This paper describes two alternative variable speed motor drive systems for washing machine applications. Three phase induction motors with tachometer feedback and direct drive permanent magnet synchronous motors with hall sensor feedback are two drive systems commonly used in North American washers today. Appliance manufacturers are now evaluating sensorless drive systems because of the low reliability and high cost of the speed and position feedback sensors. A Field Oriented Control Algorithm with an embedded rotor flux and position estimation algorithm enables sensorless control of both permanent magnet synchronous motors and induction motors. The estimator derives rotor shaft position and speed from rotor flux estimates obtained from measured stator currents and the applied voltages. Sampling of currents in the dc link shunt simplifies stator current measurement and minimizes cost. Field oriented control algorithm allows good dynamic control of torque and enables an extended speed range through field weakening. The digital control algorithm runs on a unique hardware engine that allows algorithms to be designed using graphical tools. A common hardware platform can run either the PMSM or IM using sensorless field oriented control in a front loading washer application. Test results are presented for both drives in standard wash cycles.