Whirlpool Washer Soak Cycle (How to Use it Correctly)

Using the soak cycle in a Whirlpool washer is elective and best done sparingly. 

It does wonders for tough stains and cleaning the dirtiest of fabrics, but excessive use has its downsides. 

In this article, we discuss everything you need to know about this amazing feature!

How Whirlpool Washer Soak Cycle Works

The Whirlpool washer soak cycle gives your clothing, bedding, and other items the opportunity for cleaner results. 

Depending on the model, it’s possible to select a pre-soak option for a specific time duration. Alternatively, some models offer a “Colors” wash cycle and a “Colors with Soak” cycle. 

The soak cycle submerges and saturates your laundry with detergent-filled soapy water for a fixed duration. The detergent penetrates the fibers more fully. Light drum agitation allows all laundry items to receive the same soaking treatment. 

Washing machine display

How to Use the Soak Cycle on a Whirlpool Washer

Here is how to use the Whirlpool washing machine’s soak or pre-soak features:

  1. Place your dirty clothing into the washing tub or drum.
  2. Open the dispenser drawer and add an appropriate amount of detergent for the load size.
  3. Close the door or top lid.
  4. Select either pre-soak or a wash cycle, including a soak option (Colors with Soak). 
  5. Choose the soak duration (where this option is available).
  6. Press the “Start” button to begin the cycle.

How to Soak when Your Whirlpool Washer Has No Soak Cycle

The trick to soaking clothing and other items when your Whirlpool appliance lacks a soak cycle option is to perfect your timing. 

When initiating a normal wash cycle, the appliance first must fill the tub or drum with water. Detergent is accessed through its dispenser. 

Wait until the tub or drum fills sufficiently and the wash cycle is commencing, then Press “Start/Pause” on your washer. This artificially puts a hold on the program.

Set a timer on your phone for 30 minutes to allow the clothes to soak. 

Once the time has elapsed, press the “Start/Pause” button again to resume the wash cycle. This lacks the agitation of the drum during a normal soak cycle, but it’s the best alternative. 

How Long is the Soak Cycle on a Whirlpool washer?

Whirlpool soak cycles are usually selectable from half an hour to 1 or two hours. 

A few models offer a 15-minute cycle or one that lasts a few hours.  

The most appropriate cycle length for soaking is best judged by the level of soiling. Light soiling is fine for a half-hour soak time.

I’ve found that medium to heavy soiling benefits from a one-hour or possibly a two-hour soak time. 

When Should I Use the Soak Cycle?

Some top-loader Whirlpool washers include a dial to enable a pre-soak option. Others do not. 

Do not use a soak cycle every time; it risks damaging the fabrics. Instead, use it for heavily soiled loads only.

Also, if there is heavy staining, a pre-soak is one option. Another is to use a stain removal product. Just douse the spot with the remover, and then wash normally. 

The Benefits of Using the Soak Cycle

The Whirlpool soak cycle ensures improved cleaning results for stained and soiled items. 

Fabrics become saturated with water, allowing heavily embedded dirt to soften and loosen. 

Depending on the amount of soiling or staining, shorter wash cycles are sometimes sufficient. Overall, dirty, or smelly clothing comes out of the wash far cleaner after pre-soak cycles. 

The Drawbacks of Using the Soak Cycle

With some types of clothing, a soak cycle lets color dyes leak between garments. Repeated soaking of the same garments over many months causes the fibers to deteriorate. 

Therefore, there is a trade-off between soaking for cleaner results versus the risks of color bleeds or fiber damage. 

Look at the care label for each item. Some are unsuitable for soaking, similar to how some clothing is marked as “dry cleaning only.” 

The total laundry time is altered when using a soak cycle, too. 

My Whirlpool Washer is Stuck on Soak Cycle

There are a few different causes of this issue. Here are 4 of the most common ones:

Cracked Wash Tub

A wash tub (aka the drum) sometimes develops stress fractures. The process of rotating, coupled with occasional abrupt stops and starts, is enough for a crack to eventually develop. 

The tub keeps filling up, and losing water as it does so, creating a never-ending soak cycle. 

How to Fix: An appliance repair technician is required to dismantle part of the washer, access the tub, and inspect the damage. Sometimes, it is fixable, but often a replacement tub is needed. 

Water Sediment Issues

Households living off-grid and reliant on a well for their water run into water sediment issues. It collects at the water inlet valve, eventually partially blocking H2O intake. 

When insufficient water is coming into the appliance, one or more error codes likely appear. The soak cycle also never completes. 

How to Fix: Look at filters, the rear hoses, and intake valves. Check and clear each for sediment buildup. Reconnect them once done. Also, look into a well-water filtering system to protect all your household appliances from sediment-filled water. 

Timer Faulty

Washers depend on a timer to set cycle durations and to countdown to zero. Then, the control board sends a signal to move to the next cycle.

When the timer is playing up, the wash cycle starts but does not end because it’s never told to do so. 

How to Fix: It is possible that the timer got scrambled and a quick refresh of the appliance solves the problem. Turning off the appliance and turning it back on might do it. Or unplug it for 15 minutes and power it up again to fully reset it. 

However, if the problem persists, then the timer is likely bad. If the washer is still under warranty, then book a technician call-out under the warranty support. Otherwise, order the timer and replace it yourself or pay for a private household appliance repair. 

Control Board Lost the Plot

The control board inside the washer sometimes acts oddly. A quick restart is often the recommendation here. It confirms whether the board is faulty or having a bad day. 

How to Fix: Turn off the Whirlpool appliance for 15 seconds. Then power it on. Alternatively, to perform a reset, turn off the power at the outlet and leave the appliance off for 15 minutes. 

If resetting your Whirlpool washing machine did not resolve the issue, then the control board is seriously in question. A repair technician is needed to diagnose your appliance.


How do I stop the soak cycle on my Whirlpool washer?

Stopping the soak cycle is a simple process. Do the following:

  1. Press and hold the “Power / Cancel” or “Start / Pause” button for approximately 5 seconds. 
  2. Now release the button. 
  3. This has canceled the soak cycle. 

What is the difference between soak and wash cycle?

A soak cycle begins by filling the washing machine’s drum with water. The water first runs through the dispenser drawer where detergent is present.

Clothes and other items sit in the soapy water for at least 30 minutes (sometimes longer). This allows the detergent to get inside the fibers and be more effective during the upcoming wash cycle. 

The wash cycle, unlike the soak cycle, tosses items around vigorously via water jets and as the drum rotates. This allows the items to be thoroughly washed and cleaned. Fibers are refreshed and dirt residue is dislodged and removed. 

How to drain the washer after soak cycle?

Soak cycles for Whirlpool washing machines last from 30 minutes to a couple of hours (a few models offer even longer soak times). After the soak cycle completes, the appliance drains the water from the drum.

The drum is lightly and only occasionally agitated during the soak cycle, so items inside the washer remain wet throughout. This is completely normal. 

Also, with Whirlpool top load washers, opening the lid and leaving it up for around a quarter of an hour triggers the washer to end the soak cycle and fully drain the soapy water. Front-loading washers do not function this way due to flood risks. 

Does Soak Cycle use detergent?

Soak cycles use detergent to create soapy water. Detergent is used for the soak cycle and the subsequent wash cycle, leading to higher consumption of washing detergent. 

It is essential to fill the detergent drawer with the recommended amount of powder or liquid detergent to let the soak cycle remove dirt particles before the subsequent wash cycle. 

To Wrap Up

Using a pre-soak and soak cycle from time to time provides improved cleaning results for heavily soiled items.

However, avoid using it for every laundry load or it risks reducing the lifespan of your clothing and other washing items. 

Related: Maytag Washer Soak Cycle (How to Use it Correctly)

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