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  Washing Machine Load Sizes

Why the load capacity you think you're buying might not be the capacity you're getting


We often get people looking for the largest capacity load that they can get in a washing machine with the impression that washing larger loads saves more money as many an advert will try to tell you. But, when we look at the declared capacity on many models and what can actually be loaded into the washing machine there would appear to be some disparities between what is claimed and what the reality is.

A washing machine inner drum and paddleIn this article we will explore this a little and show you that what you are being told and what you are actually getting may be very different.

  Testing The Load Size

We managed to, shall we say, acquire the results of a test with seven machines from a manufacturer that they had carried out by an independent test lab in Switzerland.

The ISE washing machine model wasn't the one actually tested, it was the same drum and tub from an equivalent Asko model so the result would be identical but it allows you to compare a bit better.

The Samsung BigWash and Bosch Logixx 8 are series designations of washing machines so they also will apply to UK models using the same drum and tub assemblies. The LG and Miele models will also be used in the UK.

Washing Machine Brand
Model Number
Declared Capacity
Drum Volume
Drum Volume
Bosch WAS 32790 (Logixx 8) 8kg 65 litres 59 litres**
ISE 1607W Hydroactive Drum 8kg 60 litres 60 litres
LG WD-14376FD 8kg 58 litres 55 litres
Miele W1716 (2008) 6kg 54 litres 53 litres
Miele W5963 WPS 8kg 60 litres 58 litres
Samsung BigWash Q1435 8kg 60 litres 54 litres**
Siemens WM16S761DN 8kg 65 litres 59 litres**


As you can see, only one model from the seven tested actually had the load capacity claimed.

You can also see the disparities between the load rating in kilograms as opposed to the actual volumetric measurement of the drum and, there is quite a difference on some as you can see. In fact, it can be more than 10% of the space being claimed is there in the washing machine drum. The obvious question, which remains unanswered, is how that one drum with a 10% or greater rated volume can have the same rating in kilograms of load?

The news here gets still worse however as all those in red with the ** next to them do not include the protrusion of the door bowl into the drum, which depending on the size of the door, can be a fair bit of space that is eaten up inside the washing machine. You can bet on losing at least another two or three litres just because of that.

And, on the LG machines where direct drive is used, which is another marketing gimmick really, how can you get a bigger drum when you have to have space at the back for the stator?

  Washing Machine Door Size

Testing done with the door open and all the space, even that which cannot be used if you closed the door, is counted.

That means that, if you make the washing machine door bigger you get a higher rating. Is it any wonder that washing machine doors have gotten bigger and bigger over the past few years?

The irony is, a larger door has been used as a marketing tool as well, you will be told it allows easier access and to a degree that is quite probably true, but not the reason that they are there.

  Kilogram Load Size Measurement

This is something that annoys many of us in the trade that know about this stuff.

The way in which the load capacity is measured and, more importantly, marketed to people is in the number of kilograms of laundry that the manufacturer can stuff into the washing machine. 

To our mind (the people it annoys) it should not be possible to have these differences in actual drum volume yet still have the same load capacity published where there can be a 10% or more difference. That is not right in our book and in many other industries a practice like that would be abolished pretty smartly.

Can you imagine a one supermarket being allowed to have a 10% difference on a litre of milk over another? Or a car manufacturer allowed to have that sort of disparity over another in its MPG rating?

Either practice would be outlawed across the EU in a heartbeat as it would get public attention.

Here it does not.

The reason it doesn't is that people cannot actually measure the drum volume so you take it on faith that the manufacturer is telling you the truth or simply made a mistake in their calculation.

It is also the case that, when you ask people what a kilo of clothes looks like or, what it equates to when loading a washing machine, they haven't got a clue.

When buying a new washing machine people will look in the drum and state that it looks huge an just believe the claims being made. But, as the evidence shows, what is being claimed isn't always the actuality, the kilo rating is just some flaky figure given by the marketing people that doesn't really tell you much, as you can plainly see. It also allows the figures to be, we will be polite and say, fudged.

Getting a drum volume is far, far more accurate than a rating in kilograms that nobody undertands or can measure.

You might even think that this way of measuring capacity was deliberately so.

Sara Chappell
Simple v computerized washing machines
I had an old Zannussi washing machine for many years,very simple not much to go wrong electronically at least.
It eventually had to go and my next two have both stopped spinning,one the bearing went and couldn\'t be replaced ? And this one sounds like it wants to spin but just turns once,there is no message to say what\'s wrong and it is difficult to open the door even when the water has drained.
Any advice appreciated,we have checked blockages in usual places and put in tiny loads but still no luck !
Is there a simple,solid washing machine out there ?

Washing machine
I have just sent this email to Zanussi regarding their 10 and 9kg washing machines - with the same claimed drum volume!



Dear Sir or Madam,

The links above are for the same machine in 10 and 9kg capacity. According to the specification for each, both have a drum volume of 68 lt. It might be expected that the \'larger\' machine - 10kg - has a larger drum, but this is not so. Can you please explain what the basis of the difference between the load capacities is then to enable Zanussi to state a difference.

Thanking you for your kind attention and with good wishes,

Faithfully yours,

Marcus Stewart

slimline v standard machines
Is there any compromise in performance on slimline versions of machines? I am looking at a couple of indesits with the same spec but the slimline version is about 40 quid cheaper.. I do not need it to be slimline - i have the depth, but it is cheaper so tempting. Is anything lost? (apart from capacity, which as a single perso is not an issue). is efficiency of spin less due to smaller drum size and presumably less holes? are my clothes any less likely to be clean? Is the compactness going to make it harder to access the gizzards in case of maintenance and repair? What is the down side?
Yes, the drum is not as deep (that\'s how they achieve the lower depth) so the load capacity is smaller, even although at times the \"kg rating\" such as it is will be the same. But it is not the same, it cannot be and often a large difference.

Other than that they are largely the same thing.

Hi I need to buy a integrated washing machine and condenser tumble dryer, and recommendations . Bit confused about drum sizes now, as we have a 9kg washing machine, but a large part of the door is in the drum so it probably isn't 9kg. The biggest integrated you can get seems to be 8kg, but Bosch don't do, and Miele is rather expensive. I've found some Hotpoint ones but not sure. any suggestions?
Kenneth Watt
Hi,The depth requirement will restrict you from getting a large capacity washing machine so you will have very limited options I'm afraid.If you ask in the forums some of the guys may have suggestions but expect there to be very few as the best way to increase the load capacity is to increase the depths as you can't get any wider due to the 600mm wide size limit. And, even at that what you get may well not be what is billed.
I nead halp regarding buying selection of new washer.Important is that the deep of washer is not more than 50cm but regarding drum I nead big size drum volume for load of 5-6kg.Some option is LG but nead more information.Thanks

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