An Extra Power dial and various wash cycle options on a washing machine

WHAT DOES SOIL LEVEL MEAN ON A WASHER?

Many washing machines feature a soil level setting that indicates the amount of dirt or soil on clothes. While they may vary amongst washing machine models and brands, soil level settings are designed to help you get the right clean for your laundry load. Depending on the washer, soil level selections help you determine settings such as the wash time and the amount of detergent used for each load.

Soil levels on washing machines like these top-load and front-load models by Maytag brand will help give you greater control on laundry day by identifying recommended settings for each load.

So, what is soil level? Learn the meaning behind your washer’s soil level options and how to properly use them to get the most out of every wash cycle.

A woman setting a laundry cycle on a Maytag® washing machine A woman setting a laundry cycle on a Maytag® washing machine

WHAT SOIL LEVEL SHOULD I USE?

Choose a low, medium or high soil level setting depending on how dirty your clothes are and the type of fabric you’re washing. For lightly worn delicates, for example, wash the clothes using a low soil level setting. For heavier fabrics like jeans, jackets or bedding, use a medium to high soil level setting. Heavily soiled items with visible dirt or grass stains should be washed using a high soil level setting.

To keep your clothes feeling comfortable and clean between washes, it’s important to know how much washing power your clothes can take. Refer to specific care label instructions for help deciding what soil level option to choose for clothes.

Various wash cycle settings on a high-efficiency washing machine Various wash cycle settings on a high-efficiency washing machine

WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON WASHER SOIL LEVELS?

While some models may feature a greater range of cycle options, most washing machines are manufactured with three distinct soil level settings: Light, Normal and Heavy.

A lightly soiled t-shirt icon

LIGHT SOIL SETTING

For lightly worn fabrics without visible dirt or stains, choose a Light soil setting. This setting can also help protect fragile items like undergarments or frayed sweaters from the washer. Because delicate fabrics don’t require a lot of water or soap to keep clean, choosing the lightest soil setting will help fight wrinkles and light stains while also reducing overall wash time.

A moderately soiled t-shirt icon

NORMAL SOIL SETTING

Ready to tackle that pile of dirty jeans? The Normal soil setting on your washer is perfect for everyday clothing items that don’t attract a lot of dirt or grime between washes. Use this soil setting to get the musty scent out of your socks, sweatpants and T-shirts.

A heavily soiled t-shirt icon

HEAVY SOIL SETTING

Choose a Heavy soil setting for those hard-to-clean items. This setting works best on more durable fabrics like bedding, towels and washable furniture covers. Use this setting also when washing particularly soiled items, like sports uniforms and outerwear.

A water level dial on a washing machine set to auto sensing A water level dial on a washing machine set to auto sensing

DOES SOIL LEVEL AFFECT WATER LEVEL?

It depends on your washer. A top load model may use more water on a higher soil level setting but a front load may not. Based on your model, soil level selection may change wash time, detergent dosage (bulk dispenser models only), wash motion, water temp and/or water level to alter wash performance.

IS SOIL LEVEL THE SAME AS WATER LEVEL?

No. Soil level refers to the amount of dirt or grime on clothes, while water level refers to the specific amount of water in the washing machine at a given time. Some Maytag® front-loading washing machines feature automatic load size indicators that determine washer water levels for you, making the laundry process that much simpler.

Laundry being cleaned in a Maytag® washing machine set to a normal cycle Laundry being cleaned in a Maytag® washing machine set to a normal cycle

DO SOIL LEVELS DIFFER BASED ON FABRICS?

Depending on the fabric type, washing instructions and soil levels may vary. For delicate items like lace, silk blouses or sheer materials, a Light soil setting is best. To keep thicker or bulky fabrics clean like quilts or comforters, opt for a Normal to Heavy soil setting.

SHOP MAYTAG® WASHERS

Convenience is essential to managing the chaos of everyday life, which is why the soil level feature on your washing machine takes the guesswork out of laundry. Make wash day a breeze with your Maytag® washing machine.

LEARN MORE ABOUT MAYTAG® WASHERS

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