washing machine overload

What Happens if You Overload a Washing Machine?

Economising on your laundry loads is essential. It saves water and electricity, which is great for your wallet and the planet, and saves you time.  

Whilst it might seem like the best way to do this is by filling the washing machine with as many clothes as possible, there is such a thing as overloading a washing machine.

Many people are unaware that this can be damaging, not only their clothing, but also their machines.

Read on to find out what happens if you overload a washing machine and how much is too much. 

What Happens to Your Clothes if You Overload the Washing Machine? 

overloading washing machine

If your clothes are too tightly packed into your washing machine, they won’t have enough space to move around and separate from one another. This means that water and detergent can’t be evenly distributed and might not reach all of your items, or at least all parts of your items.

On one hand, the excess detergent builds up in one area and can leave a residue on your clothes. On the other hand, clothes, or parts of clothing, that don’t get any detergent remain dirty and stained.

You will have to then put these clothes back in the washing machine which is a waste of water, detergent and your time!

In addition to this, when a washing machine is overloaded, the clothes end up pressing against the door. As they spin round, they can get caught on the rubber door seal and rip. 


What Happens to the Washing Machine if You Overload It?

What Happens to the Washing Machine if You Overload It

Whilst having to wash your clothes again doesn’t seem too serious, an overloaded washing machine can also cause damage to your machine such as: 

  • Blocked pipes: Smaller items of clothing can end up getting pushed into the drainage pipe and get stuck. This can cause the machine to stop mid-cycle, leaving you with sodden clothes.
  • A leaking machine: If the water can’t properly drain from the machine, it may end up escaping from other parts of the machine and onto your floor. 
  • Damage to the drum: The combination of the sealed door and the high spinning speed can create a lot of pressure in the drum. If the drum is too full, this can put pressure on the bearings, the alignment, the motor and even cause the glass to crack. 

These issues require professional help to fix which could be very costly. Especially if the machine is damaged beyond repair. 


How Much Should You Fill Your Washing Machine? 

maximum load weight for washing machine

The maximum load weight for each washing machine is usually detailed in the instruction manual, but can also be indicated on the front of the machine itself. This weight refers to dry clothing.

If you are able, you could weigh the clothes you need to wash before loading them into the machine. That way, you can add or remove items as appropriate. 

However, if you are unable to weigh your clothes, aim to fill the drum three quarters of the way to the top. If that seems abstract, you can test it by putting your hand on the top of the load. 

There should be enough space between the top of the pile and the top of the drum to easily place your hand. If you can’t get your hand in, or you have to force it, the machine is overloaded. 


Is it Possible to Underload a Washing Machine?

If worrying about overloading wasn’t enough, you can also underload your machine too!

Fortunately, it’s unlikely to damage the machine if you underload it. Instead, you will most likely have to put up with loud banging and heavy vibrations. But it’s also a waste of money, water and time, so it’s best to wait until you have enough clothes to run a cycle.