Understanding Different Washer-Dryer Settings

Tips from SCE to learn the difference between your washer and dryer settings to help you save energy and prevent your clothes from getting damaged.

Ever get confused with all the different settings on a washer/dryer or the laundry jargon on your clothing tags?

Knowing the difference between all the settings and making simple changes in washer or dryer use
can help save energy and prevent clothes from getting damaged.

For instance, the "delicates" setting on the dryer may be a less efficient option because it uses low heat, leading to a longer drying time, according to

PartSelect also suggests paying attention to clothing labels to avoid fabric shrinkage or damage. A tag that says "No Tumble Dry" means don't use a dryer but instead follow other directions, such as hanging the item to dry.

There is also a big difference between wash and spin cycle settings and which temperature to use for specific clothing items. For instance, the "regular/normal" setting has an intense agitation speed, the level of shaking and spinning the washer creates to get your clothes clean. It is best to wash delicate pieces with the "delicates" setting, which uses light agitation to prevent damage to the fabric.

To help get it right every time, consider the following washer/dryer tips from PartSelect.

Washer settings:

  • Regular/Normal: This setting heats your water between 120-140 degrees, and the washer cycles in fast agitation while washing. Use this setting when washing white clothing items.
  • Permanent Press: Choosing this washer setting brings the water temperature to about 85-105 degrees and cycles in mild agitation while cleaning your clothes. This setting is best for colored clothing.
  • Delicates: You'll want this cycle if you're washing delicate fabrics and want a light agitation cycle. The water will be cold while washing at about 65-75 degrees.
Dryer settings:

  • Automatic Dry: It is more energy-efficient than a time dry because it causes your dryer to shut off when clothes are detected as dry automatically.
  • Regular/Heavy: Fastest and hottest setting of your dryer. It's best to use this setting when you're drying white or light-colored clothing.
  • Delicates: Low heat, so drying time will be longer. It is best to use this setting to use for delicate fabrics.
  • Permanent Press: Medium heat while drying and is best used for colored fabrics.
  • Air Fluff: Not used for drying. This setting draws in room temperature air to "fluff" clothing. Dry clean only fabrics are safe on this setting; add a dryer sheet for a "just cleaned" feel and smell.
  • Wrinkle Shield: Not used for drying, but for preventing wrinkles. The dryer will periodically tumble just dried clothing to help prevent wrinkles from forming.
Find more energy-efficiency tips, visit SCE’s Home Efficiency Guide.