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What to Consider Before Buying a Washing Machine
So, you’re looking for a new washing machine?
Here’s what we’ll cover in this guide

At a glance


- Fitting: Decide whether you want to go for a freestanding or integrated (hidden behind a kitchen unit door) appliance.


- Style: Next, you’ll need to make the choice between a front loading or a top loading machine.


- Dimensions: Think about the space you have available, or whether you have an existing space in your kitchen/laundry room for a certain size of appliance.


- Capacity: Look for a washing machine that suits your household size and laundry habits.


- Spin speed: Consider the types of fabric you'll be washing and your drying method to determine the spin speed you need.


- Energy & Water Efficiency: Check the energy efficiency labels of the appliance you’re considering and work out the annual running costs.


- Noise: Noise levels matter, especially if your washing machine can be heard from a living space.


- Programmes & Features: Modern washing machines offer a range of extra features and neat technology—see which ones would benefit your household!


- Design: Choose from various colours, control panels and displays that would complement your space best.


Thankfully, the days of slaving over a washboard cleaning clothes with soap are long gone. The washing has taken the pain out of domestic laundrt, and has been a staple home appliance for decades. Your washing machine probably saves you more time than any other appliance in your home, and the larger your household, the more important it becomes!


But if you`re looking to buy a new washing machine, navigating the language of drum sizes, wash cycles and detergent dosing can leave your head in a spin! This guide will take you through the most common styles and sizes, help you think about what extra features might nees, and find the machine that`s right for you.




Getting the right fit for your kitchen


The first thing to think about on your quest for the perfect washing machine is its style.

The right choice here really depends on the layout of your laundry room and the space you have to work with.



Freestanding washing machines tend to adhere to standard width and height measurements, typically 60 cm (W) to 85 cm (H). They also usually feature feet with adjustable height, so you’ll have some room for manoeuvre. The dimension that varies is the depth. Machines with larger drum capacities may be deeper than those with smaller drums. If your machine ends up sticking out slightly beyond the cupboard units, make sure the door can open freely, and remember that wash settings can be changed accidentally when shuffling past. In any case, kitchens are built with specific spots to place appliances, so careful measuring of available space and checking machine dimensions should avoid any issues.

If your kitchen (or bathroom/laundry room) units have dedicated spaces for integrated appliances, then an integrated washing machine will maintain the room’s sleek look since the appliance will be concealed by a unit door. If you’re redesigning a room, an integrated model may be the way to go. Just remember that installing an integrated model can be much trickier than a freestanding one. It might be a good idea to get some advice from your cupboard unit manufacturer before you commit to an integrated washing machine. You’ll want to make sure that you measure your space well and check the “niche dimensions”. These usually listed under the technical specifications section on product pages. They’ll tell you exactly how big of an opening you need in your cabinets for that appliance to fit. If you’re thinking of going for an integrated washing machine, consider whether the other appliances in that room are going to be integrated too.

A note on…Integrated vs Built-in


You might be wondering why some appliances are called “built-in” while others “integrated”. Built-in and integrated appliances are both designed to fit seamlessly inside kitchen cabinets, standing flush to them and the countertops. Both types create a more cohesive and sleek look in the kitchen with one important difference.

Built-in appliances are, like the name suggests, built into kitchen cabinetry. However, the appliances’ front panel is in full display. You can see the door, the display and the control panel completely, despite the fact that these appliances fit into dedicated cut-out places in the furniture. Think of wall ovens, hobs or hoods here.

Integrated appliances fit into dedicated spaces in the kitchen furniture as well. However, the appliance is fully hidden from view by a furniture panel that covers the front of the appliance. Dishwashers and refrigerators typically receive this treatment. Integrated appliances create a completely seamless look across the cabinetry but they do require a more specialized knowledge for installation. For this reason, it is best to work together with a contractor or a kitchen designer who is familiar with these kinds of appliances before making a decision.


Get a load of this…

Washing machines come in two styles: Top loading and front loading. Beyond the obvious
-- that front-load washers open from the front and top-load washers open from the top --
there are some significant differences between the two styles.
These distinctions will help inform your purchase, as each appeals to certain lifestyles and usage habits.

Top loading

This style of washing machine dominates the American market, but is far less common in the UK and Europe. They are available though, so the style is certainly worth considering, especially if its advantages appeal to you. The biggest advantage of a top loader is ease of access. The drum is at standing height, and you don’t need to bend down to load and unload the machine. They tend to have a larger load capacity than front loaders as well, and they also require a little less upkeep. Having said that, if you’re restricted on space, there are some slimline top loading washing machines which are significantly slimmer that a standard frontloading appliance. We’ll talk more about the sizes of washing machines in the Dimensions section.
Front loading

On balance, front loading machines probably offer more advantages than their top loading pals. While they can be a little more expensive, they’re more water and energy efficient. This means they’re more economical in the long run. Cleaning performance is often better as everything in the drum gets immersed in water, and they’re gentler on fabrics too. Front loaders also offer a bit more flexibility when it comes to installation. You can stack front loading machines (washing machines or dryers) which can help save space. And finally, front loaders can offer higher spin speeds than top loaders, which means faster drying.


How big of a washing machine can you fit in?

The external dimensions of front loading and top washing machines are fairly standard across most models and manufacturers. If you do have a smaller space, you’ll want to look for a compact front loading or slimline top loading appliance. Remember the dimensions provided below are guidelines only—always carefully measure your available space and double check the external dimensions of the appliances you’re considering.

Standard front loading

Approximate dimensions:
85 cm (H) x 60 cm (W) x 60 cm (D)
Most kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms will have unit spaces to house an appliance of this size. They slide under a cabinet top or work surface and have adjustable feet to raise or lower the top of the machine. This size offers a large range of drum capacities and price options.
Standard top loading

Approximate dimensions:
105 cm (H) x 68 cm (W) x 65 cm (D)
If you don’t have a dedicated space for a frontloading machine, a top loading machine is an option. You need access to the top of a top loading machine, and they tend to be taller than front loader because of their raised control panels. They offer large drum capacities, but standard top loading machines are fairly uncommon in the UK/Europe.
Shallow-depth top loading

Approximate dimensions:
85 cm (H) x 60 cm (W) x 45 cm (D)If space is in an issue and you definitely want a front loading appliance, a compact size could be the answer. They’re up to 15cm less deep than standard machines, so there’s room for more pipes and other plumbing to sit behind them. The trade-off is that they tend to offer smaller drum capacities.
Breathing room

Measuring for the height, width and depth might sound pretty straight forward but there’s more to think. Washing machines need a well-ventilated, dust-free environment to function properly. You can help your appliance by leaving at least 5 cm on either side and the back to allow for proper air circulation. Don't gorget to keep that in mind when measuring the space you have.
Door opening direction and clearance

One last thing to consider about washing machine dimensions is the door clearance. Whether a front loading or top loading appliance, you need space to allow the door to open full so you have proper access to the drum.For front loading washing machines, measure your space to make sure there's enough room on the front of the machine for the door to open fully. Look out for any cupboards or counters that the door might hit when opened. Also, think about the door opening direction, especially if you're going to place a tumble dryer next to the washing machine. In that case, you want to have the doors open away from each other so that there's nothing in between when transferring the load from one to the other. Similarly for top loaders, you need to make sure that there's enough room above the appliance for the door to open fully and that there is nothing above the appliance such as cubboards that obstruct the door.


How spacious of a washing machine do you need?

The drum capacity tells you how much laundry you can
actually put in your washing machine. This is given
in kilograms, but it’s not exactly easy knowing what 7kg of laundry looks like,
and we’re certainly not expecting to weigh your clothes before you wash them!
Choosing the right drum capacity depends on the size of your
household and the amount of washing you do.
The information below will give you a rough indication of
how much washing you can get in a range of drum sizes.

A note on…Overloading


Overloading your washing machine reduces its cleaning performance. The machine needs some free room in the drum for the detergent and water mixture to penetrate the laundry properly. For that reason, an overloaded appliance will find it harder to bring the laundry to the desired cleanliness level. If you’ve got a large household or are likely to use the appliance a lot, a larger drum capacity should be the way to go.

Spin Speed

How high of an rpm do you need?

Washing machines switch to the spin cycle after the washing cycle to remove as much water from the washed clothes as possible, so you’re removing damp rather than soaking wet items from the machine.

Spin speed refers to how many times your washing machine’s drum spins round in a minute. It’s measured in revolutions per minute (rpm) - so a setting of 1200rpm means the drum will spin all the way round 1200 times every minute.

Appliances seem to be getting smarter by the day, and washing machines are no exception. As you move up the price range, more fancy bells and whistles will be on offer. So, let’s take a look at what they do so you can decide if they’re worth the extra cash.

Advantage of higher spin speed

Higher spin speeds mean your clothes will take less time to dry. All that motion releases moisture from the fabrics, which means faster speeds are useful to those with limited space in which to dry their clothes or those who do not own a tumble dryer. There’s good news for those that do too, though. Because your clothes will emerge dryer on a faster cycle, they won’t require as much time in the tumble dryer. This energy saving will more than offset the slightly elevated energy consumption of a drum with a quicker spin. In this sense, a faster washing machine will save you both time and energy in the long run.

Is a fast spinning drum always a good thing?


Different materials will benefit from slightly different spin speeds. It’s therefore worth taking a look at your wardrobe and seeing which items will benefit from a higher spin speed. If you have a lot of durable cotton items (or a few cotton items which see a lot of use), then it’s worth investing in a faster machine.


Sometimes, a higher washing machine spin speed is not always the best as it can crease cotton business shirts which means longer ironing time for you. More delicate items will of course benefit from slower spin speeds as higher rpms might be damaging for them.


Since spin speed is something you can alter, it is still a good idea to go for a decent rpm like 1200 or 1400 for when you do need higher spin speeds. You can always set spinning to lower values or choose slower spinning programmes for delicate laundry.

Efficiency & Noise Levels

How green and quiet do you want your appliances to be?

We’ve all got to do our bit to save water and energy, and washing machines make the same effort to stay more eco-friendly. The good news is that more efficient appliances don’t just help reduce your carbon footprint, they can help reduce your bills too. More efficient models tend to be a little bit more expensive, but they’re likely to save you money in the long run.

Energy Efficiency

Nearly all appliances come with an EU energy rating label these days, and the newest washing machines have ratings which range from A+++ (the most efficient) to A+ (the least efficient). Within even the A+++ range, machines can be up to 70% more energy efficient than others, so be sure to pay attention to the details. Be mindful that some retailers may still have stock with lower ratings than this, though very rarely in Europe. These ratings are calculated on full and partial cotton loads at 40 oC and 60 oC, so your energy usage might vary if you tend to use different wash settings.

New compressor technologies also allow for higher energy efficiency thanks to brushless motors, which reduces friction in the moving parts. This means that your machine is both quieter and lasts longer.
Water Consumption

Energy rating labels will also provide an estimate of how much water an appliance will use over the course of a year. There are dishwashers that use as little as 5,5 litres of water for a single wash. Other, less efficient models can use up to 15 litres. If you’re looking at two or more potential candidates, this could be the clincher.
Noise Level

Given their weight and fast-moving parts, washing machines have the potential to be one of the noisiest appliances in your home. It’s important to consider the noise rating of the appliance you’re looking at, especially if you’re going to have it in an open plan kitchen or close to bedrooms. Washing machine energy labels show the machine’s noise level, and that can range from 40 dB (a quiet library) to 80 dB (a ringing house phone). Higher-end models tend to be quieter as they incorporate brushless motors and anti-vibration systems, but of course these will be a little pricier than others. If you have a separate kitchen or a dedicated laundry room, the noise your washing machine makes might not be that important.
What does it all mean?

We've done the math for you so you won't have to

Energy Usage (kWh/year)

This is how energy consumption is measured on EU energy rating labels, and is based on 220 full loads at 60 °C and 40 °C per year. The average price of electricity in the UK is 12.5p/kWh. The lower this number is on the label, the cheaper the appliance is to run and the better it is for the environment.











*Based on average energy tariff.

Water Usage(L/year)

The energy label will indicate the amount of water the appliance will consume per year, again based on 220 standard wash cycles per year. The average cost of 1,000 L of water is about £3 in the UK. There is quite a lot of variation in the amounts of water washing machines use, even at the same energy efficiency rating. If this is something you’re concerned about, be sure to compare a range of appliances,

11,600 L/annum

52 liters

per wash cycle

24,860 L/annum

113 liters

per wash cycle

*On average for a standard 40 °C cotton wash cycle

Noise Levels (dB)

The higher you go up in the price scale, the quieter washing machines become but even one around 50 dB would be barely audible from the next room. If your washing machine stands in a room where you like to spend time in, you might want to look into models that are around 40 dB.

40 dB

Library noise level

80 dB

Ringtone noise level

*On average for a standard 40 °C cotton wash cycle

A note on… Noise and installation


Proper installation can go a long way to reducing the amount of noise your washing machine makes. As machines spin, they vibrate, and might bang against hoses, units or covering doors. Make sure your appliance's feet are level, that it doesn’t rock while in use, and that the machine itself is properly positioned. You may be able to slip sponges between the sides and top of the machine to dampen vibration noise.


While some more entry-level machines will offer a few self-explanatory program settings, the higher you move up the price scale, the more wash program options you’ll get. Let’s take a look at what these weird and wonderful settings actually do.

Material-specific programmes

As you start spending more on a washing machine, you’ll see that there are programmes for specific types of fabrics. Wool, silk and synthetics are common fabric types that higher-end machines take special care of, and there are even some which offer specific settings for outwear, sportswear and duvets.

Intensive programmes

Intensive programmes are perfect for heavily soiled items, so this might be useful if you have any sports players or artists in the household. Pre-wash programmes will also help loosen any stubborn dirt before a main wash.

Quick-wash programmes

Some machines offer quick-wash cycles which can deal with a small number of lightly soiled items in 15-20 minutes.

Anti-crease or easy ironing programmes

Slower spin speeds and anti-crease technology allow machines with this setting to lighten your ironing load considerably.

Special care programmes

These programs include advanced hygiene programmes, with extra rinse cycles to remove pollen, dust and other allergens from fabrics, and baby cycles which kill off 99.9% of bacteria. Some can even deal with garments that have “Hand wash only” on the label. Some models have programmes for woollen garments, approved by Woolmark.

Special cycles

Some machines offer even more specific cycles to deal with laundry conundrums. A steam fresh cycle will use steam to freshen up a load of laundry, rather than putting it through a full wash. You might also want to look for a specific stain removal cycle which uses carefully controlled temperature settings to remove stubborn stains like grass and red wine.

Custimizable programmes

"Some more advanced machines will let you customize a programme by adjusting the temperature and spin speed, and will include a memory function so you can save your favourite settings. 


Time delay is another handy little feature which allows you to set exactly when you want your wash cycle to start, which means you can time your wash to finish just as you get home. No more damp laundry sitting in the machine for hours!"

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Appliances seem to be getting smarter by the day, and washing machines are no exception. As you move up the price range, more fancy bells and whistles will be on offer. So, let’s take a look at what they do so you can decide if they’re worth the extra cash.

Efficiency features

Thanks to their special sensors, some machines are clever enough to know what type of fabric you’ve put in, and can set exactly the amount of water and energy needed for the perfect clean. 

Auto dosing is another efficiency feature that can help you save time and money. Fill the machine’s detergent reservoir, and it’ll do the rest! The appliance will determine the fabric and amount of washing and then use just the right amount of detergent. This doesn’t just save you money on detergent, it stops your wash getting too foamy.

Safety features

Washing machines can also come with a range of safety features which give you peace of mind, especially if you use your appliance a lot while you’re out of the house. Look out for overflow and leak protection sensors. These will shut off the machine if it senses a leak in your plumbing so you don’t come back to a flooded home. Anti-foam technology will also stop excessive amounts of suds building up if you’ve accidentally put too much detergent in for your wash.

Locks are another common safety feature. Child locks will lock the settings so wandering little hands can’t change the spin speed or stop the cycle half-way through. Door locks are another common-sense safety feature which keeps you from accidently opening the door and flooding your kitchen or laundry room.


Other features

Other clever washing machine technology includes self-cleaning cycles, which will wash away any detergent or softener residue in the drum and detergent drawers.

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A note on... Price


A washing machine might not be the most glamourous purchase, and budget is also going to be a factor as you make your decision. Just remember, that in all of these styles and features, machines can range anywhere from £200 to well over £1200.

The good news is, cleaning or drying performance of a washing machine has little to do with its price. The factors that make the difference in this respect are the energy efficiency and the noise levels. Aesthetic elements like digital or touch controls might add to price as well. However, it is possible to find the right balance of style, size and features for a price that won’t break the bank.


Which look will fit your space best?

Your appliances are likely to be on display in your home, so these days it’s extra important to make washing machines look good.


White has always been the most common colour, and that goes well with most kitchen designs. But darker colours and finishes have also become popular, and if you look hard enough, you’ll probably be able to find a machine in any colour you want. If you’ve got a dedicated laundry room, appearance might not be so important, and of course, going for a built-in model means you can hide the machine altogether.
Display and basic controls

Lower-cost models will usually have a knob for programme selection and a few physical buttons for other basic features. As you start spending more on the appliance, digital displays will indicate a range of information such as time remaining and start time if you’ve used the delayed start feature. Also, digital controls will be less bulky, creating a more seamless look. This is a consideration for freestanding as well as integrated models.