Learning Independent use of the Washing Machine

The following procedures will need to be supervised, and continue to be checked, until the teacher/supervisor is confident the student has acquired the skills.

(1) The student will sort the items to be washed, check the labels on the clothing to be sure of the correct temperature. To begin with the items of clothing should be of the same material e.g. towels. It is important that the child learns the sequence of the activity before new dimensions are added.

(2) The student places the towels in the drum, making sure not to overload the machine. A system can be worked out where the child will place 5-6 hand towels, or 4 bath towels in the machine (No more than 6 towels in total).

(3) The student measures the correct amount of washing powder using the measuring cup provided, and puts it correctly into the main wash section of the washing machine. Other elements can be added later on e.g. fabric conditioner, or a pre-wash cycle.

(4) The student sets the dial to the correct washing cycle, and presses the start button.

(5) The student checks the machine from time to time and when the wash is finished he/she places the wet towels correctly (as shown) on the clothes line, if the day is fine, or indoors on a clothes horse near a window or a radiator in Winter.

(6) Once the student has mastered the sequence, then and only then introduce another item of clothing e.g. cotton sheets. Now the student has to sort the items into 2 categories and follow the instructions for the different categories.

Assessment Comments:
The student needs to be aware of the dangers of water and electricity, and to ask for help if in doubt.

Summary/Follow-up Work: A Guide to Washing Machine Symbols


Machine Wash
[Number inside the tub tells the highest temperature allowed]


One Bar Under the Tub
Machine wash on a Gentle Cycle
Two Bars under the Tub
The very gentlest cycle (Wool)



Hand Wash Only



Iron with one dot - Cool
Iron with two dots - Warm
Iron with three dots - Hot



Chlorine Bleach may be added



Tumble Dry
One dot = Low heat setting
Two dots = High heat setting



Dry Clean