Washing machine buying guide

Washing machines are incredibly useful appliances but choosing the right one can take time - particularly as it plays such an important role in the home.

No longer feel overwhelmed, with all of the information you need to make your next purchase below. Want a matching set? We also have a buying guide for tumble dryers to give you an easy shopping experience.

An obvious consideration when buying a new machine is the amount of washing that you need to do. A single person or a couple, for example, is likely to do less washing and in smaller loads than a larger family which may collectively be categorised as a "heavy user" (more than five washes per week). As a general guide, 1kg is about the weight of five adult t-shirts. Keeping this in mind, the larger the machines capacity = the more clothing it can accommodate. Bear in mind that a higher capacity washing machine may also be able to accommodate larger items, like duvets and blankets, which may save on dry cleaning or launderette bills.

The spin speed of a washing machine (shown in revolutions per minute, abbreviated to RPM) drives how effectively water is removed, meaning less time is needed on the line or in the tumble dryer. A lower spin speed is used for washing delicate items and to reduce the degree of creasing generally caused to clothes during the spin cycle. Most washing machines also have variable spin speed settings.

All washing machines have to display an EU energy rating label. This shows the product’s energy efficiency and can help you compare their impact on your bills and carbon footprint before choosing a machine. Spanning from an A rating (the most energy efficient) to G (the least energy efficient), this scale was redesigned in 2021 to help adapt the labels to the industry standards that are now much more environmentally friendly than in previous years. Many machines also have specialist eco wash cycles that use up to 60% less energy by running for longer, using lower temperatures.

The noise output from washing machines is measured in decibels and shown as dB, allowing you to compare the average noise output from different machines. The higher the dB, the louder the operating noise. Levels below 50 dB is classed as very quiet and manufacturers have made huge advances in reducing noise with new technology such as anti-vibration systems and brushless motors.

  • Freestanding washing machines are ideal for laundry rooms, utility rooms or for slotting into a space under a kitchen counter.

  • Integrated washing machines effectively hide your appliance behind a cupboard door - allowing for a more sophisticated look. These are ideal if you’re having a new kitchen put in.

Most washing machines are made to an industry-standard size of up to 600mm (60cm) but, if you need a smaller machine, slim width machines come in at 450mm (45cm).

Gone are the days of only white appliances. Now, you can choose from a range of finishes to best suit your home.

Modern washing machines are designed to make life easier so you’ll find that there are a host of clever features that are designed to lighten the laundry load.

  • Quick wash allows you to do a (smaller) load in as little as 15 minutes to one hour. A quick wash also uses less water, up to 30% on average, which means that it will care for your clothes and the environment at the same time.

  • Features that allow you to add items during the wash cycle are the saving grace for every missed sock or garment. Many manufacturers include their own version of this useful feature (including Samsung's AddWash). Washing machine door locks prevent accidental floods by securing the load door as soon as you press start or as soon as the water is higher than the door drum opening. The ability to add clothes when the programme has started is a great feature.

  • Delay timers allow you to start the machine after a specific period of time. This is particularly useful if you have an electrical tariff that makes using electrical appliances during the night cheaper. Delay timers are also useful if you want the laundry to be ready when you get up/get home.

  • Smart washing machines connect to your home WiFi and allow the ‘internet of things’ to help you take control of your laundry. Using apps to start the machine and check on progress, smart washing machines aim to make wash day more convenient and stress-free. They can even help you identify and fix minor issues, such as a blocked filter, without the need (and expense) of calling out an engineer.

  • Auto dosing washing machines take away the guesswork of how much detergent you’ll need as the machine will add exactly the right amount for the wash programme and load weight. Some machines can also identify what fabric a load consists of and the degree of soiling to adapt the dosing from there. Auto dosing is kinder of your clothes, the environment, the machine – and your wallet!

Did you know that many of our products are also available for rental? Enjoy the latest tech with low, monthly payments and regular opportunities to upgrade, find out more about Hughes Rental here.