Tuesday, March 24, 2015

My New Computer Washes Clothes

Recently my washing machine threw the breaker switch. This was a good thing as the motor had seized and when that happened to the previous machine, it caught fire. While I had been contemplating getting a new washer because the finish on the washing drum was wearing out, I was not expecting to have to go looking quite so soon, or without time to weigh my options.

We have always had a suds saver machine. That's one where the soapy water goes into one laundry tub, while the rinse water goes into the other one. The machine draws the soapy water back into the drum so that you can reuse it for another load.  That saves a lot of water. This has become even more important to me now that we are on a water meter and the rates have gone up so much that I tend to hold my breath as I open the bimonthly bills.

Apparently the manufacturers have stopped making the suds saving washing machines. To buy another top loader, with the usual agitator, would mean an instant increase in water consumption. I noticed that they now make some without agitators, but I don't understand the process, and am not comfortable with the idea of something so new and foreign to me without having time to look into it.  I had been told that front loaders use much less water so we started by look at those.

I was instantly confused by all the different models and options. In the past, I had gone in and asked the salesman for a suds saving model, and then bought the only one they had. Not only did I not have a specific feature to ask for now, I also had no idea what all these new computerized models were capable of doing. Nor did I have time to do a lot of research. I needed to make the purchase quickly.

I was delighted to discover that the store where I have always bought my appliances had a sale on. There was $250 off the Whirlpool machine.  That made it cheaper than the others in that store, and seemed to do more than I'd ever need it to do.  We went off to do some other shopping while we thought about what to do, or if we should look elsewhere for comparison's sake.

When we went back to find out how long that sale would be on, we found out it was just for the day.  Then the salesman pulled up a price comparison page, on his computer monitor, and found it for about $50 lower somewhere else. He immediately matched the price. No comparison shopping necessary, at least not in person these days, it seems. No matter how much time and thought and research I put into buying a new machine, I'd never feel sure I was choosing the best possible option out there. Manufacturers give us too many choices these days. We decided we'd probably be just as happy with this one as any, so the purchase was made.

The salesman said that the motor on my new washer is guaranteed for 10 full years. That might have been a great selling point, given our two past experiences but I almost laughed as this machine is practically a computer, and I expect the electronics will fail first.

Now I have to learn how to do laundry all over again. This is the first time I have ever had a washing machine that required programming.  I'm used to just twisting a dial to indicate the size of the load, the temperature of water I want to use, and occasionally setting the machine for a gentler cycle than usual.  This new one senses the water level needed, and while I can set it to take care of more heavily soiled or more delicate loads, that's done on a touch screen. 

One of the main advantages of this electronic marvel is that I can put the load in during the day, when the electricity rates are at their highest, and ask it to start during the evening when the rates are at their lowest. In the past, I would think about doing a load at night, but then not want to go down to the cold basement after dark to do that. I ended up doing all my laundry on weekends, which used to be considered time off.  I just may wear out the timer before I wear out the washer, as I know that pre-set feature is going to get a lot of use. 

Now I have to remember to leave the door and dispenser open after the wash, to prevent mold, check under the rim for small object that might have fallen in there, and run a cleaning cycle once a month. That means I have to buy a special cleaner, as well, apparently a different kind of laundry formulation. It will be a learning experience. Each load will take longer to wash, but since I will no longer be washing two loads at once, and hopefully not spending my weekends doing laundry, that shouldn't be a problem.

While I have purchased the High Efficiency detergent now, I bought the liquid kind, like I normally use. The manual says that liquid detergent works best as the powdered stuff may not dissolve properly and could form clumps. It also tells me that for pre-set washes, I apparently need the powdered kind anyway, so it doesn't seep into the washer ahead of time, and gum up the works.  The new fangled capsules, on the other hand, are to be added to the drum before the laundry, and could likely be the answer for pre-loaded washes.  I'd love to hear from any of you who have detergent stories.

We've done two loads so far. The laundry came out soft and clean and was spun much dryer than usual. It wasn't tangled up either.  I left the door open afterwards, but forgot about the soap dispenser the first time. My hubby forgot to put the detergent in before starting the water the second time, and discovered the water shoots up through the dispenser if you open it while the machine is on. Like I said, it will be a learning experience.

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