Washers clean dirty clothes by forcing detergent and water through the fabric, which allows the detergent to remove grime from garments. Most washers operate with a control system and a mechanical system.
A washing machine control system is made up of a load size selector, which is essentially a pressure switch, timer, water temperature selector, control boards and lid switch. The mechanical system, meanwhile, consists of the motor, clutch, transmission, suspension system, inner and outer tubs, pumps, agitator, belt and water valve.
In top-loading washers, the agitator moves back and forth, pulling clothing to the bottom of the inner tub. Once the clothes move back to the top, the agitator catches them and pulls them down again. In front-loading machines, clothes fall through the water into the base of the tub over and over again. In both types of machines, water is pumped out, and then the inner drum squeezes water from the clothing by spinning, which applies centrifugal force.
The rinse cycle repeats the above action, only without detergent. Some people like to add fabric softener, which is released during the rinse cycle.
The load must be balanced during both the wash and rinse cycles. If it is unbalanced, most washers vibrate violently or stop operating.