pre-wash in washing machine

What Is Pre-Wash in a Washing Machine?

Modern washing machines come with lots of fancy cycles, most of which are self-explanatory.

But there are a few that aren’t as easy to understand! The pre-wash cycle is one of them.

So, what is this so-called pre-wash cycle, when should you use it and how do you use it? Let’s find out all about a pre-wash cycle in a washing machine.


What Is a Pre-Wash Cycle?

The purpose of a pre-wash cycle is to clean particularly dirty clothes before they enter the main washing cycle.

A pre-wash cycle is usually run with cold water and detergent. And in some cases, although not essential, you can add a stain remover to the washing machine to help the pre-wash cycle remove troubling stains from heavily soiled laundry.

Some people also choose to run a pre-wash with just water, but it usually works out better for your grubby laundry if you use some detergent. 

What Is Pre-Wash in a Washing Machine


When Should You Use a Pre-Wash Cycle?

Selecting washing machine cycle

When you have lots of heavily soiled clothes to clean, a pre-wash will be very useful and will aid the washing process!

If you work in a particularly dirty environment, have kids, or do a lot of sport, your laundry pile will likely be filled with mucky items. A regular wash might not be able to lift all the stubborn dirt off these clothes for you, so this is where a pe-wash comes in handy.

If you were to run a pre-wash cycle these clothes would get an extra thorough clean. In turn, the clothes would be washed and disinfected to a higher standard by the time the washing machine finished, and items wouldn’t be left with nasty stains on them. 

A pre-wash cycle is also useful if you’re cleaning baby clothes. Baby clothes are almost always caked in grime, poo, urine and vomit. So, a pre-wash cycle in this case would help to loosen up the muck that’s gathered, and to sanitise the baby clothes even more so.

This, in turn, would make the newly washed clothes even more hygienic and safer for your baby. 


How Do You Use the Pre-Wash Feature?

washing machine compartment pre-wash

To use the pre-wash cycle just add your laundry into the washing machine’s drum as normal, and add a measure of detergent to the machine as you would usually do.

Then add some additional detergent to the pre-wash compartment in the washing machine’s drawer. This compartment is labelled ‘I’ on most washing machines.

You then need to select your “main wash” cycle, and you must tell your machine that you want it to do a “pre-wash” cycle too.

Once you press ‘Start’ on your washing machine, the pre-wash will begin. The appliance will fill with cold water, the pre-wash detergent will be released into the drum, and the clothes will be agitated and cleaned.

The dirty water from the pre-wash cycle will drain away at the end of the cycle, and fresh water will enter the washing machine when the main washing cycle starts.

The washing machine will automatically begin the main wash cycle, that was chosen by you at the start, once the pre-wash cycle has ended. You don’t need to tell the machine to move onto the next washing phase.


How Long Does a Pre-Wash Last?

A pre-wash cycle lasts for about three to five minutes in a lot of cases. Although, each make and model of washing machine does vary, so check your user manual for an exact time.


When Can’t You Run a Pre-Wash?

There are certain cycles that you can’t run a pre-wash on, these cycles include:

  • Quick wash cycle
  • Wool cycle
  • Delicate cycle
  • Hand wash cycle
  • Rinse and spin


Does a Pre-Wash Clean Clothes?

Yes, a pre-wash will loosen up and clean away a lot of dirt from heavily soiled clothes. However, it should be combined with a regular cycle to really clean clothes properly.


Do You Need 2 Lots of Detergent When Running a Pre-Wash Cycle?

detergent in washing machine compartment

Yes, you add your normal detergent to your washing machine and then you add extra detergent to the ‘pre-wash’ compartment in the washing machine’s drawer.

This additional detergent, which can be powder or liquid form, helps to break down stubborn stains, and cleans the laundry before the actual “main wash” takes place.


Is A Pre-Wash Necessary?

There’s a mixed debate on this topic really.

If you’re dealing with heavily soiled clothes on a regular basis, running a quick pre-wash can lift a lot of this stubborn dirt off the laundry for you. This then means that your items will be even cleaner by the time they’ve gone through their main wash, rinse and final spin. 

On the other hand, if your clothes are relatively clean to begin with, and they only need to be spruced up a tad in the wash, then you don’t need to use a pre-wash cycle. A regular wash, or even a quick wash cycle, would be more than enough to clean the laundry in this case.

Doing a pre-wash on slightly dirty clothes might be a little excessive and wasteful.


What’s Alternatives to a Pre-Wash Cycle Are There?

stain treatment on clothes

If your clothes are heavily stained, and you don’t want to use the pre-wash cycle, you could pre-treat your dirty laundry before washing it in the machine.

You would need to examine and treat your garments in accordance to what stains they are being plagued with. So, do plenty of research and find a suitable solution for your clothing.

But once you’ve treated your clothes, you can launder them as normal.


What Happens if You Use Too Much Detergent?

washing machine detergent

Overdoing it with detergent isn’t actually going to clean your clothes any better than when you use a regular measure of detergent.

If you use too much detergent your laundry will likely be covered in some detergent residue, your clothes may feel slimy or sticky too touch, and sometimes items can have a toughened texture.

To rectify this problem, you just need to run your laundry through a rinse cycle, without adding extra detergent. And when the rinse cycle is done, you need to remove the laundry and run an empty rinse cycle again – this will clear out excess detergent from the appliance itself.

You should stick to using the advised measurement of detergent in the washing machine. And when running a pre-wash cycle, you must follow the advice given on the packaging of your chosen detergent, so you use the correct dose.

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