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What Should I Know About Washing Machine Capacity?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 16, 2024
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Washing machines come in many types and styles but one thing that still requires a lot of consideration is exactly how big of a load you can fit in a washing machine. If you don’t wash clothes often, then it may not really matter what size washing machine capacity you have. To save space, you may just want an energy saving washer that will clean the occasional small load. What is difficult for many people is if they don’t have enough washing machine capacity. In this case, they may end up having to do laundry all the time, and use up more energy and water to provide enough clean clothes for a family.

First you should know that washing machine capacity isn’t always uniform. You really want to look for actual weight of clothes that would constitute a “load,” instead of going by names like Super Capacity or Extra Capacity. These names may not be descriptive enough to help you determine what you can fit in one load.

Washing machine capacity may be measured in pounds or kilograms. This means the average weight of a load. For instance, a washing machine with a 5kg or about 11 pound capacity is considered mid-sized. You can wash a load that weight about 11 pounds. If you’re unsure how much your laundry loads usually weigh, pack a load into a normal trash bag and weigh it on your bathroom scale. Make sure you pack one load that contains heavier items like denim. This will help you determine how many pairs of jeans would be too much weight for your washer.

If your normal load size is usually greater than 11 pounds, you’ll want to look for a washer with greater capacity. Consider looking for those that allow about 6-7 kg or about 13-15 pounds. You can even find larger ones if you have constant laundry to do, as for example if you have a big family and loads of diapers to do each day.

Sometimes it’s a little tricky to look at washing machine capacity instructions because they’re more like advertisements instead of instructions. Machines that say their capacity is enough to wash a king-sized comforter or 18 towels may not be all that helpful if you’re determining load size by weight. When in doubt, and when these vague descriptions of capacity are used, ask vendors to give you specifics on weight of load size. This may give you a better indication of how much a washing machine will hold.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a HomeQuestionsAnswered contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon989651 — On Mar 16, 2015

The problem with the washers now is that you can't adjust the amount of water you use. The machine determines water levels. When you put in a small load of jeans, four pairs or so, for example, even if it's a large capacity machine, the water level is so low- because the machine 'reads' the volume as being smaller-that there's a drag on the washing motion. This is why the gears burn out. Repair diagnosis is always overloading, but I don't think this is what's really the cause. When I wash those four pairs of jeans, if I could add a little more water so the clothes move freely, there wouldn't be as much of a drag and there wouldn't be a problem.

This enforced passive water saving is idiotic. There are too many variables when washing clothes. No one wants to waste water, not just because we need to save water, but because most intelligent adults are always keeping an eye on expenses. Water isn't free.

Back in the 70s there were no such things as water saving toilets, but you could flush with half the water if you filled a half gallon milk bottle with water and put it in your toilet tank. Hazzah! Cheaper water bill! (Yep, I did this!)

Now, I can't even lift the lid of the washer once it starts to fill. It's locked, not just when it spins, which makes sense, but when it fills. Supposedly for safety. My days of having a houseful of kids are over, and the last thing I need is a locked lid on my washer. Even when I had kids, I never had a problem. The only safety issue was the spinning not the filling. I'm guessing that the locked lid on filling might be so I can't take a bucket and dump in more water? (Just a thought.) But I can keep calling a repairman, pay for all those repairs and/or finally end up having to buy yet another washer!

Yes, I understand that if you have small children you might need a locking lid on your washer. Especially if your child has access to the machine and is prone to tossing in toys, etc. This should be an option. Medications come in bottles with safety lids so kids can't open them. But I can request that my pharmacist not use these, because they're hard for me to open.

In the US, our government is supposed to be a bottom up government, not a top down government. We are supposed to have a consumer driven free market economy, not a controlled marketplace where what is produced is dictated by the government and pricing is determined by social (Political) agendas. This washer thing is truly frustrating, and we're just accepting this enforced passive stuff. We complain about the problem but we don't do anything about it. We can pay and pay and pay, but we can't think for ourselves?

Personally, I'm going to find a good used appliance store and get a dependable reconditioned Maytag, like the one I had for 35 years-before these swell shiny new 'green' models caught my eye and jabbed my conscience. As for my conscience, I'm really in the clear, anyway. By buying an older, reconditioned washer I'll still be doing my part. And I've always been a good conservationist.

Plus, I'm wondering if maybe making a dent in the sales of the new machines, and expressing dissatisfaction to representatives and congresspeople, might encourage lawmakers and manufacturers to re-think some of this? If I remember correctly with my passive, sluggish brain, that's the way things are supposed to work, here.

By anon985628 — On Jan 17, 2015

I have trouble with my front loader not washing well. I have to assume I put too much in as I have tried every other option in the entire universe. The machine telling you the weight really should be possible as said above. I now have my scales out. It's kind of inconvenient really!

By anon338839 — On Jun 18, 2013

Wouldn't it be nice if the machine had a simple weighing system built in, like a similar mechanism to a bathroom scale. Then it could tell you as you added each garment, how much capacity is being used. It could even tell you when it was overloaded before the water went in so you could remove some garments.

Of course, that would give people a true idea of their washing machine's capability -- maybe not something the manufacturers would want visible.

By anon314916 — On Jan 21, 2013

I was wondering: If you have a 6kg max load washing machine, and therefore the equivalent synthetic load is 3kg, will you damage your washing machine by shoving in 5kg of synthetics (I wash a lot of nylon vests), or will it just mean the wash quality isn't that good? --Ross

By anon303447 — On Nov 14, 2012

When it's filled with water, the weight of the water vastly overwhelms the idea of the weight of the clothes.

When you overload the washer, it's usually because you put in too many clothes, and didn't select enough water. Washing a medium or large load of jeans in a smaller amount of water can tear things up, since the clothes are wet. With the same amount of clothes in enough water, the clothes can move freely and aren't anywhere near the load on the gearbox.

If you're close, go the next size up so there's enough water for the clothes to move freely.

I have a super capacity, but routinely wash far more than what you're talking about. Volume is the key factor. If you have enough volume of water it is much easier to move a larger amount of clothes.

By anon283877 — On Aug 07, 2012

I'm going to buy a washing machine, but I'd like to wash a king size blanket or comforter with it. I'd like to know that can I wash king size comforter with 7 kg washing machine or do I need to buy a bigger washing machine?

By anon265453 — On May 01, 2012

@anon 153213: The reason you and other users may have 'overloaded' the washing machine but you can't reach the weight when weighing dry clothes is that only the cotton wash on modern machines is a full load. Synthetics, wool, etc., are all half loads or less. So a 7kg machine will only do a max 3.5kg synthetic and 2kg wool or delicates wash. So for example, if you're putting a 5kg synthetic wash into a 7kg you will actually be overloading it! Crazy, right?

Also 7kg is the weight, the volume is noted separately in litres.

By anon255929 — On Mar 19, 2012

Most of the clothing today is made out of 100 percent cotton and or 60/40 poly/cotton. Always keep in mind that cotton absorbs three times its weight. So if a pair of jeans is 2 pounds dry, then when it gets wet it's 6 pounds. Poly/cotton absorbs about 1.25 pounds. Always wash likes all the time. Towels with towels, jeans with jeans, etc., etc. Don't mix your load so you won't have the unbalanced load, vibration and clothes not getting cleaned. Always go to the "1" line of your detergent cup. You'll be surprised how much you save in detergent. Clothes come out more fresh, cleaner and best of all, take less time to dry. No high electric or gas bill to dry your clothes.

By anon253806 — On Mar 10, 2012

Does a very small load damage a newer high efficiency machine? It's only a once in a while thing and not normal.

By anon246396 — On Feb 09, 2012

I do not have any bathroom scales. I am male, live alone and am straight. I don't need any. What do king size duvets with synthetic filling typically weigh, please?

By anon153213 — On Feb 16, 2011

I had a 4 year old LG 7.5kg top loading washing machine. It stopped doing the washing sequence so in it went for repair. Turned out the gearbox was broken as a result on overloading. Turned out he had five similar machines in stock with the same problem. Question is How do you weigh a load? Wet or dry? I tried today and had difficulty reaching the load limit with dry washing.

By anon151292 — On Feb 10, 2011

anon32524 is correct! All the machines advertise cubic capacity, not weight. Telling us about kilograms is useless.

By anon147785 — On Jan 30, 2011

I have a Norge top load washer that I bought about 22 years ago and it's been fantastic in every way. I don't think they are made anymore, but mine has a 20 lb. load capacity and I would never buy one with a lower capacity. You really need at least a 20 lb. capacity if you wash comforters or several pairs of blue jeans.

By anon139021 — On Jan 03, 2011

would anyone know the loading capacity of a Kenmore 110.92582420 washer?

By anon112237 — On Sep 19, 2010

I bought a Admiral 3.2 cu ft washer. it works great

but the instructions do not list maximum weight of a full load. Not sure about other manufacturers but I would guess they do the same. This is due to sales of product and competition, I suppose.

It is unfortunate for consumers and the environment

because undersized loads will waste water and power

and cost us more to operate the unit. Oversize loads could damage the washer, also costing us more money.

The next time I need to purchase a washer I will ask for the capacity in pounds because this is the true determination of load size.

Hope others do the same. it will be better for all.

By anon109731 — On Sep 08, 2010

i want to know the number of clothes that a washing machine can take? for example, how many cotton shirts can a 10kg machine wash in one operating cycle?

By anon72631 — On Mar 23, 2010

Cubic footage is a useless measurement of capacity. A load of synthetic fleece sweaters will take up many cubic feet while not weighing as much. A load of canvas or denim jeans won't take up much space, but weighs much more than the fleece.

Most commercial washers/dryers are rated by the number of pounds the drum and drive will hold and spin effectively. For exampled, my laundromat has 20, 30, 50 and 80 pound washers. those are huge when compared to the 12 pound top-loading washers that have been the standard "single load" for years.

By anon32524 — On May 22, 2009

have been selling washers for 3 years. have never seen any reference to capacity by weight!? ratings are cubic foot as per I.E.C. standards. can't find iec stds. on web. comparison of weight to cu. ft. would be helpful to consumers.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a HomeQuestionsAnswered contributor,...
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