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Confusing kitchen appliances: common questions answered

New research suggests that many of us are left puzzled by our home appliances, but Which? expert advice guides can lend a helping hand

With so many buttons and switches crammed on to the front of modern kitchen appliances, there’s a chance you don’t know about all the features you have access to.

A recent survey of more than 1,000 people by home retailer Appliances Direct found that more than 60% of respondents didn’t know how to work all of their home appliances. One in four didn’t know the difference between the oven and the grill, while only one in ten said they would look for answers in the instruction manual.

Of those surveyed:

Our selection of expert advice guides can help you to master your home appliances, whether you’re dealing with a brand new washing machine or a built-in oven that’s proving difficult to use. Keep scrolling for the details.

Which? kitchen reviews – the best appliances for your kitchen

Which washing machine program should I use?

With so many washing machine programs to choose from, you may be wondering which option is best suited when it comes to chucking clothes into your machine.

Most washing machines have separate programs for cottons and synthetics – cotton programs often run hotter, while synthetics programs wash at lower temperatures and spin less frequently.

If you’re washing microfibre sports clothing, try a sports program. This aims to remove sweat marks and odours, and washes at a lower temperature to ensure your clothes don’t get damaged.

For more details on delicate programs, quick-wash settings and child locks, see our guide to useful washing machine programs. Our advice guides can also help with a number of common washing machine problems, including:

If you’re shopping for a new machine, make sure you check our washing machine reviews to ensure you pick up a proven Best Buy.

What temperature should your fridge be?

Home is where the food is, but do you know how to keep your snacks at the perfect temperature? In the Appliances Direct survey, 21% of respondents admitted that they don’t know how to use the temperature control on their fridge.

Every fridge has a climate class that tells you the range of room temperatures the fridge is designed to work within. The two most common classes you’re likely to come across are SN and N – both work effectively in room temperatures up to 32°C. SN-classed models will also function in rooms that get as cold as 10°C.

If your current fridge needs replacing, consult our guide on how to buy the best fridge to uncover the features worth paying extra for.

Want to see which fridges score top marks for cooling power, energy use and ease of use? Our Best Buy fridges guide reveals all.

Oven symbols and controls

While most ovens from big-name brands tend to use similar symbols, you may come across a button or two that aren’t easy to make sense of.Our interactive oven symbols and controls tool will help to you identify some of the more obscure symbols.

Kitchen appliances in the Which? test lab

We rigorously test thousands of products a year, covering more than 150 unique product categories, which means our expert verdicts will help you to buy with confidence. Our expert guides on home appliances uncover the best and worst products online and in-store.

For more on fridge freezers, ovens, washing machines and other kitchen gadgets, head over to our kitchen reviews hub.

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