What are Washing Machine Drawer Compartments? Complete Guide!

Purchased a washing machine but wondering where to put detergent in washer? Don’t worry, you are at the right place as this guide will answer all your questions related to washing machine drawer compartments and usage of detergent.

First of all, you should be aware that each compartment in the washing machine drawer has a symbol printed on it, which indicates its purpose.

Washing Machine drawer Compartments With Symbols

Detergent Drawer Symbols

If you are in a hurry, here is a quick summary of drawer symbols

II = Main wash detergent/water softener/bleach/stain remover
Flower = Fabric softener/starch
= Detergent for prewash
A = liquid detergent flap (additional compartment in some washing machines)

Washing Machine Drawer

The washing machine drawer is usually placed on the top left corner of the washing machine and has 3 compartments that are used to dispense detergent and fabric softener.

  • Main Wash Compartment
  • Prewash compartment
  • Fabric Softener Compartment

Each of these can be easily distinguished with the help of symbols labelled on them.

3 Compartments In Washing Machine Drawer

Main Wash Compartment

The symbol on this compartment is ‘II’ or ‘2’

As the name suggests, this is the largest the most important compartment as it is responsible for dispensing the washing detergent.

It is the largest and usually the left-most compartment. You should pour the detergent into this drawer II upto the level stated on the detergent label.

For lightly soiled clothes (when you don’t need fabric softener) you can just add a detergent to this compartment and start the washing machine. There is no need to add anything to the other two compartments.

Types of detergent that you can put in this compartment- powder detergent, liquid detergent.

You cannot put a tablet or a capsule detergent in it, which will have to be placed inside the washing machine drum.

Things that you can add to the main wash compartment are laundry detergent, laundry powder, pre-soaking agent, water softener, stain remover and bleach.

Prewash Compartment

Prewash compartment

The symbol on this compartment is ‘I’ or ‘1’

When the clothes are heavily soiled, you might want to rinse the laundry with some amount of detergent before the actual wash cycle begins. In that case, you can add detergent to this prewash compartment.

Please note that for this to work you will have to select a prewash cycle. This is because the prewash compartment’s detergent will be used during the prewash cycle only. Hence, if you select a prewash cycle but do not fill this compartment, then there will be no damage to the clothes.

It is typically the right-most compartment and you can add fabric softener or stain remover in it.

Fabric Softener

Fabric Softener Compartment

The symbol on this compartment is ‘*’ or ‘star’ or ‘flower’ or ‘3’.

The smallest compartment in the drawer is the fabric softener. It is usually placed in between the main compartment and the prewash compartment. You can use it to add fabric softener if you plan to use one. However, do make sure not to add more softener than the max limit, which is usually indicated by a max line in the compartment.

The softener is dispensed into the washing machine during the rinse cycle. This is because if it is used during the wash cycle, most of the fabric conditioner will get washed away.

Type of Washing Machine Drawers

Type I Washing Machine Drawer

Type I Washing machine Drawer

This is the most commonly found type with 3 compartments in a row.  Here, the left-most compartment is the main wash compartment, the right-most compartment is for prewash. while the middle compartment is for the fabric softener

These drawers usually have higher capacity, but they mostly depend on the brand and model.

Type II Washing Machine Drawer

Washing machines using more compact drawers have this type of drawer. Here the prewash compartment and the fabric softener compartment add up to have similar volume to that of main wash compartment. These are less common as compared to the above-discussed type of drawers.

There is no significant benefit or limitation of both types of washing machine drawers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I add detergent directly into the drum?

For front load washing machines, you should always add detergent into the washing machine drawer. If you add the detergent directly into the drum, marks or streaks on the clothes can occur.
For most top load washing machines, you can add the detergent directly into the drum.

What happens if you put detergent into the wrong compartment?

If you put the detergent only in the prewash compartment, the detergent will not get dispensed during the wash cycle, but only during the prewash cycle. This will wash the clothes but not effectively.

How much detergent should be added to the prewash compartment?

The Prewash compartment should be filled with 1/3 volume as compared to the main wash compartment.

Where can I add bleach to the washing machine?

Bleach can be added in the main wash compartment. If there is no compartment in your washing machine, then you can dilute the bleach in 1 litre of water and add it directly into the drum.

What is an auto dispenser in washing machine?

A washing machine with this feature auto dispenses detergent and fabric softener into the machine based on the chosen cycle.

Which cycle is related to each compartment?

Main wash compartment releases detergent during the wash cycle. The Prewash compartment releases the detergent during the prewash cycle and the fabric softener compartment pours the softener during the rinse cycle.

Hope this information was helpful. If you still have questions around the same, then don’t hesitate to ask us in the comments section below. Also, if you liked this post, do share it with your friends and family, which will help spread the word.

Cheers and happy washing!


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