What Are 3 Compartments In A Washing Machine Drawer?

Washing machines these days are available in several designs and perform several washing functions like bleaching, pre-wash, main washing, fabric softening, steam wash, etc. We have all noticed a separate set of compartments in a washing machine, but most of us are confused about using them correctly.

This is why we end up adding detergent with the clothes in the washing machine drum. In the long run, this habit can spoil our clothes and bleach them off. The harsh detergents and chemicals can harm our clothes if they come in direct contact with them.

Therefore, the compartments help in the slow dispensing of detergents and fabric softeners during the wash cycle and release them in the right proportions as per the washing machine’s quantity of clothes.

If you want to protect your clothes and prevent them from getting spoilt, we have given a detailed guide on how to use and maintain the different compartments allotted in the washing machine. Read on to determine how to use them correctly to obtain the best washing and cleaning experience for your clothes.


3 Compartments In A Washing Machine Drawer

3 Compartments In A Washing Machine Drawer

If you notice, on the washing machine drawers, there are different symbols printed on each compartment that indicate what goes where. Ideally, the three compartments go as main wash, pre-wash, and fabric softener, respectively. But how do you identify and use them? Read on to find a detailed guide below:

Prewash Compartment

The prewash compartment is generally labeled as ‘1’ or ‘I,’ indicating this is the first stage of washing. This compartment is usually used for extremely soiled clothes and if your clothes are too dirty and need a second wash. You can add starch here if your clothes need to be starched or detergent in the prewash compartment so that your clothes get washed additionally. If the detergent is used from this compartment, your clothes go through an entire wash cycle once before it enters the main washing cycle.


Main Wash Compartment

This is the most important compartment of the washing machine and is usually labeled as ‘2’ or ‘II.’ This main wash compartment is always under use and is suitable for solid detergents only. The amount you add to the drawer depends on the number of clothes and how dirty they are. Usually, there is a level marked within the compartments that indicates the maximum detergent amount that you can add. You can also add some stain remover or bleach inside this compartment.


Fabric Softener

This compartment works as an optional compartment and is not always underuse. It usually has a ‘flower’ symbol on the top that indicates that any additional fragrances or fabric conditioners will go into this compartment.

Make sure to fill it up to the max level only; else, it will overflow from the compartment. The level of fabric softener you use also depends upon the number of clothes for washing. You can also add liquid detergent into the fabric softener section.


Types of Washing Machine Drawers

Washing Machine Drawers

Different washing machine models have different types of compartment designs. While most of us may not be sure how to use them, we enlighten you about all the types and designs to clear the confusion and make it easy to use the compartments.

Type 1 Detergent Machine Drawer

This is the most basic type of compartment design that you will find in washing machines. It has three separate compartments, the main wash compartment, the fabric softener, and the pre-wash compartment.

  • Main wash compartment: You can use this space to add pre-wash detergent, bleach, starch, or stain remover. You can skip the pre-wash feature and directly jump to this compartment.
  • Pre Wash compartment: For starch or using a detergent for two washes for clothes, you can use the pre-wash feature, for which this compartment turns out handy.
  • Fabric softener: Can be used for adding fabric softener only.


Type 2 Detergent Machine Drawer

The functions of each compartment remain the same, but the overall design may differ. Here the main wash compartment is separate, whereas the pre-wash and softener compartment are within a single division.

You may not find as much space to fill in the pre-wash and fabric softener as they are squeezed into a single compartment itself. But for compact designs, a few washing machine brands like Samsung choose the idea of this type of drawer design.

These days, certain washing machines come with the detergent auto-dispensing feature that does not require frequent manual input but time to time refilling into the respective compartments. The auto dispensers also come in 2 types based on the washing machine design and brand. Read on to know.


Auto dispenser type 1

The type 1 auto dispenser has three compartments:

  • Auto softener compartment: For fabric softeners, only
  • Auto detergent compartment: for using liquid detergents only
  • Detergent compartment (optional): this is a manual compartment, can be added as per your requirement.

The auto-dispensing drawers may look a little tricky to use, but once you get a hand over them, they make your refilling task very easy. For filling and using them:

  • Open the detergent drawer.
  • Remove the respective detergent or fabric softener compartments (optional if not removable)
  • Add the necessary amount of detergent or fabric softener, keep it back in the drawer, and slide it inside.
  • Press the start button of the washing machine. Wait to check the auto detergent/fabric softener indicator that comes on top of the respective compartments. Once it goes off, you are good to go; else, you may need to fill it to the level again.
  • The compartments go into use when you choose a particular wash cycle in the washing machine. If you use only washing, it will not use the fabric softener compartment and vice versa.
  • Keep refilling from time to time once the detergent gets replenished.

The best part about these auto-dispensing drawers is that they have indicators and an option to use detergent manually.


Auto dispenser type 2

Certain high-end washing machines come with the type 2 auto dispenser feature, which is not very commonly found. These washing machines come with a drawer or compartment attached to the lid of the washing machine. To fill the detergent or the fabric softener, you will have to pull out the container with the respective compartments attached to it.

Remove the compartments’ lids and fill the detergent or fabric softener up to the given MAX line within the compartments. These types may not always have a pre-wash compartment. Secure the lids and then check the settings of the washing machine.

You can either use anyone or both settings by choosing the feature in the washing machine options. The settings also allow you to select the amount of detergent or fabric conditioner that goes while washing. You can choose from standard to medium to high. Make sure to turn the settings off if you don’t want to use them and replace detergent or fabric softener levels from time to time.


How to Clean the detergent drawers

How to Clean the detergent drawers

With the number of liquid detergents and powders you use and replace each time, the compartments are bound to get clogged with extra detergent powder or liquid remnants, which is why it is necessary to clean them from time to time.

We give you a step-by-step guide on how to clean the manual and automatic dispensing compartments of a washing machine.

Manual Drawer

  • Open the drawer where you find the 2 or 3 compartments.
  • Press the lever that allows you to release the compartments from the drawers
  • Remove the respective compartment slots and wash them under tap water
  • You can use a brush or even your fingers to rub against the corners to remove the stuck detergent
  • You can also remove the drawer entirely and wash it under running tap water
  • After cleaning, place the compartments within the drawer and slide the drawer back into the washing machine.
  • Clean the vacant drawer area within the washing machine for any leftover detergent

Pro Tip: You can also perform a rinse cycle to remove any extra detergent or dirt from the drawers. Do not add laundry to the drum.


Automatic Drawers

For automatic dispensers, here is what you can do:

  • Open the detergent drawer having the respective compartments. You will usually find two compartments in automatic dispensers.
  • Press the lever on the inside of the detergent drawer and pull out the respective compartments along with the drawer at the same time.
  • Open the compartments, fill up some water and shake and rinse the compartments thoroughly. Make sure to clean the lids as well with a brush.
  • Also, clean the cap valves of both compartments inside the washing machine before you replace the drawer back in place.
  • Clean the walls of the washing machine that holds the drawer as well. Place the compartments and replace the drawer back in place in the washing machine.
  • Hold the drawer under tap water and rinse it thoroughly. Use a brush to clean around the corners.



For all those who are new to the concept of washing machine drawers and compartments, we have addressed some common FAQs that would help solve the confusion about using the washing machine drawers. Read on:

Can I put detergent capsules/tablets in washing machine drawers?

No, it is not advisable to use detergent pods, tablets, or detergent capsules in washing machine drawers. These drawers and compartments are designed and structured in such a way that they can well accommodate only powder or liquid detergents or softeners.

The pods and capsules may get stuck in the compartments and cause choking or blockage of the dispensers. You can directly add to the drum along with the clothes but not in the washing machine drawers.


What if I put liquid detergent in the washing machine drum?

Some people use liquid detergent in the washing machine drum along with the clothes during the wash cycle. However, it is not very recommended as it can deteriorate the quality of your delicate garments. The harsh chemicals and bleach used in detergents are not safe for direct contact, and hence washing machine drawers allow safe dispensing of the detergents as per the wash cycle. Therefore, be it liquid or powder detergent, detergent dispenser drawers are a better deal than directly adding them to the drum.


What would happen if I put detergent in the wrong compartment?

If you put detergent or fabric softener in the wrong compartment, it won’t damage your clothes as such, but the regular washing cycle is slightly reversed. If you put detergent in the fabric softener compartment and keep the fabric softener compartment empty, then the washing cycle would take somewhat longer than usual. However, it will still manage to clean the clothes. But, the main purpose of these compartments is because the machine uses them batch-wise in different wash cycles.

If the case is reversed and you use fabric softener in the detergent compartment and detergent in the fabric softener, it will first soften the clothes and then wash them with the detergent. This action may not allow efficient washing of clothes as softener may not mix very well with a detergent, and the clothes won’t turn out to be as soft as expected.

If you use only a fabric softener, it would be like washing your hair without shampoo and using a conditioner only. Your clothes would still have stains and remain dirty, just turn out to be softer and smell better.


Why are my washing machine drawers full of water?

The washing machine drawers may get choked or blocked sometimes due to any leftover detergent powder or liquid remaining in the compartments’ corners or valves. Ensure clean the compartments and the drawer area from time to time to not face water blockage.

You should also hold the compartments and the drawers under tap water to check proper water flow until they overflow, which indicates that they are functioning appropriately.


How much washing powder can I use in the drawers?

Ideally, the amount of detergent to be used depends upon several factors like the number of clothes in the washing machine, how soiled the clothes are, the type of water being hard or soft, etc.

Usually, the recommended amount is mentioned with each washing powder, but the drawers and the compartments have a maximum limit to which they can hold washing powders or detergents.

Ideally, you can use one scoop of detergent for a regular wash and keep the dispenser filled up to the max limit mentioned in the compartments. The machine will use the detergent based on the wash cycle and the number of clothes. Generally, one scoop is enough for a regular wash, but the harder the water, the more scoops you would need.


Final Note

After understanding each type of washing machine drawers’, their functioning, and the different compartments, you can look for a suitable detergent or washing machine based on your needs. Each washing machine is different and may have one of the few types of dispensers and drawers we have mentioned above.

By using the right amounts of detergent and fabric softeners in the suitable compartments and with the correct wash cycles, you can obtain quality washing and clean from your washing machine. It is also essential to regularly clean the drawers and compartments to avoid choking and effective functioning and cleaning.

Read our article above and tell us if we could better understand your washing machine drawer and compartments through the comments section below.

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