How Does a Washing Machine Work?

Washing machines are used to clean clothing by submerging clothing in a mixture of detergent and water. The motion of the washer serves to loosen the dirt.

In machines, such as the top loading whirlpool washing machine, the agitator acts by twisting the clothing back and forth and pulling the garments to the tub's bottom. The clothes are then folded back up where they are once again grabbed by the agitator. In machines which are front loading, the clothes are tumbled and plunged within the water repeatedly. After the water is removed, the drum on the inside stimulates centrifugal force in order to remove all of the water from the garments.

Although washing machines are designed differently depending on the manufacturer, the basic design is similar. The control of the machine consists of a cycle selector mechanism, a selector of water temperature, a timer, a start button, and a selector of load size. The mechanisms of the machine consist of a transmission, motor, pump, clutch, agitator, outer tub, inner tub, as well as a water inlet valve.

The washing machine possesses two tubs with the inner tub having numerous holes and the outer tub being responsible for holding the water. The spin cycle causes the inner tub to spin which serves to force the water outward. The controls of the cycle include both integrated and separate controls for water level, water temperature, a start switch, and cycle selection.

The switch on the lid, which indicates when the lid is closed or open, can interrupt the operation of the washing machine. A water valve then connects to the supply of water in order to provide cold and hot water flow. The agitator, which is located in the inner tub, rotates in order to pull the clothes back and forth. The water is then removed from the tub.

The agitator, the spin drum, and the pump are motor driven. Some of these machines use the concept of direct drive, which consist of the motor connecting directly to the transmission and pump. Some other machines utilize a belt drive through which a motor passes the transmission through both a pulley as well as a belt. On those machines which utilize a belt drive, a flexible coupling is used to connect the pump to the motor. The transmission serves to drive the inner tub's spin as well as the agitator's motion. The washer may possess either a reversing motor or a single direction motor.

The majority of washing machines utilizes a clutch which reduces the force that is generated by the motor. The clutch also permits the transmission to take hold of the agitator or drum gradually instead of simultaniously. Some of the washers utilize a clutch while other machines rely on gradual tension and slippage.