Washing machine reviews: FAQs
At Which? we wash over 1,750kg of washing every year in the quest to help you identify the best washing machines for your home. On the way we’ve accumulated knowledge on all aspects of washing machine buying, use and repairs.
This page contains the jewels of our knowledge, covering such areas like how much you need to pay for a brilliant washing machine, how to find out if your model is worth repairing and what energy labels actually mean.
How much does a decent washing machine cost?
Washing machine prices vary widely from under £175 to a wallet-crushing £1,000 and above. But you’ll be pleased to know that you don’t need to fork out anywhere near the four figure mark to get a decent Best Buy washing machine.
Based on our hundreds of tests of washing machines, we think it’s generally worth stretching your budget to £250. For this price you can get your hands on a non-Best Buy washing machine that’ll deliver your laundry reasonably clean and well rinsed.
However, from this price up to around £350, the quality and reliability of the machines you’ll see on sale varies – and you won’t be able to tell the difference in the shops between a bargain machine that’ll clean thoroughly and last for years and a nightmare washer that’ll let you down, so it pays to read our impartial independent washing machine reviews first.
If you’re after a top-performing Best Buy washing machine, which will not just clean your clothes but leave them sparkling, rinsed clean of detergent and thoroughly spun, you’ll be able to find models for around £320 and above.
A lot of our top rated Best Buys (scoring 80% or close to) cost between £500 to £1,000. Only the best machines that do well across all of our tests can get scores like this, but you’ll need to read the reviews to decide if you really need to spend that amount of money.
Is it cheaper to buy a washing machine online?
Buying online can take over £100 off the shop price depending on the model – but read our reviews thoroughly first to ensure you buy the right model with the right washing machine features. Our washing machine comparison tool can help you narrow down your search to models that best fit your needs - and your budget.
What do washing machine energy ratings mean?
Energy ratings on washing machines are meant to help you choose a more energy-efficient model. They go from A+++ (the most efficient) to D, though in reality you're unlikely to find a washing machine rated lower than C. Find out more about washing machine energy use and how much different models cost to run on our washing machine energy costs page.
When we test washing machines, we measure the energy used if that washing machine was used by a typical Which? member. Our method better reflects the way people actually use their washing machines – we look at the annual cost of energy and water on the 40oC cotton and easy-care programs.
What temperature should I wash at?
Many people use 40ºC wash programmes almost exclusively these days, and the current trend is to use even lower temperatures to save energy. Some detergents are designed to work best at lower temperatures, so you can get good cleaning results in cooler water.
But while clothes may come out lovely and clean, washing at lower temperatures - including 40ºC - won't kill off germs that may be in your laundry. For this you need to wash your clothes at a minimum of 60ºC.
Washing at low temperatures all the time can also lead to a build up of grease or black mould on your washing machine's door seal or inside the washing machine's detergent drawer. Some people have also told us about musty smells caused by low-temperature washes.
For most people this isn't a problem because they'll occasionally use a 60ºC wash for cleaning towels, sheets and linen. This removes bacteria, dust mites, and cat and dog allergens from items, and unwanted mould spores which might have built up.
Manufacturers advise doing at least one high temperature wash, at 60°C or above, each month to maintain and clean out a washing machine. Removing and cleaning the detergent drawer and wiping round the rubber ring with light bleach cleaners or sprays will also reduce problems.
Is a washer-dryer a good idea?
Best Buy washer dryers are good as washing machines for cleaning power but they're not as good at drying as a Best Buy tumble dryer. They're more awkward to use, too, since the drying capacity doesn't always match the washing capacity.
You may have to dry a load of washing in two (or more) separate goes. However, they do save space and - in most cases - money.
Can I stack a tumble dryer on top of my washing machine?
If both your appliances are made by the same manufacturer, you should be able to buy a stacking kit to fix your dryer on top of your washing machine. These kits can be bought from manufacturers or department stores, and are another alternative if you're short for space: you get the function of two appliances with the footprint of one.
You can also buy universal stacking kits if you have a washer and dryer from two different brands. These kits are designed to fix any dryer on top of any front-loading washer - though a brand-specific kit may fix them more firmly.
It's not advisable to simply place a tumble dryer on top of your washer. Any jolts or the vibration of a high spin could dislodge the tumble dryer and cause damage.
If my washing machine breaks down, is it worth repairing it?
Whether it's worth worth repairing rather than replacing your machine will depend on its age and cost. It may be worth repairing a pricey model from a reliable brand, but could work out cheaper to replace a less expensive model.
Our washing machine reliability survey results show that the most common problems with washing machines relate to the detergent drawer, filling and emptying of water, and the door seal.
There are some problems you can fix yourself without calling a repairer. Our washing machine repair tool enables you to diagnose the problem and advises you how to fix it or if you need to call in a professional.
If you're looking for a good repairer, visit Which? Local where you can search for traders in your area that have been recommended by Which? members.
Should I get a hot-fill washing machine?
Heating water in your boiler is more efficient than heating it in a washing machine, so plumbing a hot water supply into a washing machine usually makes it cheaper to run. But the difference will only really be significant on high-temperature (60°C or 90°C) washing programs.
Manufacturers have all but stopped making hot-fill machines, so buying a used machine is probably the best way to get your hands on one.
Are top-loading washing machines any good?
Top-loading washing machines are about two-thirds the width of front-loading washing machines. They can be positioned beneath a worktop, but you have to wheel them out to use them, which can be quite an effort.
The spring-loaded inner doors are awkward. The force of the spring makes them hard to open, and the doors don't automatically line up with the outer door when the wash finishes, so you have to turn the drum to get the washing out.
The majority of the machines we test are front-load washing machines. The last time we tested top-loading washing machines, none were good enough to be a Which? Best Buy. They were noisy, awkward to use and vibrated too much.
Is it OK to leave the washing machine on overnight or while you're at work?
If you're worried about burst pipes, look for a washing machine that's fitted with an Aquastop device. This will cut the water supply to the washing machine and stop flooding if it breaks down.
How do I recycle an old washing machine?
Our guide to recycling electricals tells you everything you need to know about getting rid of old appliances in a responsible way - and includes our appliance recycling tool.
You can get rid of an unwanted washing machine through the retailer supplying your new model or via your local council. When you buy, check if a retailer will take away an old washing machine when delivering a replacement.
Alternatively, contact your council to find your nearest appliance recycling site, or to arrange for your old washing machine to be collected. Some councils offer free collection; others charge up to £30. If you can take the washing machine to your local civic amenity yourself, there should be no charge.
Or, if your washing machine still works, use a community recycling scheme such as Freecycle to offer it to someone else.
What are the current trends in washing machines?
Most manufacturers now offer larger-capacity washing machines – washers with bigger drums so you can wash more at once - that don't take up any extra space in your kitchen.
Manufacturers including Hotpoint, Bosch, AEG, Samsung, and Beko are investing money in 'eco' modes. These optional settings are designed to reduce the amount of electricity and water being used, cutting down bills.
Some Whirlpool, Samsung and LG washing machines now include steam or air refresh programs to boost cleaning or freshen clothes.
Colourful washing appliances are becoming more desirable – many Hotpoint washing machines are available in white, aluminium and graphite shades. Some Zanussi, Hoover and Bosch washing machines available in both silver and white. Smeg offers a rainbow of colourful washing machines.
If you're looking for a black washing machine, these are also becoming more widely available from the likes of Bosch, LG and Hotpoint You can use our compare features and prices tool to view washing machines available in your preferred colour.