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How Much Water Does a Washing Machine Use? Factors, Types, & FAQ

close up washing machine with water

When you’re looking at different appliances, it’s only natural to wonder how much water, electricity, and other resources they use when operating them. Are washing machines using enough water with each load, too much, or just the right amount?

While a washing machine uses the right amount of water for the way that the manufacturer designed it to operate, that amount can vary depending on various factors. A washing machine can use anywhere from 7 to 40 gallons of water.

Here, we break down the factors that affect how much water a washing machine uses and help you get a better understanding of just how much water your own washing machine should use for each cycle.

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How Much Water Different Types of Washing Machines Use

How Much Water Does a Front-Loading Washing Machine Use?

man using washing machine
Image By: Elnur, Shutterstock

Front-loading washing machines typically use the least amount of water. These typically use anywhere between 7 and 15 gallons of water per wash cycle. However, multiple factors can impact the exact amount of water that a specific washing machine uses for each cycle.

How Much Water Does a Top-Load Washing Machine Use?

Top Load Washing Machine
Image By: Opat Suvi, Shutterstock

Top-loading washing machines typically use more water than their front-loader counterparts. These machines typically use between 13 and 25 gallons of water for each cycle.

However, that number is for newer top-load washing machines. Older top-load washing machines will use even more water. Regardless, if you compare similar front-load and top-load washing machines, the top-load washing machine will almost always use more water.

How Much Water Does an Energy-Efficient Washing Machine Use?

Energy-efficient washing machines all use less water than a comparable non-energy-efficient model. But keep in mind that even these washing machines will have variations on exactly how much water they use.

Energy-efficient front-load washers will typically use between 7 and 10 gallons of water per cycle, while energy-efficient top-load washing machines will use between 13 and 17 gallons of water per wash cycle. That might seem like a large amount of water, but compared to many other models out there, it’s much less!

How Much Water Did Older Washing Machines Use?

While you might balk at the 7 to 25 gallons that newer washing machines use with each wash cycle, this is far less water than what older washing machines used. They would routinely use about 40 gallons of water for each cycle.

The washing machine would simply fill up the entire bowl with water and then use an agitator to mix things up and clean the clothes. Newer washing machines use more effective methods, and that’s why they can use less water during the cleaning cycles.

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What Other Things Can Affect Washing Machine Water Usage?

While the type of washing machine that you have will obviously play a big role in how much water the machine uses, it’s not the only factor to consider. Here are six other factors that affect how much water your washing machine uses with each cycle.


The older a washing machine is, the more water it’ll typically use. Newer washing machines are simply more energy efficient. Older washing machines could use as much as 40 gallons of water for a single load, while some newer high-efficiency washing machines can use as little as 7 gallons for one cycle.

Load Size

The more clothes you put in the washer, the more water is needed to wash them all. You can either adjust the load size manually or the machine will automatically sense how many clothes are in there and use the correct amount of water.


Washing Machine with laundry
Image By: Steve Buissinne, Pixabay

If you have a large washing machine, it will take more water to fill it up than if you have a small one. Sometimes you can adjust the load size to help accommodate for this, but not always. The larger the washing machine is, the more clothes you can wash at once, but the more water it’ll use.

What You’re Washing

Modern washing machines use sensors to determine how much water it needs. Bulkier items like comforters and pillows absorb more water, so the washing machine will likely add more water to wash them.

The Wash Cycle

Some wash cycles simply use more water than others. Heavy-duty wash cycles tend to use more water than delicate wash cycles. Switching to a different wash cycle is one way to use more or less water with each load.

Rinse Settings

If you set up the washing machine for an extra rinse cycle or an extended rinse cycle, it will use more water. The exact amount of extra water depends on the type of washing machine and the size of the load.

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Final Thoughts

Modern technologies have dramatically reduced how much water a washing machine uses, and as these technologies improve more and more, washing machines will use less and less water with each cycle.

Also, keep in mind that the average water usage amounts highlighted here are estimates that apply to most washing machines. If you want the exact numbers for the average water usage for your washing machine, we recommend looking in the owner’s manual.

Featured Image Credit: RachelBostwick, Pixabay


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