Washing Machine Drawer Compartments Explained

washing machine drawer compartments

Most modern washing machines have fancy digital displays, providing you will all kinds of clear information on your washing cycle. Things like temperature, speed, time, and pre-set programs to suit the specifics of the washing load are all there on the control panel.

But the washing machine drawer is often confusing since they’re not clearly labelled, and many people are scared that they’re putting washing poweder or fabric softener into the wrong compartment – it’s easy done.

Today, we’re taking you through all the compartments of the washing machine drawer, and by the time you’re finished, you’ll know exactly what each compartment is used for.

Washing Machine Drawers

Most people have at least a basic understanding of how washing machines work, even complete newcomers. All the information to get a wash started is shown by the various washing machine symbols, but there are very little markings on the detergent drawer. So, let’s explore these compartments in more detail so you know exactly what goes where.

How Many Compartments are There?

detergent compartment numbers

Typically, washing machines will have three compartments in the drawer. If you look closely, you’ll see that inside each compartment or around the drawer frame, there will be printed or embossed numbers or symbol.

A lot of UK machines will have number 2 stamped into the first (furthest left) compartment, then a flower symbol on the middle compartment, and a number 1 on the end (furthest right) compartment. These layout is not the same with all brands and models, so double check. Seems odd that so many chose to number them in this unorganised order, but I regress.

Here’s what each of these number means:

  • ” 1 ” or ” I ” = This is where you put detergent for a prewash
  • ” 2 ” or ” II ” = This is where you put detergent for the main wash
  • ” 3 “or “flower symbol ” This is where you put liquid fabric softener

Laundry Detergent

detergent in washing machine drawer

Laundry Detergents are available in powder and liquid form. In some tests, soap powder has performed better in cleaning, but there’s very little between the two and is really down the personal preference.

When selecting a detergent, think about your washing load. Do you need a strong detergent to clean whites, or are you looking to protect coloured clothes from fading, or perhaps you have an allergy and you need mild non bio. Whichever you go with, you fill compartment 2 with this for a main wash and if you need to use a pre wash on heavily soiled clothes, then a little goes into compartment 3. And always make sure to avoid over filling by using the guide fill lines.

Depending on load size, you’ll need between 35 – 70ml of detergent in the main drawer compartment.

Colour Detergent

Colour or delicates detergent is milder than your general purpose detergent for coloured instead of white laundry. Compared to heavy-duty detergents, it contains significantly less bleach. This prevents the colours from fading or running. We advise you to wash coloured textiles at a maximum of 50 degrees Celsius – preferably only at 30 or 40 degrees, depending on the degree of soiling.

And where does the colour detergent go in?

  • Into the main wash compartment (2), prewash is not usually used at lower temperature cycles.

In addition to classic detergents, there are also various washing additives that you can also use to clean fabrics.

Fabric Softener

Fabric softener has several effects:

  • Enhances fragrance to fabric, for longer
  • Can reduce electrostatic charge
  • Keeps fabrics feeling softer and less dry

Fabric softener contains surfactants. These penetrate the fibres of fabrics. As a result, the laundry can be ironed more easily. In addition, improves softness – important for bed linen, hand and shower towels, among other things.

Fabric softener is available in many fragrances. But some people find that they cause an reaction against sensitive skin, that why some use Fragrance Pearls as an alternative.

It is not recommended that you use fabric softener for tight sports clothing and, in general, for special clothing made from breathable materials. Otherwise your precious laundry is in danger of breaking.

In which compartment does the fabric softener go?

  • In the middle drawer compartment marked with a 3 or flower symbol, and sometimes has a blue plastic release tab.

Washing Machine Cleaner

Antibacterial washing additives that kill bacteria and clean you machine, such as Dettol Anti Bacterial Washing Machine Cleaner are poured into the main detergent compartment (2) without any accompanying detergents.

Water Softeners

Do you have very hard water? Then it is advisable to use commercially available water softeners (as tabs or in powder form). This not only has the advantage that your water is softer (i.e. less lime) when washing , but also ensures that you can use a lower dose of normal detergent.

These softeners will protect your machines heating element for limescale building, a leading cause of washing machines not being able to heat water.

Where does the water softener go in?

  • Into the main wash compartment

General Recommendation Detergents

Our advice: do not put heavy-duty, colour, black and mild detergents as well as hygienic rinse in the main wash compartment, but directly in the drum – using a container designed for this purpose ( detergent ball, eco bag, old stocking).

Why? Quite simply: with many detergents, part of it seeps into the drain hose and the drain pump. Up to ten percent of the cleaning agent then remains unused. Some washing machines have appropriate locks, but not all of them. In addition, the detergent gradually sticks the dispenser drawer together.

This means: If you only use the compartments for dispensing the detergent, you will have to clean the container very often (once a week). Otherwise, bacteria and mould spores can be the result – they like to feed on detergent residues.

Washing Machine Pods

Of course, washing machine pods are super easy to use, just pop a pod or two directly into the drum with your dirty clothes, and you’re off. This means you can bypass the drawer entirely, and you don’t need to even think about compartments and types of detergents, they’re a very convenient alternative to using the drawer chambers.

Note: In order to keep the washing machine fully functional at all times, you should regularly clean the compartments of the machine drawer and run a cleaner through the whole system. Use a special washing machine cleaner for this.

You should always clean any remaining detergent out of the compartments before the next wash cycle to ensure that it runs smoothly and eliminates blockages.

What happens if you fill the compartments incorrectly?

Don’t worry, it’s not particularly bad to fill the washing machine drawer incorrectly from time to time, it just means your clothes won’t be washed optimally. The machine likely won’t suffer any damaged – nor your laundry. In the worst case, it is not quite as clean as usual.