Meet Your Washing Machine

You fill your washing machine with clothes, push a button, and the contents come out clean. Now, learn about what happens behind the magic. Check out these tips for best practices and maintenance to ensure a healthy life for your washing machine and everything you put in it.

Basic Operations. Once the washer has been turned on, the drum fills with water and the clothes are agitated back and forth. In this initial wash cycle, detergent foams up to remove dirt and stains. A pump drains the dirty water out of the drum, which then spins ultrafast to remove excess moisture from the clothes. Clean water fills the drum again and light agitation occurs to rinse the clothes. A final spin removes the remaining water.

Proper Loading. It may seem tempting to squeeze those last few pieces into an already full washing machine, but resist the urge. Tightly packed clothes don’t get as clean—or as fully rinsed—as they should. The right way: In top-loading machines, don’t go above the central agitator; in front loaders, leave one quarter of the drum empty at the top.

Cycle. Sure there’s a warm-cycle button and a cold one, and you love them. Don’t ignore the rest—used correctly, they can make clothes cleaner and cut down on wear and tear. “Heavy-duty” cycles agitate the water at a faster rate to achieve a deeper clean for items like filthy sports gear. “Express-wash” settings use a high-speed spin to dry lightly soiled items you need fast. “Delicate” and “permanent press” cycles use a slower speed for agitation and spinning, for gentler handling.

Rinse Options. Use the “second rinse” button if anyone in your family has skin that is sensitive to soaps and detergents. And finally, take advantage of that “rinse and spin” option to rinse chlorine from bathing suits.

Maintenance. Wash your appliance regularly to remove residue left behind from soiled clothes or detergent, and to kick out any odor-causing water that may collect in the machine.