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Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Clothes Washers

Clothes washers have changed a lot in recent years and Ottawa’s M G Appliance Services can answer all your questions about HE machines, front-load machines and traditional washing machines. Please read our clothes washer FAQs for tips and answers to your frequently asked questions about clothes washers. Contact us for more information if you are unable to find the answer or solution to your clothes washer concerns.

Our Clothes Washer FAQs file includes information such as:

Avoiding unnecessary repairs

To avoid unnecessary repairs try the following:
1. Turn pants pockets inside out before placing into clothes washer. This should stop any nails, screws, hair pins, coins, etc. from entering the machine.

2. Do not overload. Pay special caution with heavy fabrics like jeans.
3. Clean filter after every load.
4. If machine goes out of balance stop it and reposition clothes. If happens frequently check level of machine. Adjust feet if necessary.
5. Do not allow to leak water or oil.

Detergent – How much should I use?

The amount suggested on the detergent box is only a general indication of how much you will actually require. It is dependent upon many factors including: type of clothes washer, how dirty is clothing, water temperature, water hardness, and mineral content of water.

If your water is soft (4 grains or less) a lesser amount of detergent per load will be required. If your water is hard (12 grains or more) more detergent per load will be required to obtain a clean wash. If you don’t know the hardness of your local water supply contact your municipality or a local water softening company for this information.

For a further discussion of detergent see the article ‘Understanding your Laundry Detergent’ in the Info Articles section.

Detergent – Why should I measure?

Measure your detergent and you will probably use less. When you find that perfect amount for your type of washing put a mark on your measuring cup so you can be consistent. The amount of crystal detergent required is not the same as the amount of liquid detergent required. So if you use both types then separate measuring cups will be necessary.

What comes first, water, detergent, or clothes?

Detergent manufacturers suggest the washing order should be: detergent first, clothing second and water last.

Firstly, place a measured amount of detergent into the clothes washer. Secondly, put in the clothing letting the clothes fall in freely. Do not pack down as this will overload machine. Lastly, start the clothes washer and allow the water to enter. As the water wets the clothes they will sag to the bottom of the tub. Do not be tempted to add more clothes into this space or overloading will result.

This method allows the detergent and water to mix properly. As water enters and mixes with the detergent it will produce a more consistent mixture. As the water-detergent mixture rises through the clothes they will receive a more even distribution of the mixture, resulting in a better wash. It also results in a cleaner wash using less detergent.

Detergent on top of clothes – is this correct?

The old method of spreading detergent onto top of clothes will result in it being wasted and give a lower quality wash. This old method produces large amounts of suds, but a poor water-detergent mixture. Suds are only air bubbles, and air bubbles do not wash the clothes.

Clothing Labels

Read the clothing labels carefully. They contain just about everything you need to know about washing that item properly.

Front loader – needs special (HE) detergent

Front load clothes washers require a special detergent. Look for a detergent that says ‘HE’ (High Efficiency) on the box.

All ‘HE’ detergents are formulated to produce very low amounts of suds. When using this detergent it almost appears as if there is no detergent in the machine. Also the amount of HE detergent required per load is substantially less than when using a top loading washing machine.

Do not use regular detergent in a front load clothes washer. If regular detergent is used it can cause the machine problems such as leaking at the door, or poor washing. Excessive use of regular detergent may cause future mechanical problems.

Front loader – shakes/noisy

Front load clothes washers can shake or move on the floor due to high spin speed. If this occurs check the following before calling for service:
1. Machine level
2. All shipping material removed (see installation instructions)
3. Floor is weak, or not properly braced between joists (does floor feel springy)
4. Floor material slippery (vinyl flooring or inside a metal leak tray)
5. Floor material wet

Front load clothes washers can shake if the load is too small. Small loads may cause speed computer to become confused. It may think it is empty. A regular size load for these machines is substantially larger than a top loader of equivalent size.

Front loader – water level low

Front load clothes washers often appear to have very little water inside the machine while they are washing. This is because as they begin to tumble a high percentage of the water inside the machine is absorbed by the clothes.

Also the clothes are tumbling through water, not sitting inside a large tub of water as they would be in a top loader. Consequently the amount of water in the machine is always low compared to a top loader.

Front loader – whistles

Front load clothes washers spin (up to 1200 RPM) at a much higher speed than top loading washing machines. This can produce a whistling or high pitch sound.

Front loader – leaking water from door

The water level is below the door consequently it should not be possible for water to leak out the door. If using too much, or incorrect type of detergent, the clothes washer may be producing too much suds. Too much suds can cause door to leak. If water leaking from the door persists, call for service. Allowing a front loader to leak can result in expensive repairs.

Front loader – leaking detergent from door

This usually occurs because the detergent being used is not the correct type, or because too much detergent is being used.

Changes to your water hardness can affect the suds produced by any washing machine. If you have recently added a water softener to the home too much suds can result. Compensate by lowering amount of detergent used per load.

If detergent leaking from the door persists, call for service. Allowing a front loader to leak can result in expensive repairs.

Items that can cause machine problems

Some common items that can cause the washing machine problems are, wool blankets, animal blankets, comforters, sleeping bags, and rubber backed mats. Use extra care when washing these items. Their fibers can begin to disintegrate when washed.

Leaking water

Any washing machine that leaks water should be repaired immediately. If left unattended additional and more costly repairs can result.
Check the water inlet hoses. If it is the source of leak replace both (not just one) hoses. Also replace any hose washers and/or hose strainers. While rubber hoses are sufficient for most applications stainless steel hoses are suggested for apartments, condos, or upstairs laundry rooms. Stainless steel hoses are more durable than rubber hoses, but also much more expensive.

Check the drain hose. Leaking can result from it rubbing against a wall or sink.

Check the standpipe (upright drain pipe used instead of a sink), or the wash sink connections. These will often be the actual source of a leak. When they leak the water can roll under the washing machine causing the machine to be blamed.

Lint – on clothes

Check if your clothing types are being properly sorted before washing. Cottons and polyesters don’t mix well. One loves to produce lint and the other loves to accept it.

It may be because the lint is not being captured during wash cycle. Check your Use and Care Guide to determine if your machine has a built in filter. It may be clogged or not functioning properly.

Lint – balls (pilling) of lint on synthetic clothes

Pilling of synthetic clothing is normal. It’s the lint balls that appear on clothing after they have been washed. All clothing fibers wear because of abrasion that occurs during the wash.

Every time clothes are washed small pieces of their fibers are left floating in the water. This cannot be prevented. It is a natural consequence of the wear of synthetic materials and is common on socks, sweaters and pants.

On natural fibers (wool, cotton) the broken strands will fall off and be washed away. On synthetic material (nylon, rayon, and most perma-press) the fibers break and form balls on the clothing surface. When viewed under a microscope these lint balls will have sharp edges and look like a bundle of fishhooks. When other loose fibers pass over them they will grab and hold them, adding further to the lint ball. Lint from other clothing can become attracted to these pilling balls.

Therefore, synthetic clothing and natural clothing should be washed separately. When washed together the loose fibers from the natural clothes will be caught by the broken fibers on the synthetic clothes. It’s for this reason that we refer to natural clothes as “lint producers”, and synthetic clothes as “lint catchers”.

To help reduce the problem use a fabric softener. The fabric softener will lubricate the fibers and retard the production of the pilling. If pilling becomes excessive it may have to be removed by the use of a lint brush.

Lint – clogging sink or drains

Add a hose filter (about $2.50 for a package of two) to the end of the drain hose. When in the package they look like a metal donut. When removed from package they are unrolled and added to end of drain hose using the clamp provided. They are usually available in the hardware section of the grocery store.

Alternate method: secure an old pair of pantyhose to the outlet end of the drain hose. Attach waist of the pantyhose to end of the hose with a clamp or large elastic band. Allow pantyhose to hang down into the laundry tub. Change about once a month.

A drain hose filter can only be used if the drain hose empties into a laundry sink. Do not use if it empties into a stand pipe, floor drain, or sump.

Out of balance or jumping on floor

This is usually due to an overloaded or out of balance load.

Most common culprit is jeans. Therefore, while washing jeans be aware that an out of balance condition can occur more frequently.

If machine jumps on the floor during wash or spin causes can include:
1. Improperly level machine
2. Worn of broken suspension
3. Broken or loose foot
4. Loose wash basket (tub clothes are in)
5. Worn belt
6. Loose motor mountings
7. Worn motor bearings
8. Worn transmission.

Floor may be flexing and allowing the machine to bounce slightly. When spinning on a floor that flexes a resonance can build up between machine and floor that results in the machine starting to vibrate.

A slippery floor material, such as vinyl, may allow machine to slide along the surface of floor while spinning.

Out of balance – wash basket not straight

This may be because washing machine has a floating suspension. This type of suspension corrects itself when washing. It allows the machine to automatically correct for slightly out of balance loads. A washing machine with floating suspension may appear off center at end of cycle.

A washing machine with a solid suspension will always return to center position at end of cycle. A solid suspension washing machine that constantly wants to migrate out of alignment may have a broken suspension.

Poor cleaning

Many problems can cause poor cleaning of the clothes. Before calling for service check the following:
1. Clothes properly sorted
2. Overloading
3. Proper water temperature selected for fabric
4. Filter (if accessible) not clogged or broken
5. Machine spinning
6. Can spray rinse can be heard during final spin
7. Have not changed detergent type recently

Stains on clothes – how to remove

Unsure how to remove a stain? Check the detergent box. Most manufacturers have a toll-free telephone that you can phone for advice.

Stains on clothes – suspect clothes washer

Carefully run a clean dry white rag around the clothes washer tub. If nothing appears on rag do the same inside the clothes dryer drum. You may be surprised which one is actually causing the staining.

Lift off agitator and clean underside. Also clean top of inner wash basket.

Check water temperature selector. Non colour-fast clothing may bleed colour if washed at incorrect temperature.

Staining of one type of clothing by another can often be avoided by proper sorting of clothing. Although proper sorting requires time and patience it can be cost effective. The average load of washing has a replacement value of $200. One or two stained loads per year can cost you a lot of money.

Washing – in cold water

Constant cold water washing with regular laundry detergent may leave a residue of detergent inside the machine. Most detergent companies consider cold water to be below 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

A water temperature of less than 85 degrees Fahrenheit won’t break down regular laundry detergent and allow it to mix with the water.

Some detergent manufacturers now produce special cold water detergents that can be used in areas where the ground water temperature is below 85 Degrees Fahrenheit.

Cold water washing does not use less water… only the electricity used to heat that water. This must be weighed against problems associated with constant cold water washing.

If you wish to be energy efficient and lower electrical consumption then proper washing, sorting, and drying methods should be your primary concern. Using these methods should lower electrical consumption many times more than switching to cold water washing.

If you find a buildup of detergent within your clothes washer there are products (Affresh, Glisten, Washer Majic, or Ysano) on the market that can help remove the detergent residue.

Rinsing the clothes in cold water is acceptable because the detergent should have already been washed out of the machine.

Washing – losing socks

Place small or light items, such as baby socks, inside a zippered pillow case so they don’t get lost as easily. Or use a garment bag — it’s a mesh bag with a zippered end and is usually available in the hardware section of most grocery stores.

Washing – jeans

To keep your blue jeans blue or your black jeans black, turn them inside out when washing. This keeps abrasion to a minimum and maintains the origin colour.

Take extra care not to overload machine while washing jeans. They absorb a lot of water. Washing too many jeans at one time can quickly overload the clothes washer. Persons new to doing their own washing (teenagers) will often have this problem.

Jeans are extremely heavy when wet and can easily throw a washing machine out of balance. If machine bangs or jumps during the spin stop it immediately and redistribute the clothes. Distribute jeans on opposite sides of the load.

Clothes Washer – Are you overloading?

Overloading is common. When properly loaded the clothes should appear to tumble freely during the wash cycle. If clothes simply sit on top of the water then you are overloading.
Test for overloading:

1. Open lid and watch clothes during wash cycle.
2. Observe a brightly coloured item as your test subject. As the clothes are being washed it should move across the top of the water from the outside of the wash tub towards the centre within about 15 seconds.
3. As it moves to the center of wash tub it will come into contact with the agitator.
4. As the agitator pulls it down into the water it should disappear from view.
5. The test item should reappear again in about 30 seconds. If the test item doesn’t consistently appear, disappear, and reappear again, then you are overloading. If sequence described above is taking too long, you are overloading.
6. Stop machine.
7. Remove few items (couple of towels) of clothing from machine.
8. Restart machine and retest.

Using this method you will quickly learn the optimum size of load for your particular washing machine.

Never overload the clothes washer even for the sake of speed or convenience. Overloading can cause serious, and expensive, long term damage to your washing machine.

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