Can You Manually Fill A Washing Machine With Water?

Can You Manually Fill A Washing Machine With Water
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We’ve all been there. Lacking water just when we needed it most. A malfunctioning city water system. A leaking water line in the house. A faulty water pump. Whatever the reason, a lack of water in the taps and faucets can be frustrating. If your laundry is affected, what can you do? Should all laundry work pause till all is resolved?

There is an option: manually filling your washing machine.

Can you manually fill a washing machine with water?

Yes you can.

You can manually fill a washing machine with water, by pouring it through the dispenser or detergent drawer. And it will work just fine.

You see, washing machines are a mindless appliance. It needs what it needs, but does not care about the source. Once it gets what it wants, it begins operation. 

When a washing program is started, water flows from a vent above the dispenser to flush the detergent down the drum.

In the absence of water from the plumbing line, you can manually fill a washing machine to run your laundry operations.

Of course, manually filling a washing machine has its own challenges, that we’ll consider. One of which is, how much water should you fill in at a time? 

How Much Water Does A Front Load Washer Use?

Can You Manually Fill A Washing Machine With Water

First is the “how much water should I use?” dilemma. According to Consumer Report, a front load washer they used for their test, used 7 gallons (or 26.5 liters) of water for a full cycle. That is a combination of washing and rinsing.

Assuming that the wash to rinse ratio is 40/60, that is, 40 percent for washing, 60 for cleaning, we’ll have 8.4 gallons for washing and 12.6 for rinsing.

This is their experiment, our washers might be older, and older washers use more water. So except we know the amount of water for our particular model, it will be wise to add a little extra in addition to this.

For example, since the example above uses 7 gallons (26.5 liters), I’ll opt for 8 gallons instead (30 liters), using the same 40/60 ratio. The goal is to use a little more than the average, gauge the wash performance, and decide on the right measurement in the next wash. This will give us a 12/18 liters ratio.

The idea is to replicate the water consumption of washing machines when they autofill.

How to use front load washing machine without tap water.

Can You Manually Fill A Washing Machine With Water
  1. Get all the water ready before starting the washer. In this case, we should have 12 and 18 liters in separate water jars or buckets.
  1. Fill the washer with clothes. Always strive for the 10 – 15 percent headroom principle. Never load a washer to its stated maximum or beyond.
  1. Fill the dispenser (detergent drawer) with the recommended amount of detergent.
  1. Open the detergent drawer and pour the water set aside for washing (12 liters) down the drum through the drawer.
  1. Now it’s time to start the washing machine using your preferred wash settings.
  1. You should monitor the washing process and not allow the machine to exceed its stage. 
  1. Once the washing phase is complete (assuming it drained properly), repeat step 4 to refill the washer with the rinse water (18 liters). You can stop the washer mid-cycle, if you wish, before refilling the drum.
  1. Wait for the ‘rinse and spin’ to complete.
  1. Now you can safely open the washer and transfer your clothes to a dryer or hand them on the lines.
NOTE

Give room for errors. Your first wash will not be perfect. Access the wash quality of the clothes. Are they as clean as they would normally? This might indicate if the water for the wash cycle is too much for the detergent used. If so, you might reduce the next wash to the 10.5 liters measurement using the 7 gallons water capacity. 

Do you have detergent stains or smell on the garments? This might indicate that the rinse water used was too small. Running the rinse cycle again is optional, but you’ll definitely increase your rinse water measurement from the 18 liters to a little more.

If you’ve found a sweet measurement ratio, write it down for future use. If you have a sticky note, paste this info somewhere on the washing machine body, so others in the household can refer to it during subsequent wash.

How Much Water Does A Top Load Washer Use? (19 gallons or 72 liters)

In the same report quoted above, the average top loader uses 19 gallon (72 liters) for a complete cycle. If you filling the drum manually, then prepare water somewhere around this range for the fill.

Using the  the 40/60 wash/rinse ratio suggested above, we should have: 

  • 29 liters for washing and 
  • 43 liters for rinsing.

Measuring the amount of water to use for a top loader is easy. In addition to having a measurement, the 40/60 wash/rinse ratio, we can still gauge the water level with our eyes. Most water fills the drum with water during washing. So you should determine whether the 29 liters measurement (40% of 72) will fill the load enough for the wash.

How to Fill a Top Loading Washing Machine With Water

  1. Get all the water ready before starting the washer. In this case, we should have 29 and 43 liters in separate water jars or buckets. There is no need for additions, as you can physically evaluate if the water measurement is enough.
  1. Fill the drum with the desired amount of clothes. Your eye-gauge will come handy here. But do not fill to the top. Only wash 85% – 90% of the recommended washing capacity
  1. Fill the dispense with detergent. This is a safe practice to ensure even distribution across the drum. Avoid the tendency to pour straight into the drum and with clothes in it.
  1. Pour your measured wash water into the drum. Some of it should go through the dispenser to flush the detergent in it.
  1. Next start the washing machine using your preferred wash settings.
  1. You should monitor the washing process and not allow the machine to exceed its stage. 
  1. Once the washing phase is complete (assuming it drained properly), refill the drum with your rinse water (43 liters). You can stop the washer mid-cycle, if you wish, before refilling the drum. Though top loaders can be operated even with the machine turned on.
  1. Wait for the ‘rinse and spin’ to complete.
  1. Now you can safely open the washer and transfer your clothes to a dryer or hand them on the lines.
NOTE
High Efficiency washing machines use less water. Only 13 gallons (49 liters) compared to 19 gallons (72 liters) used by agitators. 
So for an HE top loader, you should prepare 19.5 liters for washing and 29.5 liters for rinsing.
Washing Machine TypeWater Usage Per Load (Gallons)Water Usage Per Load (Liters)Wash Water Measurement  (Liters)Rinse Water Measurement (Liters)Measurement Ratio
Front loader7 (8 optional)26.5 (optional)10.6 (12 optional)16 (18 optional)40/60
Top loader (Agitator)1972294340/60
Top loader (High Efficiency)1326.519.529.540/60

Disadvantages of Manually Filling a Washing Machine With Water

  1. It is stressful and time-consuming.
  1. You might not always get your water/detergent ratio, resulting in inadequate laundering and unclean clothes.
  1. You’ll lose some functionalities of automatic washers.
  1. You’ll lose the benefits of hot or warm water wash

Will a Fully Automatic Washing Machine Work if I Pour Water by Bucket?

Can You Manually Fill A Washing Machine With Water

Yes it will. Except it will have a number of features that makes it automatic. An automatic is backward compatible, meaning it still has the features of a regular washing machine. But with more sensors and buttons, many of the manual functions of the machines are controlled by sensors. 

When you fill an automatic washer with water from a bucket, you’re by-cutting some sensors, which will in turn loose the functionality of those sensors.

If you’re stuck with no water in the taps or plumbing system, you can fill your auto-washer and follow the instructions above for successful completion.

How to Put Water in Automatic Washing Machine – Front Loader

  1. Get all the water ready before starting the washer. In this case, we should have 12 and 18 liters in separate water jars or buckets.
  1. Fill the washer with clothes. Always strive for the 10 – 15 percent headroom principle. Never load a washer to its stated maximum or beyond.
  1. Fill the dispenser (detergent drawer) with the recommended amount of detergent.
  1. Open the detergent drawer and pour the water set aside for washing (12 liters) down the drum through the drawer.
  1. Now it’s time to start the washing machine using your preferred wash settings.
  1. You should monitor the washing process and not allow the machine to exceed its stage. 
  1. Once the washing phase is complete (assuming it drained properly), repeat step 4 to refill the washer with the rinse water (18 liters). You can stop the washer mid-cycle, if you wish, before refilling the drum.
  1. Wait for the ‘rinse and spin’ to complete.
  2. Now you can safely open the washer and transfer your clothes to a dryer or hand them on the lines.

How to Put Water in Automatic Washing Machine – Top Loader

  1. Get all the water ready before starting the washer. In this case, we should have 29 and 43 liters in separate water jars or buckets. There is no need for additions, as you can physically evaluate if the water measurement is enough.
  1. Fill the drum with the desired amount of clothes. Your eye-gauge will come handy here. But do not fill to the top. Only wash 85% – 90% of the recommended washing capacity. 
  1. Fill the dispense with detergent. This is a safe practice to ensure even distribution across the drum. Avoid the tendency to pour straight into the drum and with clothes in it.
  1. Pour your measured wash water into the drum. Some of it should go through the dispenser to flush the detergent in it.
  1. Next start the washing machine using your preferred wash settings.
  1. You should monitor the washing process and not allow the machine to exceed its stage. 
  1. Once the washing phase is complete (assuming it drained properly), refill the drum with your rinse water (43 liters). You can stop the washer mid-cycle, if you wish, before refilling the drum. Though top loaders can be operated even with the machine turned on.
  1. Wait for the ‘rinse and spin’ to complete.
  1. Now you can safely open the washer and transfer your clothes to a dryer or hand them on the lines.

Conclusion

Washing machines are built to auto fill during operation. This will always be the best option. But there’s some issues with the plumbing system and you’re unable to generate water for the washer, this is not the end of the world.

You can manually fill your washer while you get your plumbing fixed. In the meantime, remember to do your laundry. Clean clothes and pleasant smell are worth the extra effort of a manual washing machine refill.

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