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How much water does a washing machine use?

If you’re looking to save on your water bill or are simply trying to be more cognizant of your water use, consider how much water your washing machine uses. Generally speaking, new high-efficiency (HE) washing machines offer greater water efficiency than older machines. Many HE washers are ENERGY STAR certified, which means they use about 25% less energy and 33% less water than regular washers1.

ENERGY STAR states that, on average, an ENERGY STAR certified washer uses 14 gallons of water per load, while a standard washing machine uses 20 gallons of water per load1. Based on this, an ENERGY STAR certified washer could save you about 6 gallons of water per load compared to a regular washer.

This guide from Whirlpool brand will cover the difference between HE and regular washers, what factors determine water usage and tips for making your machine more water-efficient.

Inside of a washer drum Inside of a washer drum

What are the most water-efficient washing machines?

Front-load HE washing machines are the most water-efficient option. HE top-load washers use more water due to their inclusion of impellers or agitators2. Both top-load and front-load HE washers will be more water-efficient than traditional washing machines.

Front-load vs top-load washer water usage

Older, non-HE top-load washer models typically use about 40 gallons of water per load because they soak laundry the entire wash cycle while an agitator carries out the cleaning process. HE front and top-load washers both use less water than standard washing machines per load as they fill only the bottom of the washer with water and move clothes through the water.

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Explore Whirlpool® front-load washers

Front-load washing machines from Whirlpool come in a variety of sizes and configurations, with features like Load & Go and Quick Wash settings to help make laundry day less of a chore. Explore Whirlpool® Front-Load Washers to find the right option for your home.

Clothes tumbling in a rinse cycle Clothes tumbling in a rinse cycle

What can affect washing machine water usage?

Your washing machine water usage can be affected by age, capacity, load size, bulky items, wash cycles and rinse settings. Read on below to learn more about what affects your washer’s water usage.

1. Age of washer

Older washing machine models typically use more water than modern machines. An old washing machine uses approximately 40–45 gallons each load, whereas an HE machine uses about 10–25 gallons.

2. Capacity

Large capacity washing machines tend to use more water per load than standard-sized washers. This is because large capacity washers have bigger washer drums, which require more water than a standard model.

3. Load size

The size of your laundry load can impact how much water is needed for a wash cycle. Larger loads require more water to saturate clothes for an effective wash, while smaller loads use less water in a single cycle.

4. What is being washed

Bulky items like bedding, towels, coats and jackets may require more water for proper cleaning. This is because these items may be more absorbent than standard clothing and need more water to be completely saturated during the wash cycle.

5. Wash cycles

Different wash cycles use different water levels based on load size as well as other settings selected.

NOTE: Wash cycles are designed for specific types of clothing and fabrics. Using wash cycles other than instructed could result in compromised performance. In addition, certain wash cycles can increase the time and energy used to complete a load, and may not meet Energy Star® standards.

6. Rinse settings

Fabric Softener or Extra Rinse settings3 will cause your appliance to use more water. Extra Rinse and Fabric Softener settings cause your machine to use a “deep fill rinse” rather than the standard spray rinse, which will require your washer to use more water than a traditional wash cycle.

Detergent pouring into a detergent dispenser on a white washing machine Detergent pouring into a detergent dispenser on a white washing machine

Tips for using an HE washer

If you have a traditional agitator model, you’re probably used to seeing more water in your washer. As a result, you may be wondering how using less water can provide the same clean. Although HE washers generally clean better than traditional dual-action agitator washers, there are a few tips to keep in mind to help achieve optimal cleaning performance.

1. Don’t add more water to an HE washer

One of the primary ways HE washers get clothes clean is through the wash action. Top-load washers with impellers and front-load washers use less water and rub clothes against each other. Lower water creates a higher concentration of detergent which improves cleaning.

2. Load clothes evenly

Take care when loading an HE washer. To improve performance, load clothes loosely and evenly around the impeller or washplate, taking care not to overload the washer. Make sure to always use HE detergent in HE washing machines.

3. Use HE detergent

Make sure to always use HE detergent in HE washing machines. We recommend Swash Laundry Detergent from Whirlpool.4 Swash Laundry Detergent is 8x concentrated, so you need less than regular detergent. Plus, HE detergent is safe for all washing machines, including HE.

4. Don’t add more items after washing begins

Once the clothes are dampened and moved via the washplate, the level of items will lower and settle. Do not add more items to the washing machine after this process has occurred. The washer basket will not fill with water as with an agitator-style washer. Some of the load may appear above the water line. This is normal.

If you would like to download or view product literature for your appliance, please visit our Manuals and Literature page.

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3. Available on select washer models.

4. Swash and the recommended brands are owned and distributed by Whirlpool Corporation.