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Aug 26, 2015

Aging of IEC Load Items

"How do you 'age' the IEC 60456 standard load items for composing ready-to-use loads meeting the average age requirements of the standard?"


The International Standard IEC 60456 for testing the performance of domestic laundry appliances requires the cotton test load to be composed of items that were used/washed as often as to let the test load have an average age between 30 and 50. For continuous testing, the maintenance of such loads is typically achieved by composing them of parts with different age and replacing the oldest items with new (pre-washed) ones.

For establishing new or additional test loads, new load items need to be washed multiple times to finally meet the age criteria. Besides new and pre-washed load items we also offer aged items or full ready-to-use loads as a service to labs that wish to increase their testing capacity. The Standard IEC 60456 does not specifically define how to do the (artificial) aging. But of course it defines the conditions for test runs, so for us that is the self-evident basis for designing our aging wash treatment:

Washer and programme
Real test cycles can happen in all machines and programmes, therefore aging runs can as well. We decided to use a fully programmable washing machine and design/select a cycle of medium performance with regard to temperature, gentleness of action as well as rinsing performance.

Water quality
The standard allows soft and hard water for testing. The loads shall be aged using the water hardness that is intended to later be used in the actual test runs. The main concern in that respect is that there may be a substantial carry-over of water hardness by loads that were first washed in hard water and are then used with soft water. The Standard addresses this issue by requiring (at least) the normalization cycles (= the 'rinsing' cycles between test series) to be done with the water hardness that shall be used for the next testing. We currently age with hard water as default as that is what most of our clients use the loads for. But we are as well used to aging with soft water.

Other conditions
All other conditions are the same as what the Standard requires for test runs. We use the Standard Detergent, required dosage, and also use Test Strips that are just not evaluated (because we're not testing our system).

All of the above is equally true for similar loads intended to be used following other, related washing machine test standards, e.g. EN 60456, AHAM HLW-1 ...