Smart washing machines explained
Smart new wi-fi-enabled washing machines are becoming increasingly popular, but what exactly are they, how do they work and how much will they cost?
Read on to find out more about the technology, the features to look out for and what brands are doing in this smart space, including Bosch, Miele and Samsung.
What is a smart washing machine?
Smart washing machines are appliances that can connect to your household wi-fi network in the same way that other devices, such as tablets and smart phones, do. You can then set your washing machine remotely using an app on your phone or tablet, or via Alexa or Google Assistant.
You don't have to have a smart phone, either - you can set it manually. So, if your partner has the latest iPhone, but you’re still playing ‘Snake’ on your old Nokia, you won’t be able to get out of doing the laundry.
Smart washing machines can come with lots of additional useful features, including:
- Remote control using an app Start, pause and stop your wash using your smartphone, tablet, Alexa or Google Assistant.
- Automatic program selection After filling in a few simple details, the app will determine the most suitable program for your laundry.
- Capacity Machines can range from 6kg to 12kg capacity. Most models will determine the load of laundry, and use the right amount of water and energy.
- Auto-dosing Some machines will weigh the load and adjust the amount of detergent accordingly.
- Troubleshooting Machines can detect issues and maintenance jobs that need doing, and notify you instantly via the app.
- Extra programs Most apps will offer extra downloadable programs, including steam washes and a cycle to clean the drum.
- Memory feature Some will remember your most-used programs and suggest them when you're setting your wash.
- Energy use Check how much energy your washing machine is using in real time.
- Safety The cycle won't start if the door is open or the machine isn't connected to the water supply.
- Add items Dropped a sock on the way to the machine? Some models have a 'add item' feature so you can chuck it in mid-cycle.
Who makes smart washing machines and how much do they cost?
Hoover and Samsung were the first two manufacturers to launch wi-fi-enabled smart washing machines in the UK. But now increasingly more manufacturers are launching their own versions - in fact, one out of three of the machines we've tested have smart functionality.
Here, we run through what different brands are offering in this space and how they compare with their competitors.
Bosch, Home Connect
Bosch uses Home Connect, an app that can control appliances from numerous brands. A number of its machines are smart - we've tested four - but this year the wi-fi capability has moved from 'premium' to a 'core' feature, meaning the entire 2019 range will come with wi-fi.
Like other apps, you can start, pause and stop cycles, and it will also notify you when the cycle has finished.
Other useful features include:
- The app will choose the most appropriate cycle for the load and tell you if there's an item that should come out and be washed a different way.
- You can hold off on the rinse via the app - perfect if you're out of the house and you don't want to come back to stagnant clothes in the washer.
- Can be controlled and monitored using Amazon Echo.
- Allows remote troubleshooting by Bosch customer service if you permit it.
You'll have to pay more for this, though. Boschs' smart models typically cost between £600 and £800. You can get a basic - but quality - machine for less than half this price.
Miele's app is still relatively new to the market and is only available on more advanced models.
Alongside the basic functions, WifiConn@ct gives push notifications when detergent needs filling up and offers a direct connection to the Miele store so you can place orders.
Miele is typically in the higher price bracket compared with its competitors, and for a smart model you can expect to pay anywhere between £900 and £1,500.
Candy, Candy Smart Touch
Described by Candy as a personal assistant, Smart Touch is available via its Simply-Fi app and is the first voice-assisted washing machine. Candy claims 'Talking Bianca' can offer washing advice, learn your routine and patterns, and even spot laundry mistakes, such as picking the wrong program for the load.
Smart Touch also comes with a check-up function that monitors the condition of your machine and troubleshoots errors.
Other useful features include:
- Up to 40 additional programs.
- Smart delay.
- The chance to optimise your washing habits using a stats page.
Smart models will cost up to around £400.
Hoover, Hoover Wizard
Hoover was one of the first manufacturers to adopt smart tech. Hoover claims that its Wizard app enables you to manage and control your connected washing machine.
It's capabilities depend on what model you have and whether it's wi-fi connected or equipped with One Touch.
Some of the features of One Touch include:
- Additional programs
- End delay
Unfortunately, this app doesn't seem to have wowed users on the app store and has only been given a one-star rating. Costs can vary, too - ranging from under £300 to nearly £700.
LG, Smart ThinkQ
LG's smart tech has the basic functions that many of it competitors offer, including starting and stopping cycles, notifications when a job is complete and maintenance reminders.
It also has an extra 20 washing programs, can troubleshoot small problems and can be controlled via Alexa or Google Assistant.
Depending on the extra features you want with your smart model you can pay as little as £400 or more than £1000.
Once you've loaded up your washing machine, Samsung's SmartThings app can take full control. From cycle selection to making washing suggestions the app is fully integrated with the machine.
If you have a FlexWash model, both washers can be controlled via the app.
If you want a feature-packed smart Samsung, then expect to pay around £1000.
Siemens, Home Connect
Like Bosch, Siemens uses Home Connect - an app that can control appliances from numerous brands. It also has pretty much the same functionality, but with a different interface.
Along with the basic features, you can also troubleshoot problems, use it with the Amazon Echo and hold off on a rinse cycle.
AEG, My AEG Care
The AEG app is currently only available on one of its washing machines - the AEG L9FEC966R, which costs around £900. It has the capability to start the cycle and it will notify when its finished.
The 'care advisor' will ask you a handful of questions about the load, including the fabric, colour and stain before washing accordingly.
You can also find general advice on getting rid of stains and how to use detergents, too. And, like its competitors, it will troubleshoot any issues and offer access to the customer centre.
Whirlpool, 6th Sense Live
Whirlpool's app offers basic functionality, plus assisted cycles that will help you choose the right program.
6th Sense Live will also show you how much each cycle will cost before it starts so you can aim to select low-tariff options.
However, there is limited availability for connected models at this stage and it will cost around £700 to get your hands on one.
Smart washing machines: safety and security
It's important to make sure your privacy and safety isn't compromised by using this new smart technology. Here are our top tips on staying safe:
- Keep your app updated This will not only make sure you have the most up-to-date features, but you'll also be covered by the most recent security fixes, too.
- Stick to official channels Always download your app from channels such as the App Store and Google Play as they will have checks in place to make sure your app is safe to use.
- Protect your data Lots of apps want access to your data, but not all ask for it. Click on settings for your apps and you can allow or deny certain permissions.
- Be careful of public wi-fi They can be less secure and leave your phone vulnerable to a hacker attack. Avoid logging in to your bank or entering credit card details when using these networks.