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Washers Help Guide

How Washers Work


Top Load Washers

There are many advantages in purchasing a top load washer. First of all, top load washers typically have a shorter wash cycle than front load. If you are the type of person who does not have much time, then top load may be right for you. Another big advantage of top load washers is that there is no need to bend over to load the machine.  There are, however, two disadvantages in choosing a top load washer. First of all, top load washers use more water than front load washers. They are also more rough on your clothes due to the agitator and could lead to wear and tear much sooner.

Front Load Washers

Front-loading washers were once used strictly in commercial business, but now they are made smaller and more affordable. Front load models use up to 60% less water than top load washers. They also use up to 68% less energy than top loaders. Front loaders are also gentler with your clothes, as they do not have an agitator, so your clothes will not get caught and stretch. Finally, front-loading models can be integrated under countertops and cabinets, or can hold a matching dryer on top of the unit, whereas top-loading models cannot. Although it seems like front loaders are the way to go, there are some disadvantages to take into consideration. First of all, front load machines require that you bend in order to load the machine. By purchasing a laundry pedestal, you can raise the height of the machine, thus making it easier to load without bending much. Also, most front load machines do not have a quick wash cycle. For those machines that do have a quick wash cycle, it is recommended to wash lightly soiled fabrics, as heavily soiled ones may not clean properly.

Combination Washer/Dryers

There are also combination washer/dryers. These are available in both 24- and 27-inch widths, with gas or electric dryers. The wider combination will handle larger loads of laundry and is more comparable to a full-size washer and dryer. These combinations can be a front-loading washer and a dryer stacked one atop the other or a single model containing both a washer and a dryer in one unit. The one-piece unit is usually cheaper; however, a problem with one appliance in a one-piece unit can adversely affect the other. Stacked machines will cost more, but each piece can be repaired or replaced separately.

	  Top-Load Washers Front-Load Washers Haier HWD1500 Washer/Dryer Combo Portable Washers
Top Load Washers Front Load Washers Washer/Dryer Combos Portable Washers

The Soap and Detergent Association

The Soap and Detergent Association recommends a water temperature of more than 130 degrees Fahrenheit, and other sources recommend temperatures up to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, which makes it very important for a dishwasher to be able to reach high temperatures. Having a high-temperature cycle (or rinse) will ensure that you sanitize the dishwasher's contents. You can also look for dishwashers with an option called NSF sanitizing rinse. The NSF national standard establishes evaluation criteria to ensure residential dishwashers clean and sanitize dishes effectively to help prevent food borne illness. Some models have internal water heaters which raise water temperatures to 160 degrees Fahrenheit thus allowing a household to keep the water heater turned down to an energy saving 120-degrees and get the desired results from a dishwasher.

Important Features:

  • Automatic Dispensers
  • Features that allow laundry products to enter the machine at the proper time. These include dispensers for bleach, fabric softener, and detergent.
  • Automatic Temperature Control
  • Mixes the hot and cold water as it enters the washer, ensuring that the proper temperature of water enters the tub.
  • Capacity
  • This refers to the size of the washer's tub. For best cleaning results, it is important that the amount of laundry placed in the tub has sufficient room to move about. A large machine is rated at roughly 2 to 2-1/2 cubic feet, an extra-large machine at 2-1/2 to 3 cubic feet, and a super-large at approximately 3 to 3-1/2 cubic feet. Unless you are washing bulky items like comforters or quilts, figure on a 10-12 pound maximum load for large-capacity machines and 14 pounds or so for extra-large and super-large ones. Front loaders usually handle somewhat less.

  • Cool Down
  • An discontinuous tumbling cycle that will tumble dry clothes with or without heat in order to prevent wrinkling if clothes are not immediately removed at the end of a cycle.

  • Damp Dry
  • A feature that shuts off the dryer before the clothes are completely dry--useful for those who prefer to hang damp items, to limit shrinkage and wrinkling.

  • Drying Rack
  • A rack that attaches within the drum--great for drying sneakers and minimizing the noise of heavy items tumbling in the machine.

  • Express Dry
  • A feature designed to dry small loads quickly, using high heat.

  • Extra Rinse/Warm Rinse
  • Allows the operator to change the standard rinse selection. An additional rinse can be helpful for those with detergent sensitivities. A warm rinse will leave clothes warm, speeding the drying process.
  • Quietness
  • They have developed machines that are quiet and vibration-free for places where bedrooms may be close by. For these settings, look for models with added insulation and improved suspension. Models may carry labels such as vibration-reduction technology or sport suspension.

  • Speed Combinations
  • Machines can offer a variety of wash and spin combinations. Wash speed, such as normal or gentle, are then paired with similar spin speeds. Three combinations are generally sufficient to serve the various needs of a typical family, although many washers offer more.

  • Stackability
  • Some front loaders offer this feature, allowing the user to place a dryer on top--a great option for a small space.

  • Steam Washing
  • The newest feature in washing machines is the Steam cycle. Steam provides stain-removing power, offers sanitizing properties and has the ability to refresh and remove wrinkles from stale clothing.

  • Time Delay
  • A feature allowing you to load the machine and have it start later. This is useful to take advantage of lower utility rates or to avoid the unwanted noise of the machine at certain times in the day.

  • Tub material
  • Typically tubs are constructed of plastic, porcelain-enamel, or stainless steel. Plastic is durable and the least expensive; porcelain-enamel is very common, but may chip and rust; while stainless steel is very durable, but pricey.

  • Water Level Control
    Front loaders match the water level to the load size automatically and are most efficient in water usage. Top-loaders typically require that you guess the proper water level. To control water usage on a top-loader, you'll want the option of four or five water levels.

  • Colors
    More and more colors are being offered on today's new models. There are interesting colors such as Blue, Red and Champagne to Green.
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