Doing laundry is an essential yet repetitious and tedious part of life. To decrease the quantity of time spent on this mundane chore and reduce the amount of money and energy expended washing multiple loads of laundry, many users are often tempted to stuff the washing machine to its capacity limit. However, there is a vast difference between what the washing machine can hold and what it can properly process, and the problems caused by overloading the machine far outweigh the temporary benefits of avoiding an extra load of laundry.
When a machine is overloaded, water and detergent cannot circulate sufficiently, which causes several problems. Clothes will not be thoroughly cleaned or rinsed and will contain detergent residue. Also, the clothes may come out of the machine containing lint and may be soggy since they did not experience the maximum benefit of the spin cycle. White clothes may develop the "grey dingies," a term that refers to the transfer of dye from dark coloured to white coloured clothing.
In some models, an overloaded machine causes clothes to get caught in the agitator, which can cause snares, rips and tears. Sometimes, an overloaded machine also twists the clothes into knots, causes excessive wrinkles, and frays the ends of some materials. Also, if the machine continues to be overloaded and traps clothes in the agitator, the agitator seal will start to wear out, leaking oil spots on the laundry.
Continuously overloading the machine will eventually damage its components, resulting in expensive repairs. Overloading a machine with jeans is a common problem because it may not appear that the washing machine is too full; however, jeans absorb water and become very heavy when wet, which causes the machine to be out of balance, as evidenced by heavy vibrations and loud thumping noises. And when the machine is out of balance, more pressure is exerted on certain components, making them more likely to break, become loose or wear out prematurely.
Overloading a washing machine can also trip the Residual Current Device (RCD), which is a safety switch that stops the electrical power when the circuit is drawing too much current and has reached a hazardous state. Although most laundry fires involve dryers, the National Fire Protection Association cautions against overloading washing machines to reduce the number of fires caused by leaks or broken parts.