If you’re looking to save money on your water bill, you might be wondering:
How much water does a washing machine use?
In this quick guide, I share with you the actual water usage of 28 popular washing machines.
You’ll also learn:
- The factors that impact washing machine water usage
- How the water usage of washing machines compares to other household appliances and systems
- And what you can do to reduce washing machine water usage in your home
Use the links below to navigate this guide:
- Washing Machine Water Usage: Quick Answer
- How Much Water Do Front-Load Washing Machines Use?
- How Much Water Do Top-Load Washing Machines Use?
- Factors Impacting Water Usage
- Washing Machine Water Usage in Context
- How to Reduce Washing Machine Water Usage
Washing Machine Water Usage: Quick Answer
A washing machine’s water usage depends on the washer capacity, load size, cycle type, type of washer, age, and whether the washer is ENERGY STAR certified.
On average, washing machines use 19 gallons of water per load, and the average household runs between 5 and 6 loads per week. Based on those figures, most washers use up to 5,605 gallons of water annually.
Front-load washers use an average of 12.5 gallons of water per load, while top-load washers average 19.6 gallons per load. Older top-load models manufactured decades ago use 40 or more gallons of water per load.
ENERGY STAR-certified washing machines use an average of 14 gallons of water per load, which is 30% less than regular washers. These high-efficiency washing machines could save the average household 1,475 gallons of water per year.
Now that you have a general idea of how much water washing machines use, let’s get into more specifics.
How Much Water Do Front-Load Washing Machines Use?
Are you wondering how much water washing machines actually use?
Instead of just looking at the average water usage, let’s take a look at some real examples.
The chart below shows the actual water usage per load of 15 front-load washing machines. In the next section, I share the water usage of 13 top-load washers.
A few things to note about this data:
- All 28 of these washing machines are ENERGY STAR certified, which means they are more efficient than washers that meet the federal minimum standard for energy and water efficiency.
- ENERGY STAR keeps a database of hundreds of washing machine models, and the information below is a sampling of that more extensive database.
- Integrated Water Factor (IWF) measures the water usage of a washer in relation to its capacity. It’s calculated by dividing the washer’s per-cycle water consumption in gallons by its capacity in cubic feet. The lower the number, the higher the efficiency.
- To comply with the current Department of Energy Federal Standards, the IWF must be equal to or below 6.5 for top-loading washers and 4.7 for front-loading washers.
- To become an ENERGY STAR certified model, the maximum IWF is 3.2 for front-loading washers and 4.3 for top-loading washers.
|Washing Machine Brand/Model
|Gallons Per Load
|Integrated Water Factor (IWF)
How Much Water Do Top-Load Washing Machines Use?
Are you curious about the water usage of top-load washing machines? The chart below provides 13 examples. As you’ll see in the data, top-load units use significantly more water than front-load machines.
|Washing Machine Brand/Model
|Gallons Per Load
|Integrated Water Factor (IWF)
Factors Impacting Water Usage
The amount of water that a washing machine uses depends on several factors, including:
- Washer Capacity
- Load Size
- Cycle Settings
- Age and Style of Washing Machine (Top-Load vs. Front-Load, Impellers vs. Agitators, High-Efficiency (HE) vs. Regular Washers, ENERGY STAR vs. Regular Washers)
Let’s take a look at each factor more closely to give you a complete picture of how much water usage can vary.
The size of a washer is measured by its capacity in cubic feet of the drum (or tub).
Many standard-sized washers can have a capacity of 3 to 4 cubic feet, while large capacity washers can be over 5 cubic feet.
In general, the larger the capacity, the more water the washer can hold.
For example, according to the ENERGY STAR database:
- Washers with a capacity of less than 4 cubic feet use an average of 8.5 gallons of water per load
- Washers with a capacity between 4 and 5 cubic feet use an average of 15.6 gallons of water per load
- Washers with a capacity above 5 cubic feet use an average of 20.5 gallons of water per load
Another factor that impacts washing machine water usage is the size of the load.
According to Tide.com, a medium load is approximately 6 pounds, which is roughly the amount of clothes you could hold in your arms (about 15 articles of clothing). A large load is about 11 pounds. And, an extra-large load is about 21 pounds.
The larger the load or bulkier the items (such as bedding or rugs), the more water is needed to wash clothes properly.
The cycle you choose, including any additional rinse settings you select, will also impact how much water your washing machine uses.
Choose a cycle that is designed for the types of clothing you are washing. If not, your clothes may not clean properly, forcing you to run an additional cycle and use even more water.
If your machine has an eco-friendly or water-saving cycle, it will work to get clothes clean while conserving water and energy.
Age and Style of Washing Machine
In general, older machines do not use water as efficiently as newer models.
Today’s styles of washing machines, such as High Efficiency (HE) or front-loaders, offer increased water efficiency. They are often ENERGY STAR certified, meaning they use 20% less energy and 30% less water than regular washing machines.
Let’s take a quick look at washer styles and how they handle water:
Top-Load vs. Front-Load:
In general, front-load washers are significantly more water-efficient than top-load models.
According to the ENERGY STAR database, front-load washers use an average of 12.5 gallons of water per load, while top-load washers average 19.6 gallons per load.
Top-load models from 20 years ago could use 40 or more gallons of water per load.
Top-load machines use more water because they usually fill the drum and use an agitator (more on this next) to clean the clothes.
Instead of filling the drum with water, front-loaders spin vertically, which creates space and allows water from impellers to spray and clean the clothes.
Impellers vs. Agitators:
Top-load washing machines use either agitators or impellers to clean.
An agitator is a tall spindle with fins located in the center of the drum.
An impeller is a low-profile mound-like device at the bottom of the drum.
Agitators, as the name suggests, clean by spinning and rubbing against the cloths to loosen stains.
Impellers also spin, but since they’re at the bottom of the drum, they work by causing articles of clothing to rub against each other, not against the device.
In general, washing machines with agitators use significantly more water than models with impellers. And almost all High-Efficiency machines use impellers.
Also, since impellers take up less room in the drum, you can wash larger loads and cut down on the number of weekly loads.
High-Efficiency (HE) vs. Regular Washers:
HE washers are available in top and front-load styles designed to use less water and energy than regular top and front-load washers.
The larger tub capacity of HE washers means you can wash large loads and eliminate the need for several smaller loads.
According to Tide, HE washers can use up to 80% less water than traditional top-load washers.
If you’re not used to seeing HE washers work, it may be alarming at first to see how little water is used during the wash and rinse cycles.
ENERGY STAR vs. Regular Washers:
To be an ENERGY STAR certified washing machine, the model must meet size, energy performance, and water performance metrics.
Specifically, to earn the label, the IWF (Integrated Water Factor) must be equal to or below 3.2 for front-loading washers and 4.3 for top-loading washers.
As I mentioned upfront, ENERGY STAR certified washers use 30% less water than models without the certification.
Washing Machine Water Usage in Context
When it comes to water usage, how do washing machines compare to other home appliances and systems?
Let’s take a look.
Running an Irrigation System: Do you use a sprinkler to water your lawn and garden? Doing so could use up to 12,240 gallons of water each month just by running it for one hour a day, three times a week. That is 146,880 gallons of water used per year. Yikes!
Flushing a Toilet: Did you know that flushing an older toilet one time can use up to 7 gallons of water? In a household with three people each flushing five times a day, daily water consumption could be as high as 105 gallons a day, 3,150 a month, and as high as 38,325 gallons of water annually.
Taking a Shower: A regular showerhead can have a flow rate of 5 gallons per minute. A 5-minute daily shower can wash 25 gallons of water down the drain. If you like long showers, you can use 50 gallons of water pretty quickly, which is 18,250 gallons per year.
Running a Sink Faucet: A sink usually has a flow rate of 2.2 gallons per minute. Just allowing it to run for 20 minutes can quickly use 40 gallons of water a day and 14,600 gallons per year.
Taking a Bath: Baths are like old, gas-guzzling cars when it comes to water usage. The average bath can use anywhere from 35 to 50 gallons of water. Just one bath a week can amount to 1,820 to 2,600 gallons of water a year for one member of your household.
Running a Dishwasher: If you have an ENERGY STAR certified model, you can run a cycle and use as little as 3 gallons of water. Models that aren’t water efficient can use as much as 10 gallons of water per cycle. If you run your dishwasher every day for a year using just 3 gallons of water, you’d use a meager 1,095 gallons a year—and that is still less than taking one bath a week!
If you want to control the flow rate of water in your home, you can use EPA-recommended WaterSense products such as low flow showerheads, faucets, or toilets. You can adjust water pressure in your home, monitor the amount of time you allow faucets to run, how many times you flush, and limit time spent bathing to save water.
How to Reduce Washing Machine Water Usage
You can reduce washing machine water usage in many ways. And, while some ways may be more expensive than others initially, they can save you money over time.
Here are 10 ways you can reduce your water use in your home when washing clothes:
Use the Right Amount of Detergent:
Using the right amount of laundry detergent can keep your machine from adding more water or an additional rinse cycle if suds are detected.
You might think that clothes aren’t getting clean if you don’t see a lot of soapy water, tempting you to add more detergent than you need. Adding the right amount of detergent based on the size of your load can help.
You can also try using concentrated detergent. Additionally, if you have an HE machine, The U.S. Department of Energy recommends using HE-formulated detergent, which are low suds formulas that clean clothes with less water.
Limit Wash Days:
If you run loads daily, consider cutting back to a few times a week. You may want to purchase enough towels, washcloths, linens, and undergarments to last for a week or more before you need fresh linens.
Use one side of your towel and then hang it up with the used side facing away from you. That will give you another clean side to use so that you can get two uses before laundering.
Wear Those Clothes Again:
If you’ve only worn a clothing item briefly, especially items such as jeans, sweaters, and sweatshirts, consider using it again before washing.
Upgrade Your Washing Machine:
If you have a model that is 10 years old or more, consider replacing it with a newer model that must adhere to federal water-efficiency guidelines.
To save the most, choose a front-loading, HE, ENERGY STAR certified model. You can browse the options on HomeDepot.com to get a sense of how much these machines cost.
If an HE, HE, ENERGY STAR certified washer is not within your budget, keep in mind that you can even get federal income tax credits for increasing energy efficiency in your home.
Machines that use impellers to shoot water streams use less water than agitators, which require the washing tub to fill to work properly.
Also, check the IWF (Integrated Water Factor) rating to determine models with the best efficiency.
Only Wash Full Loads:
Sort your clothing and only wash a load when your laundry bin is full.
Consider the capacity of your machine and find laundry bins that are comparable for even greater efficiency.
Consolidating washes will save water by running several smaller loads in favor of one large load.
Of course, this may not work well for bulkier items that must be washed separately, such as comforters or coats, but planning your wash days will save water over time.
Choose the Right Cycle for the Load:
Select the right cycle for what you’re washing. There’s no need to run a heavy cycle for a small load.
Check your manual to understand the different cycles and the loads for which they are best suited.
Use Water-Efficient Cycles:
Newer washing machines have settings to increase water efficiency. Commit to using them as a part of your regular laundering habits during the week.
Skip the Extra or Extended Rinse Cycle:
Unless you have heavily soiled garments or are trying to treat a specific stain or issue, there should be no reason to use extra or extended rinses regularly.
Check for Leaks:
Check your water connections to ensure they are not leaking. Even a small drip can cost you. You may want to consider replacing the connection hose every 3 to 5 years as part of washing machine maintenance.
Do you have more ideas about cutting down on how much water a washing machine uses? Comment below and share your thoughts!
If you found this article helpful, you should also check out:
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- Average Washing Machine and Dryer Weight (With 40 Examples)
- Can You Wash Clothes in a Dishwasher? (5 Things to Consider)
- What Are the Dimensions of Stackable Washers and Dryers?
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- The Ultimate House Cleaning Checklist (Printable)
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