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How A Washing Machine Works

Posted by Clean Rite on July 29, 2021

Washing machines are an integral part of our lives now — but they weren’t always around! 

If you’ve ever tried washing your clothes by hand, you likely know the challenge that poses. Today’s washing machines take all of that work and make it easy with just some water, soap, and good engineering. 

While we can’t share all the details, we wanted to share the basics for anyone who’s ever wondered how a washing machine works. 


The Basics

At a basic level, washing machines are watertight drums that agitate your clothes in a combination of water and soap. There is an inner and outer drum in every machine — the inner being the visible one you put your clothes in. The various “cycles” function to lift dirt, apply detergent as evenly as possible, and then functionally “beat” out the remaining dirt or stain. At the end of it all, the machine will rinse out the soap and spin out as much water as possible.

How this is accomplished looks a bit different depending on what type of machine you use though, so let’s talk about those differences. 



Front-loaders are the machine of choice throughout most of Europe, although they’re rising in popularity in the U.S. these days. This machine has the usual two drums, with the inner drum designed to spin your clothes using giant paddles. The small holes help with water and soap flow, and it’s certainly a fun thing to watch from time to time. 



Top loader machines are common in the US, and you’ll still find them in many laundromats. These machines contain the two key drums, an inner and outer — and a large agitator in the center of the inner drum. The inner drum doesn’t rotate the same way in a top-loader however. The agitator (which usually has paddles of some kind) is the part of the machine that works your clothes instead, and any rotation is saved for the rinsing phase. 



There’s much more that could be said, but we hope this helps you understand the basics of what’s happening during a wash cycle. It’s a wonderful piece of technology, and we hope you agree!

Topics: Laundry Life

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