How Do Washing Machines Work?

Ever wondered how your washing machine works? Read on. Here's the truth behind one of the most important appliances in the home.

The lowdown on how your washer gets clothing so clean

One essential member of any household is the washing machine. Who can honestly do without it?

Besides, people that we met along our way will surely notice how we dress, not so? We are not just referring to the style of clothing you are wearing, but how dirty or clean your clothes appear to onlookers.

For many, clothing is very important and represents the way we feel about ourselves. This is why a lot of energy and time is invested in keeping it clean and looking good for many years.

Just put it to the test if you will. Go on a camping trip where there are no washing facilities and where getting your clothing clean requires quite a bit of handling to get these in a presentable condition. Only then will you know what it's like to do washing without your washing machine.

Modern washers operate in a very simple manner in that they will slosh your clothing along with your preferred laundry detergent. After agitating the clothing, water, and detergent, the machine will first rinse and then drain and spin away any excess water, and you are all set to put your clean garments in a tumble dryer or hang them in the sun.

For those of you who want a bit more detail on how washing machines work, feel free to follow along as we take a look at how it's done.

To operate your washing machine involves the following steps:

  1. You first need to decide how big or how small your load is going to be and select the right temperature for the relevant wash cycle. It will depend on how dirty your clothes are and whether your load includes knitted garment, delicates, or heavier clothing.
  2. Once you fill your washer with clothes and switch it on, the machine will run the right amount of water in the tub and activate the agitator to start the washing cycle.
  3. After a while, your washer will drain excess water, spin the clothing, refill with water, rinse, agitate the clothes a bit more, then initiate the final spin cycle.

Another aspect most of us find fascinating is the different types of washing machines we come across. At the top of our mind, we think of top loaders and front loaders. What are the key differences between the two?

Front Loaders

Front loading washing machines work by employing a continuous rotation of the drum when washing, rinsing, and spinning. It is this vigorous spinning of the round drum that tosses the clothing around all the time while the soapy detergent does its work.

The washing machine will automatically drain the water in the drum before allowing anyone to open the front door to avoid flooding. This means the filter must be cleaned often to prevent your drains from getting blocked with lint.

Top Loaders

This type of washer operates differently. Clothing are positioned around a agitator so the blades can spin around in various directions to get to work. The agitator is fitted on top of a rotating base. The drum itself will not move, meaning the water is squirted in specific places to ensure the water doesn't remain at the bottom of the drum and only clean some of the clothes.

As a word of caution, know that specific parts of the top loader need to be maintained regularly as even the best washers can break down in time to come. Hoses and belts are essential, but sadly they are ignored until crunch time when you have no choice but to replace these.

Be sure to clean or replace washing machine filters when required and give your machine a good rinse without any clothing inside from time to time.

One shouldn't be afraid of your washing machine as it is not hard to figure out. It functions quite fine in that the drum turns or the agitator gets rotated. This movement is responsible for any washing, rinsing, and spinning movements we encounter. The whole process is not much different from hand washing. The difference is that we do not have to bend over a basin for extended periods.

Resources —How Stuff Works, Explain That Stuff, Surf Excel, Cleancult