What is Pre Wash in Washing Machine – Best Way to Do Your Laundry

Washing machines nowadays come with a huge variety of cycles you can run. Each cycle comes with its own unique set of resource management, time duration, and a USP. For example, the pre-wash cycle. If you own a mid to high-range Samsung washing machine, chances are yours comes with the option to run a pre-wash cycle. So, what is pre-wash in the washing machine? Let us take a look and figure out how to use it, and when you should.

If you want a washing machine that can be versatile, look for something that comes with a wide range of wash cycles. This way you can easily wash different types of clothes with ease and without damaging them.

What is Pre Wash in Washing Machine – Clean the dirtiest clothes with PreWash

One of the best cycles to have in a washing machine, pre-wash might not be available in all models but the more expensive ones. While most other wash cycles are easy to grasp and understand, pre-wash is relatively new and tricky to get the most out of.

Very commonly found in front loading washing machines, the pre-wash cycle is a great option to best clean really dirty clothes. If you are a sportsperson or tend to get your clothes dirty a lot, a pre-wash cycle in your washing machine proves a greatly beneficial feature.

PreWash Cycle in Washing Machines – Explained

Pre-wash cycle, well, is obviously a pre-wash cycle. A wash cycle that runs before your clothes gets the detergent treatment. Primarily for heavily soiled laundry, a pre-wash cycle uses cold water and the spinning motion to dislodge any dirt and heavy particles from your clothes.

The pre-wash cycle should NOT be used for woolen and other delicate clothing, and must also not be considered a “quick wash” option. Pre-wash is quite hard on your clothes, which means that you can only send your durable clothes through the pre-wash cycle.

If you are into trekking, hiking, or sports, or your occupation leaves your clothes dirty and covered in the mud always, it is a good idea to invest in a washing machine that can run a pre-wash cycle. You will find this cycle cleans your clothes much better than a simple wash-rinse cycle.

If you have stained your clothes with food or something, a pre-wash cycle can do wonders. It provides a good head start to a generic wash cycle.

The cycle itself lasts less than 3-5 mins on most washing machines and uses cold water and some detergent to dislodge any stubborn dirt particles from your clothes.

When should you use PreWash?

The prewash cycle must be run, first, on durable and sturdy clothes, and secondly, on clothes that simply will not clean in a single wash cycle. Extremely soiled clothes, covered in mud and dirt are the perfect candidate for a prewash cycle. Prewashing loosens dirt and stains and is a great initial wash before the main cycle can start.

So, people with construction jobs, sportspeople, trekkers and hikers, yard workers, and such can really benefit from having a washing machine with the capability of running a pre-wash cycle.

Is PreWash necessary?

So, think you went out to play some football in the rain and fell in a puddle of mud. The dirt stuck to your clothes simply cannot wash out completely in a washing machine running a very basic wash cycle. You probably would have to commit to some manual cleaning first, spending time and effort on it. But, this is where prewash comes in.

A stronger, more effective wash cycle, prewash is best used on clothes that come with a care label stating they can be prewashed.

It will clean off the worst, chunky part of the dirt, and all the grime, grease, and oil, from your clothes, and then you can continue with your general wash cycle.

What Should You Put in the PreWash Compartment?

You do not have to add a lot of things to the prewash cycle. If you are going to pre-wash, you would only need some cold water and some light detergent. Do not add a lot of detergent, or the pre-wash wouldn’t really make any sense. You can even find some prewash detergent specifically for these cycles. They do not produce a lot of foam, but enough to get the job done.

Does PreWash use detergent?

PreWash cycle may or may not use detergent. This depends on your preference, and/or the setting on your washing machine. Some models might ask you to add detergent, while others might not.

That said, if the dirt on your clothes is too much to handle, you might as well use some detergent to get it out. You can also use a stain remover in your prewash cycle to get those nasty stains out before the normal wash cycle.

You can even get yourself some prewash detergent, yes, that is available on the market and are made specifically for prewash cycles.

If you have a washing machine with two detergent dispensers, when selecting the prewash cycle, add detergent to both those, and run the entire cycle altogether. The washing machine will first use the first dispenser for the prewash, then it will use the second one for the normal wash cycle. Use a high-efficiency, less foamy detergent for the prewash cycle for the best results.

All that said, it is better to wash really dirty clothes only with water first. The detergent will only stick to the dirt and cleaning might not be that effective. Use less detergent for prewash cycles, and make sure you add only the clothes that can take the prewash beating.

Why Do You Need the Pre-Wash Cycle?

So, the thing is. A lot of the times your clothes get so dirty that they cannot be cleaned in a single wash cycle. You can try and run those really filthy clothes, especially the ones covered in dirt, through your normal wash cycle, but you would find the dirt only sticks to the foam from the detergent.

This is why you need to clean the clothes with a pre-wash cycle with minimal detergent and cold water to wash that initial dirt out and get them ready for a normal wash cycle.

How to run a Prewash Cycle?

Since all washing Machines are differently built, each has a unique control panel and settings to choose from. To understand your appliance’s prewash cycle, it is best to check the manual and see what it offers. Your washing machine might even list the prewash cycle under a different name. While this does not happen often, there are some brands that choose to name it differently, all the while having the same function.

To run a prewash cycle,

  1. Load the washing machine with all your dirty clothes. Make sure you do not prewash delicate and woolen clothing.
  2. Add the detergent or stain remover to the dispenser, and make sure you add a less amount. Prewash cycles do not need a lot of detergents.
  3. Select the cycle and duration you want your washing machine to run for.
  4. Let the washer complete all wash cycles.
  5. That is all!

The washing machine will first run the prewash cycle with cold water, and then go on to the wash, rinse, and dry cycle, given you have selected them.

PreWash Cycle – Pros and Cons


  • Great for really dirty clothes
  • A good head start for other wash cycles
  • Uses cold water, so clothes do not fade
  • Highly efficient wash cycle
  • Works on stains as well
  • Does not use detergent, or uses very less of it


  • Hard clothes, could damage lighter, softer clothing items
  • Only available on front loading washing machines


PreWash is a great way to get the worst of the dirt out of your badly soiled clothes. It gives a good head start to the regular wash cycle, and allows for cleaner clothes. If you have dirty laundry often, maybe you play a lot of sports or whatever, getting yourself a washing machine that allows you a prewash cycle is a smart idea.

Most front-loading washing machines come with prewash, and top loaders might not have that cycle at all. Prewash is a simple technology and you do not have to pay a high and exorbitant amount of money for the feature.

We hope you understood what is pre-wash in the washing machine.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. When should I use prewash in the washing machine?

For extremely soiled clothes, a prewash cycle is perfect to get the brunt of the dirt out. If dirt and mud are an occupational hazard, or you are into sports or adventure sports, a prewash washing machine is great to invest in. That said, make sure you do not add delicate clothing and woolen items to the prewash cycle.

2. Is pre-wash good for clothes?

Pre-wash can be pretty damaging to softer lighter clothing like delicates and woolen stuff. However, it is perfect for heavy jackets, jeans, and other sturdy clothes.

3. Do I put detergent in prewash or main wash?

You can if you want to. We would suggest using either less of it or using none since detergent does nothing to dislodge the dirt and grime from your clothes. It only makes them more slimy and grimy. For the best prewash cycles, use cold water along with a minimal amount of stain remover for stains, and a little detergent to wash out clothes.

4. What to do If you accidentally put detergent in pre-wash?

If you have put detergent while you are pre-washing, simply take out the clothes that you wanted to pre wash and restart the cycle with lesser detergent. There is no way to limit the use of detergent once you have added it. If you have a detergent dispenser, simply add detergent to the second one so that none is used for the pre wash.

5. What happens if you use too much detergent?

If you use too much detergent for the pre wash cycle, you will end up with foamy, yet still dirty clothes. Foam does not clean the more stubborn kind of dirt and you would have to simply restart the cycle if you messed up. You can also get yourself some prewash laundry detergent which is much lighter than the regular kind and does not produce a lot of foam.

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Written By Gautam Joshi

I am a passionate home appliance expert with over 15 years of experience in the industry. As a former Quality Engineer, I have a deep understanding of appliance design, functionality, and performance. My knowledge and expertise in the field have equipped him to provide well-informed and reliable advice to homeowners looking to purchase or maintain home appliances.

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