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  Poor Wash Results

Energy efficiency leads to compromises required by users

Over the past number of years people getting poor wash results or damaged clothing from their washing machine has seemed to have been on the rise and, we think we know why this is.

Since the mid 1990's we have seen an arms race in the washing machine industry over energy efficiency with manufacturers striving to drive down the amount of energy that is used per wash.

The problem with that is that, like anything that saves energy such as CFL bulbs, electric cars and almost every other low energy product, is that there is a compromise that has to be made in performance to achieve the savings in both energy use and money.

For a washing machine the saving on energy use is done by reduction of water levels.

When you reduce the water you reduce the volume to be heated.

The compromise is that, in turn, you have to wash for longer to accomplish the same wash performance. So, programs take much longer.

No big deal you may think. Washing the clothes takes a bit longer, no harm there if it uses less energy.

Well, that's not exactly correct in a good many cases sadly as people, as they do for almost all other energy saving devices, have to alter how they do things a bit to still get the most from the raft of low energy washing machines that now fill our stores.

  Energy Efficient Washing Machines & Damage

As washing machines have become more efficient with the energy that they use and wash times have been extended further with some running well over two hours, the program you choose has become much, much more important.

You see, let's say that you completely ignore the care labels on your clothing and simply put everything of either whites and lights in a normal cotton wash program but, there are some items in there that require a more gentle cycle.

The cotton cycle on your washing machine will agitate the clothing at about 54rpm for most  but can be up to 60rpm through the entire one to two hour or more wash cycle. That's actually quite a robust wash designed for heavy or strong fibres.

If some items are in there that are rated for a gentle or synthetics was you will wreck them.

The reason is that these items can become damaged is that the higher agitation level than they are rated for is too rough for them. That speed can drop down to 40rpm or less on even a synthetics wash let alone a delicate cycle so you can easily be giving 30% or more too much agitation.

Years ago when nobody really cared all that much about how much water and electricity was being used in your washing machine this wasn't so imperative a consideration. Now however, it is.

On old washing machines the laundry would probably only be in the machine for 40 minutes to an hour at most, now we're talking over double that in most cases.

So, up to double the agitation for over double the time.

Is it any wonder that items get damaged?

For us the problem is, how do we explain this to people and explain why it is that everything that they thought they knew about doing their laundry is hockum and they need to relearn from scratch. Oh, and take a lot more care about what they're washing and on what cycle.

For the service engineer this is a nightmare when we hear the dreaded, "I've been using a washing machine for XX years and I know how it should work…."

We really wish we could say, "Yeah, but not this one.", and the probability is that the user has been washing wrongly for all those years. It really is very hard to make people understand this.

Customer care skills coupled with political correctness won't allow us to be honest in instances like that, apparently it's not acceptable to treat people like grownups in modern society.

  Fabric Technologies

Like your washing machine and the detergent that you put in it fabric technologies have changed with new mixes and a lot more special finishes on many products.

These have to be treated with care and washed using the correct program or, you will damage it.

It is so important that some items will become damaged on just one wrong wash, some may take several or even tens of washes to become damaged but, if you wash on the wrong program, it is certain that they will become damaged at some point.

That, frankly, is the reason that wash care labels are there in the first place! They're not there just for decoration.

If you don't follow them then you really only have yourself to blame for any damage to the items, it isn't the fault of your washing machine because, as good as many modern washing machines are, they are not magical items that can sense what sort of fabrics that you have put in it.

In part, this is the reason that some clothing manufacturers were looking at the use of electronic RFID tags that wouldn't allow users to mess it up. Because they do. A lot. 

Then more often than not, people blame their washing machine first, then the clothes or the detergent on occasion for the damage.

That seems to have died off lately we suspect because people probably didn't like that the washing machine would be able to override their wishes in order to wash items correctly and/or, they wouldn't be prepared to pay for it. We very much doubt that you would ever see such tags on all clothing though, especially the lower cost items.

It does demonstrate how big a problem this is though. People washing their clothes wrongly is a massive issue and it not only causes the problems already outlined but it also costs people money.

  Service Calls For Washing Machines Damaging Laundry

Holes in clothes or laundry items is a very common issueTo be completely blunt, the chances of your washing machine damaging your laundry or clothes is so low as to be almost completely negligible.

If there is an actual fault with your washing machine it will display an error code, halt or abort the program. If it doesn't and it completes the cycle then it is almost assured that there is nothing wrong with it.

Your washing machine is an electro-mechanical device. If there is any fault with the electronics or electrical parts in it, it will not work. IF there is a fault with the mechanical parts it will not work or, it will arbitrarily damage everything you put in it, every time you use it.

It will not self-heal.

Colours fading, dye running, rough surfaces, random holes, shrinking items and a host of other issues are almost certain to mean a user issue, not a washing machine one.

Whenever we see a call coming in for something like that in service we cringe. We do so because we know that it's almost certain that we're going to have to explain to the owner that they are using their washing machine incorrectly.

Or, if they insist on a call being made we're not going to find any fault and probably charge for the visit.

It's really not a happy thing that we want to do as service engineers. We'd much rather be repairing actual faults than chasing ghosts. And, we really don't want to be getting into an argument with people if we can possibly avoid it.

But we will stress the point just in case you have missed it: you service engineer is unlikley to be able to find a fault to repair if all you get is poor wash results, in virtually 100% of all cases it is a user issue, not an electrical or mechanical one.

  Save Cash & Get Better Results

You can save money and get better results from your washing machine quite easily with the application of a little bit of care and common sense.

If you wash your clothes on the correct programs in line with the wash care label on them, with the right dose of detergent then dry and iron as prescribed your clothes will last a lot longer. It also will help your washing machine live longer as well.

By a lot longer, you could be talking about years more from your clothes very easily in some cases.

By not thrashing the clothes about so much they will not break up or wear through as fast because the fibres remain unbroken. Asides which, they will feel better or newer for a lot longer.

If you wash things on the wrong cycles then you are highly likely to damage your clothing, have to rewash it ramping up the cost and wear as well as possibly damage your washing machine.

Our top tip is to have a look at the laundry labels for the load and if even one of them calls for a more gentle cycle, wash everything for the load on the more gentle cycle if you do not have enough for a full cycle of that particular wash type.

If you do that the chances of causing any damage to your laundry are hugely reduced.

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