With many of us spending more time at home during lockdown, any strange or loud noises coming from your washing machine are bound to be more noticeable.
If your washing machine is making a racket, our expert advice can help to restore peace to your home before you get a headache.
Read on for seven key tips to stop strange noises and find out about three quiet washing machines that have been through our rigorous lab tests.
Check our washing machine reviews to invest in a quiet machine that cleans well.
1. Balance the feet of your washing machine
Before doing any sort of maintenance on your washing machine, turn it off and unplug it.
If your machine is mid cycle when it starts to play up, follow the advice in your washing machine’s instruction manual for stopping and draining it.
Now check the feet: they should be in firm contact with the floor.
To adjust the feet you’ll need to undo the locking nuts first, then unscrew the feet. The washing machine should be completely level so use a spirit level and keep adjusting the feet until you’re satisfied.
When finished, you must remember to screw the locking nuts back into place, firmly against the machine’s housing, before doing your next wash.
2. Avoid unbalanced loads
Washing a heavy item, such as a cotton towel by itself, or only with light garments may cause problems.
The towel will absorb water and gain weight; if this then sticks to the side of the drum, it will create an unbalanced load.
Some modern washing machines can detect this and will attempt to re-balance the load or choose not to enter the spin cycle.
If your washing machine does enter the spin with an unbalanced load, it could shake around in a noisy and violent fashion – possibly doing damage to itself or cutting out halfway through the spin cycle.
You can avoid unbalanced loads by washing heavy items, such as towels or dressing gowns, together to try and balance out the load in the drum.
3. Check around the drum for coins or bra wires
Rogue items that get into the drum can cause both strange sounds and a number of problems.
Research and feedback from Which? members has shown the most common culprits are coins and bra wire.
We experimented putting £1 coins into a variety of washing machines and we found you typically have about 15 minutes to hear them rattling around and pinging off the door before the sound of the wash drowns them out.
Bra wire makes more of a scratching sound.
4. Check the seal
We also found that some coins got caught in the rubber seal.
It’s a good idea to check all around and clean the seal regularly anyway, because as well as a potential place for small items to get trapped, this is where mould and bacteria can fester.
A regular scrub can help prevent build-up. If left too long, mould sinks into the porous rubber seal and is impossible to remove, meaning you may need to replace it.
5. Clean out the filter on the front
Some items loose in the machine can work their way down to the filter. You’ll usually find the filter at the front of the machine, on the right and close to the floor.
On some models, the filter will be on the side. Follow the instructions in your instruction manual to check and clean the filter.
Make sure you put down an oven tray or dish to capture water, as when you remove the cap on the hose, any water trapped in the machine will otherwise spill onto the floor.
6. Find out if items are stuck in the outer drum
Items that don’t get washed down into the filter will end up in the outer plastic tub that surrounds the metal washing drum.
Anything stuck here will be flung about violently by the drum’s rotation, especially during the spin cycle.
Our test £1 coins have been known to be flung with such force by the drum that it’s penetrated the outer plastic tub, which can potentially flood your kitchen and write off your machine.
If an item does get stuck in this area, it’s likely to make a very loud noise when the machine’s running, especially during the spin. If you suspect an item has got caught here, stop the machine and call someone in to repair it.
According to official coronavirus government advice, work carried out in your home, such as by a tradesperson, can continue as long as he or she is showing no symptoms.
Government advice also says: ‘No work should be carried out in any household which is isolating or where an individual is being shielded, unless it is to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household, such as emergency plumbing or repairs, and where the tradesperson is willing to do so.’
Find out more on getting repairs in our news story: Should I let a tradesperson or engineer into my home?
Bear in mind the cost of removing the drum assembly for many washing machines is very high, and combined with the call-out cost, it may work out cheaper to buy a new washing machine – we’ve found Best Buy washing machines for less than £350.
7. Check the drum bearings
If the above steps don’t help, and you don’t think there’s anything stuck in the drum, your machine may be suffering from a bearing failure.
This is a relatively common fault and one that will most likely require a professional repairer.
Turn the drum while it’s empty to check if the drum bearings have gone. If you feel a resistance, the machine’s bearings may need replacing.
Another giveaway symptom is that the metal drum may have dropped down slightly and will no longer be in line with the rubber seal around the door opening.
How to buy a quiet washing machine
If you want to make sure your next washing machine is quiet, you’ll be glad to know we rate the noise of every washing machine we review.
Here are a few we’ve found to be quiet recently:
Haier HW80-B14876 – £430
The Haier HW80-B14876 is a middle-of-the-range freestanding washing machine with a few extra features. It has a ‘Direct Motion Motor’ that according to the manufacturer means it makes less noise than most.
We found this to be true; it’s definitely quieter than most washing machines, especially during the spinning part of the cycle. This means it shouldn’t be too disturbing if kept in an open-plan kitchen.
Read our full Haier HW80-B14876 review to find out how well it cleans and how energy efficient it is.
Miele WCG360 WCS – £1,120
At more than £1,000, you might expect the WCG360 to be at least quiet – so you’ll be pleased to know it is.
But that’s not all you’ll get. Miele boasts of this model’s speedy programs, low water consumption, and wi-fi connectivity.
Make sure you read our full Miele WCG360 WCS review to find out if it cleans well enough to be a Best Buy.
Zanussi Z814W85BI – £530
The Zanussi Z814W85BI is a built-in washing machine, so it can seamlessly blend in with your kitchen design.
It should be out of sight and (mostly) out of mind thanks to it being pretty quiet, too.
It also has a clever auto-adjust feature that weighs each load and adjusts the wash cycle accordingly, which the manufacturer says makes it economical to run.
Read our full Zanussi Z814W85BI review to find out if it really is energy and water efficient.