Do I Need a Half load button on washing machine?

FAQ Whilst researching a washing machine purchase you might see a long list of specifications but where it says, “half load option” there could be a “no” or some other indication that the washing machine does not have a half load option.

Many washing machines these days have no half load button. You could be forgiven for thinking this is bad, but it most probably just means that it has something better.

It’s almost certain that a washing machine with no half load option has instead some form of automatic half load system.

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In the past – a half load option meant that the user could tell the machine that they were just washing half a load. This was necessary because the washing machine had no way of knowing. In this case the manufacturers assumed that less water could be used – particularly on rinses. This function was useful, but relatively crude. In the majority of cases a half load button did nothing but reduce the amount of water taken in during rinses.

These days – The program control on most washing machines (instead of being a mechanical device turning switches on and off) is now a PCB that runs software programs. This software can not only monitor parts but make decisions using fuzzy-logic. Many can alter the amount of water taken in on wash according to how absorbent the laundry is and how much laundry is inside – which it can detect for itself.

When it gets to the rinsing cycle some can even carefully control the amount of water used by monitoring how clean the water is (or in other words how much detergent is still left in the water). The most sophisticated washing machines can use an absolute minimum of water during a wash programme


If there are some budget washing machines left that do not have the ability to adjust water levels themselves then no doubt they will still employ a manual half load button but the half load button is virtually obsolete. It will eventually be removed from washing machine specifications.

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8 thoughts on “Do I Need a Half load button on washing machine?”

  1. Thank you for this explaination, very helpful, I wish manufactuers made it easy, all this terminoloy doesnt make it easy!

  2. I echo Ben’s remarks because they qualify what my machine supplier told me, which was simply to use a lesser load and the machine would do the rest. You have explained in a few words just why and how that happens.

    1. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

      Hello Nicholas. If your washing machine does not have 1/2 load button then it probably adjusts for the size of the load automatically.

    1. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

      Logically you always press a button in to select an option. But I remember some old hotpoint washing machines had it the other way round for some stupid reason. I hope they saw sense and stopped it but it will tell you in the instruction manual and if you haven’t got it you can usually download one. I have a page with links in the “using” section

  3. Excellent – an answer that makes sense after lot of trawling. Inherited an old Whirlpool and never understood the words half load on the front of the machine – but no button.

  4. Thanks for the explanation. I have a two year old Fisher and Paykel front loader Wh85060P, with no half load option. I guess from your explanation, it adjusts automatically for a smaller wash. Thanks for the info. 12.8.2023

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