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Washing Machine Kg Guide on Load Capacity

washing machine laundry load

Next to cost and brand reliability, the washing machine’s load capacity is likely one of your primary considerations, but this is often a confusing feature to “weigh up”.

When you see a washing machine with a load capacity of 10kg, it simply means that the drum can handle a load of laundry up to the weight of 10kg. Think of it as a weight restriction indicator for the machine’s drum and drive motor.

In the US and other parts of the world, washing machine capacities are measured in cubic feet (cu.ft), but in the UK washing machine load capacities are measured in kilograms (kg).

Typically, washing machine drum size capacities range from small 6kg to extra large 12kg, with 7 – 8kg being the most popular choice and ideal for the average family of four doing 3 – 4 washings per week. There are capacities even smaller at 3kg, and larger at 18kg, but these are very limited and not always easy to find, being at such extreme ends of the weight range.

Don’t get the washing machine’s kg capacity rating confused with the physical net weight of the appliance. How much a washing machine weighs and the weight of laundry it can wash are two entirely different things.

Is Load Capacity Measured in Wet or Dry Laundry?

Most people think that the weight capacity of a washing machine is measured in kg of wet clothes, when in fact it is the dry weight. Of course, wet clothes are heavier than dry clothes, but the loading capacity weight is always calculated in dry weight.

Tumble dryer capacity, on the other hand, is determined by the weight of wet clothes. For example, a tumble dryer with a 9kg capacity can comfortably dry wet clothes up to 9kg. Tumble dryers take wet clothes, so the load weight limit is for wet laundry. Washing machines take dry clothes, therefore the machine’s capacity is for dry laundry.

Now you might be thinking, if you put 7kg of dry laundry into a 7kg rated washing machine, the weight of that laundry will more than double when it gets wet and will then weigh more than the machine can handle. You would be correct in that the load weight increases during a cycle, but the manufacturer accommodates this increase, and aim to keep things simple by having users measure laundry loads by dry weight.

How to Choose Washing Machine Capacity

Use this chart to give yourself an idea of how many kg you need for the size of your household and laundry loads.

Capacity (kg)Household SizeExample Washing Size
6kg2 – 3 people (couple, small family)30 t-shirts OR 5 tea towels, 6 light tops, 2 pairs of bottoms, 5 pairs of socks, 5 underpants, 1 bedsheet, 1 jumper
7kg3 – 4 people (average family of four)35 t-shirts OR 2 bath towels, 8 shirts, 3 jeans, 8 pairs of socks, 8 underwear, 2 jumpers, 1 double bed sheet
8kg4 – 5 people (medium family of five)40 t-shirts OR 4 hand towels, 10 light tops, 20 pairs of socks, 2 jeans, 2 trousers
9kg5 – 6 people (large family)45 t-shirts OR 6 small towels, 10 tops, 2 jumpers, 25 pairs of underwear, 2 bed sheets, 2 pillowcases, 3 bottoms
10kg+6 – 7+ people (large family)50 t-shirts OR 3 large bath towels, 15 light tops, 5 pairs of jeans or joggers, 30 pairs of underwear – (15 pairs of socks and pants/boxers) – and 2 sweaters.
This large-capacity machine is best for beddings – full duvets, quilt covers, and sheets.

Overloading Washing Machine

It’s very easy to overload your washing machine with too much weight. Unless you’re weighing your dirty laundry on scales before popping them into the machine, it’s really a guessing game, but we’ll help you gauge the weight of your laundry load with this chart.

It’s tempting to stuff your washing machine with as much as possible, to minimize the number of wash cycles, by attempting two loads in one. But the chances are high that you’ll overload the machine and clothes will come out excessively wet and not cleaned properly.

Never compress your laundry into a tightly compacted pile in the drum, the load should be loose.

If you overload your washing machine with a weight that exceeds the machine’s kilogram capacity rating, the clothes won’t be able to move around in the drum freely. This will result in uneven distribution of detergent – some clothes will come out smelling fresh, while others still dirty.

Furthermore, because wet clothes are a lot heavier than dry clothes, your washing machine’s motor won’t be able to spin at maximum RMP to thoroughly rinse the water out of the clothes.

Your tumble dryer may not be able to handle this weighty wet washing, either. Thorough spinning will rinse clothes, making them much lighter and easier to dry, but if your machine is overfilled, it won’t spin fully.

Generally speaking, the drum should be around 80% filled, or 3/4 full, with at least enough room for a hand to fit between the laundry load and the top of the interior drum.

In contrast to most other fabrics, cotton can be washed at the machine’s maximum load capacity. For example, to avoid unwanted creasing and to maximise the effectiveness of the wash, silks should be washed in loads no larger than 1 kilogramme and washed using a washing machine programme developed for silks.