Our site uses cookies to give you the best experience. Manage your cookies here or continue shopping if you're happy.

Accept & close

How does a washing machine work?

Find out how a washing machine gets your clothes looking fresh and clean after every wash with this clever guide

If you’ve ever been without your washing machine for whatever reason, that’s when you’ll realise just how important they are to your life. It’s an under-appreciated appliance and it’s about time it was shown some love. We thought it would be a good idea to get to the bottom of just how this wonderful machine works and how it leaves our precious clothes smelling and feeling fresh after every wash.

The drum(s)

When you think of a washing machine, you’ll probably just think of a big drum doing all the hard work. But there are actually two drums – one inside the other. The inner drum is the one you put your clothes in. It has loads of little holes that let water in and out and paddles that move your fabrics around to give them a good clean. The lesser known outer drum is water tight, as its main job is to hold the water while the inner drum does the rotating.

The programmer

Now to the technical stuff. The programmer is a clever electronic mechanism which controls temperature, spin speed, the valves and the pump. Think of it as the conductor of the laundry orchestra – ensuring that all parts are working in harmony.

How it cleans your clothes

So, let’s look at the process our washing machines go through to clean your clothes:

  • Clothes are in the drum. Detergent is in the drawer. You’ve selected your programme. The water valves are opened and water makes its way through the detergent tray, taking the soap into the machine.
  • The thermostat has a Goldilocks moment and tests the temperature of the water and adjusts it if needs be.
  • When the water is hot enough, the programmer tells the drum to rotate and your clothes start to move through the soapy water.
  • The dirt from your clothes is trapped in the water. The programmer drains it from both drums then re-opens the valves to allow the clean water back in. Repeat and rinse!
  • Now the clothes are rinsed, the good old programmer tells the drum to rotate at a rapid rate. So fast that the clothes are almost dried.
  • The pump removes any leftover water and the cycle finishes. You are taken aback by how clean your clothes are and give your washing machine a pat on the door.