water mixer in newer washers...

ctgardengirlMay 16, 2011

I am in the market for a new washer, my Whirlpool is slowly dying after 17 years. Bummers... Anyway, my mom bought a new WP last year, and I noticed when the tub fills up with water, that it runs first hot, then cold, then hot, then cold, etc. Is this normal for all newer washers? I am not happy about that and sure hope not. Can someone please enlighten me? (my WP just runs in warm, or cold, or hot, whichever I choose.)

Thanks for your help!

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Yes, normal for many machines. Water temperatures are reduced nowadays for energy concerns. There's at least one brand I know that mixes hot and cold to the target temp rather than alternating hot/cold flow.

If you like your Whirlpool and it's otherwise in good condition (no excess rusting), why not fix the problem(s) it's having? Parts are available, and even if the cost is a little expensive depending what's needed, you may be happier.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 6:09PM
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I know that with the older top loader machines that I have had, the water would come into the tub either all hot, all cold, or half & half. This leaves a lot up to chance when it comes to the actual temp. of the water. In my experience, if I didn't choke down the cold tap going into the washer, the "warm" water was pretty cool.

I am sure that the modern machines, especially the better ones, actually control the temperature of the water. That's why you may notice the machine alternating hot & cold. This is really an improvement over the old way. The only drawback is that you are at the mercy of the manufacture as to what temperatures they identify as Cold, Warm, and Hot. With the old way, if the hot water at your tap was scalding, you got scalding water in the washer when you choose "Hot." With a modern machine, that water would probably be cooled down to whatever the manufacture deems as "Hot."

My current front loader seems to be pretty sophisticated in this regard. It even has a heater to heat the water when needed.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2011 at 9:51AM
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A problem with machines that literally alternate spraying hot and cold water during fill, toploaders in particular since the fill flow is typically directly into the wash basket, is that temperature-sensitive clothing may be periodically doused with tap-hot water.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2011 at 3:56PM
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A couple of thoughts. How exact does the water have to be? I know that there is a specific temperature at which a detergent is activated, but beyond that, is there a large difference between 100 and 120 degrees?

Unless the machine has a heater, the water temperature is going to be a combination of how hot/cold the incoming water is and the combination of how much of each the inlet valves pass water into the machine. Some machines have a fixed ratio of hot to cold when warm is selected.

Washing machines need to be built to cover a wide range of operating parameters due to regional water usage requirements, water hardness/softness, winter water temps, etc.

With more options and control comes more sophistication, cost and opportunity for something to break.

What seems obvious to someone may not reflect the needs of a vast majority of consumers.

Lastly, if a material is so sensitive to water temp that cold water falling on it during a machine's fill will damage it, I would suggest filling the machine first and then placing the item inside... Except that most machines use cold water only for their rinses, so that kinda defeats the purpose if you have one of those machines.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 7:36AM
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"...is there a large difference between 100 and 120 degrees?"

Yes. That you would ask such a question is telling, IMHO.

"...the water temperature is going to be a combination of how hot/cold the incoming water is and the combination of how much of each the inlet valves pass water into the machine."

Well, no, actually. The mass of the clothes and the metal of the drum take a terrific amount of the heat out of the incoming water. Especially with HE machines that use less water, the differential is significant. What the actual wash temperature inside any particular machine may be remains a mystery to most users.

ATC controls in low-fill-volume machines are practically worthless. People like the concept so they buy it, but very few know what it actually does -- or fails to do.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2011 at 11:40AM
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Without wanting to state the obvious, I understand the difference between 120 and 100 is 20.

An interest turn of phrase asolo. Exactly what is "telling" about my question? That I am skeptical? That I am asking for information upon which to for an opinion or the gain understanding?

What I was asking was what is the difference in the washing? Unless the machine is used in an application where the temperature needs to reach a specific level for regulatory requirements I was asking for what the differences are in actuality.

If the machine is not a heated model, then the water temp, even subtracting loss of heat to clothing and metal of drum is still based upon the temperature of the incoming water.

ATC I presume means automatic temperature controls? The basic machines such a the mechanical controls on a top load washer (TLW) rely on the opening and closing of water valves based upon a specific ration of the water valves. There isn't a "water temperature" measuring device involved.

If the machine does have a water temperature device then it measures the water at a specific place and then makes adjustment based upon the temperature at that place. If it is measuring the water at the valves, then the water temperature in the tub will not match.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2011 at 5:04PM
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I'll use a dishwasher illustration because most people use DW's almost every day. Nominal temp inside the dishwasher -- with the boost given by the on-board heater -- is about 120. (of course "sanitary" cycles go higher) If the heater isn't working, the hot water flowing in is pretty much immediately reduced to more like 95-100 -- with predictable results. Those "results" being poor cleaning, undissolved powders, and the operator wondering why. You can check this heat-loss yourself very easily. Run the tap hot before you start the machine. If you've got 130F water flowing in there, within minutes of starting you will find the tub and dishes have reduced it to luke-warm. The on-board heater has to bring it back up for the machine to do what it's designed to do. The difference between 100F and 120F is the difference between dishwater in your sink and water too hot for your hands to stand inside the DW. It's also the difference between between proper function of the machine, meaning good cleaning, and poor cleaning plus residue.

An HE clothes washer is similar. ATC does, indeed, control the temperature of the incoming water -- assuming there's enough water being used so that it can accomplish anything. Depending on heater-temp, ambient cold water supply, and the length of pipe from heater to washer that may not be the case. It frequently is not. The ATC parameters are factory-set. The user has to accept whatever it does. With 18 lbs of room-temperature clothes and the mass of the stainless steel tub, whatever heat is in there is greatly attenuated. You can easily check this, too, using a cheap instant-read thermometer. For example, on my Duet FL, with 130F water flowing in from the first drop, my actual wash temperature is about 100-105 -- about bath-water temperature. If I want an actual "hot" wash, I have to choose a cycle that utilizes the on-board heater to get it.

If you have a conventional TL with a 20-30 gallon fill, the attenuation of the incoming temperature will be less but still significant. Quick test...if you can hold your hand in it, its not "hot".

I said "telling" about your question because the difference in performance between 100 and 120F water for cleaning just about anything is significant. It seemed peculiar to me that you seemed not to understand that.

If 100F is hot enough for you, carry on.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2011 at 6:02PM
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"ATC does, indeed, control the temperature of the incoming water"

I believe that is controls the mixture of hot and cold water coming into the machine. It doesn't actually control the temperature of the incoming water. That is the function of the home's water heater.

Consumers that buy a machine that does not have a heater and then complain or take back a machine because it doesn't get their water "hot enough" blame the machine. To me this is wrong.

The machine is operating exactly the way it was designed. If temperature desired is not going to be adequate from a non heated model then that machine shouldn't be on the shopping list.

I have had people request a new machine because their winter water is too cold to give them a "warm" or "hot" wash. It is not a machine defect and I won't authorize taking the machine back.

I do deal with people daily that want to blame the machine. It isn't hot enough, it doesn't fill with enough water, it doesn't agitate long enough or it agitates too long. We don't sell heated models! We don't sell computerized machines. There is nothing wrong with the machines, it is buyer remorse or unrealistic expectations. They buy it because it is simple and no frills, but then complain because it doesn't have all the bells and whistles.

People insist on using the same detergent at the same level that they used on their old (fill in the machine) and I will again refuse an authorization for that. There are suds coming back up from their drain, well, clean the drain and try using less detergent, it is not a machine defect.

Thousands and thousands of these machines operate daily and perform fine, if the drain doesn't support the higher drain rates of modern machines then clean the pipes, don't expect the dealer to eat the cost of taking the machine back.

I have had a customer demand that we not only take back a machine but also pay to replace all of her delicates because the machine used warm water in the rinse and ruined them. When she was questioned she knew that she had the hoses hooked up backwards, but that was okay since she just used the opposite setting of what she wanted! Not noticing that each setting said a "COLD" rinse, so every time it would do a rinse it would open up the COLD valve that was attache to the HOT hose!

Most detergents rely on a specific temperature range in which the will operate. The water within this range and the agitation as well as the detergent will clean clothes.

If a non heated model doesn't meet the needs, then the chances are the previous (fill in the brand machine) didn't either if it was non heated, but it only becomes and issue because it is a new machine.

Is 100 or 80 enough for me. Yeah, pretty much. If it wasn't then I would go out and buy a machine that allowed me to heat the water.

I wash all my stuff mostly on the same setting with a warm/cold regardless of the time of year. I also use whatever is cheapest in the store for detergent and I have never had the desire to lift the lid during washing unless it was to drop a forgotten item in.

My clothes are clean, last a long time. No muss, no fuss.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2011 at 8:48PM
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"ATC does, indeed, control the temperature of the incoming water"
I believe that is controls the mixture of hot and cold water coming into the machine. It doesn't actually control the temperature of the incoming water. That is the function of the home's water heater."

"I wash all my stuff mostly on the same setting with a warm/cold regardless of the time of year. I also use whatever is cheapest in the store for detergent and I have never had the desire to lift the lid during washing unless it was to drop a forgotten item in."

Sir, you are so utterly ignorant or illiterate or both I see no purpose served in responding to you further.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2011 at 9:29PM
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ATC does react to / control the water temp actually spraying into the machine, and usually there is a temp sensor (thermistor) and electronic circuit board involved. The thermistor is in the water stream after the hot and cold valves. On most machines the hot and cold valves are either fully on or fully off. The hot valve, for example, can't open just halfway. So for Warm, for example, the thermistor reads the temp after the incoming hot and cold flow have mixed. If it reads too high, beyond the programmed limit, the hot valve turns off either until thermistor reads that the flow has cooled below a particular trigger point, or perhaps for a specific period of time. If/When the flow has dropped below the allowed range for warm, the control circuit turns the hot valve back on. Depending on the design of the particular machine and the selected temperature, hot and cold may be run at the same time for a mix, or hot and cold may run separately in an alternating fashion. Repeat until the tub has filled to the selected level, and the target temp is on average within the programmed range for warm, or whatever is the selected temperature ... not necessarily considering any thermal absorption into the clothes and physical structure of the machine ... so the actual temp in the tub may be cooler, although how much cooler depends on the programming and tolerances of the ATC system.

Fisher & Paykel washers, for one brand, at least some if not all models of them, do have the ability to actively moderate the hot water valve so that the incoming flow is mixed directly to the target temp. My F&P IWL12 toploader targets 115F as the mixed incoming temp for Warm. I have measured and confirmed it. I have a tankless water heater with digital controls that can be set for a specific output temperature between 50F and 140F. In order to get 115F into the washer, the water heater of course must be set on at least 115F. Whether it's on 115F or 140F, I measure 115F flowing from the IWL12's spray flume. The resultant temperature in the tub when fill is finished is typically between 102F and 105F, about 10F lower than the mixed 115F incoming flow. I'm not an F&P engineer so I don't know if F&P has purposely programmed the ATC on IWL12 to mix Warm slightly higher so as to maintain approx 105F in the tub when fill is finished ... or of it's a "quirk" of my particular specimen.

I also have a Whirlpool Calypso with ATC. It can't modulate hot and cold directly, only turn the individual flows fully on or off. On a warm fill, it initially runs hot and cold together, then turns cold off for a while if needed to get an "average" incoming temperature. The resultant temp in the tub is a little less.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2011 at 12:50AM
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"between 100 and 120F water for cleaning just about anything is significant."

Is it? As we are talking about laundry specifically lets restrict our discussion to that for the time being. So what exactly is the difference between cleaning laundry in 100F and 120F? Not interested in conjecture or assumptions just some clearly illustrated facts. Assuming there are differences are they significant enough that one might actually notice?

    Bookmark   May 22, 2011 at 8:32PM
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Yo, caryscott......See my response to DrPeppertech and regard yourself as duplicated -- with the exception that your own response is not internally contradictory so drop the illiterate part.

If you don't notice, clearly it would make no difference to you.

I notice. Everyone I have ever known who does laundry has noticed. If you tell me you don't notice, I must say I am astonished.

If you want science, look it up. If you want to see the difference in my own cotton socks, pay me a visit. I'll make you the most wonderful scotch broth you've ever had while we argue.

FWIW, I do most of my laundry "warm".....not "warm" on the dial but warm as I have have verified WILL be about 100-105 in the machine. (The mfgr's don't tell you anymore) Heated options kick me up to 127F approx. Is there a difference with the boost? Oh, yeah!

PS...try running your DW at 100F and tell me about that result. Do you suppose anything like that goes on in your washer?

    Bookmark   May 22, 2011 at 8:58PM
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So other than whites and sanitizing what exactly is the difference? For most colored clothes, the directions say cold or warm washes. The only type of stain I can see definitely being better served from a hot wash is an oil based stain. Those always come out better with heat and degreasers. Other than that as long as you are hot enough to activate the enzymes what is the difference?

    Bookmark   May 22, 2011 at 10:15PM
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"...the directions say cold or warm washes."

Yup. Says that on every batch of 100% cotton white sheets I buy, too. Can't remember the last clothing or household item I bought that didn't say "warm" or "cold"....although not one defines what the terms actually mean. They don't care. They don't have to. (And there is a society-wide agenda afoot, in case you haven't noticed.) Cut to the chase with this single example. If you think you're going get clean/bright/white cotton sheets at 100F to compare with the same items I'm doing at 120F or above, all I can say is you haven't been doing laundry very long. Hotter will be better every time. Over time, a whole lot better. If you think you're going to get my dirty cotton socks clean at 100F to compare with 120F or above, I've got more news for you. BTW, their hang-tag says "cold", too.

I'm wondering how many folks I'm going to encounter here that claim or allude to colder water cleaning being just as good as hotter water. This is really silly. It doesn't. It won't. It can't. The point is pretty much inarguable....and yet, it's being argued.

Look, wash your clothes however you want at whatever temperature you want -- if you even know what the actual temperature is in there. (Most people don't.) I don't care what you do. My beef is with the assertion that there's probably no difference in cleaning performance between 100F water and 120F water. My contention is that there certainly is a difference. I stand by it.

This thread began with a question about ATC and what it does....or doesn't do. I've stated that ATC doesn't do much with low-fill-volume machines...because it doesn't. It can't. Beyond that, mfgr's definitions of "hot", "warm", and "cold" have become completely divorced from traditional opinions of what those words mean. The buttons or dials on the machine still say "hot", "warm", and "cold" but end users no longer have any idea what those words mean unless they test/measure the actual temperatures themselves....which almost nobody does. This forum has a number of threads about precisely this issue. Some mfgr's regard "warm" as anything above of 70F, as I recall. "Hot" is sometimes anything above 90F. What nonsense!

So, then, back to the departure-point. Assuming one actually knows what the actual wash temperature inside the machine is, Is there a cleaning-perfomance difference between 100F and 120F? I say there absolutely is. Great big YES. If you don't know that, I strongly suspect you don't have a machine that gives you a 120F+ wash. If you did, you wouldn't be asking the questions you have.

I'm amazed at the flack I'm taking for stating the obvious.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2011 at 11:30PM
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Wow. I don't even know what to say... so, instead of shutting up, I'll risk making a fool out of myself, but maybe it will help people, so who knows.

To the original poster: yes, what you observed is a cost-cutting measure by the washers manufacturers, if they'd cared, they'd use a different system; it probably won't make a big difference to the fabric in the washer, most fabrics can in fact withstand 140F/60C for *brief* periods of time, particularly when they are just resting in the tub being filled, with no agitation. Only very delicate fibers/fabrics will have a problem with it, usually hand-knit stuff made with wool, acrylic, polypropylene etc (for what's worth, wool *can* withstand very high heat, but also doesn't like to go thru temperature shocks like that, which is the main reason wool is washed and rinsed at the same temps, usually cool or warm) -- cheap acrylics and polypropylenes (and a few other more rare fibers) can in fact melt in lower temps than most fibers. Most households in US don't use water at more than 140F/60C anymore, 40-50 years ago 150F was more common, most people with kids now keep their water heater at 120F/50C. We can't answer the question for you if it's important, you need to evaluate what temps you keep your water heater at, what fibers/fabrics you are likely to wash etc. In our home, we set the water heater at 140F, we rarely wash anything that is that delicate and the front-loading washer we happen to have blends the water differently (usually it starts with the hot and cold valves open and turns off the hot if it senses the temps are higher than appropriate, but the cold stays on).

The the other folks: chemical reaction speeds are complicated, but *in general*, for laundry/cleaning in general, the speed of reaction about doubles every 10C/22F, so in the case we're talking about if your dishwasher or clothes washer takes 10 minutes to clean something satisfactorily at 120F, it will take over 20 minutes with everything else being equal, including the amount of detergents/enzymes etc at 100F. If you have stains and/or soils that won't even start reacting with the solution before 120F, it won't get clean even at 20 minutes and 100F. If it did get clean, you wouldn't have seen people in the past going thru great trouble to boil their wash.

There are loads of things not being talked about here. For example, it's true that with modern detergents, enzymes, color-safe bleaches etc, one can do most laundry at just 140F instead of boiling, in fact, a lot of things that used to require 140F can now mostly successfully be laundered in warm (100-110F) and a bunch of light soil can even be removed at cool (~80F) or cold (~60F). That does *not* mean that temperature is not important. One has to balance energy use with how clean you need stuff to get. The amount of water and its temperature are the *largest* amount of energy the washer uses bar none. A machine that uses half the amount of water at 140F, even if it runs for longer, still uses less energy than a machine that uses more water at the same temperature, the motor does not consume that much energy to run the machine.

The other thing I would like to draw attention to is the labels. I remember blue jeans from the 60's that clearly said, very simply, "hot wash, tumble dry" and that was it. In the 90's it was already saying "warm wash, tumble dry low", and now most everything says "cold wash, tumble dry low". First off, that is all entirely the clothing industry covering their behinds, it has nothing to do with what is appropriate to use as wash or dry temperatures. Second, dryer temperatures vary enormously, I remember using some large dryers at laundromats that started at 190F for "low" and over 200F for "medium" and "high" was 250F -- compare that to home dryers that are along the lines of 110-120F for low, 140-150 for medium and barely reach 170-180F for high; keep in mind that tumbling clothes to dry is challenging in several ways, clothes shrink, wrinkle and get more worn out the longer you tumble and the higher the final temperature the fabric gets and overdrying is one of the worst things you can do; what that means to us is that we want to reach a happy medium here, it's better to tumble for say, 30 minutes at 140F and promptly cool down and shut down than to tumble for one hour at 110F and overdry and it's certainly much worse to tumble at 250 for just 15 minutes or longer. That is one reason you often see the disparity of results, people like me who tumble dry everything at home with no problems versus friends I have who use the laundromat or drop-off services that keep complaining that their "delicates" (including bras, swimsuits, sports clothing etc) keep getting ruined by the dryers.

But to me, the worst offense in labels is the disparity of the definitions. You'll find lots of books talking about "cold" washes but failing to tell you that the cold water pipes in the area the authors live is about 80F. There are plenty of areas in the country where that would be "warm" and certain new washers, trying to get an EnergyStar, that would be "hot". We need to distance ourselves from such rubbish. Washers, dryers and labels should feel free to use labels like cold, cool, warm, hot etc *as long as* it also specified very clearly in Celsius and Fahrenheit what those temperatures are expected to be. Otherwise results are inconsistent from equipment to equipment.

And people, open your eyes when you are shopping -- stuff that says "dry clean only", "professional dry clean", "cold wash" etc do not mean they are delicate and thus better and should cost more. It's pretty rare that some fiber *has* to be dry cleaned. Quite the contrary, they mean the fabrics have not been pre-washed/pre-shrunk before the garments were constructed, so in fact you are buying stuff of a lower quality for a high price. If the manufacturers were confident that you could buy the garments, bring them home and wash and tumble dry them in a regular ordinary fashion, they'd have proudly said "hot wash, tumble dry". Very few garments can't be washed hot (60C/140F) and certainly most stuff people wear can be dried in hot/regular for natural fabrics and medium/permanent press for synthetics. Low is for silk, wools and stuff like acrylics and polypropylenes, if you're using domestic equipment.

Finally, I'd like to suggest a little experiment to y'all. Wash your white loads exactly the same way you wash your colored and dark clothes (warm or cold) for a few weeks. Watch the whites get dingy, grayish and/or show all kinds of stains. Then switch to hot wash for a while and watch them go away even if you don't pretreat the stains. Now tell me, do you think your darks and colored clothing is as clean as they should be? In my home, with the exception of very delicate stuff, I don't pretreat anything, I separate the colors from the whites, put each load in the washer, measure the appropriate amount of a good detergent and wash in hot. Come back to clean clothes, very rarely something still has a stain which usually is no harder to remove than rewashing the next time I have a similar load.

If you are washing everything in cold or warm (and worse, not separating the color-fast from the non-color-fast stuff) and are happy with the results, more power to you. But I'm getting a little tired of being stopped while shopping for laundry detergents at the supermarket by random people who want to know how my whites are so white and my clothes look so clean and new. I tell them to pick a detergent with enzymes and wash stuff in hot water. They look at me as if I was denying vital information to a war enemy. ;-)

Peace and good luck to y'all.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 2:11AM
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I also like to wash some stuff at hotter-than-labeled temps. But I know I'm doing so at my own risk. pcpr mentions that chemical reactions double in speed for each 10C increase in temperature. Dye fading is a chemical reaction, isn't it? Maybe less of a problem for me, since my water isn't chlorinated. But for someone whose water contains residual chlorine, and uses a detergent brand or dosage that doesn't effectively neutralize it, hotter water could accelerate the fading.

Another problem with hotter-than-labeled washing is the possible presence of synthetic stitching or trim, which can be damaged at lower temperatures than the main body of the fabric. I wash my dish towels on sanitize, because they actually come clean that way. But the edges are puckered on many of them, probably because of synthetic thread shrinkage. This might be an unacceptable result for people who care about how their towels hang.

Now, to address those who claim that lower washing machine temperatures don't matter: I've read many stain-removal instructions that include, Wash at highest temperature safe for the fabric. As you can see from this page:


the allowable temperatures are well-defined. For example, hot is "initial water temperature ranging from 112 to 145 degrees F". Therefore a hot-wash garment can take repeated washing at 145F without damage. Washing such a garment at a hot wash temperature of, say, 112F will do a less-than-optimal job of stain removal. Conversely, a temperature closer to the allowed 145F may well take care of some stains before you even notice them, and forestall general deterioration of the garment's appearance.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 10:49AM
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"Yo, caryscott......See my response to DrPeppertech and regard yourself as duplicated"

I am flattered, bless you.

"PS...try running your DW at 100F and tell me about that result. Do you suppose anything like that goes on in your washer?"

I neither wear my dishes nor eat off my clothes so I don't find these meaningless comparisons all that helpful. I was also fairly explicit about trying to restrict the discussion to laundry.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 11:44AM
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suburbanmd....thanks for the link. I've seen this before but never printed it out. Saving it this time.

Caryscott...understand you don't see any relevance to the comparison. Hopefully someone else may say it sufficiently simply that you may understand the point and how it may possibly apply to laundry considerations. Perhaps I'm the illiterate one...obviously I'm unable to write so as to be understood.

If you still don't understand the significant difference in performance between 100 and 120+ water in washing laundry (or anything else), you'll have to learn about it from some other source.

pcpr....lots of good stuff in there. Thanks.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 11:58AM
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Thanks, your post was very interesting. On my machine you adjust the water temp separately from the duration of the cycle (duration = "soil level"). Given the info you have provided I could probably achieve comparable washing results (in many instances) between longer cycles on more moderate temps and shorter cycles at higher temps - yes? So it is conceivable that in terms of the outcome that there might be very little difference in the cleanliness of clothes washed at 100F and 120F depending how long they are washed? Or have I misunderstood.

I am blissfully unaware of many things but I assume like many products a detergent has a peak performance threshold. We don't really know what that is but at some point it is probably getting our clothes as clean as it capable of getting them (no matter how much more you use, how hot the water or how long the cycle). It leads one to wonder where that peak occurs and to the big question: how clean is clean?

To be clear I didn't say that there isn't a difference I asked what it would be. Still not convinced that it is all that dramatic but I am a skeptic by nature.

I also am not sure what the correlation is between the visual characteristics of garments (ie faded colours or grey whites) and their actual cleanliness.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 4:02PM
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caryscott, if higher temperatures don't yield any difference that you see or value, then you can do what you want. Me, I can see, feel, and smell the difference, and I'll do what I want...at least as long as I can get a machine that'll let me.

OTOH, I think DrPepperTech should be held to a higher standard. His customers may see the difference even if he doesn't. The statement "If a non heated model doesn't meet the needs, then the chances are the previous (fill in the brand machine) didn't either if it was non heated, but it only becomes an issue because it is a new machine." is particularly wrong-headed, IMO. For one thing, the newer machine may have lower ATC setpoints, and the difference may matter to the customer. For another thing, if the customer went from an agitator top-loader to an unheated HE machine, then hot-water lag may result in a lower temperature wash, because a larger proportion of the new machine's fill water is residual cold water in the pipes.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 7:45PM
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Ditto, suburbanmd.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 8:07PM
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All: my apologies, I mixed up the conversion rate for Kg/Pound and C/F, I should have said "10C/18F" instead of "10C/22F".

SuburbanMD: I agree with most of what you said. One does take risks when one selects a different wash process than the labels suggest. I think it's still a manufacturing defect, in that if clothing manufacturers were behaving in an acceptable way, they would have pre-washed the fabrics, interfacings and trims, and the problem would disappear entirely. Properly dyed silk and wool are washable, rayon that has been preshrunk is washable... we shouldn't have to dry clean those garments. In fact, the vast majority of garments that are "delicate" and need to be sent for special treatment at the cleaners (who, by the way, do not dry clean everything they get) are basically stuff that was a bad dye job and/or not preshrunk before construction. Incidentally, while it is possible that the synthetic thread will shrink and bunch up natural fabrics, it's more common that cotton or linen threads shrink when the fabric doesn't, most synthetic threads are highly dimensionally stable polyester, the exception is if one used exceptionally cheap nylon thread, good nylon thread is also very stable up to 200F or so. Dyes are an interesting and complicated subject on their own -- the vast majority of natural dyes are unstable, but except for denim, which we still use, it's rare to find naturally dyed fabrics (they are mostly imported from specific places, like Madra by people who cherish their specific qualities), the vast majority of fabrics sold here use fiber-reactive dye jobs (Procion is one brand name of such dyes). The dyes combine chemically with the fibers and, if processed right, won't bleed or fade until at the very least 52 washes. In fact, the biggest enemy of fiber-reactive dyes is bleaching agents, including sunlight. We've had black shirts that turned dark gray over 10 years of use and hundreds of washing cycles... when the fabric started fraying, I decided to chuck the shirt, but took the cuffs apart where they were fraying to peek inside. What surprised me was the the insides of the cuffs, which were subjected to the very same process the shirt was, was still very dark black. The only explanation was that the inside of the cuffs were spared the sunlight.

CaryScott: the questions you ask can't be easily answered. I'd like to disentangle moral judgements ("bad person", "lazy ass", "tightwad") from how clean things are. Why? Because people might in fact be using way more effort, time, money, energy, chemicals etc and working way harder than I am and not getting stuff as clean. What is "clean", how clean is clean? Again, there's the moral judgement stuff people wave around like a dead cat and there's science. Some time ago, during a party, someone said something about "patina" and someone else, half jokingly, asked what the heck was patina? I told her that it's a stain if you don't want it and it's patina if you want the stained effect. She didn't believe me, picked up the Oxford Dictionary and found exactly the same definition. We all laughed about that for a few minutes. In the same spirit, I will offer you that fabrics/clothing are clean when it only has what you want and dirty when it has stuff you don't want in it. Most people will think that grayed/stained/dingy white fabrics are not clean (even if they won't say they are dirty) because those are signs that things were not removed properly (in the case of dirt/stains) or were re-deposited on the fabrics during the wash, rinse and/or drying cycles. In fact, one of my own aunts used to claim that "badly washed is not dirty", because it was better/cleaner than it was before washing. Also, it's possible for things that are overloaded with just the right kind of fluorescent dyes ("optical brighteners") to fluoresce dazzling white but if you look at the light through the fabric you might even find chocolate or grass stains that get covered up by the optical brightener. I, for one, don't think that is clean, it's just covered up so, just because it appears to be clean it doesn't necessarily mean it's clean in my opinion.

If we consider things just scientifically, yes, things get cleaner faster with rising temperatures. Can you bargain here? Sure, you may add more chemicals, more time and/or more mechanical energy. At some point, you will be annoyed either by the amount of work it takes (using stain pre-treaters in each and every stain for example), the amount of time it takes (consider that soaking stuff takes time and effort, and clothes that get clean at 140F in 15 minutes would take over one hour to clean at 100F and several hours to clean at 80F), the amount of money it takes (upping the cleaning agents/enzymes in your detergent costs more) and/or the way clothes get worn out faster in the case of increased mechanical agitation. Also, like I said before, some stains will simply not shift with just more time and/or mechanical agitation, you need either stronger chemicals, or higher temps.

You ask about the peak performance threshold. I can tell you that it varies.

Technically the way laundry agents work, in a very simplified nutshell, is that bleaches destroy dyes so they become transparent, enzymes are catalysts that break soil into stuff more easily removed by water and/or detergent, and detergents have molecules that attach themselves to the soil on one end of the molecule and to water on the other end, thus detaching the soil from the fabrics, suspending the soil in water and then carrying it away when the water is drained and during rinsing. You need enough detergent to remove all the dirt and prevent it from redepositing.

In countries where cool water washing is common, laundry detergents often have more kinds and more quantities of different detergents and enzymes. In US it's often only one kind of detergent and maybe a couple of enzymes. Also, in countries where cool wash is common, people often soak and/or sun bleach for hours at a time. In Europe, which has very hard water compared to US, detergents also have way more active ingredients than here, the very same detergent that people often use a cup of in Europe can be dosed in tablespoons here if one has softened water. Detergents in Europe are designed to clean in longer time than here, because the washers often do a profile wash, where the temperature is brought up from cold to warm, held in there for 15-20 minutes for the enzymes to work and then the temperature rises again until the set point, the wash portion of the cycle is often 30-60 minutes and then rinse/spin (another 30-60 minutes) begins.

As you'd imagine, Americans would have a conniption fit with that system here, we don't wash every day or two, we tend to collect laundry for a week or more and then want everything done in a couple of hours. So detergents here are designed to peak at 140F/15 minutes wash. By which I mean that if you select a hot wash and dose the chemicals correctly, your load will be cleaned and rinsed properly without pretreatment, unless you have some very nasty stain.

On the other hand, if you don't have kids who make a mess eating or playing around, and you don't walk around in socks with a dirty floor, you may get away with cooler and/or shorter washes. But we all have different lifestyles, requirements and time commitments. I promise not to judge you, I can only hope you won't judge us because of laundry.


    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 10:06PM
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I didn't mean to start an argument; my question was a genuine one. I've been told that hot is the way to go for everything but I'm trying to figure it all out.

I've got old bright colored shirts (yellow) that have been washed in warm and still will blind you if the sun is out. Whites always go on sanitary (or whitest whites) with a healthy dose of chlorine bleach. They come out quite clean. Maybe it's because our FL (a Kenmore 4044 and a previous LG 2277) takes around an hour on must cycles but everything pretty much comes out clean.

Case in point - I just washed our heated mattress pad (which I do a couple times a year) and it had some stains where sweat/body oil and probably the sheet dye bled through our sheets over the past couple months. Washed on warm, bedding cycle. 1 scoop of Sears Ultra powder and a little OxyClean and at the end of the hour and 10 minute wash cycle the stains are 99% gone. Would hot have done any better? Who knows but with a heating element inside I wasn't taking that chance.

Maybe it's the long cycle times of our machine that helps better than the super hot water? Maybe it's the heater that keeps the temps where they should be?

If someone could explain it (or point me to a link) how hot is the answer to everything it would be greatly appreciated.

All I know is stains come out, stuff looks and smells clean, and it works for us. However I'm always up for something new. :)

    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 10:57PM
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pcpr, what do you make of articles labeled "Do not bleach"? Not special fabrics, just seemingly regular stuff like cotton shirts, cotton towels, cotton comforters. I've used oxygen bleach on them with no apparent harm, but I'm concerned about long-term use. Actually I'm concerned about long-term use of oxygen bleach even on fabrics labeled for it, but avoiding it altogether isn't a good alternative.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2011 at 9:38AM
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SuburbanMD: my impression is that the "do not bleach" warning, particularly for the fabrics you describe is so people will not use chlorine bleach, probably the same as "non-chlorine bleach only if needed". If the fabrics are color-fast, I don't think there'll be a problem unless you wash often above 140F with oxygen bleaches. On the other hand, in my experience, non-color-fast fabrics will bleed/fade no matter what you do.

ITguy08: hot may or may not be the way to go for everything. It is for most of my clothes because of the way I shop for clothes (I keep an eye out and if I think something will be ruined by washing in hot I either put it back on the shelves or have to decide if I want it so much that I'll wash it apart in a different temperature). But really, I don't use chlorine bleach as a general rule, the few times I've used it were to disinfect things that are very heat sensitive, like plastic shower curtains. You might be perfectly fine skipping the chlorine bleach, maybe adding enzymes if necessary. As for the heated mattress pad, I'd say if it can go in the dryer, it can be washed at the same temperature. Unless you are exceeding the temperature the heating elements in the pad use, you should be safe (although, to be honest, I'd be surprised if modern heated pads reached over 115-120F). Would it have come out cleaner at 140F? I can't say, it depends a lot on what soil/stain it was -- you might get away with more enzymes and/or detergent if it's body oils, or you might need to use a higher temperature. But for me, the quickest test has always been "what happens to a similar garment, that is, same fabric and soil/soil level/stains that is white washed in exactly the same way?"... does it come out white in the end? If not, what do I need to do do make it so? More chemicals? More time? Hotter wash? Whatever I need to do does not change the fact that that is the exact same process to clean the same stuff if the garment is not white -- the fabric color doesn't give it any magical powers against dirt/soil/stains, it can hide it but it will still be there just the same as if the fabric was white. We just don't notice it. In any case, think of it as multiple variables that you optimize one way for one occasion and another way for some other occasion, it's a trade off just like anything else. Some people need one combination of computer hardware, software and settings, other people need something else entirely, we can't use the exact same thing for everyone, for good or bad. What I'm saying here is that for a very large number of cases (but not all cases) the sweet spot for time, temperature, chemicals and mechanical energy for a lot of laundry problems is best answered by "hot wash". There'll be plenty of exceptions to make people who want to play with all the cycles and settings in their laundry equipment happy, trust me. For example, some stains will require either a cold or warm pre-wash before you want the hot wash. But I'm just not a great believer (like a friend of mine) in "OMG, I dropped tomato sauce on my favorite shirt, it's ruined!" -- I sent her home with either Wisk Tablets or Tide Tablets (remember those? I forget which ones I was using at the time) and told her to do a warm prewash followed by a hot wash. She called me back completely surprised the stain disappeared with no pretreating, no effort. Just by adding a prewash (barely 15 extra minutes on most washers) and switching to hot she saved a shirt that ordinarily she'd have chucked in the garbage.


    Bookmark   May 24, 2011 at 11:34PM
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I agree with Dadoes, fix your current machine. The WP direct drive machines are some of the easiest machines to repair and most likely will last you for another 17 years. And they'll most certainly outlast anything you can buy today.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2011 at 5:20PM
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I got to the party late. I too suggest fixing it if reasonable, assuming you like the machine. Many people don't factor in a learning curve on a new machine. Each is different. Some will adapt easily, some will never catch on to the differences. Some don't want to change. If it does the job you want, I'd definitely look at repairing it.

On the discussions here, the glaring point that wasn't addressed was the comment about enzymes taking care of the cleaning. Well, keep in mind not all detergents have enzymes so don't expect something non-existent to do the job.

On the debate of temperature and such, well, some people don't get their clothes very dirty. Some can't tell if they're clean. Some don't care. I think there's at least one here who could just as well use the rinse and spin feature and save a lot of money and time. No offense intended, simply an observation.

I get annoyed, putting it mildly, when people talk hot, warm and cold. These are not defined terms. State a temperature since what's hot to one isn't even body temperature to me. And for an opinion, I don't feel comfortable washing clothes at sub-body temperature.

And with all the variables, you really have to consider the water temperature inside the machine when full and after it's been in there a certain period of time to allow for heat loss.

How exact do things need to be? Again, depends on needs. If you're fine with dunk in 50° water and hang it on the line, it won't matter much but having increased the temperature on my water heater to about 137°-140° and changing to Tide I'm noticing a marked improvement in my laudry, which wasn't bad before, but required more additives to get desired results. With this temp, and I haven't measured it recently and it varies of course with summer and winter water temps, I'm probably running 127°-132° in the full tub. And FWIW, I pretty much leave the machine setting on "hot" for most everything.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2011 at 9:37PM
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