As a rule of thumb, most UK washing machines have 3 separate compartment drawers: the leftmost for prewash (often marked or labelled on the washing machine compartment as I), the middle for the main wash (II) and the rightmost compartment for liquid fabric softeners (a pictogram of a circular flower surrounded by petals).
However, there are major differences in washing machine compartments between brands. Some require the use of washing powders only while others are designed to handle liquid and powdered cleaning agents. This gets even more complicated, as some washing machine companies (e.g. Samsung) use multiple detergent compartment configurations across their appliances!
This ultimate guide includes detailed information for the following leading brands of washing machines: Bosch, Indesit, Hotpoint (Whirlpool), Miele, Ebac, Samsung and AEG (Electrolux).
According to the official Bosch Washer Master Manual; most Bosch washing machines have a 3-compartment detergent tray.
- Compartment 1 (I): Prewash detergent tray.
- Compartment 2 (II): Main wash detergent tray. Bleach, descaler and other liquid washing machine cleaning agents may be added to compartment II.
- Compartment 3 (Flower Symbol): Fabric softener detergent tray. Products added to this section of the detergent tray are added near the end of a wash cycle, before the final rinse. Other liquid additives, such as starch or deodoriser, may also be added via this Bosch washing compartment.
Bosch i-DOS Washer: Can I Use Powder?
No, Bosch i-DOS models require liquid detergent. Using powders or gels could seriously clog the machine and doing so may put your Bosch user warranty at risk.
Some newer Bosch washers feature smart technology: the Bosch i-DOS Automatic Dosing System.
Users can fill the detergent compartments of these devices with enough detergent to last multiple washes. The machine then releases the “ideal” volume of detergent from the 3 compartments, customised to each load’s weight and material type.
According to recently-published research from Bonn University, automatic-dosing washing machines could cut the amount of washing detergent used by up to 38%!
Hotpoint was founded in the US over 100 years ago. While still widely recognised as a British brand, Hotpoint is now completely owned by the American conglomerate Whirlpool and Chinese mega-manufacturer Haier.
All of Hotpoint’s remaining UK factories closed in the 2000s to 2010s but their washing machines remain popular among British consumers, despite production moving abroad to China, Italy and Poland.
Some Aquarius Hotpoint washing machines have a unique, swivelling detergent drawer which rotates anticlockwise to reveal three, circular-shaped compartments. While this novel feature doesn’t offer any real benefit to performance and efficiency, it does look great!
- Compartment 1 (the largest, longest compartment): For the wash cycle (i.e. prewash and main wash). Liquid and powder detergents are fine to use, but avoid introducing washing capsules or thick laundry gels; these could cause a blockage in your machine.
- Compartment 2 (the small, wedge-shaped compartment): For fabric softeners and other laundry additives such as starch or stain removers. Do not fill past the plastic grid.
- The compartment marked “*” (not present on all Hotpoint washing machines): Do not add any powders, liquids or other substances to this compartment. On some models, it is a vent which does not connect to anything. Yet on other Hotpoint washing machines, the * compartment has a removal plastic boat, used to introduce bleach into the drum during heavy-duty wash programs.
Hotpoint – Which Washing Powder Works Best?
In the past, Hotpoint has recommended specific brands of washing powder. Before 2004, Hotpoint suggested using Persil or Comfort branded products in their washing machines.
Currently, Hotpoint officially recommends Ariel washing powders and liquids.
This isn’t because Hotpoint washing machines need special cleaning products, but rather due to a marketing agreement between the two companies. Using any brand of washing powder is fine; doing so won’t jeopardise your Hotpoint washing machine’s warranty!
There’s a good chance you’ve not come across an Ebac washing machine before, which is a massive shame! Since the closure of Indeset’s last UK factory in 2009, Ebac has been the only remaining company to design, manufacture and sell washing machines in the UK. They’re a family-run business with over 40 years of technical experience.
The name “Ebac” is an abbreviation of the company’s original name “Elliott Brothers Air Control”. They produce 100%-British washing machines, tumble dryers, dehumidifiers and similar domestic appliances.
Ebac washing machines are known for their quiet operation, fast wash cycles and high build quality. A 7-year full warranty is provided on all Ebac washing machine purchases.
According to page 23 of the Ebac E-care Brochure, the general guide for all Ebac washing machines, the detergent drawer features 3 compartments:
- Compartment I: For Prewash. Washing powders and liquid detergents can be used.
- Compartment II: For Main Wash. Only powder can be used in this compartment unless you install the Ebac liquid boat. This is a small plastic tray that sits on top of compartment II – it comes as standard with all Ebac washing machines. Ebac’s liquid boat prevents liquid detergents from dribbling into the drum during prewashing. Never add powder to the liquid boat as this could clog the internal machinery!
- Softener Compartment: For liquid fabric softeners only.
According to the Miele UK website, Miele washing machine compartments have the following general layout:
- Compartment I (1): Detergent for pre-wash.
- Compartment II (2): Detergent for soaking and the main wash.
- Compartment (Flower symbol): Fabric softener, liquid starch, or capsules.
Uniquely, Miele washing machine owners can add Miele-brand washing capsules into compartment 3 – this is marketed as the Miele CapDosing System. These aren’t like normal washing capsules, which are added into the drum and dissolve during the washing cycle.
Instead, Miele capsules are made of hard plastic and are designed specifically for use in Miele washing machines. A slot on the bottom of the capsule fits tightly to the compartment, releasing detergent into the machine without spilling or leaking.
Dye removers should not be added to any Miele washing machine compartment!
Samsung is one of South Korea’s largest companies, producing a massive variety of devices and appliances for the global market. Various Samsung washing machines are sold in the UK, including Smart washing machines
There are 3 different Samsung detergent draw configurations in use currently (as of 2023): Type I, Type II and Auto-Dispenser (Type I) washing compartments.
It can be tricky to work out the differences between Samsung detergent drawer types, especially when the compartment markings are obscured by soap build-up or worn away from years of use!
Samsung Type I
If there are 3 rectangular compartments of equal size in your Samsung detergent drawer, you have a Type 1 washing machine.
- Compartment 1 (left): Main wash detergent compartment. Bleaches, water softeners and stain removers may also be added here.
- Compartment 2 (centre): Fabric softener compartment.
- Compartment 3 (right): Prewash compartment. Washing powders, washing liquids or starch added here will be released into the drum if a prewash setting is selected.
Samsung Type II
Samsung Type II detergent drawers feature a larger main wash compartment (to the left) and two smaller compartments to the righthand side, for prewash (top right corner) and fabric softener (bottom right).
- Compartment 1 (large, to the left of the drawer): Add powder or liquid washing detergent, starch, bleach or stain remover for the main wash.
- Compartment 2 (small, to the bottom right side): Detergents (or starch) for the prewash.
- Compartment 3 (small, top right): For fabric softeners only.
Some models of Samsung washing machines will use automatic detergent dosing, when certain automatic wash settings are selected.
If you’d rather not use the automatic dispenser, there’s a separate compartment for manual dosing. This functions the same as a traditional washing machine compartment does; all of the powder or liquid added to the Samsung manual dosing compartment will be added to the drum during washing.
- Compartment 1 (bottom left): Auto (fabric) softener compartment.
- Compartment 2 (bottom right): Auto detergent compartment. Powdered washing detergents must not be added – use liquid detergent only.
- Compartment 3 (top centre): Manual dosing detergent compartment – washing powder or liquid detergents can be used.
Can I Use Liquid In A Samsung Washing Machine Instead Of Powder?
According to the official Samsung UK website, washing capsules and tablets should not be added to any compartment. In most Samsung washing machines, powdered detergents can be added to any of the 3 drawer sections.
Liquid detergents can be used in Samsung washing machine compartment drawers if the blue-coloured plastic lid is installed over the appropriate compartment. Check your washing machine’s manual for precise information regarding liquid detergent use.
Beko sells a very large range of washing machines; their official website currently lists 40 unique models of washing machines (and that’s excluding Beko’s integrated washing machines!)’
The following compartment drawer guide is generally applicable to Beko washing machine models, but there may be exceptions!
Beko Washing Machine Drawer – What Goes Where?
Almost all Beko detergent drawers feature 3 separate compartments. The largest compartment is always for the main wash. Some Beko washing machines explicitly require powder detergent, while others can cope with either powder or liquid, according to the Beko UK website:
- Compartment 1 (left): Main wash compartment – usually powder only, no liquid detergents should be added here.
- Compartment 2 (centre or right): The fabric softener compartment. A blue plastic lid may be present, partially or fully covering the compartment. On some Beko washing machines, this blue flap needs to be used if liquid detergents are to be added.
- Compartment 3 (right or centre): Pre-wash compartment.
After Whirlpool, Electrolux is the largest producer of domestic cleaning appliances in the world. The company is based in Sweden but sells products internationally. Electrolux is a large conglomerate of over 30 smaller brands including AEG and Zanussi.
There are two integrated Electrolux-brand washing machines for sale in the UK (model numbers E772F402BI and E774F402BI), as well as various machines for industrial and specialist uses. AEG-brand washing machines are far more common (models LFR61144B, L8FEC966CA, L7FE7261BI, L7FEE965R and more).
You can use this page to locate the specific AEG or Electrolux manual for your device.
Unlike a traditional automatic washing machine, AEG/Electrolux washing machines use steam. This dramatically reduces the amount of water used per wash. Steam effectively cleans laundry, removing odours and lifting stains without damaging delicate garments.
Where Do You Put The Powder In An AEG Washing Machine?
- Compartment I (right): For prewash stage detergents and stain removers.
- Compartment II (left): Add detergents here for use in the main wash stage.
- Compartment (flower symbol): For liquid additives only (i.e. fabric softener or starch).
Some AEG washing machine models do not have a prewash compartment. Instead, users are advised to add prewash additives either directly into the drum or into a dosing ball (a small plastic ball that slowly releases its content during the prewash cycle).
Hard water is very common in the UK. It’s the root cause of limescale – this can slowly build up within washing machines, massively reducing their energy efficiency while increasing wash times!
The AEG Washing Machine Water Softener
Fortunately, many Electrolux/AEG washing machines feature a built-in water softener, made of resin. To ensure that the resin can effectively soften water, salt should be regularly added to the AEG washing machine salt compartment.
The salt alluded to is more commonly known as water softener in Britain; it refers to crystals of sodium chloride (table salt) and/or potassium chloride.
- Compartment 1: Prewash detergent (for powder only)
- Compartment 2: Main wash detergents (powders or liquids)
- Compartment 3: Additives (i.e. fabric softeners).
Be careful, as some Indesit manuals explicitly mention not to place “hand wash” detergents in any compartment – these could create excessive foam and spill out from the detergent dispenser tray.
Additionally, many Indesit detergent drawers contain a plastic grate over compartment 3. Avoid adding liquid above the height of the compartment 3 grate.