Doing laundry is a never-ending chore. Lugging baskets of dirty clothes to the laundromat or up and down stairs can be a hassle. Have you ever wondered exactly how much a load of laundry weighs? The weight of a basket of laundry depends on factors like load size, materials, and how tightly packed it is. Read on for average laundry basket weights and tips to make weighing and transporting laundry easier.
Average Laundry Basket Weights
On average, a standard sized laundry basket filled with clothes weighs between 10 to 25 pounds. However, a number of factors affect the precise weight:
The number of garments and items in the basket greatly impacts the total weight. A mixed load of towels, sheets, shirts, pants, socks, and undergarments will be heavier than just a few lightweight shirts.
Fabric weight makes a difference. A load of cotton t-shirts will weigh less than a load of denim jeans or bath towels, for example. Delicates and lingerie weigh very little compared to exercise clothes and outerwear.
Wet vs. Dry
Once laundry is washed and soaked in water, it becomes significantly heavier. Wet laundry can weigh up to 50% more than when it’s dry.
Compact vs. Loose
A tightly packed, overflowing laundry basket will weigh more than loosely tossed clothes. The density of how compacted the laundry is factors into overall heft.
Standard Laundry Load Weights
To give you a better idea, here are approximate weights for standard laundry loads:
1 load of t-shirts: 5 to 7 lbs
1 load of button shirts: 7 to 10 lbs
1 load of jeans: 10 to 12 lbs
1 load of delicates: 3 to 5 lbs
1 load of towels: 12 to 15 lbs
1 load of sheets: 10 to 12 lbs
1 load of outerwear: 10 to 15 lbs
So a mixed basket with 2-3 average loads could easily weigh over 20 pounds.
Washers provide a general capacity guide for visualizing load sizes:
Standard washer: 16 to 20 lbs
Large capacity washer: 20 to 25 lbs
Commercial washer: 35 to 50+ lbs
Factors That Impact Laundry Weight
Several variables affect how much your laundry weighs:
Number of Items
More clothes equal more weight. The number of garments and items stuffed into a basket has a direct correlation to overall heft. Consolidate multiple small loads to maximize weight.
Type of Fabric
Heavy fabrics like denim or wool weigh more than light fabrics like t-shirts and underwear. Bulky items like towels, sheets and blankets can quickly add pounds. Delicates and lingerie weigh the least.
Wet vs. Dry
Water retention directly increases the weight of laundry, especially for absorbent textiles like cotton and terrycloth. Wet laundry weighs significantly more than when dry. Wring thoroughly or spin on high when washing to reduce water weight.
Level of Compaction
A loosely filled basket will be lighter than tightly crammed, overflowing laundry. Packing clothes tightly displaces more air and increases density. For lighter loads, leave space between garments.
Time Between Washes
Leaving dirty clothes to accumulate for longer before washing leads to more clothes and heavier weights overall per load. Stay on top of laundry to avoid overstuffed mammoth baskets.
Kid’s clothes take up less space and weigh less than adult clothing on average. But several loads of kids’ laundry can still add up in weight.
Cold weather laundry like heavy sweaters, coats and blankets pack more weight than light summer clothes. Laundry type and quantity fluctuates by season, changing basket weights.
Weighing Laundry Baskets
To get an exact weight for a laundry basket, the easiest method is simply weighing it on a scale:
Place the filled laundry basket on a bathroom scale. Subtract the weight of the empty basket to get your net laundry weight.
Use a portable luggage scale with a hook to lift and weigh the basket handle. This works well for heavier loads that exceed bathroom scale limits.
Many coin-operated laundromats have commercial scales for weighing loads to set machine settings. Ask to use it to weigh your basket before loading.
Kitchen Food Scale
For small delicate loads, a kitchen food scale allows you to weigh the clothes in small batches for precise weights.
If you don’t have a scale handy, you can estimate the weight of a laundry basket.
Judge by Difficulty of Lifting
A light load you can lift easily with your arms is likely less than 10 lbs. Medium loads between 15-25 lbs will feel challenging to lift or carry any distance. Over 25 lbs will require a significant effort to hoist the basket up.
Compare to Known Weights
Mentally compare the laundry basket to items of known weight. For example, a typical newborn weighs 8 lbs. A case of soda weighs over 20 lbs. Use visualizations like that as a frame of reference.
Weigh Yourself First
Step on a scale holding the empty basket to get your base weight. Then step on again holding the full basket. The difference between the two is the approximate load weight.
Use Laundry Capacity as Guide
Recall the average load capacity of your washer or a commercial machine. That provides a reasonable weight estimate for a standard laundry basket filled appropriately.
Tips for Weighing Laundry
Follow these tips for the easiest laundry weighing experience:
Use a sturdy basket that can support heavy loads
Lift basket gently and avoid tipping it over
Weigh smaller delicate batches separately
Estimate high for overpacked, dense loads
Weigh wet laundry in a basket with drainage holes
Calculate weight in pounds for US settings
Subtract basket weight from total as tare
Laundry Basket Weight FAQs
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about weighing laundry:
How much does the average load of laundry weigh?
On average, a standard basket of laundry weighs between 15 to 20 pounds. This accounts for a mixed load of garments, towels and linens.
How heavy is a basket of wet clothes?
Wet laundry is significantly heavier, usually 30-50% more than dry. So a 15 lb dry load could weigh over 20 lbs wet.
How can I estimate laundry weight at home?
Try lifting the basket – light is under 10lbs, moderate is 15-25lbs, heavy is over 25lbs. Or use known weight comparisons like a case of soda or a newborn.
What’s the weight limit for a laundry basket?
Most standard plastic laundry baskets hold 20-25 pounds comfortably. Larger rolling baskets and metal tubs can accommodate 30-40 pounds or more. Know your basket limits.
Should I separate heavy and light clothes?
Yes, for safety and machine loading. Weigh bulky heavy items separately from lightweight garments to prevent overload issues.
What weighs the most – jeans, towels or sheets?
Because of their density and water retention, towels often weigh the most, followed by jeans and then sheets. Delicates weigh the least.
How do I carry a heavy basket safely?
Use wheels if possible. Carry bottom up near your waist. For stairs, carry small loads at a time, leading with dominant hand on railing. Get help lifting very heavy baskets.
Does load size affect weight?
Yes, the number of garments directly correlates with the total weight. Consolidate laundry from multiple light loads for maximum weight per basket.
How often should I weigh my laundry?
When first starting out, weigh a few typical loads to get a baseline. Then re-weigh every so often to reassess, especially if adding new heavy items.
Why does wet laundry weigh more?
When fabrics like cotton and terrycloth absorb water, it greatly increases the weight. Wringing and spinning help reduce retained water.
Weighing laundry before transporting or washing, especially wet loads, can prevent injuries and machine issues. Now that you know the average basket weights and weighing methods, you can lift and carry laundry with confidence. Just be sure not to overload yourself or your washer’s capacity. Weighing laundry takes out the guessing game so you can get the loads “just right” for safe handling.