It may surprise you to learn (at least it surprised me) that there are approximately 2.6 million washing machines sold in the UK every year. Now that’s a lot of washing machines!
So how do you ensure that you get a great buy and don’t have to think about this stuff again for many, many years?
Over the next few pages we’ll explain all the things you need to know in order to make a choice you won’t live to regret. Do you need a washing machine or a washer dryer? Will you buy a tumble dryer as well? Will the appliances be built-into you kitchen units?
When you buy new appliances there are also lots of (boring) things to think about such as removing/recycling your old units & making sure the units are plumbed in correctly and won’t leak. All of which contributes to the fact that this is not an activity you want to undergo very often.
Below are a list of the things you’ll want to consider for all machines ie washing machines, washer dryers & tumble dryers. Underneath these you’ll find links to the individual buying guides which go into more detail about the specific points relating to the appliance type.
Cost is obviously going to be an important factor for most people. No-one wants to spend more than they need to get a product that ticks all their boxes. Entry level washing machines and tumble dryers start at about £180. Washer Dryers tend to cost a bit more, upwards of £330 at the time of writing. At the other end of the scale you can easily spend over £1000 on each if you want to. Brands like Miele and Bosch can command a tidy premium and many people are happy to pay top dollar to have the best washing machine brand in their new kitchen.
Whatever your budget we would obviously encourage you to do your research to make sure you’re getting value for money. As part of our reviews we feature links that will take you to one of the retailers that we know offer the best washing machine deals. We regularly check prices and will always try to link you to the best deal available at that time.
Reliability is going to be a key concern for all buyers so once again this is an area you’ll want to pay close attention to. Having said that, once again, the machines we feature on the site tend to be reliable or we wouldn’t list them in the first place. Where we encounter machines that have negative feedback from buyers saying they suffered repeated breakdowns we’ll avoid the machine altogether. Pretty much all of the major brands we review such as Hotpoint, Bosh, Indesit etc are known for making products you can depend on. The question is for how long? Which leads us on to the next point, Longevity…
When you buy a new appliance you want it to last for a long time! Once every ten years seems to be about what people think is a reasonable time frame to replace their appliances and many of these machines can and will last that long. It would seem like a fair bet that the cheaper the machine the shorter its lifespan but this is not a hard and fast rule. On the other hand it should follow that if you’re paying £5-600 for a Bosch or a Samsung or similar you’d reasonably expect your new purchase to be going strong 5 years later… and the rest. As part of our review we’ll always try to give you an indication of what to expect by way of predicted lifespan. Obviously it can be difficult with new models but some brands generally have great track records for making machines which last for many, many years.
Warranty is a key point and one you’ll definitely want to pay attention to. The warranties offered by various manufacturers on their various models can vary considerably so you want to try to get the longest cover you can without busting your budget. The standard, and minimum you can really expect is a 1 Year Parts & Labour guarantee. You’ll find quite a few models that offer a 2 year warranty and then, the most desirable option, a 5 year warranty. Some of the warranties over a year only include parts rather than labour and this is something to look out for. A 5 year parts and labour guarantee really is the optimal option but you’ll normally only find this on slightly more expensive machines. The peace of mind a long warranty provides is twofold as, firstly you know you won’t be out-of-pocket if anything does go wrong, but secondly you know that the manufacturer is confident nothing will go wrong otherwise they wouldn’t risk offering such generous cover. Obviously it’s always going to be something you have to weigh up as you’ll pay a bit more for a model with the longest guarantee but you limit any future expenses.
The standard dimensions for UK front-loading washing machines are 85 cm high, between 59-60 cm wide and between 50-60 cm deep. If you’re just planning to stick your new washer in a utility room chances are you couldn’t care less about the dimensions. If, however, your new machine will be fitted in your kitchen you’ll need to check the size carefully to ensure the new unit will fit in the space you have available.
Height shouldn’t normally be a problem as most kitchens are fitted to allow 87 cm under the worktop which should be adequate. Width can be more of an issue as you won’t necessarily be inserting the machine into a standard unit width gap. Just be sure to check this carefully and ideally give yourself a little margin for error as even manufacturers specs aren’t always 100% correct to the millimetre. Depth can also be an issue depending on, for example, if you might have pipework or other obstructions sticking out of the wall behind where the unit is going to go. You’ll find a bit more variety in depth of machines available though so you should be able to find something that meets your needs.
If you’re buying an integrated machine you’ll need to be even more exact about your measurements to ensure that you get an exact fit for the fascia / door otherwise this can ruin the clean lines of your shiny new fitted kitchen.
This happens to be an area I have personal experience of getting wrong myself. When I re-did my kitchen a while back I was buying a full set of new appliances and frankly, the whole thing got a little overwhelming, especially as we had building work done at the same time so were up to our ears in rubble and dust. I got the depth wrong and when we tried to fit the machine it was too deep and stuck out beyond the front of the worksurface. Not good! I was lucky though in that I had bought all the units from AO.com (unsurprisingly one of the retailers we recommend most often) and they agreed to replace the purchase free of charge. Nice!
Once again, if you’re going to site your new appliance in a utility room you probably won’t care what it looks like – as long as it works. If, however, you’ll be having the front of the machine visible in your kitchen you’ll want to be sure that the model you buy looks attractive and won’t be too hard to keen clean. The majority of new models come in white but you will also find quite a few in black, silver, graphite (like the Hotpoint pictured left) etc. If this is going to be a critical factor for you we suggest you take a good look at the pictures on your chosen retailer’s site. Often you’ll get multiple images which enable you to zoom in etc.
7. Delivery / Shipping
Although this is unlikely to be a deal-breaker for most people you’ll still want to pay attention to the options available. AO.com, who we highly recommend, offer free standard delivery (arrives 2-3 days later) on all new machines which is hard to beat. If you want next day delivery you can get that for an additional payment of £9.99 which really isn’t too bad either. AND they’ve just introduced same day delivery for 75% of UK households. If you order an in-stock item before midday you’ll receive it the same day between 4.30-10 pm for a charge of £19.99. That does bring up the overall cost a bit but, if it happens to suit your needs, that’s pretty incredible service!
That’s not to say either disconnecting or fitting is that difficult, especially if you’re replacing an existing installation . If you’re replacing an existing unit it’s a fairly simple matter of disconnecting the hoses etc and attaching to the new unit. As we don’t claim to have any in-depth knowledge of this we suggest checking out an article like this on WhiteGoodsHelp.
Just be sure to take out the transit brackets from the new machine or you, like many before you, will get to experience ‘psychotic washing machine’ syndrome. Fun for all the family watching your shiny new appliance jump all over the place trying to smash your house to smithereens in the process!
Or you could take a look at a video like this one
9. Removing Old Units / Recycling
As I’m sure you know you can’t just stick an old washing machine out for the dustmen and hope for the best. Most large appliances are now covered by the Government’s WEEE regulations meaning you need to ensure they are disposed of in a safe and responsible way and recycled where possible. Here we go again banging on about AO.com but once again they can do this for you for a £9.99 which doesn’t seem too bad when you think the alternative is trying to lift a heavy (and most most likely dripping dirty water) old washer into the back of your car and heading off to the local dump. And then trying to get the damn thing out of your car without putting your back out or dropping it on your toes. We think a tenner is a fairly small price to pay to hand that responsibility over to the burly blokes with a van.
10. Value for Money
Ultimately it will be down to you to decide if you feel like your new purchase is good value for money. We’ll do our best to point you in the right direction by, where possible, quoting what other customers have said. Our advice would be generally to go for machines are low to mid-price as, with the more expensive models you’re paying a lot for the ‘brand’ and we’re not great fans of that. If you want a super-fancy machine good luck to you but we’d rather spend any excess cash on holidays and fun stuff rather than pricey appliances.
So, hopefully the above has given you a little to think about (without over-loading you). Now click on the appropriate link below to find out the key points for each appliance type…