Why would I want to wash clothing in 14 hours?
March 27, 2015 10:27 AM   Subscribe

Might be a silly question, but it's plagued me since buying our house. Why does my front-loading, 2000's era Kenmore washing machine have a delay start of 14 hours? Is there a reason or was 14 picked at random?

I've got a whole slew of very useful "home robots" that use timers to make chores more convenient and efficient for me.

For example, loading up breakfast dishes then hitting a 2 hour delay on the dishwasher, lets me get a hot shower and walk out the door without remembering to hit start again. My Nest, slow cooker, InstantPot and Zoj rice cooker round out the timer-function robot fleet nicely.

However my washing machine comes with only 3 rather useless timers: 4 hours, 8 hours and 14 hours. Why?

This early front loader has a problem with mold in the gasket, so I try to keep wet laundry in there for as short a time as possible. Also we're in a condo building, and I try to keep the noise minimal while people are home. (And the spin cycle is quite loud downstairs). The perfect solution would be to load laundry in the morning, delay the start for 9 hours (8hrs working + 1hr lunch +1hr commute), come home to freshly washed laundry, and put it in the dryer.

I know I am way over thinking this. (I'm a UX designer, so its basically my job to think about stuff like this.) But I'm curious if there is a use scenario where 4, 6 or 14 hours makes sense?

I know lots of appliance timers got their start in Orthodox Jewish households. Is 14 hours enough time to make it through a sabbath day? Or maybe 4 hours perfectly fits with a culture that has lunch at home? Something along those lines?

If relevant, this is in the Mid-Atlantic US, made by Kenmore, circa 2007(?).
posted by fontophilic to Home & Garden (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I have 14 hours on mine as well, I use it to toss some clothes in after work when I know I will be going out late so that they don't sit wet all night, then the next morning I pop them into the dryer before heading out again.
posted by Cosine at 10:30 AM on March 27, 2015 [3 favorites]

If you have time-of-use power billing, every time-shifting option is useful.
posted by scruss at 10:38 AM on March 27, 2015 [4 favorites]

In some communities electricity is cheaper in the off hours.

Start it in the afternoon, washing in early morning hours, pull it out first thing in the morning.
posted by beccaj at 10:38 AM on March 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

I can't say why it's 14 specifically, but a stretch of time that long accommodates an entire family throwing stuff in for an entire day and night, wash overnight, and be ready for the dryer when people are awake . That way, a full load is collected (which is important on an HE machine, I believe) and nobody has to remember or know how to set it except for the main laundry-doer in the house, for whom it will be ready to transfer to the dryer.
posted by kapers at 10:42 AM on March 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

My wild stab in the dark is that it might be a Shabbat timer, to allow someone who holds to the prohibition against doing work on the Sabbath to set everything up to be ready to go prior to the Sabbath actually starting while still not losing a whole day to laundry. A search for "washing machine Shabbat timer" turned up a bunch of hits but nothing definitive.
posted by KathrynT at 10:43 AM on March 27, 2015 [5 favorites]

Washing machines don't generate their own heat for hot water, so the delay could help with the hot water resource management. But a long delay lets you make sure there's not wet laundry moldering and souring in the machine for hours. For example, you could put in laundry first thing in the morning, get ready for work, and take it out when you come home. Best fire safety practices also say you should be home when your dryer is running, but it doesn't matter if you're home when the washer runs.
posted by zennie at 10:47 AM on March 27, 2015

Is the timer/control an electronic one or a mechanical one?

If it was electronic, I could see 14 hours being somewhat near the maximum that the timer could wait for. Most appliances don't have clocks in them, they count the 60Hz waves coming in on your power line. 14h * 60min/h * 60sec/min * 60hz = 3024000 = 0x2E2480, which doesn't seem significant. So that's probably not the reason.

If the timer is mechanical, then the timing cam that decides when to start might only be large enough to run for ~14 hours before it comes full circle.

As an appliance engineer I've never heard of a Sabbath mode on a washer/dryer.
posted by JoeZydeco at 10:53 AM on March 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

Your washer wasn't made by Kenmore because Kenmore doesn't make appliances, they put their name on somebody else's appliances. If it's a model that was designed to also be sold in Asian markets, South Korea and Japan have much longer average workdays than the US. Just a possibility, though.
posted by Sequence at 11:18 AM on March 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

I guessing that the choice of times was not an actual design decision, they probably used an off the shelf timer, maybe something intended for outdoor lighting, and the 14 hour time delay could originate from covering the hours of darkness.
posted by Lanark at 11:18 AM on March 27, 2015

Also washing machines use quite a lot of power so that will reduce the number of choices available when selecting a timer unit.
posted by Lanark at 11:20 AM on March 27, 2015

As an appliance engineer I've never heard of a Sabbath mode on a washer/dryer.


Seriously, though, I think it's more of a soon-later-latest timer to accommodate different schedules or energy savings.
posted by a halcyon day at 11:23 AM on March 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Cosine, I'm picturing something like a 6pm load time, and a wash start at 8am, and a wash done at 9am, (which means I'm late to work) and then wrinkly clothes in the dryer when I'm home again at 6pm? Maybe everyone has shorter commute times than I do? This would work on a Friday night into a Saturday morning (though the spin cycle would wake up everyone).

JoeZydeco, great question! I believe it is electronic, though there is a faint hum/buzz when it is set to a delay start.

Kapers and Zennie, I've tried to use the 14 hours in that scenario. (so, so many times.) If you're getting home at 7pm, that means you need to start the washing machine at 4am. (14 hour delay + 1hr wash time). Maybe lots of people wake up that early? (Perhaps my DINKS is showing?)

Or maybe people are less boring than I am, and go out after work every night and get home at midnight. So maybe 10am makes a reasonable start time for a hard-partying, late to the office ad agency guy? It still seems like a stretch, especially for a suburban mom focus group I'm assuming this went through.

Sequence, great point! I totally forgot that about Kenmore. I might do some digging and find the "real" manufacturer of my model.

And Lanark, you might be on to something there. I would assume the manufacture would re-use parts from models to models, but hadn't thought about the parts themselves being sourced from other industries.
posted by fontophilic at 11:43 AM on March 27, 2015

FWIW, definitely not a sabbath timer - there are ways you could justify needing hot food on the sabbath, but washing clothes isn't considered an allowable activity (plus it would have to only work with cold water). < / pedantic ortho judaism>
posted by Mchelly at 2:02 PM on March 27, 2015 [4 favorites]

Some people work longer hours than you, or have longer commutes, or do stuff after work. I use the 16hr delay on mine all the time, it's great. Set the clothes off at 6am when I get up, put away clean clothes at 10pm when I get back, no annoying the neighbours with noisy spin cycles at midnight.
posted by tinkletown at 4:11 PM on March 27, 2015

What if it's an old-fashioned hangover, or designed for countries where there are more stay-at-home mothers and outside washing lines? I wouldn't want to take my washing out to the laundry (it's in an outhouse in the garden) after it gets dark, so I'd do it before six pm.

But then I'd want to hang it out in the morning, so it gets dry by the afternoon. And if I had kids, I'd want to do it maybe after I'd got them up and breakfasted ,and dropped anyone to school who needs to be dropped, so 9am seems about right.
posted by lollusc at 4:49 PM on March 27, 2015

My washing machine that advertised that feature stated in the paperwork it was to make it easier for people to take advantage of times of day when rates were less expensive. (Which wasn't relevant where I live, so I never used it.)
posted by stormyteal at 5:49 PM on March 27, 2015

The only time I've had a machine with a timer was in Japan and I would set it to finish washing as I woke up so that I could put stuff on the line outside. Many of the people in my building did the same because no one had a dryer.
posted by betweenthebars at 8:11 PM on March 27, 2015

Load it right after work, 5:30 pm start, 7:30-8:10 am wash, throw it in the dryer as you leave for work? Or dry that one shirt you need for 20 minutes before you leave at 8:30? (This assumes a 30-minute commute, though.)
posted by slidell at 9:52 PM on March 27, 2015

There are many times I've wished for a washing machine with a 12 or even 14hr delay. I usually wish for this around 10pm, when I notice the hamper is full. Unfortunately, my machine won't delay beyond 9hrs.

Having lived in apartments most of my life, I won't run a washing machine before or after 9. This ensures that noise or water consumption won't disturb others.

I don't work, so scheduling around employment is a non-issue for me. This may be the difference between a useful/useless seeming feature, as I use the delay when I'll be home or running errands throughout the day. If I worked, I imagine I'd schedule or run the washer for after I got home.
posted by bindr at 11:21 PM on March 27, 2015

« Older Who sits at the Head Table?   |   What do you listen to on your amateur radio or... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.