Laundry (washing machine) engineering gone bad

Discussion in 'Architecture & Engineering' started by danshawen, Jan 10, 2015.

  1. danshawen Valued Senior Member

    OK, so the EPA or DOE or whatever rates washing machines based on saving water, energy, right?

    Most major brands of washing machines respond with products that actually waste more water, detergent, energy, time, using stupid stunts like these:

    1) make the spin cycle faster. This means you must lock the lid down when spinning. If the lid is not transparent, you cannot see if anything has gone wrong, and if it does, it's STILL LOCKED. Part of the idea was to make the clothes dryer, thus saving time drying in an electric dryer (a toaster). No thought given whatsoever to the energy saving trick of using an indoor or outdoor clothes line. The bearings on some high speed spin models typically fail after only 3 years!!!

    2) use MUCH less water. This means, in the case of an agitator, without sufficient water in which to move, clothes basically get torn to shreds. So they replace the agitator with an "impeller". The idea with this thing is to make the clothing (ever so carefully placed on the impeller) sort of convect in what little water there is. Except, it usually doesn't work that way. On models on YouTube with transparent lids, the clothes barely move at all as a result of the motion of the impeller.

    3) use computer based control that removes things like soak cycles from washer repertoire, meaning that heavily soiled items don't get clean. Worse, because the user no longer has control over starting and stopping cycles to add clothing or laundry aids, or more water as necessary, most of the newer models give up and simply empty any water that is in the washer tub whenever a cycle is canceled, thus wasting more time, energy, detergent, money.

    I finally gave up and purchased a basic Hotpoint washer that still has the old style mechanical timer with three wash cycles and a knob in the center you can pull out to stop washing, rinsing or spinning at any time in any part of any cycle, and then resume the cycle in exactly the same place it stopped. The washer is not compliant with any government sponsored energy or water saving certification. Anyone who would pay extra for more bells and whistles on a machine that skimps on water anywhere in this country other than the desert Southwest should probably have their heads examined, or else just use dry cleaners for all of their laundry needs.

    What has happened to common sense engineering on appliances like washing machines? It is eminently possible to give users complete control over cycles using microprocessors, yet someone (in government, apparently) has mandated that such things be interlocked so that they cannot be defeated by operators more intelligent about laundering than a machine that is really nothing more elaborate than a stupid motor attached to a washer tub, a hot/cold water supply and a drain.

    Consumer reports apparently is in cahoots with the manufacturers or whomever wrote the specifications for these appliance abominations. Amazon seems to be the only place you can get honest critical customer reviews online.

    Vote with your bucks. What sort of washer would you buy? If you recently purchased one of these monstrosities, are you happy with it, as compared to the way these appliances used to work? A big chunk of our economy apparently depends on designing and selling such things, and both their utility and reliability seem to both be in the toilet right now. Water saving toilets eventually made the mainstream, and work well, but I doubt these things will ever make it. Some folks are already doing laundry in their sinks again, because at least that has enough water and an actual soak cycle. Thoughts?
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  3. leopold Valued Senior Member

    you can wash clothes the good old fashioned way.
    this only applies to 1 or 2 person household.
    throw your clothes in a 5 gallon bucket.
    add water.
    add detergent.
    place bucket in the bed of your pickup.
    go for a 40 mile round trip.
    hang clothes on the line when you get back.
    the vibration of the truck does all the work for you.
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  5. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

    In the effort to improve the performance of appliances, two Japanese companies have hit upon the idea of applying ultrasound to washing machines, though they came up with very different applications of the technology.

    Sanyo Electric Co. recently put on sale a washing machine that doesn't require detergent to clean lightly soiled clothes. Instead, electrodes on the side of the tub electrolyze the water. An ultrasonic wave generator at the base of the machine uses sonic waves to generate millions of tiny air bubbles to help loosen grime and grit on clothes in a purely mechanical action.

    Electrolyzing the water produces active oxygen, or forms of oxygen such as hydrogen peroxide and ozone, and hypochlorous acid, a mild bleaching agent. Hypochlorous acid kills bacteria while active oxygen dissolves such dirt as the residue of body sweat. Sanyo claims this is enough for cleaning things like shirts, underwear, pajamas, and towels. Detergent can be used in the machine to clean clothes heavily stained with dirt or grease.

    Sanyo claims users can halve the cost of doing normal laundry. Reducing the amount of detergent sent into waste water streams is also environmentally friendly. The 8-kg load capacity washer sells for about $1,100. Currently it is only available in Japan, but Sanyo may consider overseas sales in the future.

    Rather than applying ultrasound waves on the entire wash, Sharp Corp. chose to use the technology in a spot washer intended to remove rings of dirt from collars and other stains. The Sharp washer features a small ultrasound generator that mounts in an arm positioned above a tray above the washer tub. Users position the stained part of the fabric between the washing head on the arm and a small trough on the tray, something like positioning fabric under a sewing machine needle.

    With the trough filled with water, the fabric is saturated. The washer head oscillates up and down 34,000 times per second. On the downstroke, water molecules are pushed away; on the upstroke, cavitation results in bubbles in the water. As these cavities combine and explode within the fabric fiber, stain-causing particles are blown away. After treating the stains, the garment is washed normally. The ultrasound arm and tray can be folded away.
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  7. danshawen Valued Senior Member

    Ultrasound combined with steam, bubbles sounds certainly sounds interesting, but these have got to be more expensive than the old fashioned (even the pickup truck washer) way. I don't think this will be done cheaper than a motor connected to an agitator any time soon.

    The spot beam interference sonar technology used in some museums to give audio directly to individuals heads without a sound being heard by those around them might also be an interesting way to transfer energy, but the last thing I would want would be to start doing my laundry in a microwave, or with ionizing radiation, even it it were possible (and no surprise, it is).

    Dry cleaning fluid is so hazardous, I don't even want clothes in my closet that have been processed with percholoroethane.

    Another idea would be to treat clothes and shoes with this stuff:

    Then you never need to actually wash anything other than your skin.
  8. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member


    What Are Your Options?
    The good news is that there are nontoxic cleaning alternatives that are just as effective as dry cleaning with perc.

    You might be able hand wash your delicate items at home. Take these clothes to a local cleaner for pressing only, to get a professionally crisp look without the toxins. If you’d rather forego do-it-yourself methods, two alternatives rise to the top in terms of environmental and health impacts— professional wet cleaning and liquid carbon dioxide (CO2) cleaning.

    There are no toxicity issues associated with either of these methods, says Peter Sinsheimer, director of the Pollution Prevention Center at Occidental College, who has been studying the effects of perc dry cleaning and its alternatives for over ten years. professional wet cleaning is a safe, energy-efficient method of cleaning “Dry Clean Only” clothes that uses water as a solvent—rather than chemicals—with a combination of special soaps and conditioners.

    When you have your clothes professionally wet cleaned, they are laundered in a computer-controlled washer and dryer that gently clean clothes, sometimes spinning as slowly as six revolutions a minute (a typical home washing machine may rotate clothes several dozen times per minute). These special machines can be programmed for variables such as time, temperature, and mechanical action, which allow cleaners to tailor the wash according to the type of fabric.

    Noam Frankel, owner of Chicago-based wet cleaner, The Greener Cleaner, says there is no need for toxins in this cleaning process, where the key lies in knowing the pH level of the stain and treating the stain accordingly. Water-based stains, which he says make up the majority of the stains most cleaners see, generally come out with the standard wet-cleaning process. The remaining stains are oil-based and can be removed using specialized water-based pre-spotting solutions.

    Because wet cleaning is free of VOCs, it eliminates health and safety risks, as well as environmental risks associated with traditional dry cleaning. As an added benefit, the equipment and operating costs are lower. While the biggest disadvantage to wet cleaning is that it produces waste water, Sinsheimer says it is still the most energy-efficient method. Unlike the other techniques, wet cleaning does not have an energy-intensive solvent recovery system. It also saves more water than dry cleaning. So, if wet cleaning is good for people and the environment, the real question lies in the quality of the wash.
  9. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    My guess is that you could probably get your clothes clean with less agitation (just reduce the cycle) and there are already usually 3 choices for water level (high, medium, low) on most washers.

    Unless you dry your clothes naturally I don't see much improvement in dryers. You either increase heat or time and both use more electricity.

    I don't see much problem with existing technology in this particular application.

    My lawn mower has no user adjustments anymore regarding the idle speed. Therefore my mower frequently runs just on the verge of cutting off and according to the user manual all I can do is take it to a service center for adjustment (real convenient).

    Both my washer and dryer are almost 20 years old (along with my stove and refrigerator). I've never had any problem with any of them. I'm (pretty) sure that any replacements wouldn't last as long.

    In the past I've had (and others have had) lawnmowers last for many, many years. Now they seem to be good for 3 or 4 years and that's about it.
  10. billvon Valued Senior Member

    We got a new front loader recently. Uses very little water and does a great job on everything from sheets to soiled diapers. Only downside is you have to leave the door open when you're not using it; otherwise mold grows on the gaskets. Not a big deal for us.
  11. danshawen Valued Senior Member

    I would have liked to try that, but whatever hard headed nincompoop programmed this thing saw fit to make certain that each and every time a cycle was paused or canceled anywhere, the next thing that happens is that water, and any soap laundry aids, empties out with it. I wish it were only a joke. It's not.

    I found one other major defect with the thing that I think is generic; a cycle marked on the dial as "rinse and spin" which merely rinses, drains, and then sits there (no spin of any kind). Were they hoping the consumer wouldn't notice this cycle doesn't work? This is also a good formula in order to wrinkle / ruin / clothes and/or need to wash them all over again. This thing is the diametric opposite of saving money and hassle doing (or trying to do) your laundry. I've never given an appliance a rating as low as this. To call it excrement would be an injustice to the real stuff, which at least makes a good fertilizer. These things are so bad, they are better deposited directly to the local landfill or recycling center. These are no good as washing machines, and only marginally acceptable as metal scrap.

    The low end Hotpoint I replaced it with seems more sensible, like the older washer I was trying to replace. But this is ONLY ONE MODEL remaining in an entire line of freshly engineered washing machines, all with some questionable gimmick or greatly reduced measure of user control, with little to no improvement on its basic function. I particularly like the cover page of the manual for the replacement: "Wash YOUR Way". Indeed, this is a better approach.
  12. spidergoat Venued Serial Membership Valued Senior Member

    I got one of the new water saving models, and it's great. The lid doesn't have a window, and the clothes don't move much, but so what, they don't need to. It just works for a longer period. And I love the high spin, they dry in half the time at the medium dryer setting, saving me lots of money. I'm not worried about the bearing. Also it has a soak cycle. And it's quiet, and when it's done it plays a little song, which is cute.
  13. danshawen Valued Senior Member

    Sounds like you purchased a Samsung? For what those things cost, the music had better be cute. If I wanted music with my laundry, I'd have bought an iPod and a wash board with which to accompany it.

    Just like folks who use android smart phones don't seem to care that Google and its partners are sapping the battery of your mobile device so you have to keep it charging continuously at home or in you car. Maybe I'd rather have longer battery life and an operational phone when I can't charge it than let Google and their partners continuously monitor my phone calls, my location, anything I buy or browse. Each time I reinstall Google Play Services, I kill more of the settings that enable them to do this. Soon it will have no apps other than select default ones and I will never update anything. If I could simply turn off "smart" from this phone, it would be an improvement. I don't find Virgin Mobile's murdered default "fur Elise" ringtone to be a musical improvement. I'd rather it defaulted to a old style telephone ringer or something.

    Microsoft is on the verge of a meltdown because it could care less about whether or not consumers are happy with the deals they offer. Take it or leave it just isn't good enough for some of us. We will simply leave it. In droves. I've paid more for Apple products since 1986, and never felt short changed. Meanwhile Microsoft was only interested in protecting their own security, and charging consumers a mint to that end. Their debt to consumers is not repaid by donating billions to charity. Charity begins at home, in consumer's wallets.

    21st century consumers are very gullible folk. If you never demand better products and services, you'll never get them.
  14. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Hmm. I have several Android devices and they will operate for several days each with minimal usage, without much in the way of fiddling. (Of course if I read or talk on them a lot operational time goes down.)
  15. spidergoat Venued Serial Membership Valued Senior Member

    Yeah, me too. There are apps that kill unwanted software so they don't run your battery down.

    And yes, it's a Samsung. I like the laundry tune! I can hear it across the house, and it's like a little celebration of clean clothes.
  16. danshawen Valued Senior Member

    Interesting. Would you pay money for "smart musical clothes" that play you a sad little song when they get soiled? In the washer, they could play a little duet when clean!
  17. spidergoat Venued Serial Membership Valued Senior Member

    Oh my God that would be awesome. Actually, in my field there is a lot of buzz around such things. I only wish I could talk about it. Suffice to say that in the near future, items of clothing will start to be as sophisticated as your smart phone.
  18. danshawen Valued Senior Member

    I'll admit, as a young engineer I had similar ideas. Clocked a lot of hours trying to get a 555 timer chip to synchronize the windshield wipers with the tempo of the music on the radio. That would need to be a phase locked loop (not a simple timer chip), but it must also detect actual music (and not the rhythm of speech).

    Still, such are cool ideas, even if a tad impractical in real life.

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