Washing Machine Buying Guide

Washing machines have become an essential home appliance for most households. Depending on your laundry requirements, there are many options available on different models, so it's good to compare the features before you buy.

Types

Front-loading
Front-loaders are by far the most popular type of washing machine available in the UK, and for good reason. They offer a host of advantages compared to top-loading machines, such as:

  • They use less water, therefore saving you money on utility bills
  • They prolong the life of clothes
  • Larger capacity
  • Quieter and less disruptive
  • They use less soap and detergent, saving you even more money

Front-loading washing machines come in various styles, including integrated, semi-integrated and free-standing. Integrated machines are covered by a panel and are completely hidden when this panel is closed, helping the machine to blend in perfectly with your kitchen decor. Semi-integrated models are similar to integrated models, except the controls are visible when the panel is closed. Free-standing models have no front panel and are completely visible.

Top-loading
Top-loading machines are far less common than front-loading machines, especially in the UK. Although they offer a few benefits over front-loading machines they’re generally less economical and much noisier. The main benefit of owning a top-loading machine is that you do not have to stoop to load it, which is ideal for people with back problems.

Capacity

Capacity refers to the size of the drum and how large a load you can fit in your washing machine. What you must always remember is that a bigger capacity means fewer washes and therefore smaller utility bills. Generally, washing machines are available in 4 sizes; 5kg, 6kg, 7kg and 8kg. Singles and couples should probably opt for a 5kg machine, while slightly larger households, say with one child, may want to choose a 6kg machine. Families with 2 or more children should look to purchase at least a 7kg machine as washes will be needed, saving time and money. Whichever size you purchase, please never overfill your washing machine as doing so may damage it.

Wash Programs

  • Set programs for different fabrics - Many machines allow you to set programs for a variety of different fabrics, including cotton, synthetic, woollens and delicates.
  • Quick Wash - Allows you to wash small loads in as little as 15 minutes. Ideal if you’re in a rush.
  • Pre-Wash - For extra soiled loads, you can run a pre-wash cycle to remove loose dirt before the main wash.
  • Cold Fill - Most modern washing machines are cold fill only, meaning cold water is used to watch your clothes instead of hot. Cold water is preferred as it is less harmful towards fabrics, removes stains easier and is more energy efficient.
  • Delayed Start - Gives you the option to start your washing cycle at set points during the day. Many people choose to set their load to wash overnight in order to take advantage of cheaper energy tariffs.
  • Overdosing - Prevents too much detergent from being used. If too much detergent has been added to the wash, then the overdosing feature will automatically set another rinse cycle.
  • Extra Rinse - The extra rinse cycle removes even more detergent from clothing, which is ideal for allergy and eczema sufferers.

Spin Speeds

Most washing machines have 2 spin speeds: 1000-1800rpm for cottons, and 400-800rpm for synthetics and delicates. Usually, a washing machine will automatically select a spin speed based on the selected wash program. However, some machines also permit you to set the spin speed yourself with a variable spin speed function. Faster spin speeds leave clothes drier, which allows for faster drying times.

Energy Efficiency

Washing machines are given a grade from A-G based on energy efficiency, with A being the most efficient. Tests are carried out by trading standards, with overall efficiency determined by washing performance and spin efficiency. Machines with an A rating tend to have far more energy saving features, such as delayed start and quick wash. The overwhelming majority of washing machines we have to offer have an A energy rating.

Washer Dryers

For smaller homes, washer dryers provide a brilliant space-saving solution. They combine all the functions of a washing machine with that of a tumble dryer in one stylish and practical package. Many people choose to buy them as they only take up the space of one appliance, not two. However, washer dryers do have a couple of drawbacks. For example, they can only handle 1 load at a time, whereas separate machines could handle 2 loads at once, helping you to get through more laundry in a shorter space of time. The capacity inside washer dryers also tends to be smaller than that of a traditional washing machine, which also negatively affects how much laundry you can get through.