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  Washing Machine Wash Times

Very often people appear to assume that the wash times on a modern washing machine are too long and we have looked at this in several articles explaining why that this is the case. However, there also appears to be a lot of confusion surrounding washing machine models that display how long that the program will take.

We often get enquiries from people when the their washing machine shows a time till the program completes but the washing machine takes longer than this most often but, on occasion, it completes the program faster than the time given.

Although this is often seen as a bad thing by owners it is a very good thing really as it saves the washing machine from using any more energy than it has to and many manufacturers, like one who called it Dynamic Wash, tell people that this is how their machines will behave.

  Variable Wash Time

Washing machine display panel showing the estimated wash timeAlmost without exception any washing machine that displays a time remaining or a program length time will be showing an estimated time, not a time that is absolutely defined.

The reason is, when you think about it, simple common sense.

When you initially start the washing machine it has no idea what is in it, how much is in it, what the inbound water pressure is, what the inbound water temperature is and so on. Your washing machine has to deal with any number of variable factors that, until it figures all this out, has no idea what it is going to have to do for that particular load.

A good analogy is to compare it to Satnav.

When you start a journey your Satnav will often be completely unaware and, nor would you expect it to know, about traffic jams, road works, temporary speed limits and a myriad of other things that could alter the estimated journey time.

Your washing machine has exactly the same issue.

When you get the initial estimated time till complete your washing machine cannot calculate the variables that it cannot determine on startup.

What most washing machines that are any good will do is to recalculate the estimated time on the fly and update the estimated end time as it figures out what it has to do to get your clothes clean.

  Main Factors Explained

There are several key factors that affect how long your washing machine will take and, whilst this is not a full list of them, these are the main ones so that you can understand that getting different times displayed is completely normal.

Each one of these or any, even all of them, in combination can affect the time your washing machine takes to complete any given wash program.

Incoming Water Pressure

The inbound water pressure can have an absolutely astonishing effect on the time that a wash program will take.

Just to test this we took a washing machine set to a high water pressure and found that it took less than a mere two minutes to fill fully.

Take that pressure down to almost as low we could and it took almost ten minutes. Just to fill up. That is a massive difference.

Keep in mind that most washing machines will fill and drain, including rinsing, at least three or four times on common cotton cycles as well as others. Therefore, even here you can add up to almost forty minutes to every program.

The washing machine cannot detect this. Until the machine starts to fill and the electronics, if they are set to do so, detect the average fill time the machine has to try guess in advance and displays its best guess when you begin. 

Better machines with better electronics learn this over time and give a more accurate initial estimated time but, even they can be fooled.

Incoming Water Temperature

The temperature of water coming into the machines can vary from one house to another, even in the same street.

This can be a couple of degrees centigrade or it can be more substantial and, it can vary depending on the season as well as how the home is plumbed.

For example, we all know and understand that during the cold winter months that the temperature of the cold water supply is far lower than it is in the summer months.

Your washing machine doesn't know what season it is. It also doesn't know what temperature the water is before it comes into the washer. All it knows is that it has to get the temperature to whatever it is set to.

The difference can be anything up to 10 centigrade. That's a lot of heating time depending on the design of the machine and the power of the heating element.

You can see the same where the supply pipework is all inside the home and there is a lot of standing water in the pipes, it comes up in temperature and so the machine will heat faster. But, if the supply has hardly any standing water indoors then you end up with really cold water from the mains and it takes longer to heat up. 

Even if you have a lot of pipe inside, if someone runs that off before you start the machine will get the refreshed but, much colder water, that is now in the pipework.

In other words, there are many factors in play here that your washing machine has no way at all to detect in advance.

So, again, it has to guess.

Water Level Required

The point of a washing machine is to get your laundry clean and, without going into huge detail, the level of water that it needs in order to do that will depend on a few things.

The first is the program that you need to use for the load. The machine can normally work out a rough idea of how much water that will need and will give an estimated time accordingly but, bear in mind, the other two factors before we even get there.

The next is how much laundry you put in and what kind.

If you overload the machine, it will need more water, more time to heat and will therefore take longer, as well as probably not cleaning it properly.

If you put in laundry that happens to soak up more water, again, more water will be needed and more heating time.

All the while, when the water level is increased, you will use more energy. It isn't massively higher but, it will be higher.

Once more however, your washing machine cannot detect these factors in advance, it has to work it out as it goes as long gone are the days when a washing machine would fill with a pre-determined volume of water, they all use variable fill levels now.

  Leave Your Washing Machine Alone

For the most part our advice is, so long as your washing machine completes the cycle then there will be absolutely nothing wrong with it at all.

Variable wash times, extended wash times and so on are all normal on modern washing machines and we all just have to live with it because, to meet the energy use expectations of government and people that buy and use washing machines, it has to be this way.

If you think that your washing machine is taking too long to complete a wash cycle it is almost certain that there is no fault so long as it does complete the program. It's just the conditions that are causing that to happen and, as we've shown, many of these can change.

You just have to trust the technology that is in a modern washing machine, leave it alone and let it do its job.

Thanks, that answers my query.
Kenneth Watt
Here's the biggest problem with it...Unless a washing machine or, pretty much any other appliance is A, AA, AAA+++ or whatever rated these days people simply won't buy them. If nobody will buy them, nobody will make them.Until consumer attitudes change, the quest for the lowest energy rating to try and shave a penny a year from your electricity bill won't change.You can apply the same methodology of thinking to many other things that people appear want but, often don't really want or need because the compromise to achieve it is too great.
Tania Elliott
MODERN WASHING MASHINES DON'T RINSE PROPERLY No modern washing machine rinses properly because, to meet legal requirements, manufacturers design them to run on minimum water. The result is that the laundry is not properly rinsed. This is on record as causing allergies and leaving clothes, sheets and towels stiff to the touch, in a way which did not occur with older washing machines. In order to obtain soft laundry the only remedy is to rinse, rinse and rinse again, thus using both more water and more electricity. Will the industry be addressing this technical problem? I would appreciate an honest and serious answer.

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