Types of washing machines

In this post I will be talking about what types of washing machines are out there for the everyday consumer and discussing the main differences and some variances.

What types of washing machines are there?

In the world of washing machines there are 2 main types you can buy, although in these 2 types there may be sub types or slight variances, these are the basis of all washing machines. So what are these two types of washing machines that I speak of? Well the first type and most common is the top loading washing machine. This type has probably been around the longest of the two and is the most well-known. The second type is the front loader washing machine, which has become more popular over the past years and has built a decent reputation. But what makes these two types so different? both models wash your clothes, so lets take a closer look at them to see what really sets the two apart.

Top loader washing machines

Most top loader washing machine are generally between 90cm-100cm tall but not limited to these sizes, clothes are loaded into the top of the machine, hence the name “top loader” via an opening lid. The inside of the machine consists of two drums, one inside the other. The inside drum has lots of holes in it which water can pass through and the outer drum that is not visible is solid to keep the water inside.

Top loader washing machines fill with water from two pipes mounted on the back of the machine which passes through a detergent or “washing powder” tray then into the inside drum where the clothes are located. In the center on the inside drum is a column which has small fins on it. This is called an agitator and its purpose is to move your clothes back and forth circulating water and detergents.

During the washing stage the two drums do not move, then once the washing stage is finished the water pump removes all the dirty water and the clothes are rinsed. After the washing has been rinsed the inner drum begins to spin rapidly forcing any left over water out through the holes on the inside drum .

Front loader washing machines

Front loader washing machines are generally 85cm tall but not limited to the one size. A front loader can be wall mounted or have other appliances stacked on top of it due to the door being on the front of the machine. Similar to the top loader a front loader also has two drums on the inside. The outer drum is solid and the inner drum has holes to allow water passage through.

The inner drum of a front loader is held in place via heavy-duty springs which absorb vibrations during operation. Water enters through the back of the machine and passes through the detergent compartment and then into the main drum. The walls of the inside drum have fins which do the same job as the agitator in the top loader model.

Most front loader machines have a lock on the door that engages once the cycle begins and cannot be unlocked until the water has been pumped out to avoid flooding your laundry. Some Front loader models come with a water heater to heat water to a desired setting.

High efficiency washing machines

High efficiency washing machines are making a name for themselves in the laundry industry. But what makes a washing machine “high efficiency”? From here on I shall refer to High efficiency as HE. Firstly high efficiency models are clearly marked with a HE symbol. For a washing machine to have this symbol displayed on it they must first meet certain criteria. The HE symbol cannot be purchased.

HE machines are most commonly front loaders but are emerging in a lot of top loader models as well. As you would assume when calling something a HE model, it must be more efficient then the standard model. This is true of HE washing machines. HE machines use less water and less energy to wash items giving these machines a better water and energy rating.

HE washing machines require that your use HE washing powder to match. The lower water level in these machines mean that washing powers or detergents are not diluted down as much and therefore more effective. HE machines use a tumbling motion to wash your clothes rather then the back and forth motion of a regular machine. HE Top loader models generally have a smaller agitator then regular models or in some cases none at all.

Some HE models offer a built in heater which can contribute to reducing the overall energy rating of the machine by not using the household hot water system. Models that have a built in water heater only have one water fixtures on the back as hot water is not required.

Key points:

  • Use less water and energy compared to regular model
  • Require HE detergents
  • Smaller or no agitator
  • Must meet strict criteria to be classified as HE
  • Some models heat water internally

Same purpose, different ways of working

As you can see both models of washing machine are built for the sole purpose of cleaning your clothes and have different ways of getting the job done, but the basic process is still the same. You put your clothes into the machine through the lid or door, you add detergents you press go. After a little while your clothes are clean and ready to hang out on the clothesline.

What a pity washing machines can’t hang the clothes out and fold them as well. I guess we will just have to wait for the future.