Overloading Your Washing Machine, How to Tell, How to Fix it

Thursday 18th August 2022
by Homeforce

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Thu 18th August 2022

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Homeforce

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A washing machine is one of our most used home appliances. Washing for a family or getting our gym kit fresh and clean is a must for our busy working lives. 

As experts in appliance repair, we are often asked about overloading a washing machine and some of the issues that might arise. 

Read on to find out everything you need to know about overloading a washing machine.

Whether you have a top loader, if overloading means your machine might break, or even if it can cause a burning smell? Read on to find out what happens if you overload a washing machine. 

Overloading your washing machine will result in clothes that aren’t properly laundered and can put pressure on the motor, drum and other working parts causing damage. It may also leak water or smell like rubber if it’s a top loader. A general or master reset may help.

So with the short answer in mind, let’s start by finding out how to determine if your washing machine is overloaded. 

Overloading your washing machine – How to tell

Finding out whether your machine has overloaded is for the most part, down to your particular make of washer.

Most makes of washing machines vary in load capacity. But on average they usually range between 6 to 12 kg in the U.K. 

To ensure you’re not overloading your washing machine, there should be approximately a hands width space between the clothes and the top of the drum.

So if you open the washing machine door and you struggle to place your hand on top of the load, it’s likely to be overloaded.

Both overloading and underloading can have a serious impact on your washing machine cycle and its overall short-term and long-term performance.

It’s also worth understanding that some fabrics such as cotton or lighter fabrics can more easily be washed on their recommended maximum load. 

Bulkier fabrics such as towels or jeans will benefit from slightly under. This will help minimize creasing and also lead to a more efficient wash cycle. 

Fabrics which retain water too such as woollens and silk clothing will also benefit from being under the maximum load of your specific appliance brand. 

“To ensure you’re not overloading your washing machine, there should be approximately a hands width space between the clothes and the top of the drum.”

Overloading your washing machine can cause it to break

Every load of washing needs to have enough space for clothes to move freely and to gather the laundry detergent required to wash properly. 

Pressure on motor and drum bearings with an overloaded machine 

So not only will your clothes struggle to be cleaned effectively, but if a machine is overloaded it will put extra stress on both the motor and the drum bearings. If this happens frequently, it can cause damage to your washer.

Overloaded Washing Machine
An overloaded machine can cause leaks 

Along with clothes that are likely not properly laundered, you could also cause other problems, such as a machine that doesn’t drain properly. If you have overloaded a machine, you may find the spin cycle throws water out underneath your machine. 

Overloading your washing machine can also result in the drum spinning mechanism becoming out of alignment. 

Over time, overloading your machine will affect the working parts of the machine and lead to damage. 

It can also lead to repair bills for those without an appliance plan

“Over time, overloading your machine will affect the working parts of the machine and lead to damage.”

Under Loading your washing machine

Although overloading a machine can result in clothes not being properly laundered – and in worst cases, other damage – underloading can also cause problems.

If you decide to throw in a few towels and your gym kit, for example, it will unbalance the drum.  

This will also affect the spin cycle and may trigger a safety mechanism which halts the machine. 

How do I correctly load a washing machine? 

Below is a general guide, so you can make sure you are filling your machine with the right sized load.

  • 6kg load: Six light tops, 2 pairs of pillowcases, 10 – 12 pairs of socks, 2 pairs of trousers, and 2 bed sheets 
  • 7.5kg load: 10 lightweight tops, 2 bottom sheets or a duvet cover, 4 pairs of trousers, a jumper, 15 to 20 pairs of socks 
  • 10kg load: Five pairs of trousers, 3 bed sheets, a duvet cover, four pillowcases, 15 lightweight tops, 3 jumpers, 6 hand towels, 5 pairs of trousers, and 20 pairs of socks,

This is just a rough guide. It’s best to always refer to the manufacturer’s manual for their recommendations.

Washing Machine Drum Load
How to reset an overloaded washing machine

So if your machine has stopped working because it’s overloaded, the first step is to perform a general reset. If the problem persists, then refer to the manufacturer’s guide and try a master reset. 

A master reset will reset all the components and is how the best appliance engineers often get results.

Here is a quick general overview of both types: 

General reset 
  • Turn the machine off at the power supply 
  • Wait for one minute and turn the machine on 
  • If this hasn’t worked, then you can try a master reset 
Master reset 
  • Open and close the door 6 times within a time frame of 12 seconds 
  • Run the spin and rinse cycle without a load to see if your machine drains properly. 

If this still doesn’t work, it might be time to consider an appliance cover or call out a washing machine repair engineer.

“If the problem persists, then refer to the manufacturer’s guide and try a master reset.”

Overloading washing machine – burning smell

If you smell burning coming from your machine it can be quite a worrying moment! 

Although an overloaded washing machine can cause many different issues and also damage your washing machine, it can also cause a washing machine to overheat. This might be why you can smell burning. 

Some top loader washing machines are more at risk from the smell of burning caused by overloading as the agitator may stop working. This leads to problems with the drive belt. This again causes friction which can lead to a burning smell emitting from the machine.

“Some top loader washing machines are more at risk from the smell of burning caused by overloading”

Washing Machine Tray

Overloading your washing machine – More help

We hope that’s helped you to quickly find all the answers to overloading washing machines. 

Although it’s tempting to throw in those beach towels for your holiday, or add an extra duvet if friends are staying, for the ongoing care of your machine it’s best to keep to the manufacturer’s guidelines. 

Overloading a machine can cause damage to the drum, and also put excess stress on other crucial parts such as the motor. It can even cause friction that might lead to a fire.

If you are having problems with an overloaded machine and a general reset hasn’t worked, then get in touch with one of our nationwide engineers who will be able to fix it quickly and safely. 

Alternatively, you can start an appliance plan today and protect yourself from unforeseen repair costs you may not have budgeted for.

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