Buyer’s Guide: How to Pick the Right Washing Machine

 

Let’s face it, buying a new washing machine isn’t much fun.

In fact, these devices are some of the hardest to shop for. They’re exhausting to transport, and the marketplace is saturated with countless different models and makes to choose from. Even when you get past all the confusion, you’ve still got the stress of buying something that needs to last you several years.

Yet, no matter how tough it might be to buy the perfect washer – it would really stink not to have one (literally). Or having to call the washing machine repair man all the time simply because you didn’t spend much time researching which brand to buy! 

Rather than commit yourself to a life of dirty clothing or washing your underwear in the sink, why not simplify your washing machine shopping experience with this handy guide?

We’re going to cover the most important considerations, from efficiency and size to the constant debate about “top loaders” and “front loaders”, to help you find the perfect option.

 

Handy Guide:

The Basic Types of Washing Machine

When it comes to choosing a big, expensive device like a washing machine, the first thing you’ll need to do is figure out what kind of machine is right for you. This means choosing whether you’d prefer to have a “front-loading” washing machine or a “top loading” machine.

If you’re comfortable using something similar to your previous washing machine, then you probably already have a presence. However, if you’re moving to a new home with a different layout, or you simply aren’t sure which type will suit you best, it might be worth taking a look at your options.

 

The “Front Loading” Machine

front loading washing machine

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The most obvious difference between a front loading and top loading washing machine is where you put the clothes. A front-loading washer will have a horizontal drum which spins rapidly in order to wash and rinse your clothing. This is a different approach to the top-loading machines, which use agitators to move and rotate clothes.

Front loading machines can be better for families with delicate clothes, because agitators are often rougher on the materials they wash, and they can even cause your items to tangle up too.

Choosing a front loader could mean that your clothes last for longer. Additionally, if you haven’t got a lot of space to work with, your front-loading machine can simply be placed underneath a workbench or stacked under something else.

Most front-loaders come in sizes anywhere from 5kg to 10kg.

 

The “Top Loading” Machine

top loading washing machine

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Alternatively, the “top-loading” washing machine comes with an upright drum and an agitator, which mixes your clothes around like a spoon stirring soup. In many cases, top-loaders are much cheaper than front loaders, however, there are plenty of manufacturers out there who are working to produce a budget-friendly front-loader.

Top loaders also have a larger load capacity than their counterparts, thanks to their upright drum, and they’re capable of handling larger loads of washing at a time. This makes them appealing to larger families that need to get loads done quickly.

Another benefit of the top-loading machine is that you can interrupt the wash cycle whenever you want if you want to add or remove items. People with painful joints or a sore back can also benefit from the fact that they don’t have to kneel to access the machine.

Some top-loading models will feature an impeller in place of the standard agitator. This component takes up less space, and also works to create turbulence in the water of a machine, helping to clean clothes. However, impellers can cause more tangling in your clothing.

Top-loader washing machines are often available with capacities of between 3kg and 10kg.

Pros and Cons


Top Loaders:

Top loaders are the more traditional form of washing machine, and they’re often much cheaper than their more modern counterparts. However, they’re not always ideal when you want to avoid tangled or damaged clothing.

Pros:

  • More reliable (can potentially last longer)
  • Shorter washing cycles
  • Cheaper
  • Easier to manoeuvre (lightweight)
  • Can add or remove clothes mid-cycle
  • Better rinse performance

Cons:

  • Harsher on clothing
  • Consume more water and energy
  • Can use more washing detergent
  • More expensive to run


Front Loaders

Front loading washing machines can be a more environmentally-friendly option, using up to 70% less water and energy during a wash cycle. Additionally, front-loaders are less likely to tangle your clothes, but they are more expensive.

Pros:

  • Use less water and energy (particularly when washing on low temperatures)
  • Use less detergent
  • Cheaper to run
  • Gentler on clothing
  • More temperature and program options
  • Higher spin speeds
  • Good for small spaces

Cons:

  • Very long wash cycles
  • Difficult to stop a wash mid-cycle
  • More expensive
  • Heavy and cumbersome
  • Some need to be specially installed
  • Louder spin cycles
  • Poorer rinsing quality

Functional Features

Once you’ve chosen the type of washing machine that’s right for you, it’s time to think about the features you need to make your life as easy as possible. After all, when you buy a washer, you’re not just looking for the right drum size, you’re also searching for variable timers, drying features, and a whole lot more.

Here are just some of the functional features you might want to consider before you start splashing your cash.

Washer-Dryer Function

washer dyer

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Perhaps one of the most popular considerations for homeowners today is whether they should reduce the space and inconvenience of having a separate washing and drying machine, by buying something that can accomplish both things at once.

Washer-dryers are well suited to anyone who wants to be able to dry their laundry quickly, but they might not have the space to facilitate two separate appliances. The great thing about these machines is that they often come with some of the latest technology, including automatic sensors that use the weight of the load to determine how much drying time you need to get the best results.

Of course, while washer-dryers come with both washing and drying capabilities, they’re a washing machine first, which means that you might not get the best dry first time around.

However, a great thing about these machines is that because they come with condenser technology built-in, you probably won’t need to get a vent installed when you want to start using one.


Variable Timer or Delayed Start

Washing machine Variable Timer or Delayed Start

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What if you want to control when your washing load will be ready to hang up to dry? One of the most common features of a washing machine today is the variable timer solution, which gives you the opportunity to choose how long your washing cycle should be.

You can even choose a time for the cycle to start, which is great when you want to take advantage of off-peak rates for electricity, or simply make sure that your home to deal with a wash when it’s finished.

Of course, it’s worth noting that many washing machines will adjust the time you set based on how much weight is in the machine.

 

Temperature Control

Washing machine temperature control

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Temperature control might not seem like a crucial feature for your new washer at first glance. However, being able to choose whether you’re running a hot or cold cycle is a useful way to cut down your energy bills. Using cold water is often just as good as hot water, and it can save you a lot of money on heating up the liquid before it’s ready for the wash.

Additionally, you might have noticed that some of your clothing specifically requires you to run washes at certain temperatures. Delicate materials can’t always hold up well to the stress of extreme heat.

Different Modes


Another great feature to look for when you’re choosing your washing machine is the option to choose from multiple modes to suit specific wash types and fabrics.

For instance, you might have a unique mode that you use for delicate fabrics, as mentioned above or a particular mode for light-coloured clothing. There are even solutions out there that allow you to choose a stronger wash if you have heavily soiled garments to clean. The modes available will depend on the brand you choose.


Smart Controls

washing machine smart controls

Image Source: WikiMedia Commons


Today, devices of all shapes and sizes are becoming increasingly clever, thanks to new technology. Some washing machines are equipped with something called “IOT” technology, which means that they can interact with the internet, and allow you to control your machine from your phone!

There are also other options that allow for increased customisation and touchscreen interfaces which are a perfect way to reduce the problems with dials and buttons that have been prone to breakage in the past.

With smart controls, you could potentially start a load of washing running before you get home or adjust the washing cycle when you’re away from the house if you change your mind about the mode you’ve chosen. Unfortunately, manufacturers are still trying to figure out how they can get the machines to collect your dirty laundry for you, too.


Child Lock Features

washing machine child lock feature

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Some machines come with a “child lock” function, which either makes sure that the door of the washer can’t be accidentally opened mid-cycle or prevents the washing mode from being changed when a button is knocked.

In a house with children running around, the last thing you want is all your wet laundry suddenly spilling out over the floor because someone got curious.

Manufacturers also recommend activating the door lock when you’re not using the machine too, as this can prevent your child from climbing inside. However, it’s sometimes worth keeping the door of a front-loader washer slightly open to prevent the growth of mould or mildew in the rim of the machine.

 

Drum Materials

washing machine drum

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Okay, you know what type of washing machine you’re looking for, and what features you need, now you’re ready to think about the material of the drum inside the washer.

What your machine is made from is very important, as material choice can impact the performance and longevity of your machine. By making sure that your machine is built of high-quality material, there is less to no possible chance that you’ll need an appliance repair service anytime soon. 

Learn how to repair your washing machine yourself and save time and money. This DIY guide will show you how.

The three most common options include:

  • Porcelain-coated steel drums: These are probably the cheapest option on the market. Though they work quite well for a time, they’re also prone to chipping and breakage the more you use them. Often, porcelain-coated drums are more likely to deteriorate quickly, leading to the need to replace a machine faster.
  • Plastic tubs: Plastic drums, on the other hand, can have a longer lifespan than their porcelain counterparts, as plastic is naturally more versatile and durable. A plastic tub should be able to last for much longer.
  • Stainless steel drums: If you’re looking for the best of the best, then steel drums are where it’s at. These tubs generally deliver the best results because they’re not only the gentlest on your clothes, but they also last longer too.

Ultimately, the cheaper you go with your washing machine, the more likely it is that you’ll end up with a less durable material in the drum.

 

First Things to Do Before You Buy

Congratulations! You know what you’re looking for, and you feel comfortable with the idea of going to the store and choosing your new washing machine. However, before you make that commitment, it’s important to take a couple of quick preparation steps first. For instance:

Measure the Space You Have

washing machine space needed

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The last thing you want is to go and spend all your cash on your new washing machine, just to discover that it doesn’t fit wherever you want it to go. Before you start your love affair with the perfect device, make sure that you do the groundwork.

Check out the space you have for your machine and measure it twice to ensure that you know exactly how much room you’re dealing with.

Keep in mind that specific features could affect the space you have to work with. For instance, if you must mount your washing machine, then you probably won’t be able to use a top-loading device.

Similarly, if you’re planning on stacking a dryer on top of the washer, you’ll need to pick a front-loading device too. When you’re measuring, remember to leave plenty of space for opening and closing the lid or door.


Know What Capacity You Need


Often, the best washing machine for your needs will be the one that can load and clean all your clothing and materials as quickly and effectively as possible. With that in mind, it’s important to choose the right capacity for the typical size of a load in your house.

Capacities in the washing machine world can range anywhere from 3kg to 18kg, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding a machine that works with your household.

Obviously, the larger the machine is, the better it will be for bigger homes who have bulky items to wash like bedding. However, remember that you shouldn’t go too over the top with your choice, as bigger machines also drain a lot of water and energy.

Most of us will only fill a washing machine about half full at best, so measure how much you’d generally wash in a typical load before you start shopping. You could even just place your basket of laundry on a set of bathroom scales to get the gist of the weight.


Understand Energy Ratings


When you’re shopping for the perfect washing machine, it’s easy to get carried away looking at all the jargon written on a product page. Energy ratings – those little “A+” or “B” ratings written on the machine – were designed to help you choose the most efficient model for your household. The more efficient the machine is, the more likely it is to reduce your energy costs.

After all, if you’re using your washing machine several times a day – as most families with kids will – then you’re going to want to make sure you’re using as little energy as possible to keep costs low. Looking for a high-efficiency energy rating could be a great way to minimise the running costs of your new machine.



Choosing the Best Machine for You

Choosing the perfect washing machine isn’t always easy. There are so many different features to look at, and it’s not always clear what you need from your device. For instance, you might think that you want a super-fast spin cycle so that you can dry your clothing faster or reduce the amount of time you need to hang it from a washing line. However, you can’t always trust that a machine advertised with a high speed will dry your clothing any faster than a slow one.

As with most things in life, choosing the right machine will be a matter of personal preference, but here are a few things you can go over when you’re making your choice.


The Best Brands Available Today


The best “brand” of washing machine will depend on who you ask. Generally, most people will feel more comfortable going with a brand they know, than one they’ve never heard of – particularly if they’re going to be paying out a lot of money. Some of the most popular options available in the market right now include:

  • Fisher & Paykel: Fisher & Paykel are often on the higher-end of the quality scale when it comes to washing machines, and this means that they come with a heftier price tag. Of course, the more you pay, the more features you’ll get, including smart-sensor tech and high capacity.
  • LG: Known for their wide range of technology devices, LG is another great option for modern households. LG can offer very cheap machines, but just because they’re inexpensive doesn’t mean that they don’t offer great performance. Some come with the signature “Turbo Drum” technology to ensure a more consistent wash. There’s also a “fuzzy logic” load sensor which helps to assess the right settings for your load size.
  • Miele: Another option at the higher end of the washing machine world, Germany-made Miele offers exceptional quality at a price that might be a little out-of-this-world for some families. Although they are quite expensive, these machines are also very efficient, with a great energy-reducing spin speed and drying time. Many Miele devices come with a dozen or more pre-loaded modes to choose from.
  • Bosch: A mid-way offering for most families, Bosch is another strong contender in the market, and it also comes from Germany. Bosch washers often come with high energy efficiency ratings, and they can also provide you with plenty of great features, including delayed starts and timers. Some people also say that Bosch is quieter than other machines, but it’ll be up to you to test that yourself.

 

What Type of Machine Should I Buy?


Ultimately, the best washing machine for you will be the one that works for your family’s needs. Determining the machine that’s best for you is trickier than it seems, but you can always start by looking at your current washing machine and asking yourself whether you like what you already have, or whether you need something better.

If you’re not happy, ask yourself why that is. Do you need more capacity? A different load type? New features?

Sometimes, the features of a washing machine can really set it apart from the other options on the market. For instance, a delayed washing feature is a great way to make sure that your washes adhere to your schedule. Additionally, if you have young children, then a pre-wash cycle to soak heavily-soiled clothing can be useful too.

 

What Size Should I Buy?


Size is one of the most important concerns for anyone buying a new washing machine. Buying the wrong capacity could mean that you waste a serious amount of water and energy. After all, if your drum is too small, then you could end up doing more loads, which drains your wallet through your energy bill.

On the other hand, if the drum is too large, you use more power than you need to with each load. This table might help:

Family Size Drum Size
1-2 5kg
3-4 5kg – 8kg
4+ 8kg +

 

 

Price Overview

Finally, you’ll need to figure out how much you can reasonably afford to spend on a washing machine. Spend more, and you’re more likely to get your choice of drum size, washing cycles, and great features. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you must over-spend. You can get a good machine on a tight budget if you’re willing to look around and compare prices.

Your options can extend anywhere from $600, to several thousand dollars. For instance:

  • $1499 – W6444A Front loading machine
  • $2499 – W8844XL Eco front loading machine
  • $1799 – W6864 Front loading machine

The best thing you can do is try to find a balance between a price that you can afford and the features you need. While it is possible to go as cheap as possible with your machine, there’s a good chance you’ll compromise on features and longevity if you do.

 

And there you have it! Everything you need to know about buying your very own washing machine. Whether you’re choosing your first device, or you’re replacing an old one, we hope this guide has been helpful.

 

More From Expert Repairs:

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Resources:

https://www.betta.com.au/services/betta-advice-centre/betta-advice-centre-laundry/betta-buying-guide-washing-machines

https://www.choice.com.au/home-and-living/laundry-and-cleaning/washing-machines/buying-guides/washing-machines

https://www.harveynorman.com.au/washing-machines-buying-guide

https://www.canstarblue.com.au/appliances/laundry/washing-machines-buying-guide/

http://www.saveenergysavemoney.com.au/buying-guides/kitchen-laundry-buying-guide/washing-drying-buying-guide/washing-machine-buying-guide.aspx

http://www.asko.com.au/products/laundry-appliances/washing-machines



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