How Do the Programs in a Washing Machine Work?

Jul 18, 2023, 18:08pm

It is important to know which fabrics are suitable for each program in your washing machine, and how long each wash program will take. In addition, understanding the usefulness of each program is important to make your washing machine last.

You will find substantially identical programs on your device.

One of the first precautions to take for washing is to differentiate your white laundry from your colored laundry.

Modern washing machines offer a variety of programs or cycles to cater to different types of fabrics and laundry needs. These programs are designed to optimize cleaning efficiency, minimize damage to clothes, and conserve energy and water. Understanding how the programs in a washing machine work can help you choose the appropriate cycle for your laundry and make the most of your machine’s capabilities. In this article, we will explore the basic principles behind the programs in a washing machine.

How Do the Programs in a Washing Machine Work?

1. Basic Washing Machine Programs

While the specific programs may vary depending on the make and model of your washing machine, most machines typically offer these common programs:

  • Normal/Cotton: This is the standard program for everyday clothing made of cotton or synthetic materials. It typically includes a regular wash cycle with warm or cold water and a moderate spin speed.
  • Delicate/Handwash: This program is suitable for delicate fabrics such as silk, lace, or woolens that require gentle washing. It involves shorter wash times, lower agitation, and slower spin speeds to protect delicate items from damage.
  • Quick Wash: As the name suggests, the quick wash program is designed for lightly soiled clothes that need to be cleaned quickly. It involves a shorter wash cycle with higher agitation and spin speeds to expedite the washing process.
  • Heavy Duty: The heavy-duty program is for heavily soiled items or items that require deep cleaning, such as bed linens or workwear. It involves longer wash times, higher water levels, and increased agitation to effectively remove tough stains and dirt.
  • Rinse and Spin: This program is useful for rinsing and spinning clothes that have been hand-washed or soaked separately. It skips the washing phase and focuses on thorough rinsing and efficient spinning to remove excess water.
  • Specialty Programs: Some washing machines offer specialty programs such as sportswear, baby clothes, bedding, or allergy cycles. These programs are tailored to specific laundry requirements and often incorporate specific temperature settings, additional rinses, or gentler agitation to meet the unique needs of those fabrics or items.

2. Program Settings

In addition to the preset programs, washing machines often allow you to adjust various settings to further customize your wash:

  • Temperature: Most machines provide options for selecting the water temperature, such as hot, warm, or cold. Choosing the appropriate temperature for your laundry is crucial to avoid damaging fabrics or compromising the cleaning effectiveness.
  • Spin Speed: Washing machines allow you to adjust the spin speed or choose a no-spin option. Higher spin speeds remove more water from clothes, reducing drying time, while lower speeds are gentler on delicate fabrics.
  • Soil Level: Some machines have a soil level setting that lets you specify the dirtiness of the laundry. This setting adjusts the wash cycle’s intensity and duration accordingly.
  • Pre-wash/Soak: Many machines offer pre-wash or soak options for heavily soiled items. Pre-washing or soaking helps loosen dirt and stains before the main wash cycle begins.
  • Delay Start: This feature allows you to set a delayed start time for the washing machine. It is convenient when you want the machine to start automatically at a specific time, such as during off-peak electricity hours.

3. Automatic Load Sensing and Water Levels

Many modern washing machines are equipped with load-sensing technology. These machines automatically detect the size of the load and adjust the water levels and wash cycle duration accordingly. This feature helps conserve water and energy by using only the necessary amount for each load.

4. Sensors and Safety Features

Washing machines may also include various sensors and safety features to ensure efficient and safe operation. These can include:

  • Water level sensors: These sensors monitor and control the water level during the wash cycle to prevent overfilling or underfilling.
  • Unbalance detection: Sensors detect imbalances in the load during the spin cycle and adjust the spin speed or redistribute the load to prevent excessive vibrations or damage.
  • Temperature sensors: These sensors monitor the temperature of the water to ensure it remains within the selected range.
  • Overload protection: If the machine detects an excessive load, it may activate an overload protection feature to prevent damage to the motor or other components.

5. Smart and Connected Features

With the advent of smart home technology, some washing machines now offer smart and connected features. These features allow you to control and monitor the machine remotely through a smartphone app. You can customize programs, receive notifications, and even download new programs based on your laundry needs.

Understanding how the programs in a washing machine work enables you to make informed choices when selecting the appropriate cycle for your laundry. It helps ensure the best results in terms of cleanliness, fabric care, and energy efficiency. Remember to consult your washing machine’s user manual for specific instructions and program details, as they may vary depending on the manufacturer and model.


  • This program allows washing at low temperature
  • It is not necessary to pre-wash.
  • The “Eco” program saves between 30 and 45% energy. You should know that 80% of the energy is used to heat the water
  • It is important not to overdose on detergent to save energy during the pre-wash. Otherwise, the cycle will be longer and the drum will spin longer


  • This program is ideal for sportswear, K-Way type raincoats.
  • It is also suitable for special fabrics such as Spandex, stretch, or with microfibers.
  • It is recommended not to load more than 2 kg.


  • This program is ideal for baby clothes (usually cotton) and for slightly fragile fabrics.
  • It is a long program because it eliminates dust mites
  • It can heat up to 90° to eliminate bacteria.


  • This program is suitable for delicate fabrics such as wool, silk, linen or viscose.
  • It uses little water for washing which allows a very gentle spin
  • It allows cold washing (40° maximum)
  • Warning: only load 1/4 or 1/3 of the drum and use a detergent suitable for wool


  • This program adds a rinse cycle and a spin cycle
  • It requires the addition of a softener.
  • Some machines also offer a “Drain” program which allows you to drain the water to perform a spin cycle.


  • This program is ideal for washing fragile garments such as dresses, skirts, blouses: the drum rotates very slowly to respect the fabric. It preserves the texture and color of the fiber provided you do not exceed 40° when using this program.
  • It is preferred for fragile textiles such as viscose or silk.
  • For this programme, make sure that the drum is only 1/3 full.
  • Use liquid, not solid, detergent.


  • This program preserves your machine by preventing the accumulation of tartar and bacteria in the drum.
  • Run this program empty and without product or with baking soda or vinegar (especially not both at the same time)
  • It is recommended to run this program approximately every 50 washes.


  • It is an ideal program for denim garments because it preserves the material and the color.
  • It adds a rinse cycle to properly drain the laundry.
  • The temperature is at 30° maximum, with a gentle cycle.
  • Use special detergent for raw/dark
  • Remember to wash your jeans inside out.


  • This program is ideal for polyester, polyamide or synthetic fiber fabrics.
  • It is a gentle and short programme, unlike the “Cotton” programme: the rotation of the drum is reduced.
  • It is necessary to divide by 2 or 3 the quantity of synthetic linen to be washed because the textile becomes very voluminous when it is wet.


  • This program is perfect for cotton garments and linens such as quilts, curtains, underwear.
  • The duration and number of rinse cycles automatically adapt to the laundry load, so the more laundry you put in, the longer the cycle will be
  • It is an energetic and long program.
  • The temperature is 40° or 60° if the laundry is very dirty


  • This program is dedicated to laundry that is needed quickly.
  • Above all, do not add too much laundry for this programme: maximum 2 kg.
  • It is recommended to use very little liquid detergent (20 ml)

How Do the Programs in a Washing Machine Work?


  • This program is intended for shirts but it can also be used to wash blouses and all other materials in cotton, synthetic fiber and mixed fabrics.
  • It extends the life of your shirts
  • It also allows you to have shirts that do not come out of the machine all wrinkled.


“If you’re in Toronto and urgently need laundry machine repair, reach out to Shymon Appliance Repair Service.”