The different washing machine programmes or cycles can be confusing. We all have our ‘go-to’ programme, whether it’s a duvet, our favourite shirt, or smelly trainers, but, we’re missing out. There are good reasons why our machines invite us to choose from an array of different programmes, plus, with new machines offering us the ability to choose our temperatures and spin speeds, with a little know-how, we can now get our stuff cleaner, save ourselves time, money and keep the environment in better shape.
Here’s our quick guide to getting to grips with the most common washing machine programmes.
This programme means maximum agitation, that’s where the drum will toss and turn the clothes. It also uses the highest temperatures to get rid of difficult stains. Your stuff needs to be really robust to withstand regular washing of this type. It’s usually the longest and takes the most energy. Feels old fashioned now as improved soaps and machines have reduced temperatures.
We say: 40°C for light soiling; 60°C for towels, sheets, underwear and tougher stains; 95°C for heavy soiling.
This programme is for man-made fabrics like nylon, viscose, polyester, polycotton and blends. The clothes will experience reduced agitation, so these clothes can be more delicate. The temperature too is reduced, usually to 30°C.
We say: use this programme and adjust the temperature to suit your wash, i.e. hotter for cottons, say 40°C, 50°C or 60°C. In this way you can also save on time, energy and water too.
This is a gentle programme with least agitation and low temperatures, usually 30 or 40°C and a reduced spin speed.
We say: does what it says on the tin, BUT beware, check your wash care label, as shrinkage could still be a problem!
Here come some more washing machine programmes that offer differing temperatures, spin rpms (revolutions per minute) and timings, including:
Express or Quick wash: a good option for light soiling or to refresh something quickly, usually at 30°C.
Anti-crease: the drum will tumble the load intermittently up to 30 minutes after washing.
Economy or Eco: reduces temperature and/or length of programme.
Gentle/hand wash: reduced agitation and cooler temperatures.
Pre-wash or soak: for heavy soiling, the machine will hold clothes in water for up to two hours before the wash.
Extra rinse: good for people with sensitive skin, as extra rinse cycle ensures as much detergent as possible is removed.
Baby Clothes: offering a hotter wash and often an extra rinse cycle.
Finally, do check out our guide to fabric wash care symbols so that you can match your clothes to the best wash programme for the best results!