In this work, a 2D dynamic model of a horizontal axis washing machine is derived regarding the rotation plane in order to examine the vibration characteristics of the spin-cycle and improve the design proposing a new optimization scheme based on Genetic Algorithms (GA). The dynamic model is numerically simulated and the outputs are validated using experimental vibration data acquired from a test-rig including the drum and the motor of a horizontal-axis washing machine. The measurements are performed using piezo-transducers and a novel measurement scheme is used to obtain displacement values from acceleration data as well as estimating the instantaneous frequency of the rotation with appropriate signal processing. This study has two main contributions: (i) a new method for design improvement applying GA to optimization of vibration characteristics for the horizontal-axis washing machines, and (ii) a novel measurement method yielding the displacement in 2D and instantaneous frequency of vibration from acceleration data. While the GA is contributing to passive improvement methods in the field, the novel measurement method opens the way for low-cost diagnosis and active-vibration control of washing machines. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.