The basic washing machine cycle


The basic washing machine cycle is wash-soak-rinse-spin […]

The basic washing machine cycle is wash-soak-rinse-spin, but plenty of other options are available. Older machines used mechanical controls to select for water temperature, water level, wash action, and run time. Most current models use electronic programs that conserve water and energy while providing a better quality wash. The following are the cycles to look for in your next washer.

Normal Wash: This is the go-to setting for normally soiled cotton and linen fabrics like mixed garments and sheets. It uses warm water and a high spin rate for maximum efficiency.

Cold Water Wash: Cold water is the key to avoiding fading in dark-colored clothing, and retaining the brightness of bright colored linens, casual clothes, and mixed loads. It is also the choice for lifting cold water stains like blood and toothpaste. It uses additional wash action with a cold water wash and rinse. Some washers feature separate cycles for “colors” and “darks” that may have subtle differences.

Whites: The “white fabrics” cycle uses hot water and automatically dispenses chlorine bleach at the right time.

Heavy-Duty: Sturdy, colorfast items like jeans and towels sometimes need intense cleaning. The “heavy-duty” cycle uses extra wash action and hot water to aggressively break down dirt. Some machines also have a “towels” cycle.

Wrinkle Control: Choose this cycle to wash button-down shirts, professional clothing, linens, synthetic blend activewear and non-iron clothing, and any garment with “permanent press” on the tag. These cycles use a low-speed wash and medium spin rate and warm water. Also called “permanent press” and “casuals.”

Delicate: The delicate cycle combines gentle wash action with a low spin rate in cold water. Use it for lightly-soiled sweaters, wool, delicates, machine washable lace and silk, and anything with “gentle” on the tag. It may also be listed as the “gentle” or “hand wash” cycle.

Bulky: Use this setting for coats and jackets, bedding, and small rugs. It is a warm water cycle that uses a modified washing action to reduce tangling. The “bulky” cycle may also be called the “bedding” or “sheets” cycle.

Rinse and Spin: Use this quick, cold water cycle for items that need a rinse without detergent, such as swimsuits, or as an add-on for items that may need an additional rinse.

Sanitize: This is a hot or extra hot water cycle for items that need to be sanitized. It may require a special detergent for full effect.

Deep Water Wash: Some washers offer this cycle for heavily-soiled casual and mixed loads. It uses additional water and robust washing action in warm water.