Over the years, the design of washing machines has greatly improved. While the way these automatic washers clean laundry has largely remained the same, there are more washing cycles for people to choose from. However, many people are not familiar with basic washing machine features, such as the rinse cycle.
Rinsing is simply soaking your clothes in water to get rid of any remaining dirt or detergent. By doing this, rinsing ensures the maximum possible cleaning of your clothes and eliminates any effects that may arise from detergent retention.
When doing laundry with a washing machine, a rinse is part of any wash cycle. Once the clothes have been washed with detergent, the rinse cycle is used to remove the soap from the clothing. It is also possible to use a washer’s rinse and spin feature to lightly wash laundry without detergent.
In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at the rinse features of washing machines. From rising as part of a wash cycle or using it as a standalone feature, we’re going to break down what you need to know about this handy feature!
What Is A Washing Machine Rinse Cycle?
Washing machines have been around for more than a century, helping people effectively wash their clothing. Despite being around for so long, many people are still largely unfamiliar with their washing machines. If you’re wondering what the rinse cycle is used for, we need to consider how these machines function.
Regardless of when your washing machine was manufactured or which cycle you select, there are three basic steps used to wash clothes. The first step, of course, is washing your clothes with laundry detergent. After this step, your clothes will be rinsed. The final step is spinning. Let’s look into this.
Step 1: Washing the Clothes
The first step in the washing cycle is soaking the clothes with some soap and water. Before starting the machine, you should have already placed the detergent in its dedicated place.
The first job of your washing machine is getting that detergent to the agitator. The agitator is that large cylindrical structure in the middle of the machine. In short words, it’s the part that spins.
To do that, the washing machine soaks the detergent in some water and then pushes that water inside the agitator through small holes.
After that, the washing machine keeps sending more water into the agitator until all the laundry is soaked in water. Once there’s enough water in the machine, the soaking will stop.
At this point, a heater will start to raise the temperature of the clothes. Hot water does a better job of getting rid of bacteria than cold water, which is why most washing machines nowadays raise the temperature of the washing water.
The agitator will start to spin in clockwise and counterclockwise motions to overlap the clothes over each other. This allows for the detergent to reach every piece of your laundry.
The number of rotations or spins is decided by the brand of your washer and the program you’ve selected.
Step 2: Rinsing the Clothes
Once the clothes are cleaned, the washing machine starts to drain all the dirty water through the small holes inside the agitator. This process is called wastewater drainage.
Draining the dirty water doesn’t guarantee that all the clothes are now clean. Some dirty water might still be suspended deep within the clothes.
That’s when rinsing comes into play. The washing machine will start pumping water inside the agitator again. This time, the machine won’t add detergent to your water. Rinsing is defined as soaking the wet clothes in clean water to get rid of any residual dirt in the clothes.
Depending on the washing machine and the program selected, rinsing could be done one or more times.
Rinsing doesn’t only remove any residual dirt from the clothes, it also removes any extra detergent that may not have been drained out. In other words, no matter how much work is done in the first step, the true removal of stains is done during rinsing.
Unlike washing the clothes, rinsing isn’t done with hot water. To save electricity and speed up the washing cycle, rinsing is usually done with cold water.
Just like the washing step, the agitator will spin to rinse the laundry thoroughly and remove any dirt or detergent remnants.
During the rinse stage, the soapy water in your washing machine will first be drained. Your washed clothes will then be rewashed in clean water. Of course, this is done to remove detergent from the clothing. To properly rinse laundry, your washing machine will go through intervals of spraying water and spinning the laundry.
Step 3: Spinning
Once the rinse stage is finished, a dedicated spin cycle is used to drain excess water from your laundry. In this sense, a washing machine’s rinse function is part of any wash cycle you may use. With many washing machines, it’s even possible to adjust the desired number of rinse cycles.
In this step, we’re not talking about the normal spinning that happens in both washing and rinsing steps. Spinning in this step is often much faster and it’s done in one direction. This can make a lot of noise. You should add dampers to the feet of your washing machine to avoid damage to the floor.
The point of quickly spinning the laundry in one direction is to remove as much water as possible from the laundry.
If your washing machine is equipped with a built-in dryer, the clothes will often come out dry or almost dry.
If your washing machine doesn’t have a dryer, it will still undergo the fast spinning process to eliminate a good amount of water from your laundry.
Even if you need to hang your clothes or place them in a dryer, they will still be more dried than if you have soaked them in water and picked them up completely wet.
For small laundry loads, one rinse cycle may be enough. On the other hand, you may prefer additional rinse cycles to ensure that all detergent is removed from larger laundry loads. However, if you forget to adjust this beforehand, you can simply toggle a standalone rinse.
Rinsing As A Standalone Washing Machine Cycle
As we explained above, a washing machine’s rinse functionality forms part of any wash cycle. It is also possible to use a rinse cycle as a standalone feature on your automatic washer. However, you might be wondering if this simple two-step cycle is even necessary.
Provided you use the right type and amount of laundry detergent for your washing machine, only one rinse will typically be required. However, when too much laundry detergent is used, a singular rinse may not be enough to remove the soap from your laundry. This is where the standalone rinse feature comes in handy!
Luckily, most washing machines feature standalone rinse and spin features. This setting is perfect for laundry loads that do not need a thorough wash. For instance, you can use this rinse setting to remove excess detergent from your laundry.
However, the rinse cycle on your washing machine is also ideal for light washes. If you’ve spent the day swimming, you might not want to wash your swimsuit or towel just yet. If you get drenched in the rain, the rinse mode is a great way to clean your wet clothes quickly.
If you handwash delicate clothing items, this rinse and spin functionality can also come in handy. Given that no detergent is used in the rinse and spin stages, you can safely rinse off your delicate items with clean water. There are numerous ways this standalone rinse/spin feature will come in handy!
How To Use A Washing Machine’s Rinse Cycle
There are two main ways a washing machine’s rinse cycle can be activated. Of course, the rinse cycle will form part of any washing cycle so that laundry detergent may be removed from your clothing. However, it is also possible to use your automatic washer’s rinse cycle as a standalone feature for light washes with clean water.
When washing your laundry using one of your machine’s programmable cycles, the rinse cycle will be automatically initiated. Due to this, you do not need to activate the rinse cycle yourself when washing laundry like this. However, many models allow users to set the desired number of rinses for these cycles.
However, it’s also possible to lightly wash laundry using only the rinse and spin feature. If you wish to simply rinse your clothes, you’ll need to activate this feature once you’ve placed your laundry in the machine. Ultimately, how this mode is activated will vary between brands.
Some washers may have dedicated rinse buttons, while others may use a selection dial. There are even modern washing machines that can be controlled using a smartphone app. This means the rinse feature can be toggled through the app. Your washer’s manual will inform you of how to activate your machine’s rinse cycle.
What To Do When Your Washing Machine Isn’t Rinsing Properly
From the previous sections, it’s clear that a washing machine’s rinse feature is highly useful – but what if it stops working? If you notice your laundry is still soapy after a rinse cycle, there may be an issue with your washing machine’s rinse cycle. There are some tips that can be used to troubleshoot and prevent this.
Firstly, you should adhere to your washer’s specified load capacity to ensure the machine is not overloaded with laundry. As we discussed earlier, you should also ensure the correct type, and amount of detergent is used. Caution should be taken to ensure that detergent is placed in the correct detergent drawer, which is typically labeled ‘II’ for the main wash cycle. It is also important that you don’t add too much or too few soap.
Issues with your machine’s rinse feature may also be caused by clogs or low water pressure. You should ensure that the hose between your washer and the drain isn’t clogged or bent. The pump filter should also be inspected to ensure it’s not clogged. Finally, you should check that your washer has sufficient water pressure to rinse your clothing.
What Happens if We Skip Rinsing?
If your washing machine skips the rinsing step for whatever reason, your clothes will end up having lots of residual detergent and even stains on them.
After the first wash, this may not seem like a big deal. You may even enjoy the stronger scent of detergent on your clothes.
However, you’ll start to notice a few bad effects with time. As a start, you’ll notice some random spots on your clothes that weren’t originally there. These spots often have a similar or a close color to your chosen detergent.
This is often your first flag. Should you ignore it or not notice it, you may run into a bigger problem which you’ll notice in colored clothes.
Because of detergent retention, colored clothes will develop a mottled appearance in areas where more detergent is present.With time, you may even notice that your clothes are losing their color. Detergents are designed to clean out stains. If they stick around more than they should, they will remove the colors of your clothes too!
Any time you do laundry with a washing machine, a rinse is a part of the washing process. Following the detergent wash cycle, the rinse cycle will remove the detergent from your laundry. This is followed by a spin cycle which removes excess moisture from clothing. Alternatively, you can use the washer’s rinse and spin feature to wash your clothes lightly without detergent.
If you notice that your washing machine is no longer rinsing, you should have it checked as soon as possible. It’s recommended to stop using that washing machine if the rinsing part of the cycle stops.