How to Figure Out the Capacity of the Washer You Need
The average American family washes about 400 loads of laundry every year, according to 2012 data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Since laundry plays such a massive role in day-to-day housework, it's essential to choose a washing machine that's just right for your family, and capacity is key to that choice. Figuring out which washer has the perfect capacity for you is a simple matter of matching your average load size to the drum size of the machine.
Get a solid estimate of you or your family's average laundry load size, in terms of weight. First, place your empty laundry basket on a household or bathroom scale and mark its weight. Once the basket is full and you're ready to do laundry, weigh the loaded basket. Subtract the empty basket's weight from the total weight of the basket and laundry and record the result -- this is the weight of your laundry load. Repeat this process a few times over various loads of laundry to get a good idea of the average weight of a load of laundry in your household.
Choose a two-in-one washer with a width of about 23 inches and a drum capacity of 2.11 to 2.44 cubic feet if your average laundry load weighs 8 pounds or less. If your loads weigh 8 to 12 pounds, go with a compact washer that has a width of 24 inches or less and a capacity of 2.5 to 3 cubic feet.
Select a full-size, top-loading washer -- a machine with a width of 27 inches or more and a capacity of 3 to 3.8 cubic feet -- if your average laundry load clocks in at 12 to 16 pounds. At the high end, choose a front-loading washer with the same width and a capacity of 3 to 4.2 cubic feet if your average load of dirty clothes weighs between 12 and 20 pounds.
Things You Will Need
- Household scale
- Consider a larger drum capacity, about 3 to 4 cubic feet, if you find yourself regularly washing lots of large items, like pillows and blankets.
- Remember that a larger capacity doesn't necessarily mean the washer isn't eco-friendly; a bigger capacity means you're likely to do fewer loads. Look for Energy Star-certified washers with a low water factor -- the number of gallons per cycle per cubic foot -- if you're in the market for a “green” machine.