The Best Washing Machine Settings to Use

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Understanding the different washing machine settings can be tricky since numerous options are available on today’s more modern machines. Do you use hot, cold, or warm water? What preset should you use if you’re washing cotton? What about if it’s silk or synthetic fabrics? You can even set the specific temperature you want for washing your clothes with some more sophisticated washing machines.

Washing Machine SettingsPinWashing Machine Settings


Washing Machine SettingsLoad Sizes in Washing Machine SettingsWater Temperature in Washing Machine SettingsWashing Machine Cycles in Washing Machine SettingsWashing Machine Settings – In Conclusion

Washing Machine Settings

Although it can be tedious, it can also be helpful to understand the typical washing machine settings so that you’ll know what to pick the next time around.

Load Sizes in Washing Machine Settings

One of the essential things you need to understand when learning about washing machine settings is knowing under what load size your current pile of laundry falls. Different machines have varying capacities, affecting how many clothes you can put into your washer and what settings you need to choose to begin a cycle. Generally, you can categorize load sizes into four distinct categories, namely:

Small – Small loads of laundry typically take up only ¼ of the entire tub’s capacity, giving your clothes enough space to move around during a cycle.Medium – Medium-sized loads typically use half the tub’s capacity. This load size is also considered a regular load in most households.Large – It’s considered a large load if your machine is filled up to ¾ of its capacity. Here, there’s less room for your clothes to move around, but you can still guarantee they’ll be clean.Extra-Large – When your washing machine is filled to its total capacity, this is already considered an extra-large load. However, you need to ensure that there’s enough space for your clothes to tumble around inside.

Overloading your machine can also result in damaged clothes since the fabrics will rub against the agitator.

Water Temperature in Washing Machine Settings

Aside from the load sizes, another crucial element to understand in washing machine settings is the water temperature. Selecting the proper water temperature for your clothes can help prevent them from being damaged, shrunk, or stretched.

Most clothing labels will indicate the ideal temperature to wash your fabric, but here’s a quick guide to help you understand it more easily.

Cold Water

Cold water in washing machine settings has a temperature range of 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This water temperature is best for darker-colored clothes and more delicate fabrics like silk since they’re less likely to shrink in cooler temperatures.

Moreover, using cold water for washing will also reduce the chances of your clothes’ dyes bleeding and staining your other outfits. It’s also perfect for slightly dirty attire where you don’t really need to deep-clean the fabrics.

This temperature is also best for activewear since hot water can compromise the fabrics’ elasticity. Another benefit of selecting cold water on your washing machine settings is that it’s more energy-efficient since your machine doesn’t need to heat the water to wash your clothes.

Warm Water

If you need to wash your clothes more thoroughly, you’ll need to select warm water on your washing machine settings. Using warm water, typically around 90 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit, helps loosen the dirt and stains in the fabric, cleaning it more thoroughly.

This water temperature is also ideal for washing synthetic fabrics, denim jeans, knitted pieces, and your bath towels and bedsheets.

Hot Water

You can select hot water on your washing machine settings if you’re washing white fabrics made from cotton. This is because it can help deep-clean the material to keep its pristine state.

It’s also best to use hot water when washing items like underwear, socks, and bedsheets. Hot water is also ideal if you’re washing heavily soiled clothes or removing stains. This is because it penetrates more deeply into the fabric, giving it a thorough cleaning.

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Washing Machine Cycles in Washing Machine Settings

Now that you know more about water temperature and load sizes in washing machines, let’s discuss the different cycles. Depending on how sophisticated your washing machine is, you can have as many as 8 to 12 cycles or presets.

Each preset is programmed to wash your clothes as thoroughly as possible and help them look their best. The standard cycles you’ll find on most washing machine settings include:

Normal Cycle

The normal cycle is considered the most versatile cycle on your washing machine settings since it’s designed to cater to different fabrics. You can select this cycle when washing cotton items, such as clothes, underwear, towels, linens, and more. This is also the best choice for blended fabrics and average-soiled clothing. This cycle uses faster speeds when washing and spinning your clothes, so it’s not ideal if you’re washing more delicate fabrics.

Delicate Cycle

As the name suggests, these washing machine settings preset are designed for cleaning your delicates, namely your lingerie, bras, and silks. This cycle is also best if you want to clean fabrics labeled “gentle wash” or “handwash only.” The delicate cycle is characterized by a lower agitation speed and shorter wash cycles, so you don’t have to worry about damaging your delicate pieces of clothing.

Speed/Rapid Wash

You can use this washing machine setting when you’re only washing a couple of items, like a shirt or your uniform. It features a shorter wash cycle and a quicker spin speed so that you can wear it almost immediately after washing. Like the normal cycle, this setting can be harsh on clothes, so it’s not recommended for washing your delicates. It’s also less thorough than other cycles, so it’s best not to use it for heavily soiled items.

Permanent Press

This cycle is the ideal choice if you’re washing clothes made from synthetic or blended fabrics since it undergoes cooldown periods periodically to help reduce the chances of wrinkling. It also uses a medium-speed wash with a low-speed spin, which further reduces wrinkling. Aside from synthetic and blended fabrics, this is also excellent for washing permanent press clothes and colored fabrics.


This washing machine settings cycle is intended for washing bleachable white pieces of clothing since you can add bleach to maintain their pristine appearance. This cycle uses a high-speed wash and spin setting.


This is the ideal washing machine setting if you’re washing sturdy clothing items like jeans or even towels. You should also select this if you’re washing something that’s heavily soiled or stained since it has a longer wash cycle. This can help get rid of those tough stains, and the high-speed wash and spin settings allow your washing machine to remove as much moisture as possible before finishing the load.


This particular cycle is ideal if you’re washing bulky items like comforters, blankets, and even pillows. With this, your laundry will undergo a soaking period so that the detergent and water completely penetrate the fabric and clean it thoroughly. It usually uses a medium-speed wash and spins to ensure your washing machine remains stable and upright during the cycle.


Nowadays, most washing machines will also have a specific setting for washing large pieces of fabrics like bedsheets and other linens. This setting was explicitly designed to prevent longer and larger fabrics from tangling up while being washed.

Rinse and Spin

This particular cycle is designed just to rinse and dry your laundry, so you don’t need to add detergent when using this setting.


In this cycle, all the water from your machine’s tub is drained, then the tub spins to remove excess moisture from your clothes. These washing machine settings allow your clothes to come out drier after the cycle. However, it’s suggested that you only use this if the previous spin cycle left your clothes damp. In some washing machine models, you can also adjust the spin speed to accommodate different fabrics and reduce wrinkling and damages.

Others – Steam and Soil Level

Some more sophisticated washing machines will also have a setting for a steam cycle. However, you should note that this cycle isn’t designed to clean your clothes. It’s just meant to freshen your already clean garments and remove any wrinkles. Aside from steam, some also offer the option to adjust the soil level of your clothes. This allows your machine to automatically adjust its settings to ensure your garments are as clean as possible. For example, a low soil setting will often mean shorter agitation and spinning times.

Washing Machine Settings – In Conclusion

Today’s more advanced technologies have also paved the way for more sophisticated washing machines with advanced settings. Although they’re typically designed to make it easier for us to wash our clothes, these settings can also sometimes be confusing and tough to understand.

Fortunately, with the right guide, you can better understand these settings and allow you to select the correct option when washing your clothes. With that said, hopefully, this article has helped you understand better the different washing machine settings so that you can pick the right one more quickly the next time you do your laundry.

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