underloading washing machine

Is Underloading Your Washing Machine Bad?

Time and time again we are told to avoid overloading our washing machines, due to the damage it can do to both our laundry and machine. 

But what about underloading? Should we be avoiding that too?


Is Underloading Bad?

underloading washing machine

Yes! Using a washing machine with the drum less than around 25-50% full can cause long term damage to your washing machine. 

This is partly due to the load being too small to spread evenly throughout the drum, leading to imbalances within the machine during the course of the wash. 

You’re likely to know if this is happening to your laundry, as part way through the cycle your machine will start making a loud thumping sound.

Putting a wash on with only a small number of items in won’t just cause problems for your machine. It’s also a huge waste of electricity and water, which has both a negative impact on the environment and your energy bill! 

Another downside to underloading your machine is that the concentration of laundry detergent is often affected (there will be too much detergent for the clothes). 

If this is the case, your garments are more likely to become damaged and wear out at a faster rate than they usually would! 

In some cases, items become caught up together in the drum, meaning a thorough wash is sometimes not achieved due to a decreased mechanical action (basically the items are too clumped together to rub against other laundry). 

As a rough guide, we should be aiming for a drum that is one half to three quarters full. 

This is the optimum load size for machine longevity, long-term clothing quality, helping the environment and energy bill savings! 


What Are the Signs of an Underloaded Washing Machine?

underloaded washing machine

Here are some key indicators to look out for when trying to work out if you’re underloading your washer:

  • The drum is less than 25-50% full
  • Loud thumping sound at some point during the cycle
  • Laundry left in a puddle of water at the end of the cycle (this happens due to the low weight of the laundry affecting the spin) 
  • Laundry not washed very well


Is it Ever Necessary to Wash Just a Single Item?

single item wash

Yes, depending on what the item is. Obviously, it’s best to avoid washing a single T-shirt due to the reasons above, but larger items such as a rug or a duvet require their own space.

Ensure that the rug, for example, is evenly spread around the drum for best washing results. 

All in all, underloading your machine is a waste of money, both in terms of your energy bill and long-term costs such as having to buy a new washing machine or clothing!