I've found that liquid detergents give the best results in my AEG lavamat washer dryer. These work well when I want to do a normal wash, I just pour the liquid into the supplied ball, pop it in the drum and off it goes.

When I want to use a pre-wash programme however, I have a problem.

The washing machine detergent drawer is not designed to hold liquid detergent, only powder, so I can put liquid detergent in the ball for the pre-wash part of the programme, but then have to use powder for the main wash.

Some AEG lavamat washer dryers have a detergent tray which comes with a flip over divider (you can buy replacements or print your own) but mine does not.

Liquid Detergent Divider for AEG washing machine

I have played with using sellotape (Scotch tape) and offcuts of plastic to seal off one end of the powder drawer so I can add liquid detergent, but this hack rarely works for more than a few washes, it is fiddly to remove when I don't need it, and I'm always concerned that the plastic or sellotape will come loose, get sucked into the washing machine pipes where it will get stuck and cause a blockage or worse.

I've already dismissed the idea of using detergent tablets as I want to be able to tailor the amount of detergent I use per wash (minimise the detergent used given out water hardness). I've also had bad luck with pods (Liquid 'tablets') in the past. With low temperature/eco washes the plastic didn't always dissolve fully, leaving clothes covered in tiny plastic fragments (especially noticeable on black jeans).

Does anyone have a better way of making a washing machine powder drawer compatible with liquid detergents?

  • Can you shut off the machine when the pre-wash has finished draining, just before the main wash begins, open the door (when the time-lock allows) and replace the ball with another? So long as I don't touch the program control (a mechanical rotating knob) my Bendix machine allows me to do that without resetting the program, although in my case it is to add more items before the water level gets too high. Jan 6, 2020 at 20:35
  • That's actually less convenient than just just running two wash cycles @WeatherVane, since you'd have to interrupt the programme at exactly the right point and if you fail it might end up running the main wash without any detergent at all. If I wanted to separate the two manually I could just run a pre-wash on it's own and then run a main wash, placing the ball with the required detergent for each wash, but I'm obviously trying to avoid that.
    – Mark Booth
    Jan 8, 2020 at 2:18

1 Answer 1


I would consider:

Freezing the detergent into blocks that are placed into the drawer. it may be that it remains solid enough to not flow throughout the prewash phase but is then melted by the water

Permanently modify the soap drawer- shape a stainless steel blanking plate then heat it and push it into the plastic so the drawer becomes dammed. The dam should not be as high as the top of the drawer so that detergent can be washed over the top of it

Use liquid tablets of soap; these typically come as detergent in a kind of plastic that dissolves to nothing in water (but is unaffected by the detergent) - put them in the drawer. A detractor of this is indeed as you note in your comments; on shorter or low temperature washes you can occasionally find they don't dissolve completely an a sort of melted looking plastic mess ends up stuck to a garment)

Place/fix a cut up ice cube tray or other small container with an open top, that is not as high as the sides of the soap companrtment, into the drawer as a permanent feature. Fill the smaller container with detergent. This is the equivalent of permanently damming the drawer end but is more easily reversible if your machine needs to be returned for eg warranty claim

  • Great ideas. I love the idea of freezing the detergent, if that works, so I'll give it a go. I've had bad luck with Liquid 'tablets' in the past. With low temperature/eco washes the plastic doesn't always dissolve fully, leaving clothes covered in tiny plastic fragments. I'm wary of permanently modifying the tray, though I could 3d print a suitable form fitting removable barrier (maybe I check on thingiverse that someone hasn't already done so). Cutting down and repurposing an ice cube tray also has a strong appeal too. I'll let you know how I get on.
    – Mark Booth
    Jan 9, 2020 at 12:13
  • So close (different detergent tray)... thingiverse.com/thing:3383247
    – Mark Booth
    Jan 9, 2020 at 12:28

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