Courtesy of Bosch
Today's washers often have more than the three basic settings.
Standard Washer Cycles
Every washing machine offers at least three cycle settings: gentle or delicate, regular, and permanent press or knits. Each setting is a pre-determined combination of wash time and spin speed.
Think about the kinds of clothes and fabrics you wear and wash before you buy a washing machine. If jeans, khakis, T-shirts and socks make up the bulk of your laundry, you'll do fine with the basic cycles.
If you wear a lot of silk, use cloth diapers or have other fabric care challenges, look for a washing machine with the appropriate special washer cycles explained below.
Keep in mind that typically the more advanced—and expensive—the washer, the more cycles it will offer. Some have as many as 26; 10 or 11 are pretty common.
Optional Washer Cycles to Consider
Cotton, silk, or wool cycles
Extra long: A longer wash time, good for seriously dirty clothing such as sports uniforms.
Extra rinse: Adds another rinse to get out more dirt and detergent.
Extra spin: More spin time gets more water out of absorbent items such as towels or comforters.
Favorite: Allows you to program the settings you use most often.
Hand wash: If you own a number of fine washables and neither the time nor the desire to wash them by hand, this is a good option to have.
Prewash or soak: A brief cycle before the main cycle, designed to help remove dirt and stains.
Quick: A shorter wash option for clothing that's only lightly soiled. It saves water and wear and tear on the clothes.
Sanitize: Offers a few minutes of extra-hot water mid-cycle to kill bacteria and other germs. Good for families with frequent illnesses and allergies.