But it’s precisely because it lasts so long that you need to make a good decision when choosing one, especially as the ongoing costs of a washing machine can be affected by your choice.
Here’s our guide on what to look for.
Front loader or top loader
The biggest fundamental decision you’ll make is this one. Do you put your washing in from the top or standing in front? It’s not as simple as just practicality though.
Front loaders are generally more expensive as an upfront cost but tend to offer better performance and cost less to run. (And when you Snaffle a washing machine, we take that up-front cost away…) They work by gently flipping your dirty washing over and over into a smaller amount of water than you need to use in a top loader, so although the wash cycles are longer, they are more energy efficient. Front loaders are gentler on your clothes because of the washing action and clothes usually come out dryer than from their top load counterparts.
Top loaders generally cost less, weigh less and take less time to wash your clothes. But they use more water and are harsher on your clothes because the clothes float around in a deeper well of water and are agitated or impelled around the water. They do offer the benefit of easy access mid-cycle if you’re prone to leaving stuff in pockets.
Washing machine capacities can range from 5-18kg but even bigger households won’t really need huge capacity. Depending on which research you believe the average washing machine load is around the 3-4kg mark. We reckon most families won’t really need over 8kg as a capacity but only you know how much washing you need to do.
It seems obvious, but assumption is never a good thing, so we’ll mention it. Measure the space you have for your washing machine and check the dimensions to ensure it will fit. Also bear in mind you can put stuff on top of a front load machine. It’s a tad more difficult with a top loader if you’re trying to use it at the time.
Put simply, the more stars a washing machine has, the more energy efficient it is and therefore the less it will impact your ongoing monthly bills. Please note that you can only compare energy ratings across similar sized machines for a like-on-like comparison. A big machine with more stars will probably cost more than a small one with less.
The tech features
Once you’ve worked out the basics of what you need then you’ll be bombarded with various added features that the manufacturers work on to entice you. The majority of these revolve around different programs – look out for delicates, hand wash, fast wash or even anti-crease cycles.
Do you need them? In all honesty that’s a personal choice. We suspect most people use a limited number of programs and need something that just ‘does the washing’ but it’s always interesting to see what innovations they do come up with.
The obvious benefit to having a combined washer dryer – saving space – is offset by the fact they take a very long time to dry your clothes and use a large amount of water to do so. Because of that they are inefficient and time consuming so in an ideal world you’d probably stick with separate appliances for now.