How full do you load your FL machine?

iowa19February 2, 2012

I am 4-5 months into ownership of a Samsung FL machine. This is the first time I've used a machine of this style seriously (had a small Miele in a rental apt in France years ago but wasn't really a laundry geek then. Dommage!). I've had conflicting experiences and watched YouTube videos contrary to my own thought process on how to effective load the machine.

I rarely have enough of a particular sort to completely fill to the top, so most loads are started with the drum about 2/3 full (dry). When I've gone all the way to the top -- without stuffing or cramming -- I've been displeased with the washing performance. I'm starting to wonder if that's just too full, or if maybe I don't understand the dosing requirements necessary for a load that size.

Those of you who have used FL's for longer than I have, what do you do? The Euro-based vids I've watched seem like everyone stuffs these things to the brim!

Thanks in advance for your help.

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I just posted info on load sizes on another thread re: wrinkling/Miele 4842. It's a UK based site but I think they seem more detailed over the pond re: laundry and their machines. It gives some insight into load sizes.

You can definitely stuff them too full. Items need enough room to tumble and to rotate (meaning; items in the centre need to work their way out to the outside - outside is where they get cleaned the best). Miele has a special rhythm for large loads to move items out of the centre (SpinClean) - not sure how Samsung deals with it (if they do).

As for euro vids; they definitely wash differently over there. I believe most of their machines are true H-axis which makes a difference but I'm guessing some of them are stuffing them too full as well. Just 'cause it's on Youtube doesn't mean they're doin' it right :)

Although I know you can fit quite a bit in those small Miele units. They showed me at the Gallery once - they are deceiving.

I have the Miele W4842 and seldom have filled it up. We are a family of four with two smaller kids.

The fullest is usually about 2/3 to 3/4 dry. Once it's wet it's around half full to maybe two thirds. I find for everyday washing (kids' clothes and such) this is a good amount.

My largest loads are usually bedding (king size sheets). Or I wash two sets of full sheets together.

I often do small loads in my machine (with great results). When I'm washing delicates or dry clean only items it's usually just a few items.

I'm not too familiar with Samsung but I know the Miele is designed to wash a small load as economically as a large one.

Here is a link that might be useful: don't overload your FL

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 11:04PM
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We also have a Samsung machine from about 2 years ago. It was the next down from the top of the line which Samsung reported to have a larger drum size. In any case, we never stuff it completely full. It has enough trouble washing with a normal load with the small amount of water it uses. I got a setup with 3 laundry bags on a frame and we use one for whites and one for light colors and one for dark colors. When the bag gets full you have a load. It is at most about 7/8 full, just tossed in and shoved back.
I agree with your observation that cleaning is adversly affected by stuffing it tight.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 12:42AM
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My machines are the older, true horizontal axis machines, Euro-style machines (Asko and Miele) which can be filled right up to the top of the drum as long as you are not also cramming it in. (Except for down comforters which will fill up all the space until the air is removed during saturation. Comforters need to be crammed in when starting from the dry state.)

Rarely I'll feel a load was a tad too much, but that is not often. It's more common in pet bedding loads which contain items I never wash with general laundry and don't want sitting around for the next pet-stuff load if I've got one more towel than optimum.

I think doing completely full loads saves water and energy, which is important since I choose to use hot to very hot temps for most loads.


    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 5:03AM
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I have an LG and the best washing action seems to be mixed loads, some heavy items mixed in, and 3/4 full when dry. Nothing shoved or packed in. I've never had an overloading issue but mine doesn't wash the way it should with a small load. 1/2 full when dry and things just stay against the drum and won't tumble as they need to.

Why do you think it a mechanical issue? Have you tried different detergents? Do you feel like your getting a thorough spin between rinses? Unless you are really packing the clothes down or throwing them in balked up it sounds like your loads should be fine.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 11:48AM
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I have a Samsung 520 (the BIG Sammy). When we pretty much fill it up (loosely, but to the top), it washes just fine (and I am VERY picky).

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 2:06PM
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The UK link about overloading was interesting. The only time I have completely packed the Samsung was for cotton whites (including towels and rags), so wrinkling was not a huge concern but I do find that white loads are the easiest to determine cleanliness.

Thanks everyone for your responses. 2/3 - 3/4 capacity seems to be the sweet spot, so I'm going to stay there. It would be fun to pick up an older small, h-axis Euro machine with a boil wash. I'd be interested to see what the incremental difference in cleaning is between 160F and 200F...

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 11:21AM
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Iowa- in the FAQ section there is information about wash temp and stain removal. It's very interesting. Higher temps seem to have a huge impact on stain removal.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 12:21PM
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Capacity depends on many factors. Typically, American front loaders have shorter cycles and less rinses than European ones. Many people will look for a Normal cycle that lasts an hour. My Duet has this type of cycle and the manual recommends to fill the drum 2/3 full - just like you said. Longer cycles will also be able to handle bigger loads. Using the Extra Rinse might be a good idea, though.

Now, you cannot really compare European washers to American ones. Our washers, and this is probably the most striking difference, have much longer cycles times and in many cases one more rinse per default. Many are also able to drastically raise the water level, if so desired, by just the push of a button.

Reason why cycle times are so much longer is, besides the time needed to heat cold water to a set temp, the over-rated capacity claims from manufacturers. There is a war going on. Some manufacturers claim that their small machines will hold as much laundry as an American front loader! How is that possible? By increasing the cycle time. Some washers, even Miele, will now take up to three hours to finish a warm wash fully loaded! It's the only option companies have, since the consumer wants more capacity, yet the outside dimension of the washer must remain the same.

This is a silly capacity war and I don't see any sense in participating. The masses, however, think that bigger is better.

There you have it: another explanation why we put more laundry in our washers than you do.

And for what's it worth: I have an American washer and will show you some loads. It's the European version of the Duet and the only American washer available in Germany.

This is a full, full load of towels. I paused the cycle after ten minutes to show that the mountain of laundry actually compacted when saturated and allows room for tumbling action. BUT you will also notice that the est. cycle time for a 140F wash with four rinses is 3:14 hrs. Much longer than on the Duet programmed for the North American market!

Full load of towels

And here is a medium-sized load I did on the 60-minute cycle.

Medium Load

Most of my regular loads are in-between those two.


    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 11:30PM
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Alex, very interesting observations about the cycle length and the fact that larger loads need longer cycle times when clean. I was doing laundry yesterday and had a really large load of towels and sheets that needed to be washed on Sanitary. It was the fullest load I have done in a long time and when the washer finished filling with water I thought it would be too big to wash well - it took a long while to saturate completely. But I let it run and to my surprise, things came out nice and clean. Now I realize that it was due to the almost 2 hour cycle time with an extra rinse;-)

    Bookmark   February 5, 2012 at 6:05AM
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OK Alex, I have to say that towel load had me feeling uncomfortable (I may actually have been twitching) ;)

Is your machine true H-Axis?

I will say that the few times I've had a larger than normal load, I select the "extended" option on the Miele for a longer tumble.

So are cycles getting longer in Europe but here in NA everyone wants an express?

This is why I don't believe that the express cycles clean anything. They are intended for freshening things when not really dirty. I use mine for our bathing suits all summer (after each wearing they get an express wash with Vaska or Forever New) - keeps the chlorine from killing them.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2012 at 3:28PM
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No, the drum has a 10deg tilt to it. The washer is basically identical to the US Duet with some modifications like a more powerful heater.

Cycles in Europe have definitely gotten longer in order for washers to obtain the A+++ energy rating. Our consumer magazine even noted that these HE cycles the energy label is based on not only run for ages but also don't get as hot as one has selected. 140F wasn't reached by any washer - LG even stopped heating at 110F. All this to conserve energy. Now, my washer will do the same but I know which options to (de-)select to get a hot wash.

I think Americans want short wash cycles cause that's what they know. A top loader with a two-hour cycle? No way! Even your dryers are way faster than ours.

It has also been discussed here before that it's likely a cultural phenomenon, too. While Europeans seem to do laundry all over the week, Americans seem to have a laundry day on which everything has to be done as quickly as possible. Probably not an universal truth but it has been brought up here before.


    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 1:53PM
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Alex - yes, many of us do have a designated "laundry day" here in the U.S. I used to have one, more or less, with my old conventional TL washer. Now that I have a FL washer, that does not happen as often. When the Extra White cycle takes two hours (for best results) after engaging the "Extend" feature and the extra rinse. (I've gotten quite spoiled to the nice results of that Extra Whites cycle.) It's hard to dedicate an entire day but I have done it on occasion when I get an early start.

On the other hand, my FL holds more than my old conventional TL washer did, so there is more laundry done in a wash cycle.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2012 at 1:43PM
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My (American) Duet says IIRC that you can fill the drum, but not to stuff it. I interpreted that you should not have to push stuff in to close the door, but can fill it completely with dry clothes. However, really full loads don't clean quite as well in my experience. There's probably not enough agitation, and not enough water:fabric ratio to carry all the soils away. Really full loads in a top loader don't get as clean either.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2012 at 10:36PM
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I read an article somewhere that stated that somewhere near 80% of the machines capacity is optimum for cleaning, water, detergent efficiency.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2012 at 8:47PM
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