard Drum9kg Large Drum10kg Extra Large Drum
No. T-shirts6101215
No. Trousers or Jeans2455
No. Socks or Underwear10202230
No. Towels (small, hand towels)5568
No. Bedsheets or Tablecloths22 (or 1 duvet cover)2 (or 1 duvet cover)3
No. Pillowcases or Sweatshirts2 (or 1 sweatshirt)2 (or 1 sweatshirt)2 (or 1 sweatshirt)4
Washing Machine Load Capacity Guide

It’s important to remember that the load capacity is measured by the weight of dry clothes. So, instead of just following the maximum number of items here.

You need to pay more attention to the number of specific items you can put in at once.

Okay, So How Many Towels Can I Wash In One Load?

The short answer to this question is “have a look at the table”. However, it wouldn’t be the ultimate guide if we didn’t talk about how to calculate your laundry load size yourself.

How to Calculate the Laundry Load Size Yourself

It’s really tricky to do this since you’d have to weigh each item of clothing to be 100% accurate. The cheat sheet below is how we suggest you calculate your load:

  • An extra-large button down shirt = 0.5 lbs (0.23 kg)
  • A sweatshirt = 1 lb (0.5 kg)
  • A full bedsheet = 1.3 lbs (0.6 kg)
  • A big towel or jeans (medium size) = 1.6 lbs (0.7 kg)

This is really only for those of you who want to be a tad more specific than the quick-glance table we showed you earlier!

What Size Washer Do You Need to Wash a King-Size Comforter?

To wash a king-size comforter, you need a 9-kg washing machine. Although, bear in mind that this will fit a medium king-size comforter.

If yours is a heavy-weight version, you will need to buy (or use) a 10-kg washing machine. If you have an 8-kg washing machine, you can only fit a queen-size comforter inside. Likewise, a double-size comforter will fit in a 7-kg washing machine!

If you don’t have the size washer you need for your bedding, never fear! No need to buy a washer to make it fit! A quick trip to the high capacity machines at the coin laundromat will get your comforter clean! Most dry cleaners have a service for all comforters, including those made of down. These options are cheaper than a larger washer. I get all my heavy bedding cleaned in the summer when I don’t need it!

Your Family Size VS Your Washer

Family size is one of the most important factors that come (or should come) into play when figuring out the washing machine size you need. As you might already imagine, the bigger the family, the bigger the washer.

Let’s get into the specifics, shall we? Large families obviously have more clothes, but they have more towels and bedding, too. Keep your cleanliness standards in mind when reviewing this info. If you wash the towels after every bath, you might want to opt for a bigger machine even for a small family. Just saying.

What Size Washing Machine Do I Need For a Family of 3?

If you’re a family of 3, you should aim to buy a 7-kg washing machine. This is the standard size so it won’t be hard to find.

There are plenty of models to choose from as well so have fun finding the perfect one for you!

A family of athletes or outdoorsmen will be doing more laundry than those who stay inside behind desks. If you dry clean your suits and dresses regularly, you’ll also do less laundry. Unless, of course, you wash your towels after each shower… or change sheets often because your kids wet the bed. (Invest in a waterproof pad!)

What Size Washer Do I Need For a Family of 4?

For a family of 4, a 7- to 8-kg washing machine should suffice. However, it does depend on the items you’re planning to regularly wash.

Why? Because the heavier the clothes or bed sheets are, the bigger your drum capacity needs to be.

What Size Washing Machine Do I Need For a Family of 7?

As a family of 7, you will be classed as a “very large family” in the washing machine world. Because of this, you need to purchase either an 11- or 12-kg washing machine.

Of course, this will cost more but it will actually end up saving you money in the long run.

We have a large family and the washing machine is always running. I recommend purchasing a high quality, water-efficient washing machine to keep the utility bills lower. Use pre-wash stain treatment to get clothes cleaner in those dirty spots, and run a shorter wash for lightly soiled. There are many tips to make life easier with lots of kids!

Use This Table as a General Guide

Drum SizeThe Best House Size
5kgA single person
6kgA couple
7kgA small family (i.e. a family of 3)
8kgA medium family (i.e. a family of 4)
9kgA large family (i.e. a family of 5 or 6)
10kgA large family (i.e. a family of 5 or 6)
11kgA very large family (i.e. a family of 7 and over)
12kgA very large family (i.e. a family of 7 and over)

washing machine load capacity guide experts!

You can call yourself a washing machine load capacity expert now! Practice makes perfect. If you try something and the clothes aren’t getting clean enough, try it again another way another time. You’ll figure out what works best for you!

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