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  Understanding Quick Wash

If you think fast or quick wash gets stuff clean, think again!


Many, many people get sold on the idea of a fast wash for their new washing machine and think, for some reason, that there's a magic shortcut and that some machines can even wash clothes comprehensively in as little as fifteen minutes.

Sadly, it's all a con.

We often find ourselves telling people that, if it were a car that they were buying, they can have a Prius that does 60mpg or they can have a Porsche that goes from 0-60 in 4 seconds, you can't have both the economy or the performance and that; with each choice that there is at least one compromise to be had.

The same basic principle applies to washing machines.

You cannot have wash performance and have speed without incurring huge energy costs.

  Basics Of Fast Wash & Why We Have It

What happened back in the early nineties was that the EU introduced the new energy labels and, of course, every manufacturer wanted to have an "A" rated washing machine performance in terms of energy use. It has now actually reached the point where, if the machine doesn't have that, most people won't buy one and move onto the next one that does. Whether this is down to a conscious decision based on a concern for the environment or the desire to save money through reduced energy use is irrelevant, it is the way things are. If you happen to be one of the few people that fancy the Hummer of washing machines then, I'm afraid, you're out of luck as there appears to be an agreement not to make a machine with a "C" class or less in terms of efficiency. In reality, you will struggle to buy even a "A" rated machine now and, if you find one, it likely will be the cheapest of the cheap and not very good.

In order to improve the energy efficiency, the water use is reduced which lowers energy use in heating it (the largest energy use in a washing machine) but this means extending the wash action time to cope with the reduced water.

So no more "energy inefficient" machines and, as a result, slower wash times.

People complained bitterly about a two hour or more wash time and, presto, the manufacturers solve the problem with a "fast wash".

Only, they didn't really solve the problem.

  Why All Washes Not Fast Washes

Many people think, to be blunt, that they can have that Porsche performance along with the economy of the Prius when it comes to washing machines and, plainly, this is dead wrong and, if it were a car, people would expect to have to compromise. But, either through lack of research or just believing what a brochure or salesperson tells them, many people believe that they can get clean clothes in a fraction of the time it takes to wash normally.

Well, first of all, let's ask the most obvious question, if the clothes can be washed effectively in such a short space of time then why aren't all wash programs that short?

With some common sense, the answer is desperately obvious.

It is that they can't be made that short of they wouldn't wash your laundry correctly and that this is no more than a bit of marketing spin. Just like the Prius versus the Porsche analogy, the car marketers don't tell you that to get the economy from the Prius you have to drive carefully and that, to get the performance from the Porsche, you will burn a considerable amount of fuel.

But both those simple truths also don't suit sales materials even although they may seem to be simple common sense.

Now look at all the brochures and websites, they're all the same, they'll tell you that the machine has a 15/20/30 minute, fast wash but it tells you no more than that. It doesn't tell you that in order to achieve that time that the wash time is reduced, the rinses reduced, the spin reduced, you can only wash a half load, you need to reduce or not use detergent and it likely won't heat or, if it does, not much.

But people think that this is great, we can have fresh clean laundry in as many minutes. Well, no you can't.

You can have laundry that has been made wet, rumbled around a little and barely spun but you can't have a proper wash in that time in a modern washing machine, it just isn't possible. But the marketing materials didn't say that they would either, people just assume that that is what is meant and it is an assumption that is wrong. Or you could argue, people are sold the idea of it, even if it's not the whole truth or clear.

To illustrate that point in an image for you, the image below shows an industry standard stain swatch on top washed in a 15-minute fast wash, the one below from the same machine using a 40˚C wash.

fast wash test result

They say a picture says a thousand words.

All, in this case, say, fast washes are not wash cycles and do not clean your stuff!

If you use these sorts of wash cycles all the time, just think how dirty your clothes might be with the stuff you can't see and, how manky the inside of the machine could be!

  Why Fast Washing Is Bad

Using fast wash is really, really bad if not for the few things that it was intended to be used for.

There are several reasons for this that include the following:

  • It won't wash out stains properly
  • It won't wash out skin grease
  • It won't wash out skin flakes
  • It won't wash out pretty much anything else
  • It will not dilute a normal dose of detergent correctly
  • It will not rinse correctly using a normal detergent dose
  • It will leave residues on the laundry due to poor rinsing
  • It will leave residues in the machine due to poor rinsing
  • Continued use will lead to bacteria build up in the machine

We could go on, but we're sure you get the point by now. Fast washes are, for anything other than what they were intended to be used for, useless.

The vast bulk of your laundry is unsuitable to be washed using any fast wash program and using it will result in poorly cleaned laundry or, damage to the laundry and especially so over time.

  Why Have A Fast Wash

Simple, it's a refreshing option that most manufacturers have had on their machines for years, if not decades. Only recently, with increasing wash times in order to meet energy use regulations, we're seeing it being marketed as a "mine's bigger than yours" feature only, in this case, mine's faster than yours.

We now regularly see claims in big letters of a 15-minute fast wash or whatever where, before, it barely got a mention even if it was there. But people have often now had an A rated washing machine, know it takes up to two hours for a normal wash and now want one that washes faster. The answer to that is this nonsense.

To put this in perspective, to fill a machine takes 2-4 minutes with normal water pressure. To drain takes about 2 minutes. To sort the laundry and spin it takes at the very least 6-10 minutes. To heat water to 40˚C takes approximately 10 minutes at least normally.

Where's the time to wash the clothes if it only takes 15 minutes?

The short of it is, there isn't time to properly wash the clothing if to wash at all.

But it looks great on the marketing to be able to claim that the machine can wash a normal load in such a short space of time and, obviously, people not knowing any better as they are denied the information, buy into the idea that they can have their cake and eat it which, of course, you can't. But by the time you realise this, it's too late you've already bought the machine and had it a while.

So, there are the reasons that we have a fast wash, it was already there really so there was no cost to do it for the manufacturer and it looks great on marketing materials.

But really, that's not the reason. The reason is that people want it whether it works seems a secondary concern for many.

  Best Fast Wash

If you want a quality wash as quickly as possible then look at the time for the normal 40˚C cotton wash.

There are two main reasons for this:

  • It's the most common wash used in the UK
  • It gives a good indication of the real world speed of the programs

Over 60% of all washes in the UK are 40˚C cotton washes and, for most people, this is the most important wash that they will use every day.

But as for a best "fast wash "on any modern machine, well, there isn't one that does what people think it does.

For even more on washing machine wash times and fast washes please see this article

Quick wash, eco or standard at 60c? Which is best or worse?
I have a Beko WMB71642 and upon reading the user guide and I\'m confused as to what would be best for the laundry and the life of the machine itself. I understand that a quicker wash is likely to be more aggressive in it\'s agitation.

The quick wash takes 60 minutes at 60c for a 7kg load and uses 60l of water and 1.15kw/h per cycle with a default 1200 spin.

The cottons eco mode wash takes 2hr 38minutes at 60c for a 7kg load which uses just 44l of water and 1kw/h per cycle with a default 1600 spin

The standard cotton wash takes 1hr 58 minutes for a 60c wash with a 7kg load and uses 72l of water and 2.3kw/h per cycle with a default 1200 spin.

If it\'s using more water for the quick wash at the same temperature, would this not be better for the machine than the eco mode?

It also has a 2kg express wash that takes 14 minutes at 30c. Clearly this is not enough as in the example of swimming shorts, they still stink of Chlorine.

Washing Football kit
I want to know what is the best wash cycle to use on heavily soiled football kit which is made of light synthetic materials but with washable printed logos on the shirts.
To get a 40 wash temp we are currently using a cotton Eco setting at 40 both tried with the long and Quick wash 3.30 hrs and 1.5hrs respectively neither wash appears to do the job. Washing comes out feeling and looking unwashed.
Thoughts please.

The warmest synthetic cycle that is on the machine would be the answer using a decent detergent as well.

If cotton then the same applies, the hottest cycle you can use with a good detergent either colour or non-colour but you will want to be using bio powder and not liquids or tabs as they will be useless for that as will non-bio.

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