General Question

tedibear's avatar

Do clothes get as clean on the gentle wash cycle as they do on permanent press or regular?

Asked by tedibear (18013points) July 10th, 2011

My husband has told me that he wants us to do our laundry on the gentle cycle to save wear and tear on our clothes. If you saw this question, you know that this is not an easy transition for me.

That being said, I will make this change if the clothes are getting as clean as they would on the other cycles. I have my doubts as the gentle cycle only runs a six minute agitation and in that time it alternates between soaking and agitation. The other cycles agitate for the whole wash cycle. (Typically 10 minutes on regular, and I think 10 on permanent press.)

If you have the answer or can direct me to one, I would be most appeciative!

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11 Answers

john65pennington's avatar

I am very far from being a clothes washing expert, but I can tell you the procedure my wife has used for the past 20 years. She uses the gentle cycle and we are still healthy and wearing clean clothes. And yes, we have noticed a drop in our electric bill because of it.

Detergents and water will kill the germs and the wife only uses Tide products.

jca's avatar

I would not think so. Martha Stewart suggests washing on the permanent press cycle, which is shorter than the regular but still agitates quickly and gives a good washing. She suggests that cycle for all except the most dirty clothes (like if you were doing landscaping and had built in dirt, then do on regular cycle). Clothes generally wear out after a few seasons anyway, between the colors fading and getting ripped and stained. What I think really saves on wear and tear is not putting the clothes in the dryer. Dryer heat bakes clothes while throwing them around, and I think that’s what makes them look worn. It ruins elastic and I never put underwear, bras or bathing suits in the dryer.

marinelife's avatar

Based on this information. it is not a good idea to do all the laundry on Gentle cycle:

“Keep in mind that the three factors involved in getting laundry clean are: agitation in the wash cycle, detergent, and water temperature. How clean your clothes are depends on each of these three aspects.

The normal cycle often lasts anywhere from 8 to 15 minutes. This is the actual time the machine spends agitating the clothes to get them clean. This cycle uses a ‘fast/fast’ combination, meaning the washing cycle is fast and the spin cycle is fast as well. Cottons and linens are fabrics that tolerate the normal cycle very well. They are sturdy fabrics that can withstand this degree of agitation and clothes come very clean as a result. Jeans, towels and bedding are also fabrics that tolerate this cycle well.

Items that are heavily soiled must be washed on the regular cycle. Whether the problem is a heavy amount of sweat, heavy staining or heavy dirt the item will not come clean without a significant amount of agitation.

The Permanent Press cycle lasts on average from 7–10 minutes and uses a ‘fast/slow’ combination. Again, it uses the vigorous speed of the actual washing cycle and uses a slow spin cycle. While the slow spin cycle does not extract as much water from the clothes, it does prevent a good amount of wrinkling.

Synthetic fibers are known for harboring smells and they can only be removed by the agitation experienced in a fast cycle. Synthetic fabrics are also known for pilling, and it is only increased with friction. By choosing a slower spin cycle, it also helps decrease the wear and tear on the fabric, thus causing less pilling. It is primarily used for synthetic fibers such as rayons, knits, polyesters and acetates.

The delicate cycle is designed to be less abrasive, using less agitation. So while it provides less wear and tear on your clothes, it also decreases the level of clean in some instances.”

Mama’s Laundry Talk

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

After re-reading your other question, if you want to save on wear and tear of clothes being cleaned, you might consider line-drying. Considering the amount of lint that comes out of my dryer after each load, surely most of that comes from clothing fibers.

tedibear's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer – I would line dry everything if I could. Unfortunately, I live with Allergy Man, and the pollen on his clothes and the sheets wouldn’t be good for him. I remember hanging clothes with my mom and taking them down. Sun-dried laundry is such a great smell!

@all – Thank you for your answers!

jca's avatar

@tedibear: an alternative to a clothes line is hanging the clothes up on hangers in the house, or if you have a dry basement, hanging them there or on a rack down there.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@jca My SO uses the racks as well. He has no dryer, and it rains almost daily where he lives, so they come in handy.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

In general, I don’t think so. We use the Gentle cycle for hand wash items, bed sheets, blankets, pants and lingerie only.

It’s not like we work with dirty or grime but we do slather ourselves with sunscreen all over in place of lotion each day. Combined with sweat and dust, this makes a nasty mix on our shirts and undies which we need the rougher cycle to basically smash/grind out of the fabric weave.

Coloma's avatar

I use the regular cycle most of the time, and also, usually let everything soak, especially items I am bleaching for about 15–20 minutes if I am around to monitor things.

The washing is less of an issue IMO than the dryer. The heat of the dryer is what really fades and wears out clothes.

I hang dry most of my nicer and more colorful items in the summer especially.

I will hang things out on my deck from the table umbrella and they will be dry in about 30 minutes.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I agree with @Coloma on the dryer doing the most damage to fabrics.

YARNLADY's avatar

Yes, and if you have an extra rinse selection use it. Detergent left in clothing is damaging as well.

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