Photo- An exclusive European washing machine, powered by electricity. This is a front-loader: you place your clothes in that small round window at the front. In the United States and Asia, top-loading machines are more common.
A washing machine is a household appliance with which we can wash any type of clothes. In addition to washing clothes, washing machine also helps in drying it. If you’ve ever been without your machine for a few days or weeks, you’ll know how difficult it is to wash clothes by hand. Although laundryers look fairly straightforward, they really do have a clever trick: using detergent, they separate the dirt from your clothes and then wash it off. But how exactly do they work?
The parts of a clothes washer
Photo: Inside a clothes washer drum. The paddles turn the clothes through the water. The holes let the water in (from above) and out (from below). The rubber seal (gasket) stops water leaking out through the door.
The original idea of a cloth washer is simple. First, dip your clothes in the soap. And then rotates quickly to remove the water. But there is more to it than that. Think of a washing machine and you might think of a big drum that fills with water – but there are actually two drums, one inside the other.
From these two types of drums, you can see the drum inside when you open the door or the lid. There are different types of washing machines. First, in the front-loading cloth washer, which is common in Europe, the drum is forward. You push your clothes inside the front door and the whole drum rotates around a horizontal axis (like a car wheel). The drum has many small holes to let water in and out and paddles around the edges to cover the fabric.
Second is the toploader,
It is more common in Asia and America. In it you open the lid on top and place your clothes in the drum from above. The drum is mount on a vertical axis but does not actually move. Instead, in the middle of it is a paddle call an agitator which turns clothes into water.
Considering the construction of the drum, there is another large drum outside the inner drum. That you cannot see while the inner drum (in the front-loader) or the agitator (in the toploader) rotates. It then holds the water. Unlike the inner drum, the outer drum should be completely water-tight – or you will have water all over the floor!
The drum is a very important part when it comes to washing clothes. But there are other important features besides it. There is a thermostat (thermometer mechanism) to check the temperature of the incoming water and there is a heating element which heats it up to the required temperature. There is also an electrically operate pump that removes water from the drum when the washing is finish. Also, there is a mechanical or electronic control mechanism, known as a programmer. That goes through a series of steps to wash, rinse, and spin your laundry.
In addition, there are two pipes that allow hot and cold water to clear into the machine and a third pipe that allows dirty water to flow out again. All of these pipes have valves (such as small doors in front of them that open and close when needed).
The washing machine program
Photo: Washing machine control: Top: Old-style mechanical washing programmer. Select the dial program on the left. The dial on the right sets the washing temperature (it is effectively a thermostat). Below: Modern Electronic Programmer. These dials are mounted on a computerized programmer circuit. The countdown-display tells you how many hours and minutes it will take before your wash is clean and ready to be taken out (in this case, one hour and two minutes, to wash 30 ° C with a very fast 1400rpm spin).
All important parts of the laundry, including the inner drum, valve, pump and heating element, are electrically control. The programmer is like the conductor of the orchestra, turning these things on and off in the right order, something like this:
- You put your clothes in the machine and the detergent in the machine or in the top tray.
- Set up the program you want and turn on the power.
- The programmer opens the water valve so that hot and cold water enters the machine and fills the outside and inside drums. The water usually goes in from the top and goes down from the detergent tray, washing any soap in the machine there.
- The programmer closes the water valve.
- The thermostat measures the temperature of the incoming water. If it is too cold, the programmer turns on the heating element. This works just like an electric kettle or water boiler.
- When the water is hot enough, the programmer makes the inside drum rotate the cloth back and forth through the soapy water.
- Detergent removes dirt from your clothes and traps it in water.
- The programmer opens the valve so that water escapes from both drums. He then turns on the pump to help drain the water.
- The programmer opens the water valve again so that clean water enters the drum.
- The programmer rotates the inside drum back and forth so that clean water washes the clothes. It empties both drums and repeats this process several times to get rid of all the soap.
- When the clothes are wash, the programmer rotates the drum inside at a really high speed – about 80 mph (130 km / h). The clothes are hung against the outside edge of the inner drum. But the water in it is small enough to go through the small holes in the drum to the outer drum. Spinning dries your clothes using the same idea as a centrifuge.
- The pump removes any water remaining from the outside drum and the washing cycle ends.
- You take off your clothes and be amaze at how clean they are!
- But there is still the problem of drying your wet clothes.
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Why do washing machines need so many programs?
The machine doesn’t know what kind of clothes you have in the machine. The machine can’t automatically tell how carefully a thing like a delicate woolen jumper should be wash. Because it doesn’t know what to do!. The amount and temperature of water, the speed of spin, how often the drum is oscillate, the number of rinses, etc. are all under his control.
No one wants to wash clothes scientifically: “I think I need 5.42 liters of water at exactly 42 ° C, I need to wash exactly 34 minutes, and I need 200 spin revolutions when I am Done.” ” It will give us literally countless possibilities, which is like hard work. Recognizing this, machine engineers try to make life easier by offering a few preset programs. Each using a slightly different combination of these variables so that it can be safely washed in different fabric tolerances.
But, why does it actually matter?
All fabrics are different. Wool-like fabrics are very strong but have two major drawbacks (from the point of cleaning them). They are highly hygroscopic (absorb large amounts of water) and lose their elasticity as the temperature rises. So if you are designing a washing machine for washing woollen. This is your starting point: don’t let the wool get too hot and don’t overheat it as it will stretch . And don’t get back in shape. With a strong fabric like denim, you can afford to beat it more into the drum – really, you must. Because you need a movement to get the detergent deeper into the fibers and break up the dirt.
Each program you mark on a washing machine is the best estimate by engineers of how much movement a particular garment / fabric needs. And how much it can withstand without being damaged. If you wash your hands in the sink, you will make those decisions instinctively by balancing the need to clean your clothes with the need to protect them from damage. While your brain / hand will do it without thinking. The washing machine does it with a certain wash temperature, a lot of movement, a lot of spin and a certain spin speed.
However, do machine really need so many programs?
Look at the programmers in the photo above and you will see something interesting: both machines seem to have an incredible number of programs. In the top photo the Mechanical Programmer offers 14 programs, seven temperatures, two spin speeds and a full or half load-and if you multiply that you get 392 possibilities! The following electronic programmer offers 12 programs, 5 spin speeds and various other options so, again, a good few hundred possibilities. Even if you’re like me, you probably always wash almost all of your clothes on the same program. Even if you don’t, you are unlikely to think of 392 different types of clothing that need to be washed 392 differently.
Most of these are marketing cones to make you believe that the machine has more features than it really does. Most machines can actually do about three or four basic washes: 1) high-temperature, long-term washing for white laundry that uses fairly high spin speeds and plenty of water; 2) Slightly faster, lower temperature washing for colored cotton using the same spin speed and the same amount of water; 3) a synthetics wash that uses the same amount of water, stimulates the laundry less, rotates more slowly and uses a lower temperature; And 4) a woolen wash that probably uses a little more water, but less irritates the drum and drains the water relatively slowly. Any other program is a variation of these four.
What’s the difference between a front-loader and a top-loader?
The washing process is slightly different in front- and top-loading machines, so let’s now look at each of these in a bit more detail:
In a front-loading clothes washer…
- There is a fixed outer drum (blue) and a rotating inner drum (red) with small holes at the edges. The drums are mounted on a horizontal axis.
- The outer drum is held in the frame of the machine by heavy-duty springs. This is because, when the clothes spin, they can shake the drum violently; Springs help absorb vibrations.
- Hot and cold water enters through the detergent tray on top.
- The inner drum turns back and forth. The plastic slippers on the inside (shown here by the gray triangle) help to slush the clothes with detergent and water held by the outer drum.
- The electric motor usually rotates the inner drum using a long rubber belt (yellow).
- The heating element heats the water as required.
- When the washing cycle is over, the pump draws water away.
- Water empties into a gutter below a tube.
In a toploader…
- You take off the top lid and put it inside your clothes from above. We are looking at it from one side here.
- Like the front-loading machine, there is an outer drum (blue) and an inner drum with holes (red). But it is mounted on a vertical axis.
- Hot and cold water enters through pipes near the top, passes through the detergent tray and flushes the detergent into the machine.
- During the washing cycle, a giant plastic agitator (green) rotates, moving your clothes out of the water. Both drums remain stationary.
- The agitator is driven by an electric motor using a rubber belt.
- During the spin cycle, the same electric motor rotates the inner drum (red) at high speed, throwing water from its holes into the outer drum.
- When the washing is finish, the pump drains the water from the outside drum.
A very brief history of washing machines
It is impossible to give credit to one person for inventing laundry. Like many other inventions, from cars to computers, modern washers have evolved over hundreds of years through systematic mechanization and automation of hand washing techniques that people have been using since ancient times. Here are a few milestones in washing-machine history; Given the hundreds (maybe even thousands) of patents covering this type of invention, any choice is bound to be somewhat arbitrary.
- 1400: Italian Jacopa Strada develops the first mechanical washing machine.
- 1691: John Tyzak (spelled Tizac in some sources) obtains the English patent 271 for a general purpose machine (“engine for oiling and dressing leather and textiles”) that can do many different things, including washing clothes.
- 1774: Hugo Oxenham discovers Mars or ringer (a pair of wooden rollers that squeeze water between them to dry clothes).
- 1782: Henry Sidgier develops one of the first rotating drum machines using a crank to power a wooden barrel, for which he obtained the English patent 1331.1797: Nathaniel Briggs of New Hampshire obtains one of the first U.S. patents for a washing machine.
- 1843: Jano Schugert of Elizabeth, Pennsylvania is grant U.S. Patent 3096 for a box-type washing machine in which the lever rocks the cloth back and forth through soapy water.
- 1858: Hamilton Smith develops a more efficient rotary washing machine and is grant a U.S. patent of 21,909.
- 1901: Alva Fisher of Chicago is granted US patent 966,677 for the first electric washing machine, sold under the Thor brand name, including an electric motor that powers a more traditional drum machine. Like a modern machine, it periodically reverses direction.
- 1937: John W. Chamberlain, Jr. and Rex Earl Bassett of Bendix develops the first automatic machine (in his words, “automatic washing and rinsing and drying machine according to a certain cycle”), earning himself a U.S. patent of 2,165,884.
- 1976: Service launches electronics, the world’s first computer-controlled cloth washer, with futuristic push-button controls.