PROGRAMMES, CYCLES, AND SETTINGS
Before buying your new washing machine, you’ll need to consider which programmes will be most useful to you and your family. If you’re environmentally conscious, you’ll want a machine with energy efficient cycles. If you lead a busy lifestyle, you’re likely to be looking for a model with quick wash options.
The latest washing machines have lots of programmes, ranging from the conventional to the high-tech. When choosing a machine, you’ll need to work out which cycles you’re willing to pay a little bit extra for, and which ones you don’t need.
Here, we take a look at the range of cycles available, all of which are designed to give your clothes the best care possible.
WASHES FOR SPECIFIC FABRICS AND MATERIALS
Most washing machines have cycles for cleaning common materials such as cotton, and synthetic fabrics like polyester and viscose. The synthetics programme is sometimes known as Easy Care. However, if you have items in your wardrobe that require a little more attention, you can choose from plenty of specialised programmes.
Fragile garments such as lace underwear and silk shirts can be given extra care by selecting a programme designed for delicates. Cycles developed for woollens are also great for keeping your cardigans and jumpers clean. Some exceptionally gentle wool programmes have even been given the Woolmark seal of approval.
Several washing machines also boast programmes for bulkier items such as sheets and blankets. For example, Zanussi offers a Duvet programme designed to clean your bedding perfectly.
Advanced models often offer laundry care programmes for more specialist materials. If you lead an active lifestyle or have kids, a washing machine with a Sportswear or Outerwear cycle would be ideal.
Some leading brands have even created programmes for taking care of your jeans, to keep them looking like new for as long as possible.
Wi-Fi enabled machines sometimes allow you to download new cycles to use. These specially designed programmes are tailored to specific loads, such as school uniform, swimming wear and blankets.
Some brands, such as Siemens, offer a cycle that applies a waterproof treatment to breathable fabrics when you use the compatible detergent.
WHITES AND COLOURS
It’s important to sort your laundry into whites and colours, and wash them separately to prevent any colour transfer. Some washing machines even have programmes designed specifically for dark items, to help them retain their colour for longer. If you have a lot of suits, black items or jeans, this is definitely something to consider. You can find models with washes designed to help preserve white garments too.
Brands like Bosch have even designed a Mixed Load cycle, which allows you to wash different types of fabric and colours together. This is a great feature to save you time and energy.
NEAT OR MESSY – THERE’S A SETTING FOR YOU
The programmes you’ll need also depend on whether you and your family usually wash heavily soiled items or not.
If you wash items like sport kits or outdoor gear regularly, selecting a machine with an Intensive cycle is a great choice. These cycles tend to take a little longer, but ensure your clothes are extra clean.
Sometimes you may only have a few almost-clean items in your washing basket. You can easily get these smelling and looking great again with a quick Freshen Up programme.
Accidents often happen, and your favourite item of clothing can easily end up stained. Pre-wash cycles are ideal for loosening up dried-on marks before the main cycle, to ensure your clothes come out in perfect condition again.
Most higher end models will also feature a stain cycle, designed to tackle some of the most common everyday marks including grass, ink, coffee, and make-up.
Pre-wash cycles are ideal for loosening up dried-on marks before the main cycle.
IN A HURRY?
Many washing machines offer flexibility when it comes to cycle times, which is great if you don’t have much time on your hands.
Quick wash cycles clean clothes in around 14 to 30 minutes. You can save time by using these programmes to freshen up smaller loads. Blomberg has a Mini 14’ programme, which can wash around 2 kg of lightly soiled clothing in just 14 minutes.
Many brands have Eco-Friendly programmes, designed to reduce your electricity and water bills, and help protect the planet. Some models have a Half Load setting which also saves energy and is ideal for smaller loads.
If you have some items you’ve washed by hand, you can select a spin only cycle to remove most of the water from the material and reduce drying times. If you like to tumble dry your clothes, this is a big help.
Although reduced ironing programmes don’t eliminate ironing completely, they are specially designed to make it quicker and easier. This is thanks to the reduced crease technology and slower spin speeds.
SPECIAL CARE PROGRAMMES
Allergen removal programmes are great if you have an allergy sufferer in the family. These are designed to remove pollen and dust mites from your clothes throughout the wash. Some cycles are even endorsed by Allergy UK. Extra rinse cycles also mean those sensitive to detergents won’t have to deal with irritated skin either.
Some washing machines offer special cycles created for garments with a ‘hand wash only’ label. These protect your clothes with a gentle wash, while still giving them a thorough clean.
Baby cycles are perfect if you have a little one at home. Items such as bibs and baby grows are cleaned intensively to remove food stains and dirt. Brands like Blomberg even offer hygiene cycles, capable of killing 99.9% of bacteria at wash temperatures as low as 30°C.
Extra rinse cycles mean those sensitive to detergents will no longer have to deal with irritated skin.
LAUNDRY CARE SYMBOLS
What if you’re not sure what cycles you actually need?
The best thing to do is take a look and check the labels in your clothes. You might find you have more delicate or hand wash items than you thought, or garments that need a particularly hot cycle.
Here’s a handy diagram of the most common laundry care symbols, so you can work out what they mean: