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What are the 3 compartments in a washing machine drawer?

(It's ok not to know)


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Washing machines are one of the most vital appliances in the house. If you use liquid or powder detergent, you’ll know where your washing machine drawer is, but do you know what the three compartments are for and are you sure you’re putting the right product in the right compartment?

Seem obvious? Not always. When Radio DJ Roman Kemp took to Twitter to say he had no idea what each compartment was for, his tweet got thousands of response - suggesting that loads of us aren’t really sure. And that must mean that people have been using their detergent drawers without really knowing what they’re for. Which could lead to blockages and dirty clothes if you’re putting the wrong stuff in the wrong drawer.

To settle confusion, we'll take a closer look at each of the compartments and learn how to look after them.

1. Pre-wash compartment

Starting on your right, we have the pre-wash compartment. It’s usually the second biggest drawer and is the place to put detergents designed for your pre-wash - a godsend when you have tough-to-shift stains and heavily soiled clothes like muddy sportswear and work clothes. To use this compartment, simply add the pre-wash detergent to the top left section of the drawer before starting the wash cycle.

Just be careful to never exceed the recommended amount of detergent to avoid damaging your clothes or the machine. By using pre-wash appropriately, you can make sure your clothes come out spotless and fresh the first time round.

Laundry tip: You don’t actually have to use special products in a pre-wash. Ordinary laundry detergent works as well. And even if you just put on a standard cycle, the machine will empty this slot even if you haven’t popped it on pre-wash.

2. Main wash compartment

The main wash compartment is (you’ve guessed it) the main section of the drawer. It's generally located on the left and is the most frequently used compartment. It’s also the largest compartment.

This is the place to put your regular washing detergent - either liquid or powder. The detergent will release at the beginning of the wash cycle, and the machine will take it from there. Again, make sure to use the right amount of detergent for each wash cycle to avoid any complications. If you’re not sure how much that should be, you can follow the dosage guide that comes with the detergent.

Laundry tip: If you don’t want to guess when yoou add detergent, some machines have an auto dose feature. As long as you make sure there’s detergent in there, the machine will take care of the rest.

3. Fabric softener compartment

See that thin slot in the middle? That’s where the fabric softerner goes. It’s not very big because you really don’t need that much fabric softener. When the washing machine reaches the rinse cycle, the fabric softener releases from this compartment to meak sure your clothing comes out of the machine feeling soft and smelling fresh. You probably don’t need it on everything you wash, but it’s great for fluffy towels and soft bedding.

Tips for maintaining your washing machine drawer

Maintaining your washing machine drawer is pretty easy but incredibly important. Always clean the drawer after each wash cycle to avoid a build-up of detergent, which can cause blockages and even lead to mould. Yuck!

The detergent drawer can be removed for easy cleaning. Most wil have a release mechanism in the middle that you can push down and then just pull the dispenser drawer out.

The best cleaning solutions for the drawer are mild, non-abrasive cleaners, soap and water. A toothbrush is really effective at removing tough deposits and getting into the nooks and crannies. Make sure the drawer is dry before placing it back into the machine.

What’s next?

We’ve got more washing machine cleaning tips or you can check out our Tech Expert George gets his washing machine gleaming below.

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