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Choosing the Correct Laundry Wash Cycle – Tips & Guide

September 22, 2019

Laundry day is probably not something that most of us look forward to. After all, it can be quite tedious, especially if you have a large pile of dirty clothes! Chances are, the entire process will take you at least an hour—sometimes more. Still, it’s not something that we can skip out on. The last thing that you’d want is to run out of (clean) things to wear! Not to mention that the clothes will start to stink after a while. You wouldn’t want your hamper to be overrun with bacteria, would you?

How often should you wash your clothes? Really, it depends on the item. For instance, you’ll want to wash undergarments and socks after each wear. Some garments, however, such as hoodies or sweaters, can be worn more than once as long as they’re aired out afterwards. Having said that, you really should be doing the laundry at least once a week. Any less and your pile will grow too big!

pile of dirty laundry

Fortunately, the chore itself is not as tedious as it used to be. For one thing, most houses nowadays come with a washer and dryer. In other words, you won’t have to lug your dirty clothes to the laundry mat every weekend. What’s more, is that these machines are becoming more and more advanced. For instance, some are equipped with sensors, which allow them to determine how dirty the clothes are. From there, they will adjust the wash cycles accordingly. Some washers can even be controlled remotely via Wi-Fi!

At the end of the day, however, all washing machines serve the same purpose—they’re meant to wash your clothes. As such, they all have similar controls. Sure, some might be fancier than others, like the ones we mentioned earlier, but they all come with the same dials and whatnot for you to set the wash cycle.

Why It’s Important to Use the Right Settings

When you think about it, washers are really quite amazing. If anything, they’re like mini-computers; they come with multiple settings that you can use. All you have to do is turn a knob, press a button, and you’re ready to go! The device will automatically adjust the wash cycle based on how you’ve set it. Don’t just randomly pick something, though. It’s important that you select the right settings based on the type of clothes that you’re washing. For instance, you wouldn’t want to wash cotton with a hot water cycle—that’ll likely cause the fabric to shrink!

using the right settings

What you want to do instead, is to check the care tab label for the washing instructions (you can find it on the inside of the item). In doing so, you’ll know exactly what setting to use for an item. Over time, as you get more experienced, you’ll probably be able to determine the type of cycle needed without having to look at the tag.

The bottom line is, your clothes will get damaged (e.g. snags, tears, etc) if you don’t use the right settings! You wouldn’t want that to happen, would you?

Doing the Laundry: A Step by Step Guide

Generally speaking, there are three different choices that you have to make when you’re washing a load of laundry. First off, you’ll want to select the load size (how many shirts are you washing?). Next, you’ll want to choose the water temperature (either hot or cold). Last but not least, you’ll want to select the wash cycle setting. Not too familiar with how everything works? No worries—we’ll be going over these different steps in detail below! Keep reading to learn more!

Picking the Correct Load Size

Most washing machines have four different load sizes that you can choose from—extra small, small, medium, and large (some also have extra-large). As mentioned earlier, this setting refers to the number of clothes that you’ll be washing. Want to know more about each of the options? If so, you might want to read your washer manual—you’ll be able to find more information regarding each of the load sizes there.

As a general rule of thumb, though, an extra small load will fill about 1/3 of your machine. As for the other load sizes—a small load will fill approximately 1/4 of your machine, a medium load approximately 1/2, and a large full more than 1/2 (an extra-large load, if your washer has the option, will be your machine at full capacity).

Choosing the Water Temperature

The next thing that you want to do is to choose the proper water temperature for your load. This is super important; using the wrong settings can easily lead to shrinking, stretching, or fading. Want to save yourself some time? Consider sorting your laundry beforehand—that way, you’ll be able to wash similar items together with the right setting.

choosing the right temperature

Cold Water: Most items can safely be washed with cold water as it will not damage the fabric. It’s also ideal for dark colored and delicate fabrics (e.g. undergarments, etc). Another great thing about using this setting is that you’ll save on your energy bill!

Warm Water: Warm water is a bit more effective than cold water when it comes to cleaning, however, it can also be more damaging. For this reason, you should only use this setting for clothes that are stained or heavily soiled.

Hot Water: Hot water is great for sanitizing; it’s also effective at removing odors. At the same time, however, it’s the most damaging to your clothes. For instance, it’s not uncommon for the heat to cause certain fabrics to shrink. Generally speaking, this setting should be reserved for excessively dirty clothes.

How to Select the Right Wash Cycle

Finally, you want to select the right wash cycle. Choosing the proper setting will ensure that your clothes will look their best. If anything, it’s the most important part when it comes to using the washing machine! Let’s take a look at the different wash cycles below.

Delicate Cycle: This setting is pretty much the machine equivalent to hand washing. As its name implies, you want to use it for delicate items such as undergarments and lingerie. Not only will the agitation speed be lower, but the amount of tumbling during the wash cycle will be reduced as well. On top of that, it’ll spin at a slower speed. As such, there’s a much smaller chance that your fabrics will stretch or rip. When in doubt, use the delicate cycle (it’s much safer to err on the side of caution if you don’t know how to wash a certain item)!

regular wash cycle

Regular Cycle: This setting is the most intense in that it uses high agitation. Compared to other cycles, it is also much longer. For this reason, it’s best suited for heavily soiled, dirty clothes. With that said, you still want to pay attention to the fabric—certain types can easily be damaged with this setting. What can you wash with it? “Sturdy” items like jeans, towels, linen sheets, and cotton shirts.

Permanent Press Cycle: Permanent press is a “milder” version of the regular cycle. While it uses the same agitation as the latter, its spin speed is much lower (similar to the delicate cycle). As such, it will not wrinkle your clothes nearly as much. What should you use it for? Synthetic fabrics such as polyester, rayon, and nylon; it’s also a good option for garments that wrinkle easily such as dress pants and shirts.

White Cycle: As you can probably guess, this setting is meant for white-colored items. More specifically, it’s for bleachable white fabrics. For instance, you can use it to wash white t-shirts, underwear, socks, bedsheets, and table linens. What sets it apart from the other cycles? The machine will dispense liquid bleach at the right time during the washing process, which will help to keep the item white.

Wool Cycle: This setting is specific for wool garments. How is it different from other cycles? It uses a gentle cradling action with cold water (under 40C) to protect the wool fibers from shrinking and distorting. While it depends on the washer, most have a load capacity of 2kg. Make sure to always check the label of your wool clothing before putting it in the machine—some may have to be hand washed.

Other Washing Modes That You Can Choose From

Some washing machines allow you to customize your cycle with additional modes.

Steam Mode: This mode spins everything at high speeds while draining water. Typically, it’s used for bulky items where one spin isn’t enough. Unlike the other settings, the clothing will be damp (as opposed to wet) when they come out of the machine. As far as the actual steam functions, there are two types—steam refresh, which is meant for removing odors, and steam sanitize, which helps to kill off any bacteria that might be on your clothing.

eco mode

Eco Mode: This setting allows you to wash your items with less energy (i.e. lower temperature wash). You can use it for everyday items such as shirts and undergarments.

Rinse and Spin: This setting is meant for items that only need a rinse. Alternatively, you can use it to add an additional rinse if you’ve added fabric conditioner to your load. Not only will it remove detergent residue, but it’ll give your clothes a quick washing by rinsing and spinning them.

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