Standard and Optional Washer Cycles
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.