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How to use a top load washer: instructions, features & tips

When your family’s dirty clothes have piled up throughout the week, getting started on your laundry may feel like a challenge. Whirlpool® Top Load Washers are ready to handle your fabric challenges and help you keep laundry day on track. Get the most out of your appliance with these tips for how to use a top load washing machine.

Step 1: Sort and prepare your laundry

To get the most out of every wash cycle, sort your fabrics by recommended water temperature, cycle setting and colors. Empty pockets of loose change, buttons and other items that can become loose during the cycle. If you have stubborn stains, pretreat them according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Liquid laundry detergent pouring into washer Liquid laundry detergent pouring into washer

Step 2: How to put detergent in top load washer

Once your laundry is sorted and prepared for washing, add a measured amount of detergent (or a single-dose detergent packet) to your machine. Remember to always follow the detergent manufacturer’s instructions to find the right measurement for your load size. Your model will determine where to put detergent in your top load washer, most often to either a dispenser compartment or added directly to the washer basket. Washing machines from Whirlpool brand offer a Load & Go Dispenser that allows you to add enough detergent for up to 20 loads of laundry so you can skip the extra step of adding detergent for every wash.1

Woman pulling laundry out of Whirlpool® Washer Woman pulling laundry out of Whirlpool® Washer

Step 3: Load your top load washer with laundry

For the best results, load your garments in loose piles evenly around the wall of the washer basket. To ensure that your garments can move freely during the cycle for proper cleaning, avoid tightly packing the wash drum. An important top load washer instruction: if your top load washer has an agitator, be careful not to wrap long items tightly around the agitator as this encourages tangling. Whirlpool offers washing machine models with an industry-first 2 in 1 Removable Agitator that allows you to easily swap out the agitator post for customized care for your clothes.

Fabric softener dispenser Fabric softener dispenser

Step 4: Add fabric softener (optional)

Depending on the model of your washing machine, you will either add fabric softener to a designated dispenser before the start of the cycle or manually add it during the final rinse of the wash cycle. If your machine has a fabric softener dispenser, add a measured amount of the product and dilute it with warm water to fill the dispenser to the “Max Fill” line. If your top load washer does not have a fabric softener dispenser, you will have to add the fabric softener manually.

Hand scrubbing clothing with the scrub brush from the Pretreat Station Hand scrubbing clothing with the scrub brush from the Pretreat Station

Step 5: Add stain removers or fabric brighteners (optional)

If you use stain removers or fabric brighteners in your laundry routine, you will either add these products to the bottom of the wash basket before loading with laundry or into a designated dispenser depending on your appliance model. Some tough stains need to be pretreated, which is why select Whirlpool® Top Load Washers offer a Pretreat Station. The Pretreat Station allows you to soak and scrub your stains right in the washer with a built-in faucet and pretreat brush to clean the stain before it sets.

Hand turning the knob on a Whirlpool® Top Load Washer Hand turning the knob on a Whirlpool® Top Load Washer

Step 6: Select washer cycle and settings

Once your laundry, detergents and fabric treatments have all been loaded, close the lid and select your wash cycle settings. Always consult your garment’s care label instructions before selecting your washer settings to avoid damaging the fabric. Select Whirlpool® Top Loading Washers include Intuitive Controls, which let you choose wash settings based on what you’re washing and how you want to wash the particular load.

“What to Wash” cycle settings include:

  • Regular - For cottons, pajamas, sweatshirts, t-shirts and mixed loads

  • Colors - For athletic wear, bright colors, dark colors, dress shirts and pants, jeans and no-iron fabrics

  • Whites - For washing baby clothes, table linens, socks, undergarments and white fabrics

  • Delicates - For delicate fabrics, handwash fabrics, lingerie, machine wash silks and wool

  • Bulky items - For blankets, coats and jackets, machine wash curtains, non-rubber lined rugs, sheets and sleeping bags

  • Towels -  For dish cloths, terry cloths and towels

Once you’ve selected what you’re washing, you will select from the “How to Wash” settings. Options include Normal, Wrinkle Control, Heavy Duty for powerful soil removal, Sanitize with Oxi to help eliminate bacteria, Cold Wash and Quick Wash.


You can schedule cycles, select settings and track cycle progress on your smart top load washer all from your phone when you use the Whirlpool® App.1

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With Whirlpool® Top Load Washers, you can customize every load and care for clothes in fewer steps to make laundry day a breeze.

6. Wifi & app required. Features subject to change. Details and privacy info at whirlpool.com/connect

Learn more about Whirlpool® Washing Machines

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1. Based on an 8-lb load.