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Purchasing a New Washing Machine
Submitted by Lorene Bartos, Extension Educator

Is a new washing machine in your purchasing plan in the near future? If so, there are many decisions to be made when deciding what to purchase. HE (high efficiency) washers have consumers asking questions about what kind of machine to purchase. Even though the high efficiency washers has been on the market for a decade when water and energy savings were the big draw they are becoming more widely seen today. The Soap and Detergent Association has provided helpful information about how these machines work.

HE stands for high efficiency and is used in reference to appliances and detergents. It is important because it saves energy and water. These washers use 20 to 66 percent less water than the traditional agitator washers and because there is less water to heat, energy use can be 20 to 50 percent of the traditional washer. Therefore there is long-term cost savings and environmental benefits.

HE washers use low water wash and rinse cycles. They have a tumbling system rather than an agitator. Laundry is washed in a shallow pool of water and even with the reduced water levels you can do the same size laundry loads.

HE washers can be front-loading or top-loading models. With front-loading washers the tub rotates clockwise and then counterclockwise causing a tumbling motion. Top-loading washers have either no center post or a smaller-sized center post instead of a traditional agitator. These washers use a gentle motion including spinning, rotating and/or “wobbling” wheels, plates or disks to achieve the wash action. Both types of machines spray or lightly shower clothes using re-circulated water from wash and/or rinse solutions.

HE detergents are formulated to be low-sudsing and quick-dispersing to get the best result when using HE machines. Excess suds can cause problems by “cushioning” or even preventing the tumbling action. HE detergents hold soils and dyes in suspension in low water volume, so they don’t re-deposit onto cleaned clothes. HE laundry detergents can be identified by a special HE symbol on the detergent box or bottle. For best results, always read the laundry detergent label and use the recommended amount of detergent for your wash load size and amount of soil.

The Soap and Detergent Association gives these recommendation for using laundry products in HE washers.

  • Most HE washers have detergent dispensers. Follow the washer manufacturer’s use and care guide for proper use of the detergent dispenser.

  • If there is no dispenser, follow the washer’s use and care guide.

  • Follow the detergent manufacturer’s instructions to determine the correct amount of detergent to use.

  • Do not mix powder and liquid detergents in the same dispenser compartment at the same time. Mixing powders and liquids together may cause “caking” or clogging in the dispenser.

Pretreat and presoak products can be normal to high sudsing. Thus, their use should be limited in HE washers as they can cause over-sudsing. If you experience over-sudsing from pretreat or presoak products, you can use your HE detergent as a pretreater or presoaker.

Clothes may seem dryer when they are removed from a HE washers because more water is removed . The most energy-efficient way to dry your laundry is to set your dryer on the auto-dry setting. The way the machine automatically shuts off when the laundry is dry.

Whether buying a HE washer or a traditional washer you need to make a selection that will meet your families needs. Consider cost, amount of laundry and space when choosing your machine.

For more information send a self addressed stamped envelope to: Washing Machines, 444 Cherrycreek Road, Suite A, Lincoln, NE 68528-1507 and request NebFacts NF 346. The Consumer Reports magazine will give you research ratings on many machines.

(This resource was added August 6, 2006 and appeared in the Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper Sunday edition. For information on reproducing this article or using any photographs or graphics, read the Terms of Use statement)

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