Washing machine technology has developed considerably since it was first popularised. The modern washer comes in a range of shapes, sizes, and capabilities. If you’re in the market for one, making sense of the available options might seem difficult – read on and we’ll help you narrow things down.
What Size Washing Machine Do I need?
The size of your washing machine should be directly proportionate to the amount of clothes you need to wash. The size of a washing machine’s drum is measured in kilograms, with the smallest being around 5kg and the largest being around 12kg. This number is based on the quantity of dry laundry you can fit inside the machine.
Washing machines, contrary to popular belief, work best when the drum is filled to the set limit of the program. A drum that’s excessively large will cost more to buy and run – and if the drum is under-loaded then the weight won’t be evenly distributed, causing the clothes to either bang against the side of the drum as it spins, or causing the machine to refuse to spin altogether.
On the other hand, if you cram too much laundry into your machine, there’s a danger that the pressure of water might build to the extent that the door breaks open, putting the entire machine out of action (and possibly spraying glass fragments across the floor). Fortunately, this possibility is a remote one – and typically only results when heavy clothes are jammed in extremely tightly.
Is a Faster Spin Always better?
Another consideration is how quickly the washing machine is able to spin. Spin speeds are listed as maximums, and vary from 1,000rpm to 1,800rpm. This maximum speed is reached at the end of the wash program, in order to force the water out of your clothes. You’ll have to pay a premium for the higher speeds – and they’ll inevitably create more noise.
In terms of real-world performance, faster maximum spins don’t necessarily translate to superior performance – slower machines often outperform their faster counterparts, because a larger portion of the production costs have been poured into developing other parts of the machine. So, while it’s important to take note of a machine’s spin speed, it’s by no means the only thing you should be looking at.
Integrated or Freestanding?
Washing machines tend to come in one of two configurations; there are integrated washing machines and there are freestanding ones. If you’d like your washing machine to make minimal impact on your kitchen or utility room, then the integrated option might be best. These machines are made to sit behind a cupboard door, allowing them to blend seamlessly into their surroundings.
Freestanding washing machines, on the other hand, are designed to sit on their own. They tend to be a little bit larger than integrated washing machines, and can be installed anywhere there’s a plug socket and a suitable drain. Most washing machines installed in British homes are of the freestanding variety – there’s a greater range of drum sizes available, and the installation costs tend to be lower, too.
Semi-integrated models are also available. These come with a cupboard door that doesn’t cover the control panel, allowing you to read the display and change the settings easily. These sorts of washer are quite rare.
Useful Washing Machine Features
Like so many home appliances, modern washing machines come equipped with special features that help to improve performance, and aid operation. Since the job of a washing machine is to make life easier, additional helpful features are usually welcome.
A full washing cycle can take several hours, which might be overkill. If you’d just like to get your clothes serviceable without having to wait around, then a quick wash will do just the thing in around half an hour.
Variable spin speed
It’s useful to be able to limit the speed of the drum. If you’ve got the ability to dry your washing outside, faster rotation might not be necessary; if you’re confined to a flat with limited airflow, you’ll want to crack the dial and get things moving.
Anti-crease technology helps to prevent creases forming on your clothes by turning the drum periodically after the cycle has finished, preventing damp clothes from sitting in the same position, and thereby preventing creases from forming.
If you’re washing delicate or mixed fabrics, then you’ll want to dial down the intensity of the wash in order to protect them. A ‘delicates’ program, then, is useful for owners of net curtains and other similarly fragile items. Other similar programs include a ‘cold wash’ or ‘wool wash’, which are designed to run temperatures lower than 25 and 40 degrees respectively.
How Noisy Should a Washing Machine Be?
The volume of a washing machine will depend on a myriad of factors. Faster spins mean more noise, meaning that your washer will get louder during the spin cycle. If you’re concerned about noise, then consider placing your machine somewhere out of the way. Integrated washing machines tend to be quieter than freestanding one because there’s an extra layer of insulation in front of them – but if you’re moving your washing machine somewhere closer to where you spend your time, this is likely to be a net loss in terms of noise pollution.
Before you examine the washing machines in your price range, you’ll want to first consider the weight of your weekly laundry when it’s dry, as well as the drying facilities you have available. Once you’ve got an idea of what you need, you’ll be able to shop accordingly – and in doing so you’ll likely make a more informed decision.
Click here to view our full range of washing machines. For more help on all of our laundry appliances, check out the following guides:
- Tumble Dryers: Buying Guide
- Washer Dryer or Separate Washing Machine and Dryer?
- Top Loading vs Front Loading Washing Machine
- How to Use a Washing Machine
- Guide to Washing Machine Spin Speeds
- How Much Does a Washing Machine Cost to Use?
- Washing Machine Labels Explained
- What Washing Machine Drum Size Do You Need?
- How to Install a Tumble Dryer
- How to Look After Your Tumble Dryer