washing machine cycles

Washing Machine Cycles Explained: Quick Wash, Delicates, Permanent Press, and More

Who hasn’t been stumped by the array of dials and buttons on a washing machine? With so many cycle options, it’s easy to get bewildered. But fret not, dear reader! Today, we dive deep into the world of washing machine cycles to clarify what each setting does and how to best use them for your laundry needs.

Why Understanding Washing Machine Cycles Is Crucial

Transitioning from the simple life of hand-washing or basic machines to more advanced models with multiple cycle settings might seem daunting. However, these settings are not mere bells and whistles—they are designed to provide optimal care for different fabric types, and they can also save you time and energy.

best cycle to wash clothes on

If you’ve ever wondered, “What do the different washing machine cycles mean?”, you’re not alone. Each cycle caters to various fabric types, soil levels, and specific laundry needs. Knowing what each cycle does can drastically improve the longevity and quality of your clothes.


The Normal setting is essentially the “jack-of-all-trades” when it comes to laundry. With fast agitation during the wash and a high-speed spin, this setting is the best cycle to wash clothes on for your standard load—think cotton t-shirts, underwear, and jeans. However, it may not be ideal for garments that are delicate or prone to shrinking.


  • Cotton T-shirts
  • Casual office wear
  • Bed linens
  • Towels

Quick Wash or Speed Wash

Sometimes, we all find ourselves in a pinch. Maybe you forgot to wash your child’s uniform, or perhaps you spilled coffee on your last clean shirt. Quick Wash is designed for such emergencies. But you might ask, is it ok to wash clothes on quick wash? For lightly soiled clothes, Quick Wash is great. However, if you’re dealing with heavy stains or soiled clothing, you might want to opt for a more intensive cycle.


  • Lightly soiled workout gear
  • Children’s school uniforms
  • Last-minute laundry before a trip

Permanent Press

If your wardrobe includes a lot of synthetic fabrics, like polyester and blends, then you’ll find a friend in the Permanent Press cycle. This setting uses warm wash water with a cool rinse and slower spin speeds to help reduce wrinkles. It’s particularly helpful if you’d rather not spend hours ironing!


  • Work uniforms
  • Button-down shirts
  • Synthetic dresses
  • Slacks and trousers
what do the different washing machine cycles mean
Image from Business Insider


The Delicate cycle is aptly named as it’s gentle on fabrics that are… well, delicate! Expect slow agitation and low spin speeds. This cycle is perfect for fabrics that could be damaged by the rough and tumble of other cycles.


  • Lingerie
  • Silk blouses
  • Lace garments
  • Baby clothes


When dealing with oversized items or garments that need a lot of room to wash properly, the Bulky setting is your go-to. It uses more water and has a special series of rinses and tumbles to ensure that larger items get thoroughly cleaned.


  • Comforters
  • Large blankets
  • Winter coats
  • Heavy bathrobes

Heavy Duty or Deep Clean

For those extra grimy items, the Heavy Duty or Deep Clean setting will come to your rescue. It employs vigorous agitation and a higher spin speed, along with warmer water to really break down dirt and grime.


  • Work overalls
  • Athletic uniforms
  • Dirty gardening clothes
  • Pet bedding
is it ok to wash clothes on quick wash, washing machine settings
Image from The Spruce


The Wool cycle is specifically designed for woolen items, ensuring they’re washed with the gentleness this natural fiber demands. With cooler water and minimal agitation, this setting helps prevent shrinking and felting of wool garments.


  • Woolen sweaters and cardigans
  • Hand-knit scarves and beanies
  • Wool-blend trousers and skirts

Should you ever run into a hiccup with your washing machine settings, or if you encounter any other issues, don’t hesitate to contact Advance Appliance Service. We specialize in washing machine repair services, and we’re always here to help you out.

And for more laundry tips, check out our guides on how to prevent clothes from shrinking and the best ways to keep laundry from fading!

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