Front-load washers have long been the standard washing machine in Europe and Asia. They've been around in the United States for years in the commercial washer market, but the recent emphasis on water and energy conservation has put the washers in the forefront of the home consumer washer production. Sales of the front loaders are increasing, but nearly 70 percent of homes still have a standard top-loading washer.
As more homes give front load washers a try, there is a learning curve both in how to use the machine correctly and in how the washer works to clean clothes.
Lesson One: Water Usage
One of the advantages of a front load washer is energy efficiency. The washer uses significantly less water-only 20 to 25 gallons-than a standard top load washer that uses around 40 gallons. It is also able to spin clothes at a rapid rate to extract more water and lessen time in the dryer. But for many first time users, the very low level of water is disturbing. Quite often you can barely see any water in the washer.
After clothes are loaded into a front load washer, the machine adds a small amount of water usually below the level of the door and begins to tumble. As the water is absorbed by the clothing, the machine sprays in more water to maintain the water level. For washers with automatic water level selection, this step is how the washer figures out how big a load of laundry is and how much water that load needs. Some washers allow you to select the water level and load size. But if you use too much water, you'll be defeating the entire benefit of energy savings.
Lesson Two: Detergent Usage
Because there is so much less water used than in a standard washer, you should use much less laundry detergent. It is also very important to use a detergent that is formulated for a high-efficiency machine. These are labeled with the HE logo and are formulated to produce very few suds. Seeing lots of bubbles or foam is an easy way to ruin your front load washer. The bubbles will overflow the washer and can destroy electronic systems and void warranties. Plus with lower water levels in the rinse cycle, the detergent will be left in your clothes.
Some washers have dispenser drawers that will slowly release the correct amount of detergent from the reservoir for each load. If you are adding the detergent yourself for each load, use no more than one tablespoon of HE detergent. If the product is 2x concentrate use two teaspoons or 3x concentrate use one teaspoon.
The same rule applies to fabric softener and bleach. One teaspoon of fabric softener will soften a full load. For chlorine bleach, two tablespoons should be used in the dispenser or one tablespoon if it is concentrated.
For single-dose detergent pacs, always place them in the bottom of the washer while it is empty before loading clothes. This will give the pac longer exposure to water so it will dissolve correctly. Never place pacs in a dispenser drawer.
Lesson Three: Loading the Washer
A front load washer should be loaded not by the pound of dirty laundry but by the amount of space they take up in the drum. Bulk is more important than weight. Load items into the drum loosely. Overfilling can result in clothes that are not cleaned correctly.
Large and small items should be included in each load to ensure balance. A load of small items will not tumble correctly and can even cause the washer to become unbalanced. Unbalanced loads cause noise, movement, vibration, and needless wear and tear on the machine. Washing one item is never a good idea.
Even though the tumbling action is more gentle than a center agitator, it is still important to follow all of the rules about getting clothes ready for the washer including checking pockets, closing zippers, and fastening hooks.
Lesson Four: Defeating Washer Odor
Many front load washer owners complain of a musty odor after a few months. Proper maintenance is key to keeping a front load washer odor-free. Failure to keep the washer clean is going to result in odors that transfer to your laundry. Clean your front load washer properly and regularly.