The Correct Order To Load Your Laundry

Dirty laundry could be disrupting your entire household dynamic. Add it to the chore war. Along with accusations about loading the dishwasher all wrong and disagreements about what should never be put down the garbage disposal, now you're butting heads with your roommates about the correct order to load laundry into the washing machine. How did cleaning clothes become such a loaded issue? Save your emotional energy. Turns out the best way to distribute laundry detergent and ensure you're getting the cleanest laundry is to use this order when filling a top-load washer: clothes, water, soap.

Even — or especially — if your roommate is your spouse, battles over housework can rupture relationships. This is particularly true when it comes to cleaning clothes. You may have grown up learning the only way to correctly fill a top-load washer was: water first, soap second, and dirty laundry last. This allows detergent (notably powdered versions) to mix with water before adding grimy garments to the machine's drum and prevents soap residue from settling on fabric or coating the wash basket.

However, your contemporary housemate may consider this an old-school tactic and, therefore, incorrect. Granted, pouring soap into a top-load washer while it's filling with water allows the detergent to disperse evenly, but advances in laundry solvent formulas have chipped away at the water/soap/laundry loading sequence. These days high-efficiency (HE) laundry detergent is low sudsing, quick dispersing, and can be used in all washers. Thus triggering an evolution in laundry loading.

Clothes first, then water, then detergent

When it comes to definitively determining the correct order to load laundry into a washer, follow the instructions featured on your machine's lid or in the owner's manual. Otherwise, a quick visual review of the structure of your model will often dictate load order. For example, if your top-load machine comes equipped with a dispenser compartment, the detergent will be added there rather than directly in the wash basket. Consequently, your laundry loading sequence is predetermined.

If your top-load washing machine doesn't include specific directives regarding loading order, place soiled laundry in first. Next, select the appropriate setting for the wash cycle, press start, and allow the machine to fill with water. As it does, pour in the amount of detergent recommended by the manufacturer. Avoid going overboard with soap as residual debris can build up on clothes, making them appear faded and dingy.

In addition, adding clothes to a top-load washing machine first prevents overloading as you can clearly see how much space is left in the drum and arrange clothing around the agitator accordingly. What's more, the clothes-first sequence avoids the hassle of floating garments. If you wait until after the drum has filled with water until you add laundry, you'll be fighting buoyancy to get your grimy duds to remain in place. Likewise, floating clothing can often become twisted and knotted during the cycle and not get as clean as it would otherwise.

Detergent considerations when loading a washer

Laundry loading order isn't only determined by the type of washing machine you own, but also the type of detergent you use. The sequence of clothes first, then water, then detergent is optimal when using liquid soap in top-load washers. However, if you're using laundry pods in top-load or front-load washers, in most cases, they'll need to be placed into the bottom of the machine prior to dumping in grubby clothes. Laundry pods need water to dissolve, so adding them to the base of the drum where they can be exposed to as much moisture as possible before being blocked by clothing is the best way to maximize effectiveness, though different brands of pods may suggest otherwise. It's best to follow the instructions on the detergent's packaging to best-establish the precise order in which to load your laundry.

Finally, when it comes to figuring out the correct order to load laundry while using laundry detergent sheets, it pays to consult the manufacturers' instructions as different brands suggest respective orders of application. For example, Fairy Sheets advises users to load soiled clothes in top-load and front-load washers first, then add the liquidless laundry sheet before starting the wash cycle. Conversely, Tru Earth recommends tossing the strip into top-loaders before adding clothes or water. For front-load machines, it suggests tearing the sheet into smaller pieces and placing it in the detergent dispenser drawer before turning on the water or adding laundry.