A fully automatic washing machine is an electrical appliance that controls all aspects of clothes washing, from water level and temperature to agitation time and intensity. All that a user must do is put clothes in and tell the machine which settings to use. This style of washing machine is the standard model used in most parts of North America and Europe. In areas where electrical currents are weaker or running water is scarce, particularly in rural areas of developing countries, semi-automatic washers are more common. Throughout most of the developed world, however, the fully automatic model is often the only model available.
There are many different styles of fully automatic washing machine. Some load from the front, and others from the top; some are high efficiency, or are designed for industrial or professional use. Despite their differences, most work in the same basic way. Users control the settings, but the machines normally do the rest.
Machines generally require both electricity and a water hook-up in the back. On the front, they feature a panel of controls allowing users to indicate their load size, the water temperature, and the total time for the wash. Rudimentary models usually present these preferences in a series of dials and buttons. More advanced machines present them as digital selections, often with a touch screen and illuminated timers and minute-by-minute countdowns.
A fully automatic washing machine completes the entire clothes washing cycle without any effort from the user. It will rinse, wash, agitate, and spin dry clothes all on its own. When time is up, the user need only retrieve the washed laundry from the machine’s basin, and either place it in an automatic dryer or hang it out.
The fully automatic washing machine is a step up from its precursors, the semi automatic washing machine and the manual washing machine. A manual version is often little more than a large basin with a manual crank for agitating clothes. This process is simpler than scrubbing clothes on a scrub board, but is rarely considered easy. Water usually has to be drained and refilled a number of times, and all of the spinning and agitating must be powered by physical strength.
A semi-automatic machine does not include a crank, but nonetheless still requires some user interaction. In a semi-automatic model, there are typically two connected basins. The first is for rinsing, the second for spinning. Users must generally fill the water basin themselves and set the machine to agitate. Then, users must drain the water, move the clothes to the spinning chamber, and turn this segment of the machine on to wring the clothes out.
In general, semi-automatic washers are popular in areas that either have poor electrical currents or lack running water. These types of washing machines are hard to find in most developed countries, however. A fully automatic washing machine does not usually take up significantly more energy, and is often competitively priced. Very high-end automatic models exist, of course, but so do basic, more economical versions.