How Does a Clothes Washing Machine Work? Explain that Stuff

Don’t you get enamoured by the mechanism of a clothes washing machine whenever you are in the laundry? Have you ever wondered how exactly a washing machine works?

Since 1767, the washing machine has undergone a lot of technological advancements reducing the manual effort to almost nil. You might have difficulty understanding how a complex home appliance like a washing machine functions. 

This guide throws light on different parts of the washing machine and its basic working principle.


What Are The Different Parts Of a Washing Machine? What Are Their Uses?

What Are The Different Parts Of a Washing MachineBefore getting to the sheer working principles of a washing machine, it is imperative to learn about its different components. A washing machine is made of multiple parts, all playing their respective roles:


  • An inner drum

Herein, you put your dirty garments. It contains a lot of holes allowing the entry of water into the drum. Moreover, the overall clothes cleaning process occurs in the inner drum itself


  • Agitator

The agitator is more prevalent in premium models of top-load machines. As it aids in turning around the clothes in the detergent-filled water, the cleaning process becomes much more effective. 


  • The outer drum

To one’s surprise, washing machines consist of another drum. The outer drum is meant for holding the water while the rotation of the agitator or inner drum is going on. 

NOTE: It would be best to take special care of the outer drum as it is indispensable in preventing water leakage from your washing machine.


  • Paddles

Situated on the edges of the inner drum, paddles are basically ridges that help clothes move inside the drum. 


  • Pump

As simple as it sounds, the pump helps remove water from the drum once the washing process ends. 


  • Pipes and valves

Although they are often overlooked, pipes and valves assist the back and forth movement of soapy water from the inner drum. 


  • Thermostat and heating element

The heater element and the thermostat regulate the water temperature inside the washing machine. You can easily heat the water to your desired temperature using these two. 


  • Programmer

In simple terms, the programmer is like the CPU of your clothes washing machine. It directs all the functions and features of the machine once you set the preferred setting for the fabric type.

Each program is a set of the same factors that are tweaked as per fabric: 

  • Quantity of water that goes in through the inlet pipes and valves 
  • The temperature of the water 
  • Speed of the drum for turning, spinning, and washing purposes

NOTE: It would help if you handled the programmer carefully since it is the brain of your washing machine. Moreover, it is in direct control of the pump, thus, supervising the entire wash cycle.


What Is The Working Mechanism Of A Clothes Washing Machine?

What Is The Working Mechanism Of A Clothes Washing MachineYou must have got a clear idea about the different parts of a washing machine by now. Now, it’s time to understand the working principle of a washing machine and what exactly happens during a wash cycle:


1. Choose your preferred program on the program controller. Then, you have to switch on the washing machine to activate the interlock feature of your machine’s door. 

2. The desired program starts the moment the machine door gets locked. Subsequently, the opening of the inlet valves permits water into the inner drum while passing through the liquid/powder detergent tray.  

3. Once the detergent-laden water enters the drum, the air present inside the pressure chamber gets compressed. Afterward, this pressure passes along your machine’s pressure tube to reach the pressure switch. As a result, the inlet valves get shifted.

4. Now, it is time for the heater element of the washing machine to raise the water temperature as per the set program. Then, the motor starts spinning the drum at the average speed of 55 rpm. After initially sticking to the drum, the clothes fall back into the soapy water solution.

5. Once the motor gets switched off, the pump focuses on emptying out the dirty water in tub through the drain hose. The machine’s cold inlet valve slowly cools the fabric after a hot wash to prevent any damage. 

6. The washing machine starts the rinse cycle as the pump switches off and the cold valve opens. This procedure gets repeated; the tub is filled to the desired level, the drum starts revolving, and the water is pumped out.

7. The spin cycle of your washing machine begins at the end of the last rinsing round. The machine’s motor switches on, and the drum revolves rapidly. Simultaneously, the pump switches on to drain the dirty water coming out of your garments.

8. Finally, the motor gets turned off, and the drum gradually stops its spinning cycle. When your machine’s door lock deactivates, you can open the door as the washing program ends. 



Q. What degree of temperature kills the bacteria in washing machines?

Even 30 degrees can kill the bacteria if you use a stronger detergent solution. However, we recommend 60 degrees to effectively remove the stains and destroy the bacteria, albeit it requires higher running costs.


Q. What’s the average life of a washing machine?

An average washing machine can easily last for 8 to 12 years, depending on your usage and timely maintenance. Typically, top-loading machines last longer than front-loading ones.



Unlike yesteryear, washing machines are not a luxury anymore. They are affordable, high-tech, and thus, important household appliances.

Based on the core laws of physics, these working principles are the foundation of the best kind of washing machine. It does not matter if you choose a semi-automatic, fully automatic, top-load, or front-load washing machine. Their working mechanism remains more or less the same

We hope that this guide has made it easier for you to understand how the clothes washing machine works. Have you got any further queries or want to share your opinions? Feel free to reach out to us in the comments section below!


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