How Much Water Does a Washing Machine Use?

Washing machines are difficult to live without in today's world. In fact, the average family in America does at least 300 loads of laundry per year. You may be wondering how this contributes to your water usage. Depending on the type of machine you have, you can expect to use anywhere from 4,500 to 13,500 gallons of water per year. Older or traditional top-loading machines are on the higher end of that spectrum, while front-loading washers and high-efficiency models tend to be on the lower end of the range.

Black woman doing laundry
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How Much Water Does a Washing Machine Use?

Traditional Washing Machine Water Usage

Traditional washing machines use almost twice as much water as newer, front-loading or high-efficiency models, such as a GE HE washer or Maytag 4.2 Top-Load Washer. If you have an older or top-loading washer, you can expect to use between 30 and 45 gallons of water per load. Though this may seem a huge number, consider that the washer's tub needs to fill completely and is drained; rinse cycles require the addition of new, fresh water. If you're like many American families, 300 loads of laundry per year at 30 to 45 gallons of water per wash could mean you're using anywhere from 9,000 to 13,500 gallons of water annually.

Front-Loading and High-Efficiency Washers

Newer machines have come a long way in terms of efficiency. Front-loading or high-efficiency washers can save a tremendous amount of water because they only require enough water to get the laundry wet. Since they spin on a horizontal axis, the water always remains in the bottom of the machine. This type of washer is expected to use only 15 gallons of water per load. Assuming you still do 300 loads of laundry per year, your water usage will hit just 4,500 gallons.

Do High-Efficiency Washers Clean Clothes?

The idea of a high-efficiency washer may seem too good to be true since it saves so much water. You might wonder whether this sort of appliance can really get your clothes as clean as a traditional washing machine. The short answer is that high-efficiency and front-loading washers can do just as good a job cleaning your laundry as traditional models. Part of getting a great clean involves properly using their settings. Be sure to refer to the manufacturer's instructions for your machine to be sure you're maximizing its capabilities. In addition, try pretreating stains and leaving plenty of room for clothes to move in the washer.