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Detergent tray Detergent tray


  • Failure mode Build up of detergent and mould in/around tray and pipework
  • Durability feature Design for easy tray removal and easy access to all parts for cleaning.
  • Cost

Good practices

  • Good practicesLarge bore hoses to assist drainage
  • Good practicesMinimum gradient of compartment and hoses to assist draining
  • Good practicesSimple moulding with easy clean surfaces
  • Good practicesStrong and easily removable tray and large
  • Good practices Easy-access opening

Bad practices

  • Bad practicesSmall hoses and shallow gradients
  • Bad practicesComplex moulding with deep recesses and sharp corners that are difficult to clean
  • Bad practicesHard to remove (e.g. corner pivoted type) tray with small opening

Key facts

  • Around 40% of washing machines purchased in 2012 were to replace a product under 6 years old.
  • 80% of customers want guarantees of 2 years or longer on major appliances.
  • Design reviews identified cost savings of £550k per 100,000 units could be achieved.
  • Consumer research indicates reliability as the most important product attribute for washing machines.

Icon key

  • Failure mode Failure mode
  • Durability features Durability features
  • Cost saving Cost saving
  • Low cost Low cost
  • Cost neutral Cost neutral
  • High cost High cost

Key failure modes

Early life

  • Poor cleaning instructions, inadequate cleaning, over-dosing of detergents and use of modern viscous gels/concentrates leading to clogged pipes.

Later in lifetime

  • Mould can accumulate in detergent drawers and in the hose and pipes leading to the drum.
  • Drawer not shutting properly due to build up of detergent, fabric conditioner and dirt.

Specification for improved performance

The specification below provides the recommended improvements needed to improve product durability. They are ranked from bronze to gold based on the effectiveness of the change in improving durability, with bronze being the minimum and gold being the maximum.

Tray to be simple and easily removable for cleaning, large smooth opening for cleaning, adequate gradients for drainage

  • Quality control procedures to be in place and documented for the tray and fittings as supplied to the machine manufacturer and as per requirements below.
  • Detergent tray moulding to be of simple design to facilitate cleaning and to have no deep recesses or sharp corners in the moulding (e.g. large radiuses of over 5mm to be used).
  • Tray gradient to be at least 10 degrees downhill from front to back to allow powders and concentrates to rinse out freely.
  • Tray to be easily removable for cleaning without use of any tools.
  • Tray opening in machine to be large enough (minimum 15cm wide by 7cm deep) to allow a hand to be easily inserted all the way to the back to allow cleaning. The opening and all interior surfaces should also be free from sharp edges and corners.
  • Spare tray to be readily available in the UK for at least 5 years after the machine is last manufactured.

Large bore hoses and pipes in/from the detergent tray; steep drainage angles from tray to drum

  • Hoses and pipes within and from the detergent tray into the machine to be smooth internally and large bore, e.g. over 15mm, to allow powders and concentrates to move freely without residue build up.
  • Minimum 45% degree angle, downhill from the tray to the drum
  • Detergent drainage to meet test noted below * 

Testing to demonstrate performance

Look at how easy the tray is to remove and to clean. Check how strong it feels.

Ask for clear evidence of the requirements listed above, e.g.:

  • technical specifications, drawings, photographs;
  • test data (ideally from an independent test house), quality control data.

* Tray, hoses, pipes and opening to free of significant detergent build-up (reducing any cross-sectional area by over 10%) when using a concentrate or powder, after 1,800 cotton wash cycles at 40 degrees.

Cost implications

Improved reliability of components can reduce early returns and improve brand reputation which, in turn, can lower business costs and increase long-term sales.

To calculate overall cost savings for your business, use the WRAP cost/benefit analysis tool (currently in draft form and available on request).



Improved detergent tray mouldings and pipes

Small changes to tray mouldings and larger diameter pipes should only add a few pence or tens of pence assuming that items are available off the shelf. 

Low cost

Improved detergent tray mouldings and pipes

New tooling for bespoke detergent tray mouldings could add considerable cost (pounds per unit) depending on the quantities to be produced. 


A simulated test as described will require a significant number of man hours, hence adding cost per unit.

High cost