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Washing Machine Cycles FAQs: Optimize Your Laundry Routine

Posted by Ken Flournoy on May 25, 2016 8:00:00 AM

Washing Machine Titles

Laundry day has come!

At this point, the world is divided into two types of people: those who just throw all their clothes in the washing machine, toss in some soap, and hope for the best, and those who separate everything, try to decipher the hieroglyphics on the tag and carefully follow the washing instructions to ensure each garment is treated with the utmost care.

While the second way is undoubtedly the right way to do laundry, we totally see why it's easier to just ignore what the tag says. Washing your clothes shouldn't be an exercise in mental ability, and this is where washing machine cycles come into play. To help you navigate these cycles with confidence, we've compiled answers to the most frequently asked questions, providing a comprehensive guide in one convenient place.

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What are the Stages of Each Washing Cycle?

First, each washing machine works in three basic steps. Regardless of your chosen cycle, your clothes are always washed, rinsed, and spun to remove excess water.

  1. Wash: Your washing machine is filled with water according to the selected load size, then the clothes and soap are swirled around together thanks to the agitator.
  2. Rinse: The dirty, soapy water is drained, then the washing machine is refilled, and your clothes are "rewashed" in clean water.
  3. Spin: After the water has drained completely, your clothes are spun very fast, and the excess water is removed thanks to centrifugal force.

What the Different Washing Machine Cycles?

Different types of clothes, fabrics, and colors require a different “wash style”, which can be confusing… In order to save you the trouble, washing machines are pre-set with specific cycles that take all these factors into consideration. These cycles determine the water temperature and spin speed required for the clothes to be washed effectively.

Here are the most common washing machine cycles you’re most likely to see on your washing machine:

  • Pre-soak: In this cycle your washing machine is filled with water, but agitation doesn't begin right away.
  • Cotton, linen, or normal: These cycles have higher spin speeds and aren't particularly fast or long.
  • Permanent dress or casual: These washing machine cycles have slightly slower spin speeds than the “normal” cycle in order to keep wrinkles at a minimum.
  • Colors: This cycle uses cold water for both the wash and rinse steps.
  • Quick or speed wash: These cycles use hot water and have quicker wash cycles.
  • Delicates, hand-wash, or wool: These cycles use cold water for both the wash and rinse steps, then they are spun slower than average (if your washing machine spins at all for this step; some don't).
  • Bulky or heavy: These washing machine cycles have lower spin speeds.
  • Sanitize: This cycle uses the hottest possible water during the wash step.

Which Washing Machine Cycle Should I Use?

Now comes the easy part. All you have to do is choose the program based on the items you're washing. Opt for the "permanent press" cycle for everyday synthetic cotton or linen garments. The "delicate" cycle is recommended if the fabrics are more delicate. The "quick wash" cycle is ideal for lightly soiled or unstained clothing without strong odors. For heavily soiled, odorous, or bulky items like blankets or outerwear, the "heavy-duty" or "bulky" cycles are suitable.

You don’t really have to worry about how the washing machine operates; It will do the work itself due to its pre-defined settings for each cycle. 

What if I Changed My Mind and Want to Select a Different Washing Machine Cycle?

Once the washing starts, you can’t change the cycle or its settings midway. However, with the "Start/Pause" button on your washing machine, you can pause the washer’s operation and let it drain away water in the drum before it unlocks the door. Then, you may open the door and make the desired changes to the cycle selection. To resume the new cycle, simply press the "Start/Pause" button again.

How Long is a Washing Machine Cycle?

Here the term “one-size-doesn’t-fit-all” can be understood quite literally. Generally speaking, a normal wash cycle can take between 50 minutes to an hour. However, the wash time can change based on factors such as the load size, your selected cycle, and the weather’s brand and model. For instance, the “quick wash” cycle would take anywhere between 15-40 minutes whereas the “heavy duty” cycle can sometimes reach two hours. 

The general rule of thumb is that the larger and heavier the load, the longer the cycle will take to complete.

Why Does My Washing Machine Shake Violently During Spin Cycle?

Some shaking is normal during the spin cycle as clothes are rapidly rotated to extract water before drying. However, if your washing machine is “jumping” or violently shaking, it could indicate an underlying issue. Potential causes may include an uneven weight distribution in the drum (for instance, when a large item wraps around the load and creates an imbalance), an unlevel washer, or a clogged filter. While some of these issues may be easily fixable, others may require professional assistance due to mechanical or technical complexities. If you cannot identify or resolve the cause of the excessive shaking, it's advisable to seek the help of a qualified technician.

Enjoy Your Laundry Day

Mastering the different washing machine cycles may seem daunting at first, but with a little knowledge and practice, it becomes second nature. By understanding the nuances of each cycle and when to use them, you can ensure your clothes receive the care they deserve while maximizing efficiency and preserving their lifespan. Remember, the key is to treat your garments according to their specific fabric, color, and soil level, and let your washing machine do the rest. 

That said, to enjoy long-term use of your washing machine without risking flooding in your home, it's crucial not to neglect the washing machine supply hose and to avoid overflows in the washer. Neglecting these areas could lead to unexpected bursts, resulting in significant water damage. Reduce the risk of flooding in your home by contacting us at (864) 392-5487, or simply schedule your washing machine supply hose replacement online.

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Topics: Plumbing, Washing Machines, Water Conservation