How Fast Does A Washing Machine Spin In MPH & RPM?

Wherever you go looking for a new washing machine one of the main functions pointed out is the spin speed. Most people want a washer with a high spin speed because it’s understood that a higher spin speed gets the laundry dryer faster.

However, have you ever wondered how fast the drum is spinning not in RPM (Revolutions Per Minute), but in MPH (Miles Per Hour)? 

A typical front loading washer has an average spin speed of around 900 to 1400 RPM. While a typical top loader is slower at around 600 to 700 RPM. Which when converted to miles per hour, is around 360 to 560 MPH for a front loader and around 158 to 184 MPH for a top loader

Depending on the size of the drum, both of these calculations assume the drum size of 24 inches for a front loader and 15 ¾ inches for a top loader.

However, that’s based on their top spin speed which many washers never reach. To find out why and much more besides, keep reading.

What Affects The Spin Speed of A Washing Machine?

confused person in front of washing machine

There are several things that affect the spin speed of a washer which include;

The Type Of Washing Machine

As we have just seen, top loaders tend to spin at far lower spin speeds than front loaders. The average spin speed for a top loader is around 600 to 700 RPM. 

Although there are some exceptions with one or two able to spin at 1600 RPM. However, top loaders with faster spin speeds tend to cost far more than the average of 600 to 700 spin speed models. The majority of top loaders will spin within the 600 to 700 RPM range and are the most commonly available.

Although the spin speed on a top loader is way below that of a front loader, the wash time tends to be far shorter. The average wash cycle on a top loader is around 25 to 30 minutes whereas a front loader takes around 45 to 90 minutes to complete a wash.

The average spin speed of a front loader is anywhere between 900 to 1400 RPM with many able to spin at 1800 or even 2000 RPM. This coupled with the reduced amount of water used during the wash cycle ensures that clothes come out of a front loader with much less water content than they would from a top loader.

What About MPH?

To calculate the equivalent miles per hour that a washing machine drum travels at, in other words converting rotational speed into linear speed you will need to know a few details and then use a tried and trusted formula.

You need to know the circumference of the drum which are typically as follows;

  • Front Loaders = 2 feet (24 inches) (60 cm)
  • Top Loaders = 1 foot 3 ¾ inches (15 ¾ inches) (40 cm)

You can now use the following formula

RPM ÷ 60 (seconds) = revolutions per second (RPS). You then need to multiply the RPS by the circumference of the washer.

RPS x Circumference of the washer’s drum

This means a washer with a 1000 RPM spin speed would be travelling the equivalent of 408 MPH

This is because 1000 ÷ 60 = 17 x 24 = 408 MPH

The Spin Speed You Select

Clothes

The spin speed you should use is dependent on the fabric type. Typically the more delicate the fabric, the lower spin speed you should select. As both types of washer have different ways of working, the spin speeds are different for both types.

Recommended Spin Speeds For Top Loaders & Front Loaders Per Fabric Type

Type Of FabricTop LoaderFront Loader
Delicates (silk, lace, wool, underwear, etc)300 to 400 RPM400 to 600 RPM
Shirts300 to 400 RPM400 to 600 RPM
Synthetics500 to 600 RPM800 to 1000 RPM
Denim600 to 800 RPM900 to 1200 RPM
Cotton, towels, bedding, etc600 to 1000 RPM900 to 1400 RPM

The Model

The spin speeds I have quoted so far are average spin speeds from average models of both types of appliance. However, some models are designed to exceed these averages.

For example the average spin speed of a top loader is around 600 to 700 RPM. But there are some models that can spin at 1400 or even 1600 RPM.

Whilst front loaders hardly ever reach their quoted spin speed. They start at a lower speed, before reaching their full speed for a few minutes before slowing down again.

An Unbalanced Load

If the load inside the drum is unbalanced, it can cause excessive vibration during the spin cycle. This can lead to the washer attempting to redress the balance by spinning in different directions and stopping and starting abruptly.

This can affect the spin cycle and in many cases prevent the laundry from spinning properly leading to the laundry being far wetter than it should be at the end of the spin cycle. Added to which, an unbalanced load can cause damage to the appliance.

Worn Or Damaged Drive Belt

The drive belt transfers power from the motor  to the drum. If the drive belt has become worn or damaged it can slip which will affect the spin speed of the drum.

At some point, the belt will break completely and the drum will not spin at all.

Clogged Drain Filter

Washing Machine Filter

The drain filter is designed to trap any pieces of lint, thread, debris and foreign objects and prevent them from getting into the drain pump. If the filter becomes clogged, it will restrict the flow of water leaving the appliance.

This causes problems with the drainage and can affect the performance of the spin cycle. You should regularly remove and clean the drain filter to prevent this from becoming a problem.

Unlevel Appliance

If your washer isn’t completely level, it can cause it to vibrate excessively when spinning. This prevents the spin from running as fast as it should as well as leading to damage to the appliance.

You need to ensure your washer is level using a spirit level and checking front to back as well as side to side.

Detergent Type

Believe it or not, the type of detergent you use in your washer can affect its spin speed. If you use thick liquid or powdered detergents, you should also select faster spin cycles to ensure the removal of the detergent after washing.

Which is why I recommend using liquid detergents in top loaders and restricting the use of powdered detergents to fabrics that can withstand faster spin speeds.

How Does The Spin Speed Affect The Moisture Content Of The Laundry?

open washing machine door

As you might have guessed, the faster the spin speed, the more water it removes from the laundry. This equates to reduced drying times which is what we all want.

So the higher the RPM, the lower the level of residual moisture in the clothes. As a rough guide, a 1200 RPM spin speed removes around 48% of the moisture from the laundry.

Residual Moisture Percentage At Various Spin Speeds

Spin SpeedResidual Moisture Content After Cycle
80070%
100059%
120053%
140050%
160044%
180042%

Is It Always Good To Select A High Spin Speed On The Washing Machine

Whilst it’s not always a good idea to select a fast spin speed, it does have some advantages. Which include;

  • Lower Drying Times
    As I said earlier, the faster the spin speed means more water is removed from the laundry which means clothes dry faster.
  • More Economic
    Washing machines with faster spin speeds tend to use less water and need less detergent which means they save you money.
  • Can Wash Larger Loads

Washing machines with faster spin speeds tend to have larger drum capacities allowing you to wash more in one go. Which is great for large loads and washing bulkier items like bedding etc.

However, it’s not all good news, because if you use too fast a spin speed on delicate items they are more prone to become damaged. Some items like silk for example, are likely to become torn or ripped if the spin speed is too high.

Other items could also be more prone to shrinking if the spin speed is too high.

SEE ALSO: Is A 1200 RPM Washing Machine Good?

Frequently Asked Questions

How fast does a front loader washer spin in rpm?

The average spin speed of a typical front loader washer is between 900 to 1400 revolutions per minute (RPM).

How fast does a top loader washer spin in rpm?

The average spin speed of a typical top loader washer is between 600 to 700 revolutions per minute (RPM).

Is it good to have a washer with a fast spin speed?

It is good to have a washer with a fast spin speed because it will remove more water from your laundry and speed up the drying times. However, there are some delicate fabrics that should never be spun at high speeds to prevent damage to the fabric or shrinkage.

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