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  Washing Machine Spin Speeds

Before you spend money on a super fast spin machine think on these points

 

Back in the late 70's the fastest spin you ever saw was 1000rpm, but 800rpm was far more commonplace then with far slower spin machines being available readily. Nowadays it's not uncommon to see spin speeds up to 1600rpm, but the science in it all says that speeds of this magnitude are unneeded really.

Many years ago there was an industry report on water extraction rates from AMDEA (if we remember correctly) and it stated that, based on a 2 minute spin cycle that the best extraction with minimal creasing was achieved at 550rpm, making the 800's and upwards of the day seem an illogical choice it would seem. Well, no, they weren't. You see even above that speed the extraction rate was still worthwhile to have up to about 800rpm but after that it tailed off dramatically, in fact the difference between 800rpm and 1000 or 1100rpm was literally a thimble full of water. Yet people perceived that they needed faster and faster spins on their washers as it was being used as a marketing tool.

Further down the page you can see the recreation of this chart for modern purposes to demonstrate the point.

But there are other things to consider here, a lot of other things.

You see, as the machine spins harder and faster the noise level goes up, as does the vibration. This is not so much of an issue in continental Europe where most floors are concrete, but here in the UK we have mostly wooden flooring, much of it floating floors, so vibration or excessive vibration is a serious consideration. Very often engineers get complaints about excessive vibration in homes here and, if the appliance is new, there is probably very little that can be done about it by a service engineer.

So, to combat that problem the manufacturers came up with ABCs or Anti-Balance Controls (aka OOB, Out Of Balance control) where basically a sensor, now normally in the PCB, detects an imbalanced load and stops the machine from ramping up to full spin.

Guess what? Yes, it leads to service calls with a reported fault of either no spin or intermittent spin! But to cap that off, the engineer cannot disable or by-pass the function so it cannot be resolved by an engineer should it occur.

  Holes In The Washing Machine Drum

People assume, even within the trade that spin speed governs the water extraction rates of an appliance, it really isn't as important as it's made out to be on balance. What is very important is the number of holes in the inner drum (the bit your clothes go into) as, obviously, the more holes the more water can flow out. Simple when you think about it. So, a washer with 200 holes in the drum spinning at 1000rpm will very possibly extract more water that a 1400rpm washer with only 150 holes in the drum, get it?

Holes, holes and more holes in a washing machine drum

The more holes in the drum, the better!

The problem here is that to get more holes in the drum the steel that the drum is made from has to be stronger and thicker and are therefore more expensive to produce which leads to the fact that normally the cheaper appliances suffer from a poorer spin, even with high spin speeds.

But it doesn't end there, the bearings in the machine are also under far more strain the faster the drum spins so they tend to wear out quicker. Especially when certain manufacturers refuse to upgrade them when they implement a higher spin speed!

The harder the spin the more potential wear on the clothing as well.

Tub group

An Electrolux tub and drum opened up.

 

  Numbers On Washing Machine Spin

The hard facts are very difficult to dismiss in this debate.

Of course people will generally report, when they buy a faster spinning machine that their washing feels drier than it was in the old machine but, is this factual or just wishful thinking.

In order to give factual data on this we had to reconstruct a spin extraction chart and, the chart below shows in percentage terms the amount of moisture left in the clothing at the various spin speeds shown at the bottom of the graph.

Percentage of water extracted by a washing machine at various spin speeds

It is indeed interesting that between 1000rpm spin and 2000rpm that there is only 22% more water extracted. Now you may think that that sounds like a lot more water and, if you look at the numbers purely in that way then yes, it is. But it's not quite than simple as what is measured there is the difference on the scale from 100%, of course some people may spin this and tell you that the spin is 22% more efficient, it's wrong and factually inaccurate but gets your attention.

When we look at this in real terms what it equates to in actual use is shown below. What this graph shows is the actual gain from a 1000rpm baseline of the difference in water extraction from 1200 through to 2000rpm, so this shows how much extra water is extracted.

Percentage of water extracted by a washing machine at various spin speeds

The differences are so small that we have to put the data labels on and those are shown based on there being 1 litre of water in the clothes to be extracted with the figures showing the actual amount in a fraction of a litre. As you can see the differences in actual gain are very small.

It's not a lot.

The biggest gain, seen on the 1800 and 2000rpm machines gain a mere 22ml more water extracted, a little over four teaspoons of water, over a machine that spins at half that top speed.

Draw your own conclusions, but those are the facts.

  Clothing Damage

It is a fact (sadly) that a lot of people pay little to no attention to wash care labels.

Inevitably this leads to damaged clothing in washing machines, especially on modern ones with reduced energy use and longer wash times but, high spin speeds can wreck clothes in short order.

The problem isn't the washing machine, it is the way that it is used.

People assume, wrongly, that it is safe to wash everything on the same program and at the same spin speed. Many machines will now spin way faster than the fabrics can actually handle which, when these items are spun too fast, will damage the fibres in the clothing and this is not repairable. Plus, there's not a thing that anyone can do about it except the owner of the washing machine avoiding spinning delicate items on a high spin speed.

The primary example is wool or wool mixes. One wrong spin alone can completely ruin the item of clothing.

  Our Conclusion On Spin Speeds

Many people report that they can "feel" a difference in especially toweling or jeans with a higher spin but what little evidence we have tells a different story and, all that we are left with is purely anecdotal from actual users of the washing machines. Whether or not there is any real difference is up for debate.

What is not up for debate is that OOB or ABC sensors have become more sensitive with a combination of higher spin speeds and larger capacities. What is also fact is that we seem to be replacing more bearings sooner than we used to do, whether this is solely due to this or a combination of factors is again, open for debate.

The general feeling with repairers is that all these factors contribute along with a general lowering of quality levels across the industry. But cheaper machines definitely seem to be far more prone to failure as well as poor performance, as ever, for the large part you get what you pay for.

So there you have it, spin speed is not the be all and end all of the washing machine and certainly not as important as is emphasized by retailers and manufacturers. But it is a clever marketing tool to get you to buy the latest, greatest and fastest of the breed as advertised. In all honesty the sentiment is that there is both good and bad that comes with higher spin speeds.

It is a good way of getting more money out you though.

Daver
Spin dryers work at much higher RPM's, like 2800 RPM or higher, so you can dry clothes much quicker than from a spin cycle in a washing machine at half the speed.
Alex
Hoover Washing Machine
After years of purchasing Hotpoint Washing Machine\'s which give good results they have now become unreliable, due to Drum Bearing Failure not long after the guarentee has run out I have recently purchased a Hoover 1600 spin model which is 200 rpm faster than my old Hotpoint which was a 1400 spin I have noticed a huge difference in drying times as I live in a appartment and dont have access to a washing line to dry clothes outdoors Generally my bedding takes approx 70 mins to dry after been spun at 1400 but in my hoover 1600 it takes only 50 minuets which is a big difference and huge saving on my electric bill, I will however say the out of balence detectors are very over sensitive and sometimes even on a full load I have to put the machine back onto a extraction cycle to achive a good result so in relation to the discussion I can say the faster the spin the better it is. And my Hoover washer is no louder then my old Hotpoint, and I will say my Hoover jumps from 1200 to 1600 and it sounds good
Brian Smith
Spin Speed
I cannot understand the reason why because I use a short wash, I can only use a slow spin speed. If I have, lets say a towel that I want to give a quick wash. The program will only give a slow spin speed so it then comes out wet. Yes I can the waste 25 minutes!!! on a spin/drain program. WHY 25 MINUTES??? Why not give an extra program of quick wash full speed and then the customer has a choice. Please do not say that this is because most short washes are for dedicates, as my machine already has 4 or so delicate programs and does not need another one, but does need a quick wash fast spin program. The stupidity really shows when you look at washer/dryer programs. The same is there. They do a quick wash, but only a slow spin. Surely you need the clothes as dry as possible before it goes into the dryer part of the program?? Also the max drying on these washes is around 1-2Kg, so not much use really. Same again all the delicate wash programs you need.

Can someone out there make a washing machine that does what the customer wants? Not what we have to put up with. I think that if a manufacturer made a washing machine like they used to where the customer could pick what they wanted it to do, would really be a great product. You could still have the one touch programs as well, just a more logical, versatile machine.

Ella
Rips
Just noticed two rips in my duvet covers! Very annoyed as they were expensive. The only thing that has changed is a new washing machine in the last 6 months. (Bosch.)

The spin is very fast and I need to peel the washing from the inside of the drum when the cycle is finished.

After reading this I will experiment using slower spin cycles. Thanks for the information - very useful.

Yonatan Shaked
Thank you very much for this interesting article! I appreciate it.
Dominic Meese Grove
The final numbers are wrong. The 1800 and 2000 rpm washing machines extract 220 ml more water, or about a cupful, per litre. As only about 350 ml was being extracted per litre with the 1000 rpm washing machine, this is actually a substantial difference. So spin speed is valuable, but not necessarily worth paying lots for due to the additional wear and tear on the machine, clothing and surrounding area (from vibration).
WMUser
If you really want a fast spin speed and dryer clothes, why not use a spin dryer? These can spin very fast - up to about 2800 rpm and save a fortune on the cost of drying in a tumble dryer afterwards. Spin dryers are used in some laundrettes, which the customers use for the SAME clothes which have been spun in the washing machine. For decades spin dryers have been able to outperform all washing machines at getting the most water out of fabrics and saving enormously on the cost of using a tumble dryer.
Brian Smith
Why do you think that it is logical to buy yet another machine (Spin dryer) when a manufacturer could give you that in the same spin speed, in the same space in you kitchen, or where ever you keep the machine. I cannot understand the reason why because I use a short wash, I can only use a slow spin speed. If I have, lets say a towel that I want to give a quick wash. The program will only give a slow spin speed so it then comes out wet. Yes I can the waste 25 minutes!!! on a spin/drain program. WHY 25 MINUTES??? Why not give an extra program of quick wash full speed and then the customer has a choice. Please do not say that this is because most short washes are for dedicates, as my machine already has 4 or so delicate programs and does not need another one, but does need a quick wash fast spin program. The stupidity really shows when you look at washer/dryer programs. The same is there. They do a quick wash, but only a slow spin. Surely you need the clothes as dry as possible before it goes into the dryer part of the program?? Also the max drying on these washes is around 1-2Kg, so not much use really. Same again all the delicate wash programs you need.

Can someone out there make a washing machine that does what the customer wants? Not what we have to put up with. I think that if a manufacturer made a washing machine like they used to where the customer could pick what they wanted it to do, would really be a great product. You could still have the one touch programs as well, just a more logical, versatile machine.

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