U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Roofus' Solar and Efficient Home
How a Front-Loading Washing Machine Saves Water
See for yourself how my new washer saves water. You need a clean jar with a lid, a rag that you're allowed to cut up, and scissors. Make sure you have an adult help you with this!
Fill the jar about one-quarter full with water. The jar is like a regular top-loading washing machine. Cut up the rag into small pieces of cloth and put them into the jar. These are like the clothes that go in the washer. Keep adding new pieces of cloth until the jar is pretty full, then put the lid on. With the jar on a table, put your hand on the lid and turn the jar with the same motion you would use to screw the lid on. Keeping the jar upright, turn the jar first one way then the other. This is how a top-loading washing machine works.
Watch what happens to the cloth in the top of the jar. How well does this work? After a minute or so, open the jar and feel the cloth that's near the top of the jar. Is it wet? How full would the jar need to be to get all the pieces of cloth wet?
Real top-loading washing machines work better than your jar, because they spray water in through the top. They also have a big post in the center that helps pull the clothes through the water. But they still need to be nearly full to work well.
Now put the lid back on the jar and put the jar on its side. Slowly turn the jar as you hold it on its side, or roll it gently on the floor. Watch what happens to the pieces of cloth as you do this. This is how a front-loading washing machine works. After a minute or so, put the jar upright and open it. How wet are the pieces of cloth now?
Front-loading washing machines work very much like your jar, so they only need a little water in them to get all the clothes clean. Their tumbling action cleans better than other washing machines, too. And because they don't have a big post in the middle, they also hold more clothes.