Modern washers combine chemical and mechanical actions to remove dirt from clothes. The detergent dissolves the dirt stuck on the fabrics and loosens it through flexing and forcing of clothes, and soap aids in soil removal. Each machine has one or more methods of mechanical action like tumbler, agitator, etc in them. The 4 basic functions of action in any washer fill, wash, pump-out/ extract, and spin.
The agitator is the most popular mechanical device used in the washing machine. It has blades and is fitted over the middle shaft in the tub of the washer. The agitator turns the clothes back and forth and in the process creates currents in the tub water, aiding the process of cleaning. Agitators with many numbers of vanes, sizes, and designs are available. The vanes are usually in a curved or vertical position. They are made of plastic or metal, generally aluminum.
Washing machines with agitators use an oscillating action when it is in the wash cycle. Various methods are employed to drive the agitator. Some machines offer slow-speed wobbling movement to the agitator. In certain other cases, a pulsating movement that goes up and down is offered. Though oscillating action is commonly used, certain machines use rotating motion in extraction mode. Washing machines with agitators are top-loading.
Front-loading washers have gained popularity in recent years. It has a perforated cylinder made of aluminum or steel that is porcelain-enameled. The tumbler method contains the clothes in the tub and rotates it in water. Inside the cylinder, there are projections or baffles made to move the clothes well in water. When the clothes reach a certain position they fall down, and the process goes on.
Generally tumble washers are front-loading; however, there are some which can take clothes from top or from a particular angle. The clothes tumble in the soapy water in the wash cycle, slowly. When the damp-dry cycle is reached the cylinder rotates fast, throwing water off from clothes. Gears in the washing machine aid the fast and slow rotation of the machine.
Washing machines with agitator and tumbler need hot as well as cold water. The temperature of the water is controlled using a thermostat that operates on a simple principle. You can use the switches to turn cold or hot water as required. If both switches, hot and cold, is turned on, you will get warm water.
A pump and an electric motor are incorporated in automatic washers. The motor runs clockwise in spin operations and while pumping water out. During agitate-rinse cycle and wash cycles, the tumbler turns anti-clockwise. When the rinse cycle is done, water is pumped out, after which the rinse cycle begins. The transmission tube of spin gets disengaged here, preventing the spinning of the basket. When the pump out procedure is about to complete, a solenoid frees the clutch spring to make spin basket revolve to haul out water from clothes. All through the pump out and spin time, the clockwise revolving of the motor frees the clutch.
Solenoids run the gear and clutch arrangements, detergent application, water flow control, etc in automatic washers. However, the overall control is with the timer. The user selects a section of the control, and the timer or control presets the automatic action of the washing machine.