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21 Jul 2021

The best and worst small home appliance brands of 2021: our survey results revealed

Our survey of more than 12,000 owners of more than 38,000 small home appliances reveals the brands worth buying and those more likely to let you down
kitchen gadgets

Choosing a small home appliance brand that's less likely to fail is one way to avoid contributing to the tangled pile of useless appliances at your local recycling centre.

In our unique owners' survey*, we asked Which? Connect panel members tell us about the kettles, toasters, coffee machines, microwaves, blenders, bread makers, stand mixers, steam irons, coffee machines and dehumidifier brands they own, and the problems they've experienced with them.

And we often discover that spending more on a brand doesn't always guarantee a fault-free gadget. Visit the links below to see in-depth information on each of the small home appliance brands we investigated, including how many appliances were reported faulty, what went wrong and whether the owners would buy the brand again.

Read our kitchen appliance reviews to avoid costly mistakes

Which? brand survey verdicts by appliance type

Three ways to make appliances last longer

small kitchen gadgets

1. Keep on top of limescale

Kettles, steam irons and coffee machines are all susceptible to limescale, especially if you live in a hard-water area. Our survey revealed problems due to limescale caused issues for many owners, although it's a problem that is easily preventable.

Regular descaling, ideally before you notice your iron not steaming properly, for example, is one way to keep these appliances working better and for longer. Some machines will tell you when descaling needs to happen, but if they don't have an indicator, then check the instructions.

2. Follow the instructions

An impressive 94% of our survey respondents** who we asked about instructions, said that they read some or all of the instructions that come with their appliances. Your appliance instructions, while not the most exciting read, contain important information that will help keep your gadget running for longer.

Some food preparation appliances, for example, shouldn't be used for long periods or time or the motor could burn out. Use them in 60 second bursts, instead. If you're putting up with inconsistent performance, check the troubleshooting guide that comes with the instruction manual.

3. Keep appliances clean

It may sound obvious, but keeping your toaster, bread maker or microwave clean can help it perform better.

Kitchen gadgets such as microwaves work best when they're kept clean from food splatters and dried-on mess, so tackle any spills straight away, mop up those splatters and makes sure food is covered when you reheat it. If you clean up straight way, it makes it much easier to do, too.

Appliances: your rights when things go wrong

Dealing with a faulty home appliance is frustrating and some of the most common faults may not be covered by your manufacturer's warranty. So what are your rights when things go wrong?

Here's what to do:

  • Approach the retailerfirst before attempting to make a claim via a warranty. A faulty product is likely to be in breach of the Consumer Rights Act of 2015, which states that anything we buy must be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and as described. If that's not the case, your statutory consumer rights must be upheld by the retailer - the company that sold you the product - not the manufacturer.
  • Tell them about the problem and ask for your money back Visit our faulty goods complaint tool to generate a ready-to-go complaint letter. You have 30 days 'right to reject', which starts from when you take ownership of the appliance, to claim a refund, repair or replacement if it turns out to be faulty.
  • Know your rights. Be aware that even after 30 days you may still be able to ask for a repair or a replacement, and if you've owned the item for less than six months, the retailer must give you a full refund if an attempt at a repair or replacement is unsuccessful.

Faulty product? How to get a refund, repair or replacement

* Survey: 12,412 Which? Connect panel members; small kitchen appliances, April 2021

** Survey: 1,195 Which? Connect panel members, instructions, June 2021