Why can't my washing machine spin one item?

Modern brands washing machine have an OOB "out of balance" protection built into the programmes. The idea of OOB protection is not new, this feature has been around for years in various forms, most worked but the drum actually went out of balance before it worked. Old Hotpoint 95 series washing machines all had dented side panels where the drum used to repeatedly hit whilst trying to balance.

In theory, at the start of the spin cycle, the washing machine programme switches on the drain pump, this empties away all the available water in no time, or it should. By turning the drum (reverse tumble or distribution tumble) more water is ejected from the clothes and the pump clears this too. The idea is to reduce the weight as soon as possible and before the spin speed is increased. Once the programme has given this drain step enough time it moves onto distribution, this starts to layer the clothes around the inner surface and it tries to get an even distribution of weight. Once the programme step is complete the next step brings more speed, if the clothes are not balanced, it starts the washing machine on a banging cycle instead of a spin cycle.

Modern electronic controlled programmes have out of balance built in to the programme step timing. Basically, if your wash load is uneven or too heavy or too light the electronic control can sense this by a combination of motor power usuage and motor speed. By measuring the load current on the motor as the clothes are lifted by the drum paddle lifters, and measuring the speed of the rotor by using a tachometer, located on the end of the rotor shaft, if the measurements go outside of set parameters the spin cycle will be aborted as OOB, out of balance.

Therefore if you're trying to spin a single garment or a load that is too large or heavy, the programme protects the washing machine.

Within the electronic control a "retry" may be initiated, the number of retrys will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, but unless the weight distribution is altered, it will not spin.

What you can do is to unload the washing machine, reload and untwisted any clothing and ensure a good weight distribution and have another attempt and rinse/spin or spin only.