When it comes to buying a new washing machine, you need to consider many factors including drum capacity, energy efficiency, and wash cycle functions. However, one aspect that can sometimes be overlooked is the appliance’s spin speed.
Most washing machines on the market in the UK at the moment have a maximum spin speed of 1400 rpm, while some go up to 1600 rpm. A few washing machines have a maximum spin speed of 1200 rpm, which is relatively slow.
Washing machines with a higher spin speed often come at a higher price, but is it really worth paying more for these high speeds? Or is 1200 rpm good for a washing machine?
In this article, we will look at how much spin speed can impact the efficiency and effectiveness of your washing machine so that you can determine whether or not 1200 rpm is a good choice.
We also cover why spin speed is important and which speeds are most effective for a variety of fabrics.
What Does RPM Mean on a Washing Machine?
One of the main setting options available on every washing machine is the spin speed. This setting is automatically adjusted when you choose a wash cycle, and so many people overlook it.
However, you can manually change the spin speed on your machine to suit your needs and preferences.
Spin speed is measured in revolutions per minute (rpm). This refers to the number of times the machine drum rotates every minute.
During the spin cycle, a higher rpm is typically preferred as it allows more water to be extracted from your clothing. This reduces the drying time of your laundry, which can be advantageous for busy households that need a quick turnaround.
While 1200 rpm is relatively slow as a maximum spin speed, the drum will still be rotating very quickly if it spins at 1200 rpm. To put this into a more tangible speed most of us can understand, a 1200 rpm spin speed is the equivalent of 33.73 miles per hour for a 24 cm diameter drum—which is pretty quick!
Does Spin Speed Really Matter When Washing Clothes?
The spin speed you use when washing your clothes does matter, but only to an extent.
In general, you want to use the highest spin speed possible to remove more water from the fabric. However, this becomes less important once you reach higher speeds.
As you can see from the table below, the percentage of water left in your clothing after the spin cycle only changes by a few per cent once you exceed speeds of 1200 RPM. Compared to the nearly 10% jumps that occur between the lower speeds, this isn’t much of a difference.
|Spin Speed||Residual Moisture Percentage|
Another point to note is that it is extremely rare that any washing machine will remain at an extremely high spin speed (i.e., 1600-1800 rpm) for the entirety of the spin cycle. In most cases, it will slowly build up to the top speed, stay there for 30 seconds, and then slowly wind back down.
With a large load, though, these high speeds may not be reached at all!
On top of this, washing machines that use a lower spin speed also come with a variety of benefits. These include:
- Lower costs when buying a new appliance
- Minimal noise during spin cycles
- Increased lifespan of the washer and your clothing
- Fewer creases in your clothes
- Reduced chances of tears or bobbles forming
Of course, this doesn’t mean there is no reason to spend more on a machine with a higher spin speed capacity. The jump from 1200-1800 rpm still reduces the residual moisture in your clothing by 9%. This will be noticeable, but is generally unnecessary for most households.
What Spin Speed Should You Use on a Washing Machine?
When you choose a wash cycle on your washing machine, a pre-programmed spin speed will be automatically selected. For example, cotton washes will use a higher spin speed, while a delicate cycle will use a lower one.
In most cases, these pre-programmed speeds will be perfectly suitable for the wash you are going to do. However, you can manually adjust the setting after you select your wash cycle if desired.
This is a good idea if you are washing more delicate fabrics, as higher spin speeds will cause unwanted damage to those laundry items.
Some basic guidelines for which spin speed to use when washing different materials are given below:
- Cotton: Cotton is one of the most durable fabrics out there, and as such, spin speeds of up to 1400 rpm or higher will cause no damage. The increased agitation will merely clean and dry your clothing to a higher degree.
- Wool: Wool is a slightly more delicate fabric, so high agitation levels can cause shrinking or felting to occur. This means lower spin speeds of 600-800 rpm are typically best for wollen garments and accessories.
- Denim: Denim is known for holding onto a lot of excess moisture, so a higher spin speed is needed to allow for faster drying times. Speeds of 800-1000 rpm are optimal as they will remove a large percentage of the excess moisture without causing any shrinkage.
- Silk and Other Delicates: Silk and other delicate fabrics often need to be hand washed, so you need to be extremely gentle if they can go in the washing machine. The lowest spin speed option (400-600 rpm) is the least likely to cause any damage to your garments.
- Synthetics: Synthetic fabrics are much more durable than most natural fibres, meaning higher spin speeds of 800-1000 rpm can safely be used without any risk of damage. Some synthetic materials can also withstand speeds of 1200 rpm.
As always, these suggested spin speeds are merely general guidelines that typically work best for these types of fabric.
Your garments care label may give other instructions on how gentle your chosen wash cycle needs to be.
If so, feel free to follow those instructions instead, as they are specific to your particular item of clothing.
Our Consensus: Is 1200 RPM Good?
Now that we have delved into the differences and importance of different spin speeds, it’s time to answer the main question: Is 1200 rpm good enough for a washing machine?
Overall, we believe the answer is yes! Although many people wish to buy machines that can reach spin speeds of 1600-1800 rpm, this is generally unnecessary for most households for two main reasons:
- 1400 rpm doesn’t extract much more water than 1200 rpm: The differences in water extraction at speeds above 1200 rpm are minimal and will likely only be noticed if you purchase a top-of-the-range washer. This minimal difference is likely because these top speeds may only be reached for 30 seconds before your washing machine needs to power down again!
- 1200 rpm is kinder to your clothes: It is extremely rare that you will have a load of washing that is durable enough to endure very high spin speeds without some damage occurring. It’s only really cotton items that can be washed at spin speeds of greater than 1200 rpm. For many people, spending extra on an ultra-fast improved washing machine won’t be worth it for the few times in which you can use this feature.
Therefore, we don’t recommend spending extra on a washing machine just to get a higher spin speed, unless you really need it.
Hannah is a freelance content writer with a passion for cleaning. She worked her way around Australia by cleaning hostels in exchange for free accommodation and used her cleaning skills to bag her a job as a chalet host for a luxury ski company in France.