How to choose the best washing machine

Lynn Wright / 31 May 2016

Looking to buy the best washing machine? Our guide to washing machines will help you choose the right model for your needs.

Choosing a new washing machine can be tough. Not only should the right machine deliver outstandingly clean clothes, it should do so easily and efficiently over a good number of years. It should also offer enough features and functions that you can wash a wide range of clothes, bedding and other laundry.

Choosing the best washing machine

Type You can buy washing machines as freestanding, semi integrated or fully integrated models. Freestanding washing machines are the most common type and come in a wide range of sizes and prices. The majority of freestanding models are white but some are available in silver, black and other colours so you can match them to your kitchen.

Integrated or built-in washing machines are a great choice if you want to hide your appliance behind a kitchen unit door for a seamless fitted look, but they typically cost more to install than freestanding models.

Semi-integrated washing machines give access to the control panel at the top of the machine with the rest covered by the kitchen cupboard door. However, there are only a few semi-integrated models on the market.

Price Washing prices range wildly in price from as little as £150 to well over £1,000. However, spend between £300 to £500 and you’ll typical get a great performing washing machine with a useful array of features.

Looking for a cheap washing machine? Read our guide to the Best cheap washing machines.

Capacity Drum size is one of the most important considerations when shopping for a new washing machine, as the larger the drum, the more you can wash. Drum capacity typically varies between 5kg and 12kg, with a 7kg normally adequate for most households. 1kg of dry clothes is equivalent to an outfit consisting of a pair of trousers, a top, underwear and socks.

Washing machines work best when the drum is about 80 per cent full so consider your washing needs carefully. Large capacity machines mean you can wash less often, helping to reduce energy bills, but if you prefer to wash just few clothes more frequently then a smaller drum may be best.

Spin speed A washing machine’s spin cycle removes water from your clothes at the end of the wash programme. Spin speed is how fast the drum spins in revolutions per minute and typically the faster the speed, the drier the clothes. Some budget washing machines offer top speeds of just 1,100rpm but most decent models offer between 1,200rpm and 1,600rpm for cotton washes.

A lower speed – between 400rpm to 800rpm – is used for synthetics, delicates and wool. Normally the spin speed is auto selected based on your wash programme, but some models offer a variable spin speed function so you can select it yourself.

Energy efficiency All washing machines sold since December 2013 must have a minimum energy rating of A+, although you may still find older models on sale with the lower A rating. Premium washing machines use advanced features to get the cleaning results using less water – and models that use less than 7.5 litres of water per kg are deemed energy efficient according to Waterwise.

Features Most washing machines come with a range of wash programmes including cotton, synthetics, delicates and wool. More advanced models throw in extra options such as sports mode, heavy duty, half loads and anti-crease – all of which will add to the cost of your machine, so think carefully about which ones you’ll use regularly and those you can live without. To learn more about washing machine features, read our guide to Washing machine features explained.

Ready to choose the perfect washing machine for you, read our guide to the Four best washing machines.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.