Washing machines are complex appliances, and whether you’ve just bought a new one or you’re looking for the best machine, sometimes the control panel feels like something out of a sci-fi movie. Don’t worry: we’re here to explain the most important things you need to know about the features of washing machines, from their digital displays and settings to the most modern features you can get on new washers.
What you'll find in this article:
What your washing machine control panel does
Your washing machine has three main settings: agitation, length, and temperature. These are the main features your machine has which allow you to tailor your wash to the fabrics you’re cleaning.
- Setting Agitation. For delicates, you need less agitation. Sturdy items, cotton, synthetics, and heavily soiled garments need the most.
- Setting length. Fast cycles are great for lightly soiled garments and emergency washes.
- Setting temperature. With Ariel, you can wash at different temperature settings and get brilliant stain removal while saving energy. You cannot set the temperature higher than the wash default, only lower.
However, most washing machines also come with other useful features such as a:
- Digital display. This display tells you how much time remains on your wash program.
- Time delay. This setting is useful if you want to run a wash cycle at night when electricity is cheaper, or you want the machine to wash your clothes just before you get home.
- Load detection. Some washing machines detect the washing load weight in the drum and can select the optimal cycle. This feature helps you save water and energy but is a feature found on premium models only.
- Child lock. This feature helps keeps curious little hands from using the controls or playing with the doors.
What do the washing machine programs mean?
Before you wash your clothes, it’s a good idea to check the fabric care labels and follow their instructions. Different fabrics and garments require special care, which is why it’s a good idea to sort your laundry before washing. Once you’ve separated your laundry, you can use some of the programs on the machines to wash those specific garments. Programmes your machine may have are:
- Cottons and synthetics. Most washers will have a programme for cottons and synthetics. These are designed to treat your fabrics in the best way possible. You may have cotton programs that wash your clothes on hotter temperatures, and a synthetics program will wash clothes at lower temperatures and spin speeds.
- Wool, delicates, and handwash. Some garments need low temperatures and gentle care. These settings are good for garments that require lower temperatures and minimal agitation – especially for easily damaged fabrics.
- Sports. Whether you want to remove sweat stains or odours, or you’re washing a garment made out of microfibers, if you have a sports setting this mode will care for your athletic wear by washing clothes at a lower temperature for longer.
- Quick wash. If you need a garment in a hurry or you want to freshen up an item that’s only lightly soiled, then a quick wash can do this for you in less than 30 minutes.
- Half load. Sometimes you can’t fill the machine more than halfway, but you need those clothes washed, and you don’t want to wait for more laundry to make the pile, then a half load setting will wash your clothes while saving on energy and water.
- Easy iron and anti-crease. This setting can help prevent clothes from creasing by shortening the spin cycle or lowering the spin speed.
- Anti-allergy. This wash cycle uses very high temperatures or steam to remove allergens like dust mites or bacteria from fabrics.
- Extra rinse. You can use this setting to rinse clothes again to remove any excess detergent. It’s a good option for those with sensitive skin or an allergy to detergent.
- Economy mode. This cycle automatically lowers the temperature to help you reduce energy consumption, which helps you save money on the bills and is also better for the environment.
- Rinse hold facility. This setting works by holding washed clothes in clean rinse water before spinning, so you can be there to empty the machine as soon as the garments are spin dried and you won’t have to deal withcreases.
Meet the newest washing machine features
As technology advances, so do washing machines. You may notice some more advanced machines on the market with sophisticated washing options that can take your laundry to the next level. If you want to know what the most high-tech washers are capable of, well here’s a taster for some of the newest features.
- Air dry function. The air dry feature removes some of the residual damp from your clothes after washing by using warm air to evaporate some of the water from your garments. This function will make it easier to dry heavier fabrics that usually come out dripping wet and take ages to dry.
- Reload function. Older washers don’t like their cycles to be interrupted, but this feature helps you by lowering the water level in the machine so you can open the door without flooding your kitchen or bathroom, so that you can add in a garment you forgot to add to the wash or take something out.
- Smart rinse. The smart rinse function lets you specify the quantity of water to use during the rinse cycle, which is useful if you want to remove any residual detergent if you or someone in your family has sensitive skin.
- Memory wash. If you have a setting that you like on your machine, the memory wash feature helps you save it for future washes. Some machines even let you program custom settings which can speed up your wash without needing to set the temperature, agitation, or length again.
Choosing the best washing machine for you
Each household has different needs, which is why picking a washing machine is highly personal. Thing’s you’ll want to consider will depend on factors like:
- Space. How much space you have in your kitchen or bathroom for a washing machine will determine which model you choose.
- Price. Your budget plays a big part in the washing machine you pick.
- Fully-automatic or semi-automatic. Both machines have their pros and cons; see more about fully-automatic washers or semi-automatic machines to find the right one for you.
- Top or front load. Some washers have the door on the front of the machine, and others open from the top, you can read more about the different types of washers out there.
- Eco-friendly. Some machines come with the option to wash with less water and energy, which is good for your wallet and the environment.
- Spin speed. A machine with a variable spin speed feature helps you protect more delicate laundry items.
- Features. If you have any specific laundry needs, then you will want to see what features a machine has.
- Child locks. If you have curious little children, it’s worth investing in a machine that has child locks.
- Capacity. The size of the drum matters, as a single person won’t be washing a large load like someone with a big family.
These are just a few features to consider when buying a washing machine, but you can read more about these features and other deciding factors in our article on finding the best washing machine for you.