Last updated on February 6th, 2017
When washing is not being cleaned properly or comes out with marks on most people blame the washing machine. But there are more explanations for this problem where the user is at fault than where the washing machine is at fault.
As an engineer I can’t think of many faults on a washing machine that would allow it to work apparently normally and complete the cycle in normal time, but just not wash properly. There will inevitably be some variance in the washing abilities of different washers but it’s hard to imagine even the cheapest being sold where they just can’t wash properly. So before blaming the washer check out these common causes of poor wash results –
Possible causes of washing not getting clean properly
This list covers the most common causes of poor wash results and they are all “user” faults
- Overloading causes poor wash results because laundry needs to move about and rub against each other and detergent needs room to circulate. See – how to properly load a washing machine for best cleaning and avoiding out of balance loads | White streaks on laundry
- Using poor quality, or not enough detergent – especially in hard water areas. Try to use good quality detergent, they aren’t all the same at all. Use the proper amount recommended on the pack for the level of soiling and the hardness of the water. (related – Causes of grease spots on laundry)
- Using an inappropriate programme: Some wash programmes are quicker, and use lower temperatures – but they won’t clean dirty laundry properly. Use only for very lightly soiled laundry (related – Pros and cons of washing at 30 degrees – do you even save that much money?)
- Using option buttons inappropriately: Read the manual to understand exactly what many of these option buttons do before using them, especially ones claiming to save water or electricity. Cutting down the amount of water and temperature can reduce wash efficiency and is usually designed for smaller loads with light soiling not a normal wash with dirty clothes inside. Using options to reduce water usage (or even using a washing machine claiming to use hardly any water) can reduce the effectiveness of rinsing. (related article – Washing machines not rinsing properly)
Using the wrong type of detergent: Biological detergent needs lower temperatures and a lot more time to clean laundry. It also contains living enzymes, which die once they reach higher temperatures so pick appropriate wash cycles. Conversely, non biological detergent isn’t as effective at low temperatures. Liquid detergents, and “colour friendly” detergents don’t contain any bleaching agents, so they won’t keep whites brilliantly white and will allow whites to gradually go greyish. (related article – Are you using just one type of detergent when they do different jobs?)
Possible washing machine faults
- Washing machine has become so dirty inside, and full of grease and gunge, or maybe black mould that it is causing marks on laundry – Causes and cures for grease, slime and black mould in washing machine
- Partial blockage in pumping system preventing water being pumped out properly causing poor rinsing (Washing machine won't empty water )
- Drive belt come off, or other fault causing drum to not revolve ( Drum not turning )
- Some washing machines may not give an error code if the heater fails to heat up the water and instead can just carry on washing. This can result in poor wash results as described in the following article washer not heating up water
Notice that most of the causes for a washing machine not washing properly are not actual faults on the machine so it’s definitely worth properly checking out all these explanations. Even if your previous washer washed better it’s possible that either something’s changed (maybe you’re using different detergents, washing different loads or using different wash cycles). Or maybe the new washer just doesn’t wash as well as the old but might still be capable of washing adequately if attention is given to the points above.
It can be possible for collapsed drum bearings, or a cracked or broken drum shaft, to allow the inner drum to scrape on the inside of the outer tub causing marks on clothes, but this is rare, and should also generate excess noise. If there is no other obvious fault, such as the drum not turning, and the washing machine goes through the wash cycle as normal, and spins the clothes dry at the end, then carefully eliminate the first list of points before calling an engineer or complaining to the retailer.
Maybe the washing machine is just not very good at washing
You would think it impossible for a modern washing to just be incapable of producing good quality wash results, but according to Which? many washing machines that they test are just “poor” at washing no matter how well you use them. This is ludicrous, how hard can it be to wash laundry? All they have to do is fill with water and detergent, heat up the water and agitate the laundry then drain the water, rinse a few times and spin. However, it does appear many are much better at it than others. Check out Which appliance reviews to find out which are good and which are poor – Which £1 offer