How Much Water Does a Washing Machine Use?

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How much water does a washing machine use? Before that can be answered, you need to be specific. Top-loading washing machine or front-loading models? For top-loading washing machines, you can expect to use 40 gallons every single load of laundry. Those are washing machines that get loaded from the top. Front-loading washing machines—they open from the front—you can expect to use as little as 25 gallons of water per load.

And we haven’t even considered HE washing machines yet—many of which are certified by Energy Star—meaning Energy Star certified washing machines will use even less. An HE washing machine, regardless if it’s front-loading or top-loading, will use as much as 33 percent less water. For front-loaders, that translates to 17 gallons of water per load. For top-loaders, that translates to 27 gallons of water per load.

Why Front-loaders Rule

Now for a better question: why are front-loaders more efficient? Well, it’s the way front-loaders wash your clothing. If you placed both front-loaders and top-loaders side by side, you’d find plenty of similarities. Peek inside and you’ll find a steel drum. Water gets pumped in, rotating the drum sends it back out. However, their similarities end with the method of cleaning.

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Front-load washers take advantage of gravity. A load of laundry does a tumbling routine every rotation, and during the rotation gravity is pulling the clothing down into the water. Believe it or not, it simulates the act of scrubbing your clothes.

You see, the problem with top-loading washers is that water must be filled in order to reach all of the clothing. That’s not how front-loaders work. Rather than fill the washer, front-loaders can add a fraction of the water at the bottom, and because the drum is vertical, rather than horizontal, its tumbling action ensures that your clothing catches water.

With a top-loading washer, more water is used, therefore more electrical energy is sucking the water in and old. On top of that, it’s using whatever heating source you pay for to heat the water; more water, more heat needed, more money wasted. God help you if you have oil heating.

To make matters worse, top-load washers tend to leave behind around two gallons of water after each wash. You are literally taking to gallons of water and just pouring them into your washer. Yet another wasteful act. As for front-loaders, any time the water drops below the pre-set water level, it will add enough to compensate.

Reducing Water Usage

So, it has been established that top-loaders use 40 gallons of water, and front-loaders use 25 gallons. Already you’re saving money on water, as much as 7,000 gallons of water per year, in fact. However, can you take saving water to the next level? Absolutely!

If you want to reduce your water usage, no matter the type of washer, you can use a few tricks. First, you need to consider the load size. Larger loads will, obviously, use more water. But, more importantly, wash cycles are the biggest contributor to wasted water.

Here’s a thought: would you use a heavy duty cycle on a regular load of laundry? No. Heavy duty cycles use more water than a normal cycle. You also need to consider the rinse settings. Each cycle and setting is designed to wash certain types of clothing and fabrics.

For a more drastic change, buy an HE, Energy Star certified front-loading washer or at the very least an Energy Star certified front-loader (View on Amazon). They aren’t mutually exclusive. Admittedly, you’ll be paying an extra pretty penny for an HE washer, but the savings down the road is most welcome.

Stop Wasting Water ASAP!

If you care about how much water you use, making sure you use an efficient washing machine is crucial. The laundry room is an important part of your home and it’s important that you keep it maintained. There are many ways your laundry can be improved.

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Bottom Line

In the end, it’s going to largely depend on your wallet and mindset. Do you want to pay a little more upfront and buy a front-loader, but save a lot more down the road? Or do you want to pay less now, but pay extra in electricity and heat with a top-loader? The former is certainly looking like the better deal.