Thursday, November 15, 2012

It Takes More Than A Great Resume To Get A Great Job

I write resumes for a living so obviously I am a big believer in the importance of job seekers having powerful and well written resumes. With that said, I have been amazed recently at some conversations I have had with folks who have strong resumes yet who aren't finding jobs. Remember that we are in a down-economy so every job seeker needs to be on his or her A-game or the job search will not be successful.

A resume isn't the only tool you need in your arsenal to get a job. In fact, I have known some uber-talented folks who have crummy resumes and who keep landing great jobs because of the strength of their networks, educations, accomplishments, interpersonal skills, and ability to market themselves. Each of these elements is important to job seekers, some more than others depending on the relative strength of some areas of your background. A great resume will help you to get noticed but it is by no means the only thing you need to prepare for a successful job search in an economic downturn.

Based on recent conversations I have had with various job seekers, I have a few tips, thoughts and reality checks you should consider during your job search.

If you do not have a college education it may be harder for you to find a job than someone with an education. If you haven't started or finished your college degree I recommend that you seek out a program that will allow you to get a degree. There are many inexpensive state schools and online programs to choose from these days. Fair or not people with degrees have an advantage. Candidates with advanced degrees or diplomas from prestigious schools have an added advantage particularly when there are many candidates for a particular job.

If you have unexplained periods of unemployment on your resume you may have trouble finding a job. If you chose to take a sabbatical starting in 2007 (pre-economic downturn) and you haven't worked since then it may be difficult for you to land a job right now when competing with people who have worked consistently since then. Sorry, but that is a fact. Come up with a compelling story which explains your time off from work and it may make the search easier.

If you make it through three or four rounds of interviews and you don't land the job, guess what? It's not the resume that caused you to miss the opportunity. It could be your interview skills, fit with the culture, poor references, or maybe, they just plain liked another candidate better. Be honest and reflective when analyzing your interactions with potential employers. You may need some one-on-one interview coaching or to learn to prepare more effectively for interviews. I am always surprised when former clients call me and want to know why they aren't getting hired even though their resume is getting them interviews. A resume gets you an interview and should speak to your accomplishments when you aren't present to do so yourself. But a great resume doesn't guarantee you a job - you have to close that deal yourself.

If you have been a lifelong entrepreneur and your company has gone out of business because of the economy you may have trouble convincing an employer to hire you right now. I have run across several folks recently (most in the real estate industry) who had their own companies that have recently gone under and who are having a hard time landing a job. My theory is that employers are often skeptical of entrepreneurs because they aren't sure if they can work for someone else or they worry that as soon as the economy turns around the former-entrepreneur will quit and start another company. Create a compelling sales pitch for each employer you apply to which also addresses your ability to fit the culture. Also you might consider taking the time to create a 6 week business plan that you would use to hit the ground running in your new job. Actually I give this advice to all of my clients but it's especially true when you are a non-traditional candidate.

If you have uneven social skills or a difficult personality it may be harder for you to find a job in a difficult economy than someone gifted with smooth social graces and a reputation for workplace "niceness." I am sure we have all known odd but gifted technologists, mad scientists, nutty professors, cranky-yet-efficient secretaries, or other folks who may have been difficult to work with but were so talented that management let their quirks slide. In a tough economy employers often tend to hire people they like more than the "most talented" individuals. Play nicely with others, it will pay off. If you have already spent your career developing a reputation as an a-hole you may pay the price in a tough economy and I really have no advice to help you with your current situation. I suppose you will have to take your lumps, learn from your mistakes, and start being nicer to your coworkers when you get some.

If you have never bothered to build a network of friends and colleagues it may be more difficult for you to find a job. I am amazed at all the people who are coming out of the woodwork right now and are just starting to build a network in the hopes they will land a job quickly. Waiting until you are laid off to start building a network is bad timing. The time to begin building and maintaining a network is when you don't need anything from anyone. If, however, you weren't far sighted enough to realize this, the best way to network is to start attending events and meeting people without asking for anything right away. Start your new relationships by offering your help rather than asking for job leads; you will find that your new friends may offer assistance before you even ask. If you need networking tips check out Thom Singer's website www.thomsinger.com. He has some great books, seminars and tips that are effective for everyone. Also Keith Ferrazzi's Book Never Eat Alone and Whose Got Your Back? are very helpful.

Conduct a job search. Don't just dump your resume online and expect to find a great job. Amazingly many people seem to think the internet is magic and that if they post their resumes on Monster.com or CareerBuilder.com and don't do anything else they will find jobs. Probably not going to happen. The internet is a great tool that you can use to research job openings or companies that would be a good fit for your skills but it's not the best way for a hiring manager to find your resume in this economy. Posting your resume online but failing to actually seek jobs is pretty much like putting a message in a bottle and throwing it in the ocean and hoping someone will rescue you from your deserted island. Research companies, write cover letters, use your social networking profiles wisely, and network. That is how you find a job.
 
 
 
 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Office Politics: How To Befriend The Enemy After A Heated Battle

Forget the election, the showdown between President Obama and Gov. Romney was nothing compared to some of the leadership wars I've seen in corporate America. For those of us who have witnessed firsthand a fight for power over a project, division or high-profile initiative, we know this: When the battle is over and the winner has celebrated their victory with supporters, there is an unpleasant residue that must be dealt with. It's like a hangover, the flu bug and food poisoning all wrapped up into one nasty feeling: The need to work with the people who fought against you.

Both sides suffer this intense malady, which makes for a challenging road to effective collaboration.

Office Opponents Don't Die -- They Dig In Their Heels

Sadly, in most cases, the result is gridlock. Incredible energy is exerted on both sides only to see nothing get done. The negativity and ill-will created from this feels like a chronic illness. It drains both sides to such a degree that disengagement occurs. However, I have seen a few cases where the virus is beaten and a healthy, successful collaboration comes to life. In those cases, the following three actions were put into play by the winner:

1. Acknowledgement that there was no sweeping victory.

Bragging about how the better team prevailed without admitting to the fact that a significant number of people weren't behind the winning side's efforts is a stinging slap-in-the face that leaves a mark. Don't expect people to make the collaboration process easy when all they can remember is the faces and attitudes of the gloating winners. Make a point to show respect for the other side's ability to build a substantial following. To get that many people behind them means they must have been doing something right. Which leads to No. 2...

2. Find merit and utilize at least one component of the opposing side's platform.

Being confident in your abilities means recognizing a good idea -- especially, when it's not yours. Finding something of value in the losing side's game plan is worth putting on your own agenda. Instead of making it a total loss, they can now see at least some of their plan come to life. Which leads us to the last key technique for success...

3. Focus on building the right solution, not on proving the right side won.

Smart leaders always remember that: A) nobody is perfect, and B) winning doesn't make you right. Instead of focusing on sticking by your winning game plan at all costs, it's better to commit to reaching the goal, even if it means changing direction or adopting more than a few of the other sides' ideas. Leaders who let go of their pride and desire to validate their win are seen as more open and make it easier for the other side to want to work with them. It's called humility -- and it does wonders for bringing two sides together.

When leaders sincerely and publicly put the emotions and competitive atmosphere leading up to their victory behind them, using the three actions above, they become free to focus on ensuring that their former opponents feel validated and motivated. This is what it takes to make an enemy and ally. More importantly, this ensures that the anger and frustration between the sides melts away, leaving room for great acts of unity.

Thanks to J. T. O'Donnell / Jobs AOL / AOL Inc.
http://jobs.aol.com/articles/2012/11/08/office-politics-befriend-enemy-republicans-obama/

 
 

Leadership By The New Generation

Bridging the Age Gap
 
Picture this scenario: the leader of your long-established team has retired, and his replacement is a young manager straight out of business school. She's anxious to get going in the organization – with fresh ideas and fresh enthusiasm – and you hope that she'll bring some new life and energy into the company.

As the weeks go by, however, you begin to see growing discomfort and conflict between the older staff and this new team member. Your older colleagues think "the new kid" is overconfident, pushy, and too anxious to leave right at 5:00 p.m. The newcomer finds it hard to get support from her older colleagues. She's concerned that they can't (or won't) multitask, they're less confident with technology, and they're unwilling to share their hard-earned knowledge. As a result, cooperation is suffering.

How can you bridge this generation gap? And why is this important?

There's little doubt that the U.S. workforce is at a unique point in history (we'll look at other countries shortly). As "Baby Boomers" (people born between 1946 and 1964) begin to retire, the new generation steps into their shoes.

Generation X, or Gen X (born between 1965 and 1976), and Generation Y, or Gen Y (also called "Millennials," born between 1977 and 1998), have values and work styles that are completely different from the baby boomers. Finding ways to bridge the gaps within this new multigenerational workforce takes great skill – and it all starts with understanding how the new generation of leaders thinks, and what's important to them.

In the U.S., the drop in birth rate in the post baby boom years means that, by 2010, the number of people in the 35-44 middle management age group will drop by nearly 20 percent. Many other major economies worldwide are facing similar demographic changes. One practical consequence of these statistics is that organizations will have to work much harder to attract and retain good people.

New Generation leaders are a scarce commodity, and should be nurtured as such.

Generations X and Y: What They Care About

The new generations of leaders often have a completely different way of working from their older counterparts. (Keep in mind that we can't discuss all of the characteristics of these new groups in such a short space. Also, not everyone in these generations fits these characteristics: we're going to make some huge generalizations here, however hopefully these generalizations will be useful!)

For example, while boomers usually view long hours as evidence of loyalty and hard work, Gen X and Y tend to try to have more work/life balance. They've seen their parents' lack of quality of life, and the lack of loyalty companies showed to these hard-working parents in the 1990s, and they're not impressed.

They want flexible hours, more vacation time, continuous training, and telecommuting options. They expect to leverage technology to work efficiently instead of staying late in the office to get it all done.

Boomers have traditionally felt that you have to "pay your dues" to your company – and if you hate your job, that's just part of life. Generations X and Y typically don't accept this; they want rewarding, intellectually stimulating work – and they don't want someone watching them too closely to check on their progress. These new groups are independent, creative, and forward thinking. They celebrate cultural diversity, technology, and feedback, and they prefer more of a "lattice" or individualized approach to management (as opposed to the traditional "corporate ladder").

The new generations also tend to like teamwork. Studies have shown that colleague relationships rank very high on Gen X and Y's list of priorities. Things like salary and prestige can often rank lower than boomers might expect, or might want for themselves.

Note:
Some people argue that differences between generations aren't as strong as are suggested here, and that people's life stage is often more significant (see our article on the Life/Career Rainbow for more on this.)

Our opinion is that people are complex, and are affected by a range of different factors; that life stage is, of course, important in the way that people think and behave; but that there are useful differences in attitude between different generations, and these can lead to sometimes-profound misunderstandings between people of different generations.

Click here to find out more about the ideas behind generational profiles.

Attracting and Retaining the New Generations

Many have talked about how Gen X and Y seem always ready to leave one company and move onto something better, as soon as there's an opportunity. While it's true that they usually won't stay with a job if they're unhappy – as boomers often did – this doesn't mean they aren't serious or loyal.

It simply means that if you want to keep the best and brightest leaders in your organization, you need to offer them an environment that's geared to their values.

Quite a few Fortune 500 companies are changing their entire organizations to meet the wants and values of these new generations. Here are some examples:

  • A major U.S. chemical company has eliminated its "corporate ladder" approach to management. There are no bosses, and there's no top and bottom in the chain of command. Instead, authority is passed around through team leaders, so everyone in the company has a sense of equality and involvement.
  • A large U.S. accounting firm gives four weeks of vacation to every new hire (most U.S. companies offer only two weeks). This firm also offers new parents classes on how to reduce their working hours to spend more time with their families.
  • A software company in Silicon Valley has no set office hours. Staff come in and work when they choose. Everyone gets paid time off every month to do volunteer work, and they get a six-week sabbatical every four years.

If you think these dramatic policies would never work and would be too costly, then remember – these are all very profitable, highly productive companies with low turnover. They've made new rules, and they're successful.

Leadership Styles

So, what does all this say about the new generation's leadership styles? Well, it's easy to see that Gen X and Y are unlikely to lead in the same way the boomers did.

The new leaders value teamwork and open communication. They'll encourage collaboration, and they won't give direction and expect to be followed just because they're in charge. They want to understand their peers and other people's perspectives.

They'll spend more time building relationships with their teams than their predecessors did. Because they value their family time, they'll also give their staff enough time for personal lives. As a result, corporate culture might become less rigid than it is now, bringing more flexibility and a sense of fun.

As a result, if you're a member of a team whose leadership is being passed from an older generation leader to a new generation leader, you'll probably need to adjust to having more autonomy delegated to you, and to finding that the boss may not be around as much to check on things.

This new generation values action, so they'll work more efficiently and productively to earn time off. They'll expect their team to work hard too, but they'll also know when it's time to leave the office and go play. One of the ways in which they gain this efficiency is by using technology. Although they themselves will usually get to grips with this easily, you may need to remind new generation leaders that other members of their team need more training and support than they do themselves, if they're to get up to the same speed with new applications.

But they'll also follow a leader who has heart. So if you have new generation managers in your team, then you'll probably have to prove your worth before they'll fully support you. But once you show them that worth, they'll follow you all the way.

Tips:
Here are some things you can do in your company to ensure that your new generation of leaders wants to stay.
  • Offer ongoing training, especially if it teaches skills like organization, time management, leadership, and communication. People in Gen X and Y usually love to learn new things, so opportunities to grow are high on their list of priorities.
  • Increase nonmonetary benefits. Gen X and Y tend to value time as much as, if not more than, money. They have lives outside of work, and spending time with family and having fun are very important to them. Increase your vacation benefits and offer flexible working hours. These people are often busy parents who appreciate when a company understands that the traditional 9-to-5 day isn't always practical.
  • Give them freedom. Gen X and Y are often self-reliant and don't always look to a leader for direction. Their goal is to complete tasks in the most efficient way possible, while still doing them well. So don't force them to work under a management style that boomers often preferred, with the boss giving orders. Give them the freedom to make their own decisions.
  • Earn their loyalty and respect. Gen X and Y may not automatically be loyal to leaders, just because those leaders are in charge. Younger staff want open communication and leaders who are supportive and worthy of being followed.
  • Treat women and men as equals. Gen X and Y grew up with mothers who were often focused on their careers as well as their families. They're used to viewing women and men equally, so be sure you compensate both genders equally. If women feel they're the target of discrimination, you'll quickly lose them.
  • Be "green." The new generations have grown up with Earth Day and the threat of global warming. They want to make less of an impact on the environment. Studies have shown that people who work for companies with green initiatives have higher job satisfaction, and turnover is usually much lower.
Key Points

There's no doubt that the new generation of leaders has priorities that are often quite different from those of most leaders in place today.

So if you want to hire and keep the best and brightest people, the ones who will lead your company into the future, then you must create a work environment that's tailored to their values and priorities.

 
 
 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Washing Machine

 
A typical modern front-loading washing machine

A washing machine (laundry machine, washing machine, clothes washer, or washer) is a machine to wash laundry, such as clothing and sheets. The term is mostly applied only to machines that use water as opposed to dry cleaning (which uses alternative cleaning fluids, and is performed by specialist businesses) or ultrasonic cleaners. Washing entails immersing, dipping, rubbing, or scrubbing in water usually accompanied by detergent, or bleach. The simplest machines may simply agitate clothes in water while switched on; automatic machines may fill, empty, wash, spin, and heat in a cycle.

History

The process by hand

Irreler Bauerntradition shows an early Miele washing machine at the Roscheider Hof Open Air Museum
 
Electric wringer/mangle washing machine (1930)

Laundering by hand involves soaking, beating, scrubbing, and rinsing dirty textiles. Before indoor plumbing, the housewife also had to carry all the water used for washing, boiling, and rinsing the laundry; according to an 1886 calculation, women fetched water eight to ten times every day from a pump, well, or spring.[1] Water for the laundry would be hand carried, heated on a fire for washing, then poured into the tub. That made the warm soapy water precious; it would be reused, first to wash the least soiled clothing, then to wash progressively dirtier laundry. Removal of soap and water from the clothing after washing was originally a separate process. First soap would be rinsed out with clear water. After rinsing, the soaking wet clothing would be formed into a roll and twisted by hand to extract water. The entire process often occupied an entire day of hard work, plus drying and ironing.

Washing by machine

Clothes washer technology developed as a way to reduce the manual labor spent, providing an open basin or sealed container with paddles or fingers to automatically agitate the clothing. The earliest machines were hand-operated and constructed from wood, while later machines made of metal permitted a fire to burn below the washtub, keeping the water warm throughout the day's washing.

The earliest special-purpose washing device was the scrub board, invented in 1797.[2]

By the mid-1850s, steam-driven commercial laundry machinery was on sale in the UK and US.[3] Technological advances in machinery for commercial and institutional washers proceeded faster than domestic washer design for several decades, especially in the UK. In the US there was more emphasis on developing machines for washing at home, though machines for commercial laundry services were widely used in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.[4] The rotary washing machine was patented by Hamilton Smith in 1858.[2] As electricity was not commonly available until at least 1930, some early washing machines were operated by a low-speed single-cylinder hit and miss gasoline engine.

Wringing by machine

After the items were washed and rinsed, water had to be removed by twisting. To help reduce this labor, the wringer/mangle machine was developed.

The mangle used two rollers under spring tension to squeeze water out of clothing and household linen. Each laundry item would be fed through the wringer separately. The first wringers were hand-cranked, but were eventually included as a powered attachment above the washer tub. The wringer would be swung over the wash tub so that extracted wash water would fall back into the tub to be reused for the next load. As implied by the term "mangle," these early machines were quite dangerous, especially if powered and not hand-driven. A user's fingers, hand, arm, or hair could become entangled in the laundry being squeezed, resulting in horrific injuries; unwary bystanders, such as children, could also be caught and hurt. Safer mechanisms were developed over time, and the more hazardous designs were eventually outlawed.[citation needed]

The modern process of water removal by spinning did not come into use until electric motors were developed. Spinning requires a constant high-speed power source, and was originally done in a separate device known as an "extractor". A load of washed clothing would be transferred from the wash tub to the extractor basket, and the water spun out in a separate operation.[5] These early extractors were often dangerous to use, since unevenly distributed loads would cause the machine to shake violently. Many efforts were been made to counteract the shaking of unstable loads, such as mounting the spinning basket on a free-floating shock-absorbing frame to absorb minor imbalances, and a bump switch to detect severe movement and stop the machine so that the load could be manually redistributed.

The process combined

What is now referred to as an automatic washer was at one time referred to as a "washer/extractor", which combines the features of these two devices into a single machine, plus the ability to fill and drain water by itself. It is possible to take this a step further, and to also merge the automatic washing machine and clothes dryer into a single device, called a combo washer dryer.

Milestones

 
19th-century Metropolitan washing machine
 
A vintage German model

Early machines

The first English patent under the category of Washing and Wringing Machines was issued in 1691.[6] A drawing of an early washing machine appeared in the January 1752 issue of "The Gentlemen's Magazine", a British publication. Jacob Christian Schäffer's washing machine design was published 1767 in Germany.[7] In 1782, Henry Sidgier issued a British patent for a rotating drum washer, and in the 1790s Edward Beetham sold numerous "patent washing mills" in England.[8] In 1862, a patented "compound rotary washing machine, with rollers for wringing or mangling" by Richard Lansdale of Pendleton, Manchester, was shown at the 1862 London Exhibition.[9]

The first United States Patent titled "Clothes Washing" was granted to Nathaniel Briggs of New Hampshire in 1797. Because of the Patent Office fire in 1836, no description of the device survives. A device that combined a washing machine with a wringer mechanism did not appear until 1843, when Canadian John E. Turnbull of Saint John, New Brunswick patented a "Clothes Washer With Wringer Rolls."[10]

Margaret Colvin invented the Triumph Rotary Washer, which was exhibited in the Women's Pavilion at the Centennial International Exhibition of 1876 in Philadelphia. [11][12]

1910 advertisement

Electric washing machines were advertised and discussed in newspapers as early as 1904.[13] Alva J. Fisher has been incorrectly credited with the invention of the electric washer. The US Patent Office shows at least one patent issued before Mr. Fisher's US patent number 966677 (e.g. Woodrow's US patent number 921195). The "inventor" of the electric washing machine remains unknown.

US electric washing machine sales reached 913,000 units in 1928. However, high unemployment rates in the Depression years reduced sales; by 1932 the number of units shipped was down to about 600,000.

The first laundromat opened in Fort Worth, Texas in 1934.[14] It was run by Andrew Clein. Patrons used coin-in-the-slot facilities to rent washing machines. The term "laundromat" can be found in newspapers as early as 1884 and they were widespread during the Depression. It is almost impossible to determine who had the first laundromat. England established public wash rooms for laundry along with bath houses throughout the 19th century.[15]

Washer design improved during the 1930s. The mechanism was now enclosed within a cabinet, and more attention was paid to electrical and mechanical safety. Spin dryers were introduced to replace the dangerous power mangle/wringers of the day.

By 1940, 60% of the 25,000,000 wired homes in the United States had an electric washing machine. Many of these machines featured a power wringer, although built-in spin dryers were not uncommon.[citation needed]

Bendix Corporation introduced the first automatic washing machine in 1937,[16] having applied for a patent in the same year.[17] In appearance and mechanical detail, this first machine is not unlike the front loading automatic washers produced today. Although it included many of the today's basic features, the machine lacked any drum suspension and therefore had to be anchored to the floor to prevent "walking".

Many of the early automatic machines had coin-in-the-slot facilities and were installed in the basement laundry rooms of apartment houses.

Early automatic washing machines were usually connected to a water supply via temporary slip-on connectors to sink taps. Later, permanent connections to both the hot and cold water supplies became the norm, as dedicated laundry water hookups became common. Most modern front-loading European machines now only have a cold water connection (called "cold fill") and rely completely on internal electric heaters to raise the water temperature.

World War II and after

 
A classic Bendix washing machine
 
A 1950s model Constructa

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, US domestic washer production was suspended for the duration of the rest of World War II in favor of manufacturing war materiel. However, numerous US appliance manufacturers were given permission to undertake the research and development of washers during the war years. Many took the opportunity to develop automatic machines, realizing that these represented the future for the industry.[18]

A large number of US manufacturers introduced competing automatic machines (mainly of the top-loading type) in the late 1940s and early 1950s. An improved front-loading automatic model, the Bendix Deluxe (which retailed at $249.50), was introduced in 1947.[19] General Electric also introduced its first top loading automatic model in 1947. This machine had many of the features that are incorporated into modern machines.

Several manufacturers produced semi-automatic machines, requiring the user to intervene at one or two points in the wash cycle. A common semi-automatic type (available from Hoover in the UK until at least the 1970s) included two tubs: one with an agitator or impeller for washing, plus another smaller tub for water extraction or centrifugal rinsing.

One early form of automatic washing machine manufactured by Hoover used cartridges to program different wash cycles. This system, called the "Keymatic", used plastic cartridges with key-like slots and ridges around the edges. The cartridge was inserted into a slot on the machine and a mechanical reader operated the machine accordingly. The system did not commercially succeed because it offered no real advantage over the more conventional program dial, and the cartridges were prone to getting lost. In hindsight it can be seen as a marketing gimmick rather than offering any really useful functionality.

Since their introduction, automatic washing machines have relied on electromechanical timers to sequence the washing and extraction process. Electromechanical timers consist of a series of cams on a common shaft driven by a small electric motor via a reduction gearbox. At the appropriate time in the wash cycle, each cam actuates a switch to engage or disengage a particular part of the machinery (for example, the drain pump motor).

On the early electromechanical timers, the motor ran at a constant speed throughout the wash cycle, although it was possible for the user to truncate parts of the program by manually advancing the control dial. However, by the 1950s demand for greater flexibility in the wash cycle led to the introduction of more sophisticated electrical timers to supplement the electromechanical timer. These newer timers enabled greater variation in functions such as the wash time. With this arrangement, the electric timer motor is periodically switched off to permit the clothing to soak, and is only re-energized just prior to a micro-switch being engaged or disengaged for the next stage of the process. Fully electronic timers did not become widespread until decades later.

Despite the high cost of automatic washers, manufacturers had difficulty in meeting the demand. Although there were material shortages during the Korean War, by 1953 automatic washing machine sales in the US exceeded those of wringer-type electric machines.

In the UK and in most of Europe, electric washing machines did not become popular until the 1950s. This was largely because of the economic impact of World War II on the consumer market, which did not properly recover until the late 1950s. The early electric washers were single-tub, wringer-type machines, as fully automatic washing machines were extremely expensive. During the 1960s, twin tub machines briefly became very popular, helped by the low price of the Rolls Razor washers. Some machines had the ability to pump used wash water into a separate tub for temporary storage, and to later pump it back for re-use. This was done not to save water or soap, but because heated water was expensive and time-consuming to produce. Automatic washing machines did not become dominant in the UK until well into the 1970s and by then were almost exclusively of the front-loader design.

In early automatic washing machines, any changes in impeller/drum speed were achieved by mechanical means or by a rheostat on the motor power supply. However, since the 1970s electronic control of motor speed has become a common feature on the more expensive models.

Modern washers

A see-through Bosch machine at the IFA 2010 in Berlin shows off its internal components

In the early 1990s, upmarket machines incorporated microcontrollers for the timing process. These proved reliable and cost-effective, so many cheaper machines now incorporate microcontrollers rather than electromechanical timers. Miele, from West Germany, was a top of the line front-load washer, and was introduced in Kananaskis, Alberta by Glenn Isbister, starting a revolution in laundry in Canada.

In 1994, Staber Industries released the System 2000 washing machine, which is the only top-loading, horizontal-axis washer to be manufactured in the United States. The hexagonal tub spins like a front-loading machine, only using about third of the water as conventional top-loaders. This factor has led to an Energy Star rating for its high efficiency.

In 1998, New Zealand based company Fisher & Paykel introduced its SmartDrive washing machine line in the US. This washing machine uses a computer-controlled system to determine certain factors such as load size and automatically adjusts the wash cycle to match. It also used a mixed system of washing, first with the "Eco-Active" wash, using a low level of recirculated water being sprayed on the load followed by a more traditional style wash. Other variations include the Intuitive Eco, which can sense the water level and type of fabric in the wash load, and the agitatorless AquaSmart line. The SmartDrive also included direct drive brushless DC electric motor, which simplified the bowl and agitator drive by doing away with the need for a gearbox system.

In 2001, Whirlpool Corporation introduced the Calypso, the first vertical-axis high efficiency washing machine to be top-loading. A washplate in the bottom of the tub nutated (a special wobbling motion) to bounce, shake, and toss the laundry around. Simultaneously, water containing detergent was sprayed on to the laundry. The machine proved to be good at cleaning, but gained a bad reputation due to frequent breakdowns and destruction of laundry. The washer was recalled with a class-action lawsuit[citation needed]] and pulled off the market.

In 2003, Maytag introduced their top-loading Neptune washer. Instead of an agitator, the machine had two washplates, perpendicular to each other and at a 45 degree angle from the bottom of the tub. The machine would fill with only a small amount of water and the two washplates would tumble the load within it, mimicking the action of a front-loading washer in a vertical axis design.

In the early first decade of the 21st century, the British inventor James Dyson launched the ContraRotator, a type of washing machine with two cylinders rotating in opposite directions. It was claimed that this design reduces the wash time and produces cleaner results. However, this machine is no longer in production as it was too expensive to manufacture.[20]

In 2007, Sanyo introduced the first drum type washing machine with "Air Wash" function.[21] This washing machine uses only 50 liters of water in the recycle mode.

In 2008, the University of Leeds created a concept washing machine that uses only a cup (less than 300ml) of water and 44 pounds (20 kg) of re-usable plastic chips to carry out a full wash.[22] The machine leaves clothes virtually dry, and uses less than 2 per cent of the water and energy otherwise used by a conventional machine. As such, it could save billions of liters of water each year. The concept is being developed as the Xeros Washing Machine.

Features available in most modern consumer washing machines:

  • Predefined programs for different laundry types
  • Variable temperatures, including cold wash
  • Rotation speed settings
  • Delayed execution: a timer to delay the start of the laundry cycle

Additionally some of the modern machines feature:

  • Child lock
  • Time remaining indication
  • Steam

Future functionalities will include energy consumption prognosis before starting the program, and electricity tariff induced delayed start of the machines.[23] Integration into home local (wireless) networks will allow to monitor energy demand via different clients like computers or smart phones.

Top versus front loading

Modern washing machines are available in two configurations: top loading and front loading.

Market share

Market Top Loading Washer Front Loading Washer
European Market Share               10%**                  90%
US Market Share               65%                  35%

Top-loading

 
Low-cost top loading, vertical axis machines in Laundromat (California)
 
In a top-loading washer, water circulates primarily along the poloidal axis during the wash cycle, as indicated by the red arrow in this illustration of a torus.

The top-loading or vertical-axis clothes washer is most popular in Australia[citation needed], New Zealand, Canada, the United States, and Latin America.[citation needed] Simplified, very-low-cost versions are made for markets in Asia, Africa, and other less-developed parts of the world.

This design places the clothes in a vertically mounted perforated basket that is contained within a water-retaining tub, with a finned water-pumping agitator in the center of the bottom of the basket. Clothes are loaded through the top of the machine, which is usually but not always covered with a hinged door.

During the wash cycle, the outer tub is filled with water sufficient to fully immerse and suspend the clothing freely in the basket. The movement of the agitator pushes water outward between the paddles towards the edge of the tub. The water then moves outward, up the sides of the basket, towards the center, and then down towards the agitator to repeat the process, in a circulation pattern similar to the shape of a torus. The agitator direction is periodically reversed, because continuous motion in one direction would just lead to the water spinning around the basket with the agitator rather than the water being pumped in the torus-shaped motion. Some washers supplement the water-pumping action of the agitator with a large rotating screw on the shaft above the agitator, to help move water downwards in the center of the basket.

In most top-loading washers, if the motor spins in one direction, the gearbox drives the agitator; if the motor spins the other way, the gearbox locks the agitator and spins the basket and agitator together. Similarly if the pump motor rotates one way it recirculates the sudsy water; in the other direction it pumps water from the machine during the spin cycle. Because they usually incorporate a gearbox, clutch, crank, etc., top-loading washers are mechanically more complex than front loading machines. An example of the complex mechanisms once used to produce different motions from a single motor is the so-called "wig wag" mechanism, which was used for decades until modern controls rendered it obsolete. The electromechanical components in conventional top-load washers have largely reached maturity, and there is a trend towards simpler mechanical components but greater complexity in electronic controllers.

The top-loader's spin cycle between washing and rinsing allows an extremely simple fabric softener dispenser, which operates passively through centrifugal force and gravity. The same objective must be accomplished by a solenoid valve on a front loader. Another advantage to the top loading design is the reliance on gravity to contain the water, rather than potentially trouble-prone or short-lived front door seals. Top loaders may require less periodic maintenance since there is no need to clean a door seal or bellows, although a plastic tub may still require a periodic "maintenance wash" cycle (described below).

As with front-loading washers, clothing should not be packed tightly into a top-loading washer. Although wet cloth usually fits into a smaller space than dry cloth, a dense wad of cloth can restrict water circulation, resulting in poor soap distribution and incomplete rinsing. Extremely overloaded top-loading washers can either jam the motion of the agitator, overloading or damaging the motor or gearbox, or tearing fabrics. Extreme overloading can also push fabrics into the small gap between the underside of the agitator and the bottom of the wash basket, resulting in fabrics wrapped around the agitator shaft, possibly requiring agitator removal to unjam.

Some machines which actually load from the top are otherwise much more similar to front-loading drum machines, and are described below.

Arctic BE1200A+ is a front loading budget model sold in 2008 with 6 kg load, LCD indicator, 1200 RPM

Front-loading

The front-loading or horizontal-axis clothes washer is the dominant design in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and much of the rest of the world. In the US and elsewhere, most "high-end" washing machines are of this type. In addition, most commercial and industrial clothes washers around the world are of the horizontal-axis design.

This layout mounts the inner basket and outer tub horizontally, and loading is through a door at the front of the machine. The door often but not always contains a transparent window. Agitation is supplied by the back-and-forth rotation of the cylinder and by gravity. The clothes are lifted up by paddles on the inside wall of the drum and then dropped. This motion flexes the weave of the fabric and forces water and detergent solution through the clothes load. Because the wash action does not require the clothing be freely suspended in water, only enough water is needed to moisten the fabric. Because less water is required, front-loaders typically use less soap, and the repeated dropping and folding action of the tumbling can easily produce large amounts of foam or suds.

Front-loaders control water usage through the surface tension of water, and the capillary wicking action this creates in the fabric weave. A front-loader washer always fills to the same low water level, but a large pile of dry clothing standing in water will soak up the moisture, causing the water level to drop. The washer then refills to maintain the original water level. Because it takes time for this water absorption to occur with a motionless pile of fabric, nearly all front-loaders begin the washing process by slowly tumbling the clothing under the stream of water entering and filling the drum, to rapidly saturate the clothes with water.

Front-loading washers are mechanically simple compared to top-loaders, with the main motor normally being connected to the drum via a grooved pulley belt and large pulley wheel, without the need for a gearbox, clutch or crank. But front-load washers suffer from their own technical problems, due to the drum lying sideways. For example, a top loading washer keeps water inside the tub merely through the force of gravity pulling down on the water, while a front-loader must tightly seal the door shut with a gasket to prevent water dripping onto the floor during the wash cycle. This access door is locked shut during the entire wash cycle, since opening the door with the machine in use could result in water gushing out onto the floor. For front-loaders without viewing windows on the door, it is possible to accidentally pinch fabric between the door and the drum, resulting in tearing and damage to the pinched clothing during tumbling and spinning.

Nearly all front-loader washers for the consumer market must also use a folded flexible bellows assembly around the door opening, to keep clothing contained inside the basket during the tumbling wash cycle.[citation needed] If this bellows assembly were not used, small articles of clothing such as socks could slip out of the wash basket near the door, and fall down the narrow slot between the outer tub and basket, plugging the drain and possibly jamming rotation of the inner basket. Retrieving lost items from between the outer tub and inner basket can require complete disassembly of the front of the washer and pulling out the entire inner wash basket. Commercial and industrial front-loaders used by businesses (described below) usually do not use the bellows, and instead require all small objects to be placed in a mesh bag to prevent loss near the basket opening.

The bellows assembly around the door is a potential source of problems for the consumer front-loader. The bellows has a large number of flexible folds to permit the tub to move separately from the door during the high speed extraction cycle. On many machines, these folds can collect lint, dirt, and moisture, resulting in mold and mildew growth, and a foul odor. Some front-loading washer operating instructions say the bellows should be wiped down monthly with a strong bleach solution, while others offer a special "freshening" cycle where the machine is run empty with a strong dosing of bleach. In the past, suggested remedies have included adding vinegar to the laundry detergent, running an empty cycle with bleach every few weeks, wiping the door gasket with a diluted bleach solution every other week, and leaving the front-loading washer door ajar between loads.

Compared to top-loading washers, clothing can be packed more tightly in a front loader, up to the full drum volume if using a cottons wash cycle. This is because wet cloth usually fits into a smaller space than dry cloth, and front loaders are able to self-regulate the water needed to achieve correct washing and rinsing. Extreme overloading of front-loading washers pushes fabrics towards the small gap between the loading door and the front of the wash basket, potentially resulting in fabrics lost between the basket and outer tub, and in severe cases, tearing of clothing and jamming the motion of the basket.

Variant and hybrid designs

European top loader with horizontal axis rotating drum (2008)

There are many variations of these two general themes. Top-loading machines in Asia use impellers instead of agitators. Impellers are similar to agitators except that they do not have the center post extending up in the middle of the wash tub basket.

Some machines which actually load from the top are otherwise much more similar to front-loading drum machines. They have a drum rotating around a horizontal axis, as a front-loader, but there is no front door; instead there is a liftable lid which provides access to the drum, which has a hatch which can be latched shut. Clothes are loaded, the hatch and lid are closed, and the machine operates and spins just like a front-loader. These machines are narrower but usually taller than front-loaders, usually have a lower capacity, and are intended for use where only a narrow space is available, as is sometimes the case in Europe. They have incidental advantages: they can be loaded without bending down; they do not require a perishable rubber bellows seal; and instead of the drum having a single bearing on one side, it has a pair of symmetrical bearings, one on each side, avoiding asymmetrical bearing loading and potentially increasing life.

There are also combo washer dryer machines that combine washing cycles and a full drying cycle in the same drum, eliminating the need to transfer wet clothes from a washer to a dryer machine. In principle, these machines are convenient for overnight cleaning (the combined cycle is considerably longer), but the effective capacity for cleaning larger batches of laundry is drastically reduced. The drying process tends to use much more energy than using two separate devices, because a combo washer dryer not only must dry the clothing, but also needs to dry out the wash chamber itself. These machines are used more in Europe and the UK, because they can be fitted into small spaces, and many can be operated without dedicated utility connections.

Comparison

True front-loaders, and top-loading machines with horizontal-axis drum as described above, can be compared with top-loaders on a number of aspects:

  • Efficient Cleaning: Front-loaders usually use less energy, water, and detergent, and can clean more effectively than many of the best top-loaders.[24] "High Efficiency" washers use 20% to 60% of the detergent, water and energy of "standard" washers. They usually take somewhat longer (20-110 minutes) to wash a load, but are often computer controlled with additional sensors, to adapt the wash cycle to the needs of each load. As this technology improves, the human interface will also improve, to make it easier to understand and control the many different cleaning options.[citation needed]
  • Water Usage: Front-loaders usually use less water than top-loading residential clothes washers. Estimates are that front-loaders use from one third[25] to one half[26] as much water as top-loaders.
  • Spin-dry Effectiveness: Front-loaders offer much higher maximum spin speeds of up to 2000 RPM, although home machines tend to be in the 1000 to 1200 RPM range, while top-loaders rarely exceed 650 RPM. Higher spin speeds remove much more residual water, making clothes dry faster. This also reduces time and energy if clothes are dried in a clothes dryer.[citation needed]
  • Cycle Length: Top-loaders have tended to have shorter cycle times, in part because their design has traditionally emphasized simplicity and speed of operation more than resource conservation.
  • Wear and Abrasion: Top-loaders require an agitator or impeller mechanism to force enough water through clothes to clean them effectively, which greatly increases mechanical wear and tear on fabrics. Front-loaders use paddles in the drum to repeatedly pick up and drop clothes into water for cleaning; this gentler action causes less wear. The amount of clothes wear can be roughly gauged by the amount of accumulation in a clothes dryer lint filter, since the lint largely consists of stray fibers detached from textiles during washing and drying.
  • Difficult Items: Top-loaders may have trouble cleaning large items, such as sleeping bags or pillows, which tend to float on top of the wash water rather than circulate within it. In addition, vigorous top-loader agitator motions may damage delicate fabrics.
  • Noise: Front-loaders tend to operate more quietly than top-loaders because the door seal helps contain noise, and because there is less of a tendency to imbalance. Top-loaders usually need a mechanical transmission, which can generate more noise than the rubber belt or direct drive found in most front loaders.
  • Compactness: True front-loading machines may be installed underneath counter-height work surfaces. A front-loading washing machine, in a fully fitted kitchen, may even be disguised as a kitchen cabinets. These models can also be convenient in homes with limited floor area, since the clothes dryer may be installed directly above the washer ("stacked" configuration).
  • Water Leakage: Top-loading machines are less prone to leakage, because simple gravity can reliably keep water from spilling out the loading door on top. True front-loading machines require a flexible seal or gasket on the front door, and the front door must be locked during operation to prevent opening, lest large amounts of water spill out. This seal may leak and require replacement. However, many current front-loaders use so little water that they can be stopped mid-cycle for addition or removal of laundry, while keeping the water level in the horizontal tub below the door level. Best practice installations of either type of machine will include a floor drain or an overflow catch tray with a drain connection, since neither design is immune to leakage or a solenoid valve getting stuck in the open position.
  • Maintenance and Reliability: Top-loading washers are more tolerant of maintenance neglect, and may not need a regular "freshening" cycle to clean door seals and bellows. During the spin cycle, a top-loading tub is free to move about inside the cabinet of the machine, using only a lip around the top of the inner basket and outer tub to keep the spinning water and clothing from spraying out over the edge. Therefore, the potentially problematic door-sealing and door-locking mechanisms used by true front-loaders are not needed. On the other hand, top-loaders use mechanical gearboxes that are more vulnerable to wear than simpler front load motor drives.
  • Accessibility and Ergonomics: Front-loaders are more convenient for very short people and those with paraplegia, as the controls are front-mounted and the horizontal drum eliminates the need for standing or climbing. For people who are not unusually short, top-loaders may be easier to load and unload, since reaching into the tub does not require stooping. Risers, often with storage drawers underneath, can be used to raise the door of a true front-loader closer to the user's level.
  • Initial Cost: In countries where top-loaders are popular, front-loaders tend to be more expensive to buy than top-loaders, though their lower operating costs can ultimately lead to lower total cost of ownership, especially if energy, detergent, or water are expensive. On the other hand, in countries with a large front-loader userbase, top-loaders are usually seen as alternatives and more expensive than basic off-brand front loaders, altough without many differences in total cost of ownership apart from design-originated ones. In addition, manufacturers have tended to include more advanced features such as internal water heating, automatic dirt sensors, and high-speed emptying on front-loaders, although some of these features could be implemented on top-loaders.

Wash cycles

A stand-alone spin dryer used for extracting water from laundry

The earliest washing machines simply carried out a washing action when loaded with clothes and soap, filled with hot water, and started. Over time machines became more and more automated, first with very complex electromechanical controllers, then fully electronic controllers; users put clothes into the machine, select a suitable program via a switch, start the machine, and come back to remove clean and slightly damp clothes at the end of the cycle. The controller starts and stops many different processes including pumps and valves to fill and empty the drum with water, heating, and rotating at different speeds, with different combinations of settings for different fabrics.

Washing

Many front loading machines have internal electrical heating elements to heat the wash water, to near boiling if desired. Chemical cleaning action of the detergent and other laundry chemicals increases greatly with temperature. Washing machine with internal heaters can use special detergents formulated to release different chemical ingredients at different temperatures, allowing different type of stains and soils to be cleaned from the clothes as the wash water is heated up by the electrical heater. Higher-temperature washing uses more energy, and many fabrics are damaged at higher temperatures. Temperatures exceeding 40 °C have the undesirable effect of inactivating the enzymes when using biological detergent.

Many machines are cold-fill, connected to cold water only, which they heat to operating temperature. Where water can be heated more cheaply or with less carbon dioxide emission than by electricity, cold-fill operation is inefficient.

Front loaders need to use low-sudsing detergents because the tumbling action of the drum folds air into the clothes load that can cause over-sudsing and overflows. However, due to efficient use of water and detergent, the sudsing issue with front-loaders can be controlled by simply using less detergent, without lessening cleaning action.

Rinsing

Washing machines perform several rinses after the main wash to remove most of the detergent. Modern washing machines use less water due to environmental concerns; however, this has led to the problem of poor rinsing on many washing machines on the market,[27] which can be a problem to people who are sensitive to detergents. The Allergy UK website suggests re-running the rinse cycle, or rerunning the entire wash cycle without detergent.[28] In response to complaints, many washing machines allow the user to select additional rinse cycles, at the expense of higher water usage and longer cycle time.

Spinning

Higher spin speeds remove more water, leading to faster drying. If a heated clothes-drier is used after the wash and spin, energy use is reduced if more water has been removed from clothes. However, faster spinning can crease clothes more. Also, mechanical wear on bearings increases rapidly with rotational speed, reducing life. Early machines would spin at only 300 RPM and, because of lack of any mechanical suspension, would often shake and vibrate.

Early front-loading machines, especially those manufactured in warm Mediterranean countries such as Italy, had low maximum spin speeds such as 800 RPM or less. Nowadays, a spin speed of 1200 RPM is common, and a peak spin speed as high as 1600 RPM is available on many machines. Some current models in Europe have speeds of 1800 RPM, while a few high-end washing machines have a spin speed of 2000 RPM.

Many modern machines are equipped with an automatic clothes load balancer, using a sealed ring of viscous liquid, that helps to counteract any out-of-balance distribution. Better machines may include internal suspension and shock systems to reduce noise, and sensors and software to detect and correct an out-of-balance load.

Front-loading washers can be significantly quieter during spin than top-loaders because of the lack of a noisy gearbox to drive the machine's moving parts. However, because they were not as susceptible to gravitational forces and imbalances, some early top-loading machines had spin speeds in excess of 1000 RPM, although some were as low as 360 RPM. Most US top-loading washers have spin speeds less than 1000 RPM.

Separate spin-driers, without washing functionality, are available for specialised applications. For example, a small high-speed centrifuge machine may be provided in locker rooms of communal swimming pools to allow wet bathing costumes to be substantially dried to a slightly damp condition after daily use.

Maintenance wash

Many home washing machines use a plastic, rather than metal, outer shell [29] to contain the wash water; residue can build up on the plastic tub over time. Some manufacturers advise users to perform a regular maintenance or "freshening" wash to clean the inside of the washing machine of any mold, bacteria, encrusted detergent, and unspecified dirt more effectively than with a normal wash.

A maintenance wash is performed without any laundry, on the hottest wash program,[30] adding substances such as white vinegar, 100 grams of citric acid, a detergent with bleaching properties, or a proprietary washing machine cleaner. The first injection of water goes into the sump[31] so the machine can be allowed to fill for about 30 seconds before adding cleaning substances.

Efficiency and standards

Capacity and cost are both considerations when purchasing a washing machine. All else being equal, a machine of higher capacity will cost more to buy, but will be more convenient if large amounts of laundry must be cleaned. Fewer runs of a machine of larger capacity may have lower running costs and better energy and water efficiency than frequent use of a smaller machine, particularly for large families. Running a large machine with small loads is wasteful.

For many years energy and water efficiency were not regulated, and little attention was paid to them. From the last part of the twentieth century increasing attention was paid to efficiency, with regulations enforcing some standards, and efficiency being a selling point, both to save on running costs and to reduce carbon dioxide emissions associated with energy generation, and waste of water.

As energy and water efficiency were regulated, and a selling point, but effectiveness of rinsing was not, manufacturers tended to reduce the degree of rinsing after washing, saving water and motor energy. This had the side-effect of leaving more detergent residue in clothes. Insufficient rinsing can leave enough detergent in clothes to affect people with allergies or sensitivity.[27]

Europe

The EU requires washing machines carry an efficiency label

Washing machines display an EU Energy Label with grades for energy efficiency, washing performance and spin efficiency. Grades run from A+++ to G (best to worst), providing a simple method for judging running costs and performance. For example a "Triple A" (AAA)-rated machine indicates lowest energy consumption, best wash and best water extraction (i.e. spin) performance. This has had the desired effect of driving customers toward more efficient washing machines and away from less efficient ones.

United States

Top-loading and front-loading clothes washers are covered by a single Federal Standard regulating energy consumption. The Federal Standard applicable until January 1, 2011 included no restriction on water consumption; washer manufacturers faced no legal restriction on how much unheated rinse water could be used.[32]

After mandatory Federal Standards were introduced, many US clothes washers were manufactured to be more energy- and water-efficient than required by the federal standard, or even the more stringent Energy Star standard.[33] Manufacturers may be motivated to exceed mandatory standards by a program of direct-to-manufacturer tax credits.[34] However, excessive energy conservation may lead to less satisfactory cleaning.[35]

Equipment durability

Commercial use

 
Commercial washing machines and dryers (at left) in a self-service laundry (Paris, France)
 
Commercial washing machines in a self-service Laundromat (Toronto, Canada)

A commercial washing machine is intended for more frequent use than a consumer washing machine. Durability and functionality is more important than style; most commercial washers are bulky and heavy, and have a sharp-edged square appearance, often with more expensive stainless steel construction to minimize corrosion in a constantly moist environment. They are built with large easy-to-open service covers, and washers are designed not to require access to the underside for service. Often commercial washers are installed in long rows with a wide access passageway behind all the machines to allow maintenance without moving the heavy machines.

Laundromat machines

Many commercial washers are built for use by the general public, and are installed in publicly accessible laundromats or laundrettes, operated by money accepting devices or card readers. The features of a commercial Laundromat washer are more limited than a consumer washer, usually offering just two or three basic wash programs and an option to choose wash cycle temperatures.

The common front-loading commercial washing machine also differs from consumer models in its expulsion of wash and rinse water. While the consumer models pump used washer water out, allowing the waste line to be located above the washer, front loading commercial machines generally use only gravity to expel used water. A drain in the rear, at the bottom of the machine opens at the appointed time during the cycle and water flows out. This creates the need for a drainage trough behind machines, which leads to a filter and drain. The trough is usually part of a cement platform built for the purpose of raising the machines to a convenient height, and can be seen behind washers at most laundromats.

Most Laundromat machines are horizontal-axis front-loading models, because of their lower operating costs (notably lower consumption of expensive hot water).

Industrial washers

A 1980s Belgian 90kg load industrial washer (horizontal axis, front load)

By contrast, commercial washers for internal business operations (still often referred to as "washer/extractor" machines) may include features absent from domestic machines. Many commercial washers offer an option for automatic injection of five or more different chemical types, so that the operator does not have to deal with constantly measuring out soap products and fabric softeners for each load by hand. Instead, a precise metering system draws the detergents and wash additives directly from large liquid-chemical storage barrels and injects them as needed into the various wash and rinse cycles. Some computer-controlled commercial washers offer the operator complete control over the various wash and rinse cycles, allowing the operator to program custom washing cycles.

Most large-scale industrial washers are horizontal-axis machines, but may have front-, side-, or top-load doors. Some industrial clothes washers can batch-process up to 800 pounds (360 kg) of textiles at once, and can be used for extremely machine-abusive washing tasks such as stone washing or fabric bleaching and dyeing.

An industrial washer can be mounted on heavy-duty shock absorbers and attached to a concrete floor, so that it can extract water from even the most severely out-of-balance and heavy wash loads. Noise and vibration is not as unacceptable as in a domestic machine. It may be mounted on hydraulic cylinders, permitting the entire washer to be lifted and tilted so that fabrics can be automatically dumped from the wash drum onto a conveyor belt once the cycle is complete.

One special type of continuous-processing washer is known as the tunnel washer. This specialized high-capacity machine does not have a drum where everything being washed undergoes distinct wash and rinse cycles, but moves the laundry slowly and continuously through a long, large-diameter horizontal-axis rotating tube in the manner of an assembly line, with different processes at different positions.

Social impact

"Woman's Friend" machine (c. 1890)

The historically laborious process of washing clothes (a task which often had a whole day set aside to perform) has at times been labelled "woman's work".

In 2009 L'Osservatore Romano published an article entitled "The Washing Machine and the Liberation of Women" that was controversially meant to demonstrate that the washing machine had done more for the liberation of women than the contraceptive pill and abortion rights, which are often associated with Women's Day.[36] The article shocked Italian feminists and provoked criticism from Opposition MP Paola Concia.[37] A study from Université de Montréal, Canada presented a similar point of view.[38]

Swedish statistician Hans Rosling suggested that the positive effect the washing machine had on the liberation of women, makes it "the greatest invention of the industrial revolution".[39]

Environmental impact

Due to the increasing cost of repairs relative to the price of a washing machine, there has been a major decline in the number of washing machines being repaired, rather than discarded, when faulty, to the detriment of the environment. The cost of repair and the expected life of the machine once repaired often make the purchase of a new machine to be seen as the better option.[40]

Different washing machine models vary widely in their use of water, detergent, and energy. The energy required for heating is large compared to that used by lighting, electric motors and electronic devices. Because of their use of hot water, washing machines are among the largest consumers of energy in a typical modern home[citation needed].

Manufacturers and brands

  • Antonio Merloni SpA: including brand names Asko, Servis, ARDO
  • Arçelik: including the brand names Arçelik, Beko, Blomberg, Grundig, Arctic, Altus, Flavel, Elektra Bregenz, Leisure
  • Aurora [41]
  • BSH: including the brand names Siemens (German), Bosch (German)
  • Candy: including brand names Candy, Hoover, Zerowatt, Helkama, Grepa, Vyatka, Jinling
  • Drean [42]
  • Electrolux: including the brand names Electrolux, Arthur Martin[1], Zanussi, AEG (German),
  • Fagor
  • Fisher & Paykel New Zealand
  • GE
  • GAFA [43]
  • Indesit: including the brand names Indesit, Ariston, Hotpoint, Scholtes
  • LG including Gold Star
  • Longvie [43]
  • Gorenje
  • Miele (German)
  • Philco [44]
  • Polar (now the sole manufacturer of domestic twin tub washing machines in the UK) [45]
  • SMEG: including brand names SMEG worldwide and White Westinghouse in Europe.
  • Samsung
  • Vestel: Vestel, Regal, Vestfrost
  • Videocon (in India)
  • Washex
  • Whirlpool: including the brand names Admiral, Amana, Bauknecht, Estate, Inglis, Kenmore, Laden, Maytag, Magic Chef, Kirkland, Roper & Philips