Home / Laundry / Guide to Washing Machine Spin Speeds

Washing machines work by spraying detergent and hot water into a porous drum in which clothes are being continually rotated. This rotation ensures that your clothes are uniformly washed. When the wash cycle finishes, the spin cycle will follow. This is designed to remove as much water from the washed clothes as possible, so you’re removing damp rather than soaking wet items from the machine.

Washing machines generally spin at between 1200 and 1800rpm, but changes in the rotation speed will affect the washing cycle in several ways. Let’s take a look at the different spin speeds, and why they matter.



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Advantages of higher spin speeds

Higher spin speeds mean your clothes will take less time to dry. All that motion releases moisture from the fabrics, which means faster speeds are useful to those with limited space in which to dry their clothes.

Not only that, but because your clothes will emerge dryer on a faster cycle, they won’t require as much time in the tumble dryer. This energy saving will more than offset the slightly elevated energy consumption of a drum with a quicker spin. In this sense, a faster washing machine will save you both time and energy in the long run.

Is a higher speed always better?

Different materials will benefit from slightly different spin speeds. It’s therefore worth taking a look at your wardrobe, and seeing which items will benefit from a higher spin speed. If you have a lot of durable cotton items (or a few cotton items which see a lot of use), then it’s worth investing in a faster machine.

Higher spin speeds also tend to produce more creases. This means if your wash includes a lot of shirts, you’ll want to use a lower speed, and save on ironing time!

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Will high spin speeds damage clothes?

One argument against higher spin speeds is that they’re supposedly more caustic, since they’re moving your items around the machine more violently. In the case of delicate items, like silk or items with lots of embellishment, this might be so. For cottons and bulky items like towels, however, this isn’t a problem.

If you’re in the slightest doubt, check the label of the item you’re washing. You’ll often find that labels on silk items recommend washing speeds of around 400rpm for a 6kg load. Those on cotton items, however, will likely suggest speeds up to four times that.

Can high spin speeds damage my washing machine?

In some machines, particularly in older models which rely on belt-driven technology, a higher spin speed will generally mean a reduced lifespan for the machine.

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