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Which washing machine?

Which Washing Machine Should You Buy?

By Matt Stevens

Article 1 of 4

Which drum size? Which spin speed? How much does a Best Buy washing machine cost? We help you pick the best washing machine for you. 

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The best washing machines deliver pristine results and see you through load after load of washing for years to come. But there are plenty of machines out there that fail on what should be the no-brainer tasks of washing and rinsing or need costly repairs (or even replacing) long before you'd expect them to.

Of course it's really hard to tell the best washing machines from the worst when you're faced with lots of white boxes that look exactly the same and seem to say the same things on the labels and specifications.

We put washing machines through a host of tough tests to separate the best from the worst. Find out which is best for you in our washing machine reviews 

How much does a decent washing machine cost?

No one really wants to splash out for a washing machine when you could be spending your hard-earned cash on something much more exciting. But don't be tempted to make a decision based on price alone as it could be a false economy and end up costing you way more in the long run if you need to investigate costly repairs or buy a new machine when yours gives up the ghost.  

The good news is that our research shows that you don't have to splash out hundreds and hundreds to get a top class washing machine that will deliver on washing and rinsing.  We've found Best Buy washing machines for just a few hundred pounds.

 

Can I get a decent cheap washing machine?

Based on the hundreds of washing machines we've tested, we think it’s generally worth stretching your budget to at around £300 if possible. If you choose carefully, for this price you can get your hands on a washing machine that delivers your laundry clean and well rinsed.

Based on our hundreds of tests of washing machines, we think it’s generally worth stretching your budget to at least £300.

Want the best without spending over the odds? Check out our top five best cheap washing machines

Is it best to shop online for a cheap washing machine deal?

Buying online can take more than £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. It's also worth checking reviews for that retailer, too – you don't want to be left in a nightmare situation if something goes wrong. 

Which washing machine is best for you?

If you're completely new to washing machines, you'll want to get an understanding of which washing machine features you want and those that it's not worth paying for as you don't need them. Use our interactive tool (below) to work out what's best for you.. 

And even if you're a washing machine veteran, it's worth taking a peek for some important info you might not know about how washing machine running costs can impact on cleaning power and what everyone needs to know about washing machine spin speeds.

What washing machine drum size do I need?

  • Washing machine drum sizes range from 5kg to 12kg.
  • It’s a good idea to buy a washing machine with a drum you won’t struggle to fill.
  • The maximum capacity usually only refers to the main cotton programs – other programs have smaller capacities.

Drum size is based on the number of kilos of dry clothing you can fit into the drum. Drum sizes start at 5kg – big enough to fit in 16 men’s cotton shirts – up to 12kg, which is large enough to wash 38 shirts in one go. 

Beware though, bigger is not always better. Washing machines work best when you fill the drum to each program’s set limit. Get a machine with a drum you won’t struggle to fill. That's particularly important considering that the bigger the capacity, the more the washing machine will cost to buy and run. So if you prefer to wash little and often, go for a smaller drum size. Like to do all your washing in one go? Then go for a bigger drum size.

A kilo of clothing could be four men’s shirts, or a pair of jeans and a shirt, or a bath towel and three small hand towels.

Most medium-sized households in the UK will find a 7kg capacity machine perfectly adequate. That’s enough space to wash about 22 men’s cotton shirts in one go, or a more typical load might be two pairs of men’s jeans, three pairs of children’s jeans, four men’s shirts, two bath towels, three small towels, three tea towels and two pillowcases.
What's in a kilo of clothes? To help you pick out the right size machine, a kilo of clothing could comprise of four men’s shirts, or a pair of jeans and a shirt, or a bath towel and three small hand towels.

Washing machine spin speeds – why faster isn't always better

More than one in three washing machine owners told us that, along with low energy use and running costs, a fast spin was in their top three washer must-haves.* But exclusive Which? research reveals that you can’t always trust a speedy sounding
machine to be any better at spinning than a slower one. And with 57%* of us happy to pay more for a fast spin, this feels like a bit of a con, especially with faster machines costing £95 more on average. 

  • Maximum spin speeds vary from 1,000rpm to 1,800rpm.
  • Faster spin speeds can add to the cost of the machine.
  • A faster spin speed can be noisier.
  • It’s not always worth paying more for a higher spin speed.

The spin cycle is there to remove water from your clothes at the end of the wash program. A machine with a good spin will remove the majority of water from your laundry, reducing how long your clothes will need to spend tumbling in a dryer or hanging out on a washing line.

Washing machine spin speeds of 1200rpm and 1400rpm are the most common. Washing machines with a high spin speed, such as 1600rpm or above, may cost more to buy compared to models with a lower spin speed. Higher spin speeds also have the potential to be more noisy, which can get annoying.

1200rpmWe’ve seen washing machines with a 1200rpm spin speed do a better job than some models with a 1600rpm spin.

You’re not going to be able to tell which washing machines have the most effective spin simply by looking at the advertised maximum speed. 

In our tests, we’ve seen washing machines with a 1200rpm spin speed do a better job of removing water from clothes than some machines with a 1600rpm spin speed. 

Our washing machines reviews tell whether it really is worth paying extra for a higher spin speed or not.

We've also discovered that some fast machines don’t spin at their top speeds for as long as slower models.

We tested a selection of washing machines, including pairs of faster and slower machines from leading brands, to find out how long they're at their top speed for and whether this makes a difference to how dry your laundry is at the end of the wash. You can see the results below.

We tested a selection of washing machines, including pairs of faster and slower machines from leading brands, to find out how fast they spin, how long they’re at top speed for and whether this makes a difference to how dry your laundry is at the end of the wash. Our tests showed that:

  • In each of the pairs of machines we tested, the slower machine was just as effective at spinning away water. One 1,400rpm Indesit was at its fastest for 70 seconds less than a 1,200rpm machine from the same brand (as shown in the image, above). 
  • And a 1,600rpm AEG reached its maximum speed for a minute less than a 1,400rpm. 

We found similar patterns with pairs of Beko and Bosch machines, and we unearthed one 1,600rpm Candy that at its fastest failed to hit 1,500rpm. In the case of the Indesit, the slower machine spins clothes almost 1,100 times more at its top speed than the quicker one. No surprise then that it’s just as good as its stablemate with ‘go-faster’ stripes.

It’s worth noting that washing machines only need to hit their advertised top speed for 60 seconds when qualifying for their energy label.

How much do washing machines cost to run?

Working out which is the best value washing machine is more than just about the ticket price. You'll want to find out how much it costs to run and you won't find this out from the label. We've combined everything we know about washing machines into our lifetime cost calculator below. It will tell you how much your machine will cost you to run over the time you own it, including the purchase price and energy costs. And as not everyone owns a washing machine for the same length of time, you can see the total costs based on owning a machine from anywhere between three years and 12 years. 

Our energy calculations are based on each washing machine being used three times a week to wash an 80% full load of cottons, which is how we know most people use their machines.

 

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 A. Before December 2013, D was the lowest rating – so it’s possible you may come across an older machine with a rating lower than A – but it’s unlikely. 

The official EU Energy Label is two-thirds based on the 60°C cotton program. When we test washing machines, we measure how much energy and water they use based on the 40°C cotton program, as this is the most commonly used wash program by Which? members. 

From our tests, we then work out how much each machine will cost to run. Our tests have revealed A+++ models that actually cost more to run than A+ models. 

We have found A+++ models that cost more to run than A+ models. 

For more information on the energy label, visit our guide to the .

Is it worth paying for an A+++ energy-rated washing machine?

  • Energy running costs can vary from under £20 to more than £100 per year.
  • On average, a washing machine will add £34 to your bills.
  • Running costs are largely influenced by drum size.
  • Some of the most efficient machines we’ve tested do a bad job of cleaning.

We’ve found A+ machines that cost less to run than A+++ washing machines


If you're interested to know more about washing at lower temperatures, take a look at our guide that answers the question should I wash at 60°C?

Bosch, Hotpoint or Beko? Choose a trusted brand

Don't waste your money on a machine that's not going to last. At Which? we've been testing washing machines since the 1950s, so we have an unrivalled understanding of which brands are worth spending your cash on and who make washing machines that will let you down. 

We also survey thousands of washing machine owners every year to find out how satisfied they are with the brand they've bought and whether they'd recommend it to a friend. 

Buy from one of the top two most reliable washing machine brands and customers tell us nine-in-ten of their machines are still fault-free after nine years of ownership. 

But you want be be wary of the brand that just 16% of previous owners said they'd buy another machine from.

Browse the Top washing machine brands of 2017 to see which washing machines are your safest bet for a long life. 

Every year we survey thousands of washing machine owners to find out which brands are the most reliable

Freestanding or integrated washing machine?

Freestanding washing machines

Freestanding washing machines are the most common type of washing machine that can be placed anywhere as long as they’re connected to a drain and a plug socket. They come in a range of sizes – from 3kg to 12kg capacities – and some models are available in different colours.

Pros: Wider range of drum capacities, features and colours than integrated models.

Cons: Do not blend into homes like integrated models do.

You can view all our freestanding washing machine reviews in one place to find the best. You can also use the left-hand menu to filter by capacity, spin speed and brand. 

Integrated washing machines

Integrated washing machines are best if you're looking for a model for a new built-in kitchen, or to replace an existing integrated washing machine. This type of washing machine is designed to sit behind your own cupboard door so you don't see the washing machine when the cupboard door is closed. The bottom plinth panel of an integrated washing machine is recessed to allow for the fitting of a wooden kitchen plinth along the bottom of the washing machine. 

Integrated washing machines, also known as built-in washing machines, are not intended for use outside of a kitchen unit. This is because they generally are not as stable as they are designed to be held in place by your kitchen units. 

Pros: Integrated models tend to be quieter than freestanding, thanks to that extra door on the front buffering the sound slightly.

Cons: They cost more to be installed – typically around £80. That's over twice as much as freestanding models. Some retailers won't install integrated washing machines at all.

Take a look at all of our integrated washing machine reviews to find the right one for your budget.

Semi-integrated and top loading washing machines

Semi-integrated machines are like integrated models but the furniture panel does not cover the controls at the top, so you don’t have to open the door to change the settings or read any displays. There are very few models of this type available.

Top-loading washing machines are quite rare in the UK. Clothes are added through a lid on the top of the machine, as opposed to a door on the front. Narrower than normal washing machines, they cannot be kept under a work surface due to the way they open. There is a limited choice of top-loading models on the market.

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 tend to be 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-loading washing machines. When we last tested top-loading washing machines, none were good enough to be Best Buys. They were noisy, awkward to use and vibrated too much.

Is a washer-dryer a good idea?

Washer-dryers are as 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 is always smaller than the washing capacity.

However, if you are keen to have a dryer and don't have space for the tumble dryer and washing machine, a washer-dryer could be the answer. Take a look at our washer-dryer reviews to see the Best Buys and Don't Buys we've identified.

Can I stack a tumble dryer on top of my washing machine?

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.

But if you're short on space and want both a washing machine and a tumble dryer, there is a solution.

If both your washing machine and your tumble dryer 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, 

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 – although a brand-specific kit may fix them more firmly.

 

 

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