Water saving products Water efficient washing machines

Save money with an energy efficient washing machine Wash full loads to save water

Choosing a water-efficient washing machine and using it in a more thrifty manner is an excellent way to cut water waste in your home. If you're on a water meter, reducing your water usage will save you money, too.

Just as washing machines have become more energy efficient in recent years, improvements have also been made to washing machine water efficiency. It's now possible to choose a new washing machine that uses less water but still gets your clothes clean. Go to our washing machine comparison page to rank washing machines by how much water they use, as measured in our lab tests.

Water and washing machines

Some washing machines are better than others at saving water.

The average washing machine uses 10 litres of water for every kilogram of cottons it washes on the standard 40oC cotton program. But during our washing machine testing, we found that water usage varied between models, ranging from one that used just 5.5 litres of water per kilogram to another that consumed 13.6 litres of water per kilogram.

Looking at standard 7kg-capacity machines as an example, the most water-efficient 7kg washing machine we’ve tested used just 5.9 litres per kilogram and the worst used 12.8. If you use the standard 40oC washing program four times a week for a year, filling the drum to 80% capacity, the difference in water used amounts to 7,967 litres of water. That’s nearly enough water to fill 100 baths.

The table below shows the best and worst washing machines we've tested in terms of water usage for a 7kg machine, filled to 80% capacity. 

How different washing machines compare
 Litres of water
Best33 litres
Worst72 litres

Table notes

Best and worst performers for water usage. Both washing machines are A++ rated appliances.

Test based on a 7kg capacity machine loaded at 80% and using a 40oC cotton program.

Washing machine energy labels

Interestingly, the energy label on your washing machine doesn't take water usage into account, only power. The water consumption is shown on the label but doesn't affect the rating. 

In the example in the table above, the washing machines are both rated A++ but one uses more than double the amount of water as the other. So read the energy labels carefully when looking for an efficient washing machine.

Compare washing machines

Which? has tested more than 200 washing machines, and each one is scored on how much water it uses during a normal washing cycle. You can find and compare the washing machines that use a small amount of water per kilogram by using our compare washing machines tool.

Washing machine programs and water

Different washing machine programs also use varying amounts of water. When we looked at 83 washing machines with drum capacities ranging from 5.5 to 12kg, we found the average 40oC cotton program uses approximately 10 litres per kilogram of washing, while the equivalent 40oC synthetics program is less efficient, using nearly 16 litres per kilogram.

But the maximum wash load for a synthetic wash is usually about half the amount you can clean on the cottons program. This means that, per kilogram of washing you can launder in one go – cotton washes usually work out better, but only if you always fill the drum. Synthetic loads use more water per kilogram of load in order to avoid creasing.

Find our more about washing machine programs in our guide to using your washing machine.

Water-saving tips for washing machines

There are some simple ways you can improve your washing machine's water efficiency, whatever model you have at home.

Wash full loads 

40oC cotton washes are designed to take a full drum of laundry, so always try to wash the maximum amount in each load to get the most value from the water and energy you're using. 

If you find you're not able to fill the drum of your 8kg washing machine on a regular basis, it might be worth considering a washing machine with a smaller drum size.

Avoid using extra rinse 

If you have very sensitive skin, you may find it necessary to use the extra-rinse function on your washing machine to remove more detergent from laundered clothes. But try not to use this function unless you really need to, as it's another water waster.

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