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How Does a High 
Efficiency Washer Work
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How Does a High Efficiency Washer Work,

How do these new HE machines work?

No doubt you have wondered about the strange actions of the HE machines. It rotates in one direction for a few turns and then stops. It starts up again after a while and turns in the other direction. Then it stops again. This continues for the entire wash and rinse cycles.

What’s up with that!

As an engineer / chemist with 30+ years of experience in cleaning things,  I must say that this method is absolutely the best way to clean fabrics using the smallest amount of water, detergents and electricity. I know from both science and experience that cleaning is the result of the detergent dissolving the oils and greases that hold the dirt particles to the fibers of the laundry. It has very little to do with the agitation method used in older washers.

The soak period while the drum is not moving provides time to dissolve the oils. But, no electricity is used. Brilliant!!!

Some agitation is required to keep the detergent distributed in the load of clothes so the drum rolls back and forth a little. As the detergent is used up in one part of the load as it dissolves the oils, the drum rolls a little and gets fresh detergent to the area to be cleaned.

Some of the basic steps of HE cleaning are:

First: (on most machines) the drum is spun with the dry clothes in it. Some machines will do this twice before water is added to the machine. (Nerds: This gives an average for better accuracy). The reason for the dry spinning is to find out how much laundry is in the tub. This is done by weight. Once the machine knows how much the load weighs it can add just enough water to effectively wash the clothes. This is one of the most important wash operations that has been optimized to minimize water consumption. Use just enough water and then no more.

Second: a measured amount of water is added to the drum through the detergent holder. This dissolves the detergent and introduces it into the washing drum. The drum is doing its thing turning back and forth with soak periods in between. The load gets wetted with a thick detergent solution. This soaks into the cloth and starts the cleaning process.

This is the root cause of the entire odor problem: The thick, high concentration detergent also deposits on the internal plumbing trapping fibers of wool, cotton, linen along with barnyard type materials. These will then rot and decay. This is the food source for the mold and mildew.(Nerds:click on “Why the Smell” button for details.)

This is where TechnoFresh™ comes in. The TechnoFresh™ material disolves first and is mixed with the detergent. As a result it is also deposited as part of the thick detergent film. The TechnoFresh™  creates a barrier to future growth.

Third: more water is added until the proper total amount is reached. The drum continues to roll back and forth for the rest of the cycle. Most of the cleaning action is due to the high concentration of detergent in the early stage of the cycle. The extra water that is added is to provide enough liquid to suspend the particles and completely dissolve the oils so they can be pumped out at the end of the cycle. (Nerds: Google: micelle)

Fourth: the rinse cycle suspends the remaining detergent and soil particles with the same back and forth motion. This too gets pumped out.

Fifth: the machine spins the load as fast as possible (depending on the type of material being washed) to remove as much water as possible. Any water removed by spinning will not need to be removed in the dryer. It takes a lot of expensive energy to evaporate water. So the less water there is, the less electricity will be used. (Nerds: Google: latent heat of vaporization)

Sixth: The buzzer goes off......

Now, the spin cycle is where the rest of the odor problem comes from. As the load is spinning, fresh water is sprayed on the clothes. This flushes though the material from inside to out.  Any remaining detergent or softener is flushed out of the laundry in this flow through process. This spinning and flushing action is very effective. It is the second method used to minimize the total amount of water used. It is so effective that very little water is used. There are sensors to test the water as it leaves the machine. When the outgoing water matches the incoming water the rinse is over. (Nerds: Google: total dissolved solids,TDS) . However, at the same time, the thin detergent film on the plumbing does not have the rinse water spraying directly on IT, So the detergent  has not completely flushed out of the plumbing by the end of the rinse cycle in many cases. The more soap you use, the harder it is for all of it to rinse out.

The last of the rinse water can be held in the machine to be used in the beginning of the next wash cycle. This sounds like a great idea for the design engineer. Free water!

But, if the next cycle is not for a few days, the mold and mildew start to rot on the film left over from the wash cycle.

Not all makes and models hold the water intentionally. Some just have areas that stay damp. The result is the same as far as odors are concerned.

TechnoFresh™ affects whatever area is causing the odor. It does not matter what kind of machine you have. The surface film formed from detergents and softeners is fouled by TechnoFresh™ materials so mold, mildew and other fungus, and bacterial slime do not grow back easily if at all.