What is Soil Level in Washing Machine? (Explained)

Soil Level setting is one of the most confusing options in any washing machine, as there is very limited information available on ideal settings even in the instruction manuals of most modern-day washing machines.

Most people don’t even know what the soil level setting is for and how to use it.

Let’s try to understand what is soil level? and how to use it the right way?

What is Soil Level in Washing Machine?

Soil Level setting is a feature that allows you to select the ideal washing intensity depending on how dirty your clothes are and the type of fabric being washed. Most washers have three types of settings, they are Light, Normal, and Heavy. Depending on the fabric type and dirt levels, you should choose the most relevant settings.

Soil level plays a key role in not only cleaning the clothes efficiently but also retaining the quality of fabric in the long run. You simply shouldn’t choose any random soil levels for any type of fabric and avoid using high soil levels for delicate fabrics that are lightly soiled OR not too dirty.

We have already covered the ideal settings in detail below, more on that later.

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Benefits of Soil Level Settings

When it comes to selecting the appropriate soil level, there are several key benefits you can enjoy:

Thorough Cleaning

Choosing the right soil level ensures that your clothing is washed thoroughly, removing dirt, grime, and stains effectively.

Precise Washing Time

 By selecting the proper soil level, your washing machine adjusts the load cycle accordingly, resulting in a more exact and efficient washing time for your specific load.

Water and Energy Savings

Based on the soil level of your clothing, your washer can save water and energy. By using the appropriate soil level setting, you avoid overusing resources for lighter loads while still ensuring cleanliness.

Soil Level Options and Usage

Washers typically offer different soil-level options to accommodate various types of loads.

Let’s explore the three primary soil level settings and their recommended usage:

Light (or Extra Light)

This setting is ideal for delicate fabrics and clothing items that do not carry a lot of dirt or dust. Lighter materials require gentle settings to avoid damage.

The extra light and light soil level options take less time to wash, aid in detangling, and help reduce wrinkles.

Normal (or Medium)

The normal or medium soil level settings are suitable for everyday clothes that are not heavily soiled.

It is recommended for items like T-shirts, socks, and sweatshirts that do not require excessive agitation but still need to eliminate musky odors.

Heavy (or Extra Heavy)

The heavy and extra heavy soil level settings are designed for rugged materials and heavily soiled items. 

Towels, blankets, and children’s sports uniforms are examples of loads that benefit from this setting.

Washer models with advanced features, such as dynamic appliances, can handle the challenges of heavy-duty washing.

Differentiating Soil Levels from Washer Cycles

It’s important to understand that soil levels and washer cycles are not the same thing.

While soil levels determine the intensity of agitation, time, and water temperature, washer cycles offer additional customization options.

Begin by assessing how dirty your clothes are, then select a suitable specialty cycle, such as the Quick Wash cycle or the perm press cycle, which helps reduce wrinkling throughout tumbling.

What does Heavy OR Medium soil mean on a washing machine?

Heavy OR Medium soil simply refers to a setting you choose based on how badly your clothes are soiled.

The higher the amount of dirt, the higher would be the soil settings.

High Soil settings are generally selected when your clothes are covered in excess dirt OR mud.

For heavy items, such as jeans and blankets with patches of excess dirt OR mud, selecting a High-Soil setting makes sense. Likewise, for delicate fabrics that are lightly soiled, light settings should suffice.

Let’s take a quick look at the ideal soil level settings in different scenarios below.

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What Soil Level should you use?

Choosing an appropriate soil setting is extremely important if you want optimum results out of your washer without damaging the fabric. It’s always easy to select a High-Soil setting and expect amazing results.

But wait, High does not always mean better.

High soil setting for delicate fabric will cause wrinkling and it’s harsher as compared to the other two settings. Since the washer uses its full capacity in a High Soil setting, there are good chances that your fabric’s service life may reduce in the long run if it’s washed in a high soil level setting.

Here’s a sample soil-level setting that will give you a good idea of choosing the right setting.

Fabric TypeSoil Settings
Jeans and Blankets with mild to medium dirt levelsNormal
Jeans and Blankets with high dirt levelsHigh
T-Shirts, Inner-wears, Track Pants, and Down Jackets soiled heavilyNormal
T-Shirts, Inner-wears, Track Pants, and Down Jackets with mild to medium dirt levelsLight
Silk and delicate fabrics with mild to medium dirt levelsLight
Silk and delicate fabrics with mild to medium dirt levelsLight/Normal

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Does Soil Level Add more water?

Different soil level settings need different water levels to operate efficiently. The lowest setting may use the least amount of water and have shorter washing cycles as compared to Normal and High Soil settings.

So, selecting Low-Soil settings will have less intensity, use less water and complete the washing cycle much faster, it’s much softer than the other two settings. Likewise, Medium settings will operate at a slightly higher intensity and have longer washing cycles.

READ: How to Wash Down Jacket in Washing Machine?

Is soil level the same as the water level?

No, they are distinct. Soil level refers to dirt on clothes, while water level is the specific amount of water in the washing machine at a given time.

However, the higher the soil level settings, the more water your washer will use.

Having said that soil level is not the only setting that determines the water level, there are other settings too, along with the soil level settings that determine the ideal water level.

For example, A gentle rinse with high soil settings may still use less water.

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Final Thoughts

Selecting an ideal soil level setting plays a crucial role in optimizing the washer’s efficiency.

Right Soil level settings depend on the type of fabric you want to wash and the extent to which it’s soiled.

It’s always best to refer to instruction manuals to find out the ideal settings, if you don’t have any specific information mentioned, you can use the table above to get a rough idea.

Lastly, always use a gentle wash and low soil level settings for delicate fabrics to avoid any damage in the long run.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does soil level affect water level?

It depends on your washer. Some models may adjust water levels based on soil level settings, affecting wash time, detergent dosage, wash motion, water temperature, and/or water level.

Do soil levels differ based on fabrics?

Yes, soil level recommendations may vary depending on the fabric type. Light soil settings are suitable for delicate items, while heavier soil settings are ideal for thicker fabrics.

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Hemant Sarkar is a seasoned techie with a diploma in computer science and an impressive track record of over 15 years in dealing with speakers, kitchen appliances, and various home appliance-related issues. He is widely recognized for his exceptional expertise in repairing dryers and washing machines from all major brands. In addition to his appliance repair prowess, Hemant maintains engaging blogs on topics related to music and speakers. For any inquiries or assistance regarding appliances or tech-related matters, you can reach out to him at: hemant (at) theportablelaundry.com.