Washing machines (a.k.a washers) are the backbone of the laundry service company. In building your own laundry shop, it would be good to know what you are looking for in a washing machine. Here are some tips I’d like to share to rookie laundry shop owners:
Top Load or Front Load?
Top or front loading washers can also be called washer-extractors (see explanation about extraction below). The top and front loaders I’ll be talking about are the 10-11 kilo capacity you can buy at you local appliance stores.
Top loading machines have (as you probably guessed) doors located at the top. While front loaders have doors in front. There are many differences between the two. Here are some important ones:
Price – Front loaders are more expensive. At least 30% more expensive than top loaders.
Water Consumption – Front loaders consume less water. You save at least 40% on your water consumption because of the difference in the cleaning mechanism between the two. Front loaders don’t need to completely immerse the clothes in water. In front loaders, clothes get cleaned by the cascading action of the tub – the clothes are brought up then they drop back down into the wash.
In top loaders, clothes should be completely immersed since the motion of the tub does not allow the cascading effect. An agitator is used instead forcing the clothes to submerge deeper into the wash before bringing them back up to the surface.
Parts and Popularity – These go hand in hand. Since top loaders are cheaper, more people buy them, hence they have more parts available in the market. Parts could come from the suppliers themselves, from technicians specializing in washers or from cannibalizing washing machines being sold as used.
Washing process – A top loading washer’s washing cycle can be interrupted. Meaning, when you open a top loader’s doors, the cycle stops and lets you reach in the wash to retrieve/ inspect an item.
For front loaders, this is impossible because when you open the door, the wash will no longer be in a water-tight chamber. For front loaders, you have to complete the wash cycle before you can open the door. So, if a red sock was thrown in with the white sheets….
Another type of washer being used for big loads are converted belly washers. Belly washers look like pipes or barrels turned on the their side. They are very practical for industrial use as these washers can take in 50 lbs or more per load. A negative aspect of belly washers is that they usually have no extraction. Extraction is the technical term for ‘spinning’ or the removal of water through elevated tub rpm (revolutions per minute).
Extractions in the wash is important to prevent redeposition of the dirt which was already removed during washing. Imagine the dirt floating in the wash water. This dirt is removed by the spinning of the tub. The dirt is flung to the side of the tub where it goes through the holes. Outside the tub is another tub (the outer tub) where the dirt is collected and drained.
In belly washers, there is no spinning. The water is just drained at the bottom. This means, the dirt floating in the wash, just go down back to the clothes = redeposition.
So, choose belly washers at your own risk. Weigh the pros (affordable for it’s capacity) with the cons (possibility of redeposition).
In case you’re curious, there are big, industrial versions of front loading washer-extractors. They cost an arm and a leg too. This is why these are seldom bought by starting small businesses.
Voltage – Some machines require 110V instead of our normal 220V. This means you will need to purchase a separate transformer which could be pricey (about PHP3,000 upwards). By the way, choose the correct transformer wattage for your machine.
Tub type – Ceramic or stainless? Ceramic-coated tubs are cheaper and they last as long as ordinary machines’ bodies which rust. Salespeople might want to sell you a stainless steel tub version for a higher price. If the machine is just about 10-11 kilo capacity, I say go for the ceramic tub. For industrial size machines, almost all tubs are stainless steel.
Older models – Believe it or not, older models were tougher. Their parts were usually made of metal, even the timers and knobs. Now, all these parts are built to be replaced in 1-2 years. If you see a good-conditioned older model of your washer, buy it! You can cannibalize it later on for parts. Just make sure you consult a technician first.
There. I hope I helped you make a better decision when buying your first washer. Tune in for more info on the laundry industry!
author: Caloy Ang for Suds Laundry, www.suds.com.ph