How to operate an automatic washing machine - step-by-step guide

How to operate an automatic washing machine - step-by-step guide

8 minute read |

What are your laundry habits like? How you use a washing machine will impact your clothes, and water and energy use. That’s why every owner — whether a first-timer or an old-timer — should learn or relearn how to properly use their washing machine to maximise all its benefits.

This starts with knowing how to choose the right washing machine. Zanussi washing machines are equipped with special features that make laundry a lot easier without compromising on performance. For getting the best results, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to operate an automatic washing machine.

  1. Check the clothes tag for care instructions
  2. Sort your laundry
  3. Select the right settings and washing machine programs
  4. Add detergent, softeners, and boosters
  5. Load your washer with clothes and turn on washer

Step 1: Check the clothes tag for care instructions

While most garments can be washed in the machine, it’s always safe to check the care label especially for woollens and delicates. Some need to be hand-washed or dry-cleaned, and some can’t withstand hot water or bleach.

But nowadays, modern washers have programmes specially designed for targeted care of different fabrics and clothes. So, consider the model of your machine when reading the care instructions. This will be useful in sorting later and in planning the cycles you’ll use.

Step 2: Sort your laundry

One cycle doesn’t fit all. Different types of fabric require different ways of care, so don’t mix all your garments in one load. While it’s tempting to throw everything in there all at once, it’s important not to skip this step because this will greatly help in maintaining your clothes’ shape, colour, and overall quality. Depending on your load for the day, separate them onto different baskets.

Refrigerator cleaning spray

Sort by colour

Group clothes according to darks and lights. If you want to be more thorough, separate the pure whites and jeans too. This will avoid bright or deep dyes from bleeding into your other garments. For new ones, turn them inside out because they’re more prone to lose some colour in the first wash.

Sort by fabric

Different fabrics should not be washed, agitated and dried in the same way as others. Protect them from damage by separating them according to weight and/or fabric type.

Don’t mix heavier items like towels and blankets with lighter items like lingerie and delicates. Lint-shedding garments and lint-attracting ones such as microfibre and corduroy should also be separated.

Put delicates and small garments in a laundry bag

Put delicates or small items such as silks, lace, lingerie in a mesh bag to prevent wear and tear when they rub against each other. Garments with zippers, buttons and snaps can snag them so best not to mix these in.

Step 3: Select the right settings

The settings you select will dictate how your clothes are washed and spun, and how your energy and water will be spent. So, avoid guessing which buttons to press. Get the best results from your washing machine by being familiar with all its special features and knowing which to choose.

>>> Read more: 8 tips on how to save electricity when using a washing machine

 Clean inside of refrigerator thoroughly with a damp microfiber cloth

Select the right temperature

Water temperature is critical in making your clothes last longer. Hot water is more effective in removing bacteria.

But it can consume more energy, fade colour, set stains, and shrink garments. It’s best to use this for heavily soiled items like cleaning cloths and towels. For most items, use cold water to be gentler on your clothes, and the environment.

While most are worried that cold water isn’t efficient enough, this belief stems from what you were taught or ‘auto-pilot’ laundry habits. An analysis has shown that reducing washing temperature to 30 from 40°C can save over 25kg of carbon emissions per household, per year.

Have confidence in your washer and rethink your habits. Chances are that outdated rules and old machines are the ones doing more harm than cold water.

Select the right program


The washing machine cleaning cycle you select will determine how your clothes are protected. If you choose the wrong one, you might end up with faded shirts or damaged delicates. This is where checking the care label comes in. Make sure you follow what’s indicated to get the best results from your washing machine.

Washing machine programmes are designed to specifically care for certain fabrics, so match the cycle with your load. Does your load mostly consist of whites? Coloured? Or delicates?

Each cycle consists of two different speeds: The wash speed at which clothes are tumbled with water, and the spin speed at which items are spun to remove water. These two vary per cycle but as a rule of thumb, more agitation provides more cleaning power, and less agitation ensures more fabric care.

There will be different washing machine programmes per model or brand, but almost all will have the basic ones: Normal or cotton, permanent press or mixed, and delicates. Here’s a guide for Zanussi washing machines:


Type of washing machine loading


White and coloured cotton


Synthetic or mixed fabric items

FullWash 60

Coloured cotton e.g. shirts, blouses, towels and undergarments with normal level of soil

Wool / Handwash

Specially tested program for woollen garments bearing the “Pure new woollen, non-shrink, machine washable” label


Delicate fabrics such as acrylics, viscose, polyester items

Newer washers nowadays offer more flexibility and features. Some Zanussi models have washing machine programmes specially designed for your different needs like Quick Cycles to suit your schedule, Woolmark Blue cycle for hand-wash-only woollens, and HygienicCare to remove up to 99.9% of allergens and germs.

Read more: Front load vs top load washing machines comparison

Step 4: Add detergent, softeners, and boosters

In choosing the right detergent, know if your washer requires a high-efficiency type. If it does, look for products with the HE icon. They’re formulated to reduce soap suds so you use less water.

Loading detergent, fabric softener, or other cleaning agents differ based on which you’re using and your washer model. Best to refer to your machine manual on where and how to add them. You should also check your detergent box for the right amount to use. Here’s a general guide:

For a front load washing machine

Front-loaders usually have a dispenser where you can put in almost everything. It’s indicated where you can place liquid or powder detergents, pods, fabric softener, liquid bleach, and stain additives. Do not exceed the maximum fill line. Some models may have a pods compartment. If yours doesn’t, pop them into the washing machine drum before loading clothes.

Don’t sweat on the correct amount to use. Some Zanussi models have AutoDose technology which automatically and precisely releases the right dose based on the weight of your load. This prevents overdosing that can lead to clothes damage over time.

>>> Watch and see highlighted features of our automatic front load washing machine

For a top load washing machine

If your top-loader has a dispenser, put in your powder or liquid detergent and fabric softener there. Some even have a separate compartment for liquid bleach. Don’t go over the maximum fill line. If yours doesn’t have a dispenser, pour them directly into the drum before loading your clothes. It’s also best to turn on your water so they’re thoroughly dissolved for the most efficient clean.

Watch this video about our Zanussia top load automatic washing machine

Step 5: Load your washer with clothes and turn on washer

Now you can finally load your clothes. Don’t overload the drum to give the items space to tumble, and for water to effectively circulate. As a rule of thumb, leave a hand width of space between the top of the drum and your load. It’s also best to distribute them loosely inside. Check your washer manual to know how much you can really fit in there.

To get the best results for each cycle, some models require you to indicate the load size. Here’s a guide:

  • Small load: about ⅓ of the drum
  • Medium load: about ½ of the drum
  • Large load: about ¾ of the drum

How to keep your washing machine clean and fresh

Your clothes shouldn’t only be the only ones clean. After washing, don’t forget to clean your washer to keep it running at its best for longer.

  1. After the spin cycle, immediately take clothes out of the washer to prevent mould forming in your drum.
  2. After every laundry session, leave your front-loader’s door ajar for air circulation.
  3. Once a month, use a washing machine cleaner for a deeper clean. Place it in the detergent dispenser or drum, then run the hottest cycle or the special cleaning programme. Zanussi models have Tub Clean or Clean Washer cycles.

Read more: Discover some frequently asked questions about Zanussi washing machines

Remember these basics

While washing machines widely differ in terms of their handling and their special programmes, these are the basics you need to know to correctly operate any model. Ultimately, how you wash your clothes depends on the washer you choose. The right one should be more than capable to address all your needs and make laundry less of a chore.



FAQs about the use of washing machine

  • 1. How to use washing machine for beginners?
    • Follow the instructions on the packaging of your clothes
    • Sort out and load the laundry in the washing machine
    • Choose the temperature and right spin cycle
    • Add detergent and softeners
    • Close the door and press go
    • Unload clothes
  • 2. Can I keep the washing machine in the bathroom?

    While there is no definite rule that doesn’t allow washing machines to be placed in bathroom, it’s should also be kept in mind that water and electricity are a dangerous combination. If you protect the plug and the socket from splashes of water, putting your washing machine in the bathroom is generally safe.

  • 3. When should I add detergent in the washing cycle?

    For front load washing machines, make sure you add detergent at the beginning of the cycle. However, for top load washers, you can wait until the machine is filled with water.

  • 4. Where do I put detergent in the washer?
    In front-load washing machines, you should put detergent into the largest section of the drawer on the left-hand side. For top load machines, you can pour it straight into the drum.


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