Comparing The Different Cycles on a Washing Machine

Fred's Appliance
May 7, 2014

Some of the first consumer-grade clothes washing machines to hit the market featured one cycle setting: on. Owners were forced to manually add detergent and hot water to their unit before it would effectively clean their clothes. As technology progressed, however, companies began adding new features, such as multiple cycle settings, for a higher level of convenience.

Washing machines today feature a broad range of cycle settings, each of which has its own unique purpose. Here, we’re going to take a closer look at some of these cycle settings and how they operate.

Wash Cycle

The wash cycle is typically the first cycle (some units have a pre-wash cycle) that commences when a washing machine is turned on. It’s responsible for filling the drum with water, dispensing any detergent, bleach or fabric softener added to the separate compartment, and agitating the load in a circular motion. Once complete, the washing machine will drain the water before entering the rinse cycle.

Some of the various wash cycle settings in modern-day washing machines include:

  •  Water level
  • Water temperature (note: warm water settings draw more energy and may damage certain garments)
  • Delicate cycle
  • Sanitize
  • Permanent press
  • Cotton / linen

Rinse Cycle

When a washing machine enters the rinse cycle, it fills the drum back up with water, agitates the load once again, and then drains it. Unlike the wash cycle, however, there’s no detergent added during this step. The rinse cycle merely refills the drum with fresh water, spins the clothes around, and drains it.

The main purpose of the rinse cycle is to wash away excess detergent, soap and suds. Although water is drained during the wash cycle, it’s not uncommon for detergent residue to get left behind; thus, leaving the clothes sticky. Thankfully, this is easily prevented with the addition of a rinse cycle.

Spin Cycle

The spin cycle, as the name suggests, aggressively spins the load to knock off excess water and moisture through its centrifugal force. Clothes are still wet after this cycle is complete, but they are usually damp rather than soaked.

Most people underestimate the importance of the spin cycle in washing machines. Without the spin cycle, clothes would be dripping wet still, and moving them to the dryer may result in damage to your unit. The increased weight of soaking wet clothes may cause the dryer’s motor to burn out, causing serious, albeit repairable, damage.

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