The characteristics between the "cotton/normal" and the "permanent press" wash cycles differ in the length of time and speed with which the machine churns the clothes clean. The "cotton/normal" cycle will consist of a long cleaning cycle followed by a fast spin cycle, whereas the "permanent press" cycle follows a long cleaning cycle with a slower spin cycle.
The "cotton/normal" cycle is designed for clothes that can withstand a more extensive cleaning, such as cotton and linen. The wash cycle will normally last for approximately 8 to 15 minutes, followed by a spin cycle in which the washer spins the clothes very rapidly to remove as much water as possible.
The "permanent press" wash cycle will last from 7 to 10 minutes and will be followed by a spin cycle that is significantly slower than the "cotton/normal" cycle. The fabrics that should be cleaned using the "permanent press" cycle generally consist of synthetic fibers that wrinkle and pile easier when spun dry at high speeds. Piling is the clothing defect that arises in synthetic fabrics when threads of the fabric fibers are pushed out from the cloth. As the clothing is worn and washed, these fibers are spun together and form tiny balls that are anchored to the surface of the fabric by the fibers that haven't become dislodged yet.