How Much Laundry Is a Full Load?

Woman loading washing machine in kitchen
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With a big family, laundry becomes a sometimes overwhelming chore at my house. It's tempting to stuff the washing machine to the brim and hope for clean clothes at the end of the cycle. We know that to most efficiently use our washing machines, we should run full loads. We probably know that overfilling the washing machine is not good for our clothes or the machine. Do we know how much laundry makes a full load?

What's important to know when loading a washing machine?

Clothing Weight

A full load of laundry will depend on the capacity or size of your washing machine. Smaller capacity top loaders may accommodate only 6 lbs of dirty clothing to be full. Medium capacity top loading washing machines can usually tolerate 7-8 lbs. The biggest large capacity top loaders will do well with as much as 12-15 lbs. Front loading washing machines can hold as much as 18 lbs of clothing. So how many items are in a lb. of clothing? To find out how much your loads weigh, you can weigh yourself holding a load of dirty clothing, and subtract it from your weight without the dirty load. While weight varies with ​the type of material, these are some general guidelines.

  • Twin Sized Quilt-3-5 lbs.
  • Complete Child Outfit-1-3 lbs.
  • Complete Adult Outfit-3-5 lbs.

Clothing Size

In addition to the weight restrictions on our machines, there are also size restrictions.

The best load of laundry is one that mixes items of varying sizes. This allows clothing to move much more fluidly in the washing machine and keeps the clothing fully washed, fully rinsed, and undamaged. Although a full or queen sized quilt may weigh only 7 lbs., it could still be too big for your top loading washing machine.

Front loaders are much more able to tolerate large items and still get them clean and keep them protected. Check your manufacturer's instructions to see specific information for your machine.