How to Use a Washing Machine? (Step-by-Step)

The proper use of a washing machine can ensure the longevity of the appliance, helps in preserving the quality of the clothes, and saves water and energy. 

So, let us take a look at how to use a washing machine properly and understand how to handle different types of washers.

How to Use a Washing Machine

How to Use a Washing Machine?

Washing machines are simple to operate, but it is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your particular model. Below are the general instructions for operating a standard fully automatic washing machine.

Step 1 – Preparing the laundry

Before loading the washing machine, gather your dirty clothes and separate them based on color, fabric type, and care labels. This ensures that delicate items will not get damaged and helps prevent color bleeding. Make sure that the pockets are empty to avoid damaging the machines or the clothes.

Step 2 – Load the washing machine

Depending on the type of machine, open the door or lid. Place your sorted laundry into the drum and make sure not to overload it. Ensure to leave enough space for the clothes to move freely. After loading close the lid or door securely.

Loading the washer can be done based on the load capacity mentioned by the manufacturer. You can check the load capacities of the different washing machine sizes before loading the laundry for better efficiency.

Generally, loading the washer tub with ½ full indicates a medium load, and loading it with ¾ full indicates a large load. Loading more than that is not recommended. 

Step 3 – Add detergent

Once the clothes are loaded into the machine, select the right detergent for your laundry. For the correct dosage, follow the instructions on the detergent packaging. 

The detergent can be added directly into the drum or in a designated compartment based on the type of washing machine used. If you are using a liquid detergent, make sure to use the proper dispenser. 

Ensure not to use too much detergent as it can lead to excessive suds, poor rinsing, and residues.

Step 4 – Choose the water temperature

Based on the care labels on your clothing, choose the right water temperature setting.

For delicate or dark-colored clothes, use cold water. You can use warm water for most regular loads, and hot water for white or heavily soiled items.

Step 5 – Select the wash cycle

Choose the wash cycle that suits your laundry needs. Some of the common wash cycle options include Normal, Delicate, Quick wash, etc.

To understand more about the wash cycles and their descriptions, refer to your washing machine’s user manual.

Step 6 – Start the washing cycle

After closing the lid or door, press the start button to start the wash cycle. 

Depending on the cycle you have chosen, the machine will start filling with water, agitate the clothes, and drain the water when required.

Step 7 – Wait for the cycle to finish

While the washing machine is running, wait until it completes the chosen cycle. Depending on the wash cycle you choose, the duration may vary. This also includes rinsing and spinning processes as well. 

You can monitor the progress through any digital display or indicator lights on the panel. The time it takes will depend on the wash cycle and the machine’s capacity.

Step 8 – Unload and dry

Once the wash cycle is complete, open the machine lid or door carefully and remove the freshly washed clothes. 

If you want to dry them in a dryer, transfer the laundry to the dryer machine and follow the user instructions for that machine. If not, hang your clothes to air dry.

Step 9 – Clean the washing machine

It is a good practice to clean the washing machine after a few cycles or after every wash. 

Clean the interior, the detergent tray, and the door gaskets. This helps to prevent mold and bad odors. You can leave the door or lid open for some time to allow the interior to dry thoroughly.

These are the general instructions on how to use a washing machine. But you may have different washing machine types and their working is also different. Therefore, it is important to understand where the usage differs. So, here is an instruction guide on how to use top-load, front-load, and semi-automatic washers.

How to use a Top-Load and Front-Load Washing Machine?

Both top-load washers and front-load washers can be used in the same procedure as mentioned above. However, they only differ in the method of adding detergent and other laundry products like softener or bleach to the laundry.

Top-load washers

Top-load washers may or may not come with a detergent dispenser. If you don’t have a detergent dispenser, you must pre-dissolve the powder detergent in warm water before adding the detergent to the washer tub. This ensures thorough mixing of the detergent and avoids residue buildup.

Similarly, you may not have a separate compartment for adding bleach or fabric softener. So, after the first rinsing, you must open the lid and add the softener directly to the washer tub. 

This is how you must add detergent and fabric softener to the top-load washers that don’t have a dispenser.

Front-load washers

When using a front-load washer, you will have to load the proper amount of detergent and softener in the dispenser draw. 

During the wash cycle, the washing machine automatically dispenses the detergent and softener from this draw. 

Therefore, you don’t have to pause the wash cycle midway to add any detergent or softener to your laundry.

These are the differences in the method to use top-load and front-load washers. But apart from these, all the other procedures are the same. 

How to Use a Semi-Automatic Washing Machine?

Semi-automatic machines require human intervention to complete the entire wash cycle. You have to fill the required amount of water, add the detergent manually to the washer tub, drain the water manually, and shift the clothes to the spin tub to spin the laundry dry. 

Here are the steps involved in using a semi-automatic washing machine:

  • Sort your laundry according to the fabric type and color.
  • Load the clothes into the machine and make sure not to overfill it.
  • Fill with the right amount of water and add detergent to the wash tub. You can also add other laundry products like bleach into the washer if necessary.
  • Set the timer for the washing cycles according to the load and let the washer start the cycle. You can also set the strength of agitation to have efficient washing.
  • Once the wash cycle is finished, drain the dirty water and refill the machine with clean water for rinsing. During this refill, you can add fabric softener.
  • Let the laundry soak in the softener for a few more minutes. Now, start the rinse cycle to rinse the clothes.
  • After the rinse cycle, drain the water completely. When the water is fully drained, transfer the clothes to the spin tub.
  • Load the spin tub properly and make sure it is balanced. An unbalanced spin tub makes more noise and doesn’t spin properly.
  • After loading the spin tub, close the lid, set the timer for the spin tub, and initiate the spin cycle. 
  • Wait until the spin tub comes to a complete halt and then remove the clothes for drying.


By following the basic steps, anyone can operate a washing machine efficiently and effectively. Using a washing machine properly helps you to save energy and water, and protects your washing machine for a long time without any repairs. 

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