What Are the 3 Compartments in Washing Machine Drawer?

If you have just bought a new washing machine, you might be wondering what the 3 compartments in the washing machine drawer are. Each compartment is actually very simple to learn about.

  1. The “pre-wash” compartment
  2. The “main-wash” compartment
  3. The “fabric softener” compartment

While the layout of each compartment may differ between washing machines, the concept is the same. In this article, you will learn what the 3 compartments in a washing machine are. Let’s get started.

The 3 Washing Machine Compartments

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When you open up your washing machine drawer, you will often find 3 compartments. Each one has its own purpose so it’s important to learn what each compartment is. Here are the 3 washing machine compartments:

1. The “pre-wash” compartment

The first compartment inside the washing machine drawer is the “pre-wash” compartment. Pre-wash is short for preliminary wash. Think of it as an extra wash before the main wash cycle. It is designed to loosen stubborn stains before the main wash, especially from heavily soiled clothes. 

You can leave it empty or add detergent (liquid or powder) into the “pre-wash” compartment. If you leave the “pre-wash” compartment empty, the pre-wash cycle will run with cold water only.

Once the pre-wash cycle is finished, the dirty water will drain and the washing machine will fill up with fresh water, ready for the main wash cycle. Not all washing machines have a “pre-wash” cycle feature.

2. The “main wash” compartment

The second compartment inside the washing machine drawer is the “main wash” compartment. This is the compartment that you will use most of the time. There will be a small flap at the back. 

If you use liquid detergent, the small flap needs to be set down so that when you fill the compartment it doesn't immediately leak into the washing drum. If you use powder detergent, you can leave the flap up.

If you use laundry pods or plastic-free laundry detergent sheets, you should also add them into the “main wash” compartment instead of tossing them straight into the washing machine. Doing this ensures the pods and detergent sheets are used at the right time, not during the pre-wash cycle.

3. The “fabric softener” compartment

The third compartment inside the washing machine drawer is the “fabric softener” compartment. It is often the smallest compartment in your washing machine drawer, which is why you should not overfill it.

Fabric softeners help soften your clothes as they’re being washed. While it is not necessary, using softener will make your clothes smoother. Scented fabric softeners will even make your clothes smell fragrant.

Contrary to popular belief, fabric softener is added at the end of the main wash cycle, during the rinse stage. The purpose of fabric softeners is to coat the fabric in compounds that reduce static cling while keeping the fabric soft. If it is added during the main wash cycle, most of the coating would be washed away.

If you are not sure how much fabric softener to add into the compartment, follow the directions on the bottle. Often, you should also find the MAX fill line in the compartment of the washing machine drawer.

Final Words

Now you know what the 3 compartments in a washing machine are. Add the correct amount of detergent inside the “pre-wash” and “main wash” compartment. Don’t overfill the “fabric softener” compartment.