What Goes On Inside the Washer
1. When you turn on the washing machine, hot and/or cold water (depending on the temperature selected) flows into the drum through a pair of valves. With a high-efficiency appliance, the water usually passes through the detergent dispenser, flushing out the soap.
2. The high-efficiency machine stops and starts for a few minutes while sensors detect the size of the load, calculating the cycle time and how much water to bring in.
3. A thermostat measures the incoming water to ensure it reaches the target temperature. In newer machines, this is between 95 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit for “hot,” 70 and 95 degrees for “warm” and 60 and 70 degrees for “cold.” Some washers have heating elements that come on during the cycle to help maintain the temperature.
4. The front-loader’s drum rotates back and forth, lifting clothes up and dropping them into a pool of water. With a conventional top-loader, the agitator swishes the clothes around in the water.
5. A pump drains the dirty water out of the machine. The drum spins as fast as 1,200 revolutions per minute in a normal cycle, wringing out the clothes, and the pump extracts the water.
6. Clean water (usually cold) enters the drum to rinse the clothes, which get stirred around, as in step 4. The pump drains the water. This process may repeat several times to get rid of all the soap.
7. The clothes spin again and the pump removes the remaining water.