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How to Use an Italian Washing Machine

Pauline Kenny

Italian Washer Example 1 - Candy

This section shows a "Candy" washing machine from a vacation rental in Tuscany. We have another example machine shown after this.

Chris from CA took these photos of a washing machine in Italy, spring 2002. Thanks to people on the message board for providing some of these translations!

The typical Italian washing machine is a front loader and is smaller than an American machine, but a good one holds just as much laundry. Push your laundry into the machine without leaving extra space.

These machines run a long wash cycle - well over an hour to do a load of wash (more like 90 minutes) - but they wash your clothes well and use less water. This style of machine is becoming popular in the US now. (We have one and love it.)

The Control Panel

Above you can see the entire control panel. Soap drawer at the left, buttons to control the wash cycle beside that, temperature knob and cycle settings knob.

Laundry Soap

The soap goes in the drawer that you pull out on the left. On this model the soap goes in the middle container. Prewash soap in the left most one, wash soap in the middle, fabric softener in the right one. Do not use as much soap as with a top loading machine - use about 1/4 cup. Pour in the soap, close the little drawer. See below for more details about laundry soap.

Buttons for wash settings

This model has three buttons. Push the button in to set the mode listed for the button.

First button: Spenta accesa - on/off button - push in to turn on machine

Second button: Esclusione centrifuga - no strong spin cycle

Third button: Mezzo carico - half load

Water Temperature

The smaller knob controls the water temperature. Temperatures are in celcius: 30 is cold, 50 is warm, 70 is hot. I wash whites at 60, colors at 40, sheets at 70.

Wash Cycles

This machine offers two types of cycles - for cottons and for delicates. Turn the knob clockwise to the cycle that you want. Usually normal - sporco normale - is what you want. These are the cycles available.

Cotone e Resistenti - cottons and non-delicate clothes

1. Molta sporco - very dirty
2. Sporco normale - normal
3. Poco sporco - not very dirty
4. Giornaliero -  daily (maybe this is a light, short cycle)
5. Capi stingenti - clothes with colors that can run

Pick one of the above settings to start your cycle. The settings below just show you where you are in the cycle.

6. Candeggio - bleach cycle
7. Risciacqui energici - powerful rinse cycle
8. Ammorbidente - fabric softener cycle
9. Centrifuga energica - powerful spin cycle

Misti e delicati - delicate

10. Molta sporco - very dirty
11. Universale - universal (normal setting)
12. Rapido - quick wash
13. LANA - wool

Pick one of the above settings to start your cycle. The settings below just show you where you are in the cycle.

14. Risciacqui delicati - delicate rinse cycle
15. Ammorbidente - fabric softener cycle
16. Centrifuga delicata - delicate spin cycle

There are extra cycles:

A. Prelavaggio - prewash
Z. Solo scarico - to drain only - no spin cycle, the water just drains out

The washing machine may not open until the cycles have completed or until you move the knob to an off position. There is a special symbol that says: Stop con acqua in vasca - stop when water in machine. Turn to this if you need to stop the wash cycle.

Judith's Tips for Temperatures and Soap

I wash everything at 30, but sheets and towels at 60. I also use anti-calcare, 6 Tbsp each load, and therefore only about a fat Tbsp of washing powder. My version of softener is white wine vinegar because I don't like those scents in commercial softeners. (Judith lives in Italy and uses an Italian washing machine regularly!)

Laundry Detergent and Softeners

Check at your vacation rental first to see if someone has left any detergent by the machine - you may not need to buy any. Purchase laundry detergent at the village shop or a larger supermarket. Laundry detergent comes in liquid or powder. You can buy the powder in smaller boxes or in large bags. Bottles, boxes and bags of laundry detergent are labeled "Lavatrice" - for the washing machine.

Laundry detergent aisle in a supermarket. Photo by Alice Twain, 2005.

Photo of laundry detergent aisle above, from left to right: wool and delicate stuff detergents (all of the pink bottles) and washing machine detergents (bottled and in powder, which are now commonly sold in bags); the pink tubes you can spot between the yellow bottles and the boxes in the second from the bottom shelf are concentrated gel detergents.

Translation of Laundry Detergent Box

Maxifustone - Maxirisparmio: Giant size - maximum savings.

Novita': New.

Sole: Sun (brand name).

Lavatrice: Washing machine.

Bianco Solare con Bicarbonato: Sun whitened with bicarbonate.

45: This box does 45 loads of laundry.

Unscented Laundry Detergent

If you need unscented laundry soap (as I do), bring it with you from home because it is hard to find in Italy (unless you find a natural foods store in a larger town). I travel with Ecover powder and I double ziplock bag it. Most laundry soap in Italy, as in North America, is heavily scented with chemicals. They also use a strongly scented fabric softener that helps when drying clothes on a line (to keep them soft). When I use my unscented soap and dry the clothes on a line, I have to iron our t-shirts etc. because they dry like cardboard. There will always be an ironing board and iron in your vacation rental.

Slow Travel Photos - Doing Laundry: Photos of supermarket laundry detergent aisle, laundry detergent boxes, washing machines.

Italian Washer Example 2

This example is a small washing machine we had in an apartment in Levanto, Liguria.

Small washing machine in bathroom of Levanto apartment.

Control Panel

On this washing machine, one knob controls water temperature (on the left); the other controls the cycles. The buttons to the left are for 1/2 loads and to turn off the spin cycle.

This is the list of possible cycles written on the machine, translated to English. To run the cycle, you would turn the knob the the letter indicated, then start the machine.

COTONE-LINO 90° - Cotton - Linen at 90 degrees

A bianchi con prelav - whites with prewash
B bianchi senza prelav - whites without prewash

COTONE-LINO 60° - Cotton - Linen at 60 degrees

A bianchi con prelav - whites with prewash
B bianchi senza prelav - whites with prewash
C colrati resistenti - color resistant

COTONE-LINO 40° - Cotton - Linen at 40 degrees

D colorati delicati - delicate colors

SINTETICI-MISTI 60° - mixed synthetics at 60 degrees

H resistenti con prelav - non-delicates with prewash
J resistenti senza prelav - non-delicates without prewash

TESSUTI DELICATI 30° - 40° - delicate fabrics at 40 degrees

K sintetici - synthetics
L lana WS - Wool

TRATTAMENTI SPECIALI - special treatment

F risciacqui con - with rinse
M risciacqui senza - without rinse
G centrifuga - spin cycle (centrifuge)
N scarico - drain machine

Control panel of washing machine.


Slow Travel Photos - Doing Laundry: Photos of supermarket laundry detergent aisle, laundry detergent boxes, washing machines.
Slow Travel Italy - Language Lessons - Clean Talk: Vocabulary for dealing with your laundry and a Laundromat.

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