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What Spin Speed Should I Use on a Washing Machine?

Modern washing machines are incredibly intelligent. They offer various wash cycles and spin speeds, and some of them are even smart enough to choose the best ones for you. 

If you want to manually set the spin speed on your washer, you may be quite confused about the difference 1000 or 1400 RPM will make. What does RPM even mean? 

To make the best possible use of your washing machine, apart from understanding what the three compartments mean, get to know what each spin cycle is for, and how to ensure you don’t accidentally shrink or damage your items. 

What Spin Speed Should I Use on a Washing Machine?

In the most general terms, the more delicate the fabric, the lower the spin speed needs to be. Wool and synthetics require nothing higher than 800 RPM, cotton can be spun at speeds up to 1400 RPM, while delicate items need nothing faster than 600 RPM. 

Your safest bet is to check the laundry symbol on your clothing. While it may not tell you what spin speed to use, it will tell you how delicate the item is. Anything that needs to be washed and ironed at lower temperatures usually needs a lower spin speed too. 

Most washers have a default speed for each cycle. If you choose the one made for delicates, the spin cycle will likely already be set to 600 RPM, for example. You can of course adjust it, depending on what you want to achieve and which items you’ve actually thrown in the wash. 

You can of course also adjust washing temperatures and cycle times. Don’t forget to only wash similar colours together

What Is Spin Speed?

Spin speed is the speed at which the drum of the washing machine spins. It’s expressed in RPM, which stands for revolutions per minute. The higher the RPM, the faster the drum will spin and the dryer the clothes will come out. 

Note that a washer won’t spin at the same speed at all times. The highest spin is usually reserved for the very end of the wash cycle, when you will see the highest RPM. This is when the water will be wrung out of the clothes. 

What Spin Speed Should I Use for Cotton? 

Cotton can generally be spun at anywhere between 900 and 1400 RPM, depending on the actual items in question and how much you want to wring them out. 

For example, if you are washing bedding or towels, you can safely spin them at 1400 RPM. On the other hand, if you are washing clothes, you will want to lower the RPM. Personally, I spin cotton garments at 1000 RPM and let them air dry. 

If you want your cottons to come out smelling extra fresh, you can also put some Zoflora in the washing machine

What Spin Speed Should I Use for Wool? 

While you need to remove as much water from your wool items as possible, you still don’t want to spin them any higher than 800 RPM. In fact, you can even make a case for spinning merino wool at 600 RPM. 

Wool items require special care. Ideally, you will dry them flat, so they don’t stretch. While spinning them at a lower spin speed will prolong drying times, it will preserve their quality for longer. 

What Spin Speed Should I Use for Denim? 

Denim isn’t sensitive to spinning, so it can tolerate speeds up to 1000 RPM and even higher. The more water you can wring out during wash, the quicker your jeans will dry. 

Denims can tolerate quite a lot of wear and tear. At least true denim can. A lot of modern jeans aren’t actually made of pure, high-quality cotton, but they should also tolerate relatively high spin speeds. True denim won’t shrink in the wash nor will it be damaged by the spin. 

What Spin Speed Should I Use for Delicates? 

Delicates, including lingerie, dress shirts, scarves and gloves should be spun at no more than 600 RPM. 400 RPM is probably the best choice. Anything made of silk, lace, linen or cashmere is considered a delicate. 

Lower spin speeds mean the items will be less agitated. Lower temperatures are also advised for your delicates, while some items might outright require you to wash them by hand. This especially applies to particularly delicate underwear. 

What Spin Speed Should I Use for Silk? 

Silk should be spun at no more than 400 RPM. It’s a very delicate fabric which requires special care and the lowest possible spin speed.

Silk is also prone to shrinking in the wash, so make sure you take special care with all your silk items. You may want to take them to the dry cleaner instead of attempting to wash them at home. 

What Spin Speed Should I Use for Towels? 

Towels can be washed at high spin speeds, so you can comfortably wash them at 1400 RPM. Since they are made of cotton, they won’t shrink or get damaged, but they will get wrung out properly and dry faster. 

In order to keep your towels soft, aim to wash them at no higher than 60 degrees. You can also choose a lower spin speed (1000 RPM for example), to further protect the material. 

What Difference Does Spin Speed Make?

Higher spin speeds will reduce the amount of water left in your clothing, which means they will dry quicker. Choosing the wrong spin speed can damage your items or shrink them. 

The higher the spin speed, the faster the washing machine drum will spin and the more water will be sucked out, so to speak. Delicate fabrics like wool, silk and lace won’t tolerate this violent shakeup though, and can shrink and get damaged in the process.

To get the best washing (and drying) results, always select the spin speed based on the garments you are washing. Don’t let the washer choose for you (even if it may get it right most of the time). 

Is a Higher Spin Speed Better?

High spin speed is not always better. Items made of durable fabrics, like cotton and cotton blends, can tolerate high spin speeds. Delicate items can’t and need to be washed at lower RPM. 

Higher spin speeds will cut down on drying times and can thus save you a lot of time, as long as you choose them correctly. 

Does Higher Spin Ruin Clothes?

As long as you choose the right spin speed, it will not ruin your clothes. However, if you wash a load of delicates at a high spin, or mix them in with cotton items, you won’t like the result. 

Higher spin won’t ruin your clothes as long as they need it and can tolerate it. Cottons and denims will be just fine, while wool and lace won’t. 

Does Higher Spin Speed Shrink Clothes? 

High spin speeds can shrink certain fabrics, including wool and linen. On the other hand, they won’t shrink your bedding or towels. 

To prevent your clothes from shrinking in the wash, make sure you always choose an appropriate spin speed. Choosing a lower one is always the safer bet. All it means is that your clothes will take longer to dry. 

While you can unshrink clothes (some items at least), you may never get them back to their original state, so better safe than sorry. 

Does High Spin Speed Damage The Washer? 

High spin speeds don’t damage washing machines. Modern washers aren’t under extra high stress on high speed, even if they make a lot of noise.

Even though your washer may be loud, the drum is actually perfectly safe and well protected. Manufacturers make sure the drum can’t shift out of its position. If your bearings do go, it’s probably down to a faulty part or general wear and tear, and has nothing to do with high spin cycles. It may be worth replacing the bearings, if your machine is fairly new. 

Which Spin Cycle Removes The Most Water?

The highest spin cycle a washing machine has will remove the most water. A cycle at 1600 RPM will remove much more water than a 400 RPM cycle.

As your clothing is spun faster and faster, the water inside it will gain momentum. As the items are stuck to the sides of the drum, the water will be lifted away from them and will drain away. The faster the spin, the more water will be expelled. 

Which Spin Cycle Generates The Most Noise?

The highest spin cycle generates the most noise. The higher the RPM, the faster the drum will spin and the louder your machine will be. 

Most modern washers are still not too noisy, even at a high spin cycle. There are extra quiet ones too, which can be a great choice if you live in an apartment building with thin walls, have kids and live in a small apartment, or run lots of loads at high spin speeds. 

What Is The Most Energy-Efficient Spin Cycle?

Depending on the energy rating of your washer, your highest spin cycle may be the one to use the most electricity. Choosing the eco setting will reduce your energy consumption at higher speeds though. 

However, note that higher spin speeds will ensure your clothes dry faster, so you may end up using your tumble dryer less frequently or for shorter cycles, thereby saving on the electricity. 

If you air dry your clothes, a lower spin cycle is a better choice, as long as you have the time to wait for everything to dry. 

Wrapping It Up 

As a general rule of thumb, choose the lowest spin cycle that will get you the desired results. This will prevent any shrinkage and damage, and can even reduce your energy bill, depending on the type of washer you have. 


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