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How to Use Freshen-Up Setting on Washing Machines (+When)

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Your washing machine is packed with settings and features that you might not often use, if ever. This is especially true if you have a top-notch washer with a control panel as big as a tablet.

If you look closely at the control panel, you will find a freshen-up feature among the other settings. So what is it, and how to use it?

The freshen-up cycle is a quick cycle for clothes that are not soiled but might have an off smell or slight odors. You can also use this setting for clothes that have been stored for a while and might look clean but need to be freshened up. This cycle is similar to the quick cycle and would finish within 15 minutes.

So when should you use the freshen-up cycle, and how would you use it effectively?

Read more to find full answers to these questions and more, along with a guide to freshen up your clothes if your washer doesn’t have this setting.

What is the Freshen-Up Setting?

Freshen-Up: An Underrated Washing Machine Program
I made a quick video explaining the Freshen-Up setting if you prefer watching over reading.

Have you ever come back from a short outing, taken off your blouse or slacks, and started feeling conflicted? Should you put the blouse in the washer or not?

You’ve only been out for just a half hour. The blouse still looks and feels clean. It only has a faint odor which might be sweat. 

Now, you can’t possibly put that blouse in the closet; otherwise, it will smell stuffy and make the other clothes near it smell funky as well.

At the same time, you don’t think the practically clean blouse merits a full cycle of washing and rinsing. 

If only the washer had a setting for such situations. A setting that washes off the odors without stressing out the fabrics with too much agitation and laundry detergents.

Yes, you have. It’s called the freshen-up setting.

The name says it all. This is a quick setting that gives the clothes a few rotations this way and that way, then calls it a cycle.

The whole cycle will be over before you’ve finished your cup of coffee – in 15 minutes or less.

The freshen-up setting goes through the three normal cycles of washing, rinsing, and spinning, just like any other cycle. But it zips through them in record time.

However, the duration of the cycle varies wildly among washer brands. In some brands, it will take the same time as a quick cycle.

But other washers would take as long as 45 minutes. Check the screen on the control panel to know how much time the cycle would take.

It’s one of the gentlest cycles your washer would have. It doesn’t require any laundry detergents, stain removers, bleach, or any other chemicals.

As we stated, the laundry is already clean. The washer just needs to get rid of the faint odors.

That said, you can still add a fabric softener if you like. This will guarantee that all traces of foul odors will be gone from the fabrics by the time the freshen-up cycle is over.

Tips for Using the Freshen-Up Setting

Even though the freshen-up setting is similar to other cycles on the washer, you shouldn’t treat it as such. This is a quick and light cycle.

Here’s how to make the most out of it.

  • Don’t fill the washer to maximum capacity. If you have an 11-pound capacity washer, then adding 5 pounds or less of clothes should be good enough for one load.
  • Allow the cycle to finish normally, and don’t try to force shut the washer before the end of the cycle. Even if it’s clear water sloshing around, you should give the washer time to do the job properly.
  • Don’t add detergents or stain removers. The washer won’t have time to flush out those chemicals from the fabrics and rinse the clothes properly.
  • Take the same precautions as with other cycles by separating colors from whites and putting delicates in laundry bags for protection.

Which Clothes can be Washed in the Freshen-Up Setting?

Not all clothes should be washed in the freshen-up cycle. Soiled clothes deserve the regular cycle or even the heavy-duty cycle depending on the number of stains on them. 

Some clothes should never be washed in the freshen-up cycle. Denim fabrics, for example, won’t get much benefit from this cycle.

They’re heavy and hardy.

If you have a pair of jeans or a denim skirt that has been lying in the wardrobe for a while and got a little odor on it, just put it in the sun for a couple of hours. 

Casual clothes are usually the main clothes that you’ll need to freshen up. But home clothes, bedsheets, towels, work clothes, and any other clothes that you spend hours in, they all should be washed under the regular cycle.

When Not to Use the Freshen-Up Setting?

If the clothes are stained, then you shouldn’t use the freshen-up setting. This setting is too fast and light to have any effect, even on the slightest of stains.

No matter how invisible the stain is, it will still be there after you take the laundry out of the washer. 

How do you Freshen Clothes without the Freshen-Up Setting?

But what if your washer doesn’t have the freshen-up setting? Does that mean that you would have to put the clothes through the rigors of the regular cycle every time? 

Actually, you don’t have to do that. If you don’t have the freshen-up setting in your washer, you can use the quick wash instead but with a little twist.

Instead of adding detergent as you would usually do, skip the detergent and add baking soda instead.

Mix a quarter cup of baking soda in a similar quantity of water and pour it into the washer. Then add two cups of white vinegar and run the washer on a high-temperature setting. 


The freshen-up setting is a quick cycle that removes odors from clothes without stressing out the fabrics with too much spinning or agitation.

I’ve also created a comprehensive guide on how to use all the settings on your washing machine that may interest you to read next.

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