Washing Machine Buying Guide
Advice on which Washing Machine to Buy
It is quite a tricky issue to decide on which washing machine to buy, whether it is your first purchase or a replacement for an older machine. There are a lot of things to take into account, such as:
- Price and your budget
- Look and finishSize
- Energy rating
- Drum size
- Number of programmes
- Spin speeds
- Free standing
- Integrated (also known as built-in)
- Dimensions of machine
It can be quite a nightmare to reach a decision that you will be happy with. Obviously the washing machines at the lower end of the price scale are attractive when you have a small budget, but they may not be as energy efficient and could end up costing you more to run. Also if the drum size is insufficient for your needs it will mean that you will need to use the machine more than you would want.
Most washing machines are of a very similar size, between 80-90cm high x 50-60cm wide x 50-60cm deep. If you have a limited space for the washing machine, you should disregard anything that will not fit – that’s a start anyway.
You will obviously know whether you want a free-standing machine, which is one that just fits into an empty space in your kitchen. An integrated (built-in) machine is manufactured with a flat front allowing a matching door to be fitted over the top, so that it matches the rest of the cabinets in your kitchen - thereby causing you to run round your kitchen opening every door until you find the appliance you need!
Please bear in mind that, in most cases, an integrated machine will be more expensive.
Selection of Drum Size
The drum size of washing machines does have an effect on price, but a larger drum size could equal less separate washing cycles, reducing the cost of running a machine.
Drum sizes vary between 5kg suitable for up to 2 people, to 11kg suitable for more than 5 people. The most common drum size selected is 7-8kg, which will allow you to handle larger wash loads, such as bedding and family towels.
If you have a larger household, it makes more sense to go for the largest drum size you can afford. Not only that, the larger drum size could even wash a large duvet, as long as the machine has a particular cycle for duvets.
Efficiency of machines and number of programmesAll washing machines must display EU energy efficiency and washing performance labels. These range from A – G, with A being the best. This is really helpful when you are on a tighter budget and can help to reduce the number of machines you have to wade through.
You should also be careful to review the number of programme cycles that are available. To be honest a lot of these programmes are quite specialist and mostly people use the same programmes each week. However, there will be times when you need more than the standard cycles and there really is a large list for you to choose from. Be aware though, the more specialist cycles that are available, the more the machine will cost.
Most washing machines will offer you a normal wash option based on temperature, such as 30, 40 and 50 degree C washes, plus the following:
- Quick Wash
- Woollens/hand wash
These are generally very useful, but there are also more specific programmes available, such as:
- Reduced ironing function
- Sports wash
- Dark wash
- Jeans Wash
- Baby cycle
You should really ask yourself how often you think you will take advantage of these additional programmes, and whether the extra cost is worth it.
Before you go out to look for a new machine, take 5 minutes and look through some of your clothes’ labels to see the types of washing cycles are recommended for your garments. You may find this helpful when making your choice.
Length of Cycles
For most of us, it is quite important how long each washing cycle will last. This will largely depend on the make and model of the washing machine you choose, plus which programme you select. However, most modern machines have a Quick Wash option, and these generally last from 15-40 minutes, which is brilliant when you realise you have forgotton to wash your favourite shirt or skirt for a special event.
You will generally have a display on your machine indicating which programme you are using, and how long there is left in that cycle until the programme is complete. Not only that but you will have additional selections possible for each programme, i.e. spin speed, economy or even optimum time selection, which can reduce the time your washing cycle will take, depending on the weight of your laundry.
The spin speed selected will also have an impact on the overall time of your washing cycle, the faster the speed the longer it will take funnily enough. This is because more water is spun out of your laundry, leaving it drier than a standard spin. Bear in mind a really fast spin is probably not the best selection for your more delicate fabrics.
As mentioned above, all washing machines must display an EU label confirming the energy efficiency rating, from A – G, with A being the best. In fact, technology has improved considerably over the last few years and there are A+ and A++ options available.
The higher the rating, the more energy efficient the washing machine will be, thus reducing not only the amount of energy used but also the annual cost of running your appliance. Believe it or not, a G rating can cost you more than double the cost of running an A rated machine.The downside of this is that the higher the rating the more expensive the initial costs will be.
Your BudgetThe average costs of a new washing machine can be anywhere between £200-600+.For a machine within the £200-400 range you will probably have a lower rated energy efficiency and lower washing performance. However, you will be buying a machine that although may not come with all whistles and drums, will do what you need. Although the costs are within your budget, please bear in mind that it will probably cost you more every year to run, and also remember to check the drum size and maxium wash load.
For a machine within the £400-600 range you will have an average drum size of 8-9kg, A rated and with plenty of options for washing cycles.
The top of the range washing machines tend to be £600+ and will probably be designed to fit into an integrated system. It will also probably have a drum size of 11kg, and come in many colours and styles to blend in with a designer kitchen.
Remember to do your homework first, check the reviews of your potential machines and shop around. By doing this, you should end up with the best machine that fits all your needs, including your budget.