Washing Machines

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Image Credit: djeyewater on stock.xchng (http://www.sxc.hu/browse.phtml?f=view&id=1056073)

Washing Machines - FAQs

What's the difference between front loading and top loading washing machines? Front load machines tend to use significantly less water and power, as well as being gentler on clothes. Their design also means they are more suitable for small rooms. Top load machines on the other hand operate at a speed roughly twice as fast, they cost less to purchase up front, and allow you to open the machine and access your garments at any time during the wash.

Should I consider a dryer/washer combo? Dryer/washer combos offer the convenience of washing and drying your clothes in the same machine, thereby saving space. However, they cannot take as much laundry volume in one wash when compared to a stand-alone washer.

What does the water star rating mean? The water star rating is designed to tell you how water efficient the machine is. The more stars a washing machine is awarded, the less water it uses per kilogram of washing. Look for a three star or better machine, to ensure you save as much water, and thus, as much money as possible over time.

How are clothes washer star ratings calculated? Star ratings are determined by a combination of the size of the washer and the amount of electricity and water it uses. This is a fairer system than simply going by the overall energy usage, as it takes into account how efficient the device is.

Why do some washing machines with a better star rating use more electricity? The star rating is based on two things; the amount of energy used and the size of the unit. So while a unit with four stars may use more power than one with three stars, it may also be much bigger, meaning it is more efficient at using electricity.

Why do some washing machines with a better star rating cost more to run? As stated above, the star rating isn't only based on how much electricity is used, but also how big a unit is. A big unit that uses lots of electricity may still be more efficient than a smaller unit, even though it uses more power. So a large machine could have four stars, while using more electricity than a smaller one, which would in turn cost more.

How much detergent do I need for each load? The amount of detergent required depends on the sort of detergent you use. Just follow the instructions on the back of the packet in relation to the type of washing machine you have.

Where does the lint from my washer go? That depends on the sort of washer you have. Some will wash the lint they collect down the drain at the end of the wash cycle. Others will collect it in a tub at the top of the agitator, which has to be cleaned out. Sometimes a washer will have a filter near the top of the barrel, which again needs to be cleaned out periodically.

How delicate is the "delicate" cycle? Some manufacturers recommend not running delicate items through the machine at all. Others may say not to run a spin cycle while they are inside. It is difficult to measure exactly how delicate a cycle really is, but generally if a machine has a 'Delicate Cycle', this will be more than gentle enough for special fabrics and delicate items.

What causes those fuzzy balls on some clothing? The fuzzy balls are commonly known as pilling. They are caused by a combination of heat and the clothes rubbing together. When we wear clothes, they rub against us, which tears some parts of the fibre loose. The same thing happens during the early stages of a wash cycle, and gets worse during the spin cycle, which moves the clothes around a lot more. This results in the loose fibre forming balls on the outside of the fabric, and sometimes ripping free and falling onto other clothes.

Why do some clothing dealers suggest washing clothes inside out? The main reason to turn your clothes inside out is to protect them. A lot of the wear and tear that ruins clothes can be attributed to the washing and drying process. By turning them inside out you protect the outer visible layer of the clothes from the strain and constant friction of the washing process.

How do I calculate load capacity? Washing machines come in a variety of sizes. The size is measured in kilograms, and this refers to the maximum weight of dry clothes that can be loaded in. By simply weighing some of your clothes you can get a good idea of what sort of load will work for your machine. Overfilling your machine can be dangerous and can cause it to stop working, become unbalanced or even break down.

Explain spinning and drying speeds. Spinning and drying speed refers to how fast the machine rotates its drum during the spin cycle. The spin cycle is a process at the end of a wash, which is used to help get the clothes ready to dry. It spins the barrel of the machine around extremely fast, in order to shake out as much water as possible. The speed is usually measured in RPM, which stands for revolutions per minute.

How can I work out what programs I need? Washing machines come with a variety of different programs and generally the more expensive the machine, the more features it has. The programs are generally named in a clear fashion, for example the 'Delicate Cycle' is for delicate items. Think about what sort of clothes you regularly wash, and buy a machine that has appropriate cycles.

What difference do dials vs buttons make? The difference between buttons and dials is quite a small one. Most users will be comfortable using either type of control. Dials use a combination of mechanical and electrical action, while buttons are electronic. The difference is minimal and really comes down to personal preference, and what you find easier to use.

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