All modern washing machines take a lot longer to wash than they used to. Many people blame their particular brand of washing machine, especially after replacing an older one which washed much quicker – but washing machines just take a lot longer to wash these days. Economy settings also take longer (reason explained later).
The main reasons why wash times are so long
- The gradual reduction in water usage over the last 10 years. Rinsing takes longer with less water because it’s less efficient to rinse with half the amount of water
- The introduction of the energy labels causing manufacturers to focus closely on using less electricity and even less water
- To lesser extent cold water only washing machines, but as my article on cold fill machines points out, in the UK most people’s wash times shouldn’t be significantly affected by losing the hot water valve – Should I buy a cold fill washing machine or hot and cold fill?
The coveted wash efficiency ratings cause many manufacturers to increase wash times extensively in order to get their machines to pass the test. Washing for much longer helps get better results. The same applies to the common trend of using lower water temperatures and less energy, all of which require longer periods to get the same wash results.
In theory, modern washing machines should wash much better as a result, and the better quality washing machines should be able to wash the quickest.
Ultimately most washing machines take a ridiculous amount of time to complete a wash cycle now so it’s fairly normal. There are variances in wash times but quicker times may result in not getting laundry as clean. Ironically, most of the reasons mentioned above are to do with becoming more environmentally friendly but taking almost twice as long is bound to shorten the life of a washing machine as well as make it break down more – which is not environmentally friendly at all.
Don’t try to cut down wash times
It seems that most people find the extra long wash times unacceptable. Instead of washing laundry on the correct wash cycle they use the quick wash cycles, or use option buttons to cut down the time. They will do anything to find a shorter wash cycle. This can be very counter-productive and significantly shorten the life of your washing machine. Using mostly the quick, short and low temperature wash cycles can ruin your washing machine by coating it inside with grease gunge and slime causes of grease, slime, black mould and smells inside washing machines.
Wash more with a larger drum
If most washing machines are taking too long to wash, one way of counteracting this is to buy a washing machine with a larger drum capacity which will at least enable you to wash more items at once and reduce the time by doing less loads.
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Why do economy programs or options take much longer?
People are often very puzzled by how using an eco wash program, or selecting economy options on their washing machine, dishwasher or tumble dryer causes it to take a lot longer to complete the cycle. It seems completely counter intuitive. I’ve been asked the following question many times –
Q: How is it that the ‘Economy’ cycles take twice as long as the regular wash? How is that economical? I would have thought that would use more electricity. ”
Here’s the answer: Heating up the water in a washing machine or dishwasher, or the air in a tumble dryer is what really costs money. When the heater is turned off they hardly use any electricity. For example, a washing machine running with the heater on for just 15 minutes would use considerably more electricity than just washing the clothes with the heater off for hours.
The economy wash programs need to use less electricity to save money, so they use lower temperatures, or in the case of some dryers they use a heat pump to recirculate some of the warm air. And because that isn’t as efficient they have to compensate by physically washing or tumble drying for longer. So although the economy washes and settings take longer, they use less electricity.