How a washing machine work

A washing machine is one of the most respected appliances among households in India. It makes house chores so much easier, especially for homes with big families where there are loads of laundry.

While using a washing machine may seem so straightforward when being used but have you ever sat and thought about how washing machines work? What happens after you have loaded them with clothes and shut the door? How do they separate clothes from dirt and even rinse them? 

Also Read: Best Washing Machines in India

Well, washing machines, with the help of detergents, do pull some really clever tricks that you don’t get to see. There is a complex mechanism in your washing machine that may be difficult to understand, but first, let’s meet the parts.

Parts of a Washing Machine

In order to understand how washing machine work, you need to know the parts. The main components of a machine are two drums, the inner and outer drum.

How a washing machine work

Inner drum

This is the part you see as it is where you put clothes when washing. This inner drum has holes. For a front loader, the drum faces forward while in a top loader, the drum faces up. 

Outer Drum

This drum is bigger than the inner drum and cannot be seen. Its basic function is to hold water as the inner drum rotates.


The pump pushes water from the drum when washing is complete.


This tool assists in helping the machine follow through the series of steps, from spinning clothes to rinsing and wringing. 


There are three pipes. One is for hot clean water; the second one for cold water while the third throws dirty water out of the machine.


Most washing machines require a program. Some of the features of programs including color wash, delicate wash, presoak, and many more that apply mostly to fully automatic washing machines. The machine will provide choices on how you want to wash your clothes.

If you are washing delicate fabrics or you need your colored clothes washed accordingly, the programs will assist you in finding the optimal washing conditions for specific needs. 

Fully vs Semi-Automatic Machines

How a washing machine work

With modern technology on the rise, there are many types of washing machines and what you choose heavily depends on your needs. A fully automatic machine is a washing machine that does everything automatically at the push of the button.

A semi-automatic machine, on the other end, doesn’t do all the work by itself. You may need to do various things by yourself, like sorting the colors yourself or moving the wet clothes to the spin dryer.

If you’re interested you might like to read our article on fully-automatic vs semi-automatic washing machines.

So, How Does a Washing Machine Work?

The efficiency of a machine heavily depends on a programmer. With the help of a programmer, washing machines can easily wash clothes while diligently following the series of orders. Here is a brief guide of what happens behind the scenes of your washing machine:

How a washing machine work
  1. After you have gathered your clothes, you put them in the washing machine and put the detergent on the tray above. You select the program and switch the power on.
  2. From there, the programmer takes over. It begins by opening the water valves, both hot and cold, that enters and fill both drums. Since the water enters the machine from the top, it washes the soap while making its way to the drums.
  3. The programmer shuts the water valves. And the thermostat measures the temperature of the cold and hot incoming water.
  4. The programmer starts rotating the inner drum back and forth while sloshing the clothes through the now soapy water.
  5. The detergent pulls dirt while the water traps it. The programmer opens the lower valve so the water can drain from both drums. It turns the pump on to help pump all the water.
  6. The programmer opens the valves again for clean water to come in. It then rotates the inner drum till the clothes are rinsed. It repeats this several times.
  7. When the clothes are clean, the programmer makes the inner drum to rotate at a very high speed as the water drawn from them passes through the tiny holes.
  8. The pump removes water, and the washing comes to an end.


Washing machines have cut the workload in many homes by half. Whether you are using a top loader or a front loader, a manual, heavy duty, automatic, semi-automatic or any other type of washing machine, the concept is the same. They all work to meet your laundry needs.

About the Author: Disha Shengale

Disha ShengaleHi, I’m Disha and I’m the author of this blog. I started this blog back in 2013 because of my own frustrations in finding honest and unbiased reviews of best appliances for my home. Most of the blogs I found back then were either from outside India or had very low quality content with improper or absolutely no research. That led me to do my own research which in turn gave birth this blog. Learn more >>.