Washing machines: How to buy the best washing machine Which washing machine?
Which washing machine?
Washing machines have come a long way since Which? first started testing them more than 50 years ago – there are now hundreds of models on the market to choose between. But which washing machine is the right one for you?
Which? washing machine shopping checklist
Freestanding or built-in washing machine
Which type of washing machine you go for – either freestanding or built-in – will largely depend on your personal preference and budget.
A built-in washing machine can be hidden away by a door to seamlessly blend in with the rest of your kitchen fittings, and may be part of the plan if you're installing a new kitchen. However there are fewer built-in models on the market, and they usually work out more expensive than the equivalent freestanding model. Freestanding models are also easier to take with you if you move house.
Which washing machine drum size is best? The standard washing machine drum size is 6kg, and this is usually enough for most households. But drum sizes can go up to 10kg and even 11kg. A 10kg load washes eight small towels, five pairs of jeans, 30 socks, four pillow cases, three sheets and 15 t-shirts in a single load!
Some manufacturers are now developing larger-capacity washing machines that don't take up any extra space in your kitchen. You can compare washing machines by size using our washing machine comparison tool.
Water and energy efficiency
Which? has tested more than 200 washing machines, and each one is scored on its energy and water use during a normal washing cycle. This gives you a good indication of overall washing machine efficiency.
We've found that models can vary significantly, so choosing an efficient machine will help keep your running costs to a minimum. Go to the compare features and prices page in our washing machines lab test report – each washing machine has been awarded a star rating of one to five for its energy use and water use.
Your washing machine needn't be white these days – grey, black and silver are widely available and can make a stylish statement in your kitchen. You can use our compare features and prices tool to find a washer in the colour you'd like.
Settings and extra features
Wide-door models, electronic displays, higher spin speeds of up to 1,800rpm, child locks, easy-to-load detergent drawers. Extras like these can make all the difference when you're choosing which washing machine is right for you and your home.
Think about which washing machine features you want, and take the time to check what's available on each model – that way you'll get the gadgets you want, and won't end up paying extra for the ones you'll never use.
It's not something you can test out when you're in the shop, but we test washing machines for noise in the lab. Our test results reveal which washing machines are the loudest and quietest during a wash and spin cycle – particularly important if you have a baby sleeping during the day, if you live in close proximity to other people, or if you simply relish a quiet house.
Filter your washing machine test results by noise to find which washing machines scored four stars or more for noise levels (the more stars, the quieter the machine).
Which washing machine brand?
It's important to choose a washing machine from a company with a good reputation for product reliability and performance – but a household name doesn't guarantee you'll get a reliable product. So which washing machine brands are best?
Take a look at the results of our washing machine reliability survey, which reveals the washing machine brands that perform the best for reliability, customer service and after care.
Bosch was the most widely owned brand of washing machine in our washing machine reliability survey, with 32% of respondents saying they owned one. Hotpoint, Miele, and Zanussi Electrolux washing machines were also popular.
Washer and a dryer?
If you haven't got enough room for a washing machine and a tumble dryer, you could consider getting a washer-dryer instead. Washer-dryers save space and money compared with a separate washer and dryer from the same manufacturer – and the best washer-dryers are as good as washing machines. But they're not as good at drying as a Best Buy tumble dryer.
The dual functionality of washer-dryers makes them the least reliable of all domestic appliances, so consult our washer-dryer reliability results before you buy to ensure you go for the best option.
Cleaning, rinsing and spinning ability
Good performance is the number one concern when it comes to deciding which washing machine to go for. Our review of more than 150 washing machines is essential reading before you buy. Our washing machine test program includes more than 300 tests on washing, rinsing and convenience – find out which 41 models emerged as Which? washing machine Best Buys.