These days there is such a wealth of washing machines on the marketplace that it can be tricky deciding which type will suit you best. From affordable budget models to the most high powered or eco-friendly, these kitchen appliances are essential to every home.
To make your life easier, the following guide will describe some of the key features to look for in washing machines when shopping around.
Ideally, you’ll want a high spin speed on your washing machine, since the faster the spin the more water is removed, allowing your clothes to dry faster. Some models offer up to 1600rpm, although if you have budget restraints, 1000rpm will be sufficient for an acceptable wash. The ideal would be a model which lets you choose from a range of different speeds, because delicate garments would be damaged by a high spin speed.
The size of the drum (the round cavern that you put your clothes in) will obviously affect the volume of washing you can accomplish. Fewer washing days will save on time and money – this will be especially important for those with a family. Some washing machines hold up to 9kg, which would also allow you to wash bulky items such as duvets and curtains as well as giving clothes extra room so that they don’t get tangled.
Extra features, such as a LED display on a washing machine to let you know how much time is left on the cycle or a time delay which lets you go out and set your washing to be done by the time you come home, can really make your life easier. Another great special feature is anti-mould door seal technology – this will prolong the life of your washing machine by reducing damage from a build up of moisture.
In addition, many washing machines these days have handy programme settings for different kinds of clothes, such as quick wash, mixed load, sensitive skin or small load. Some even come complete with a steam clean setting, which results in fewer creases and a more thorough wash. Less importantly but useful nevertheless, some models have coin traps to collect loose change, buttons and other small items that are often forgotten in pockets.
Another great feature to look out for is ‘fuzzy logic’ – this is a new technology used to recognise how much washing is in the drum. It then adjusts the temperature, amount of water and energy used plus the length of the cycle accordingly, so that you can be sure to get the best wash with the minimal amount of waste.
Depending on your budget, these extra’s can be well worth the additional investment.
Combined washer/dryers are a godsend in places such as the UK where the sun makes rare or intermittent appearances – they save you having to worry about a sudden downpour or your clothes not drying in time. These models are also perfect for those with space restrictions in their homes, particularly flats, since you won’t have to worry about hanging your clothes. It must be said however that these types of washing machines often have a smaller capacity for drying than washing, so drying loads will sometimes need to be split up.
Environmental concerns are not only about doing your bit for the planet – being cautious about your energy usage will help keep your utility bills from skyrocketing.
Energy consumption is measured in kWh – the lower the figure, the better it is for the environment and the more money you’ll keep in your pocket. Water consumption is also an important factor, since the less water you use in a wash, as with energy, the lower the running costs and the more environmentally friendly it will be.
Luckily, washing machine manufacturers are increasingly focussing on this factor, and we now have ratings on appliances (from ‘A+’ to ‘G’) so that you can clearly understand at a glance how energy efficient your model is. Washing machines are also rated for water consumption and performance. An A+ rating will bear the Energy Saving Recommended logo and be listed in the product details.
It’s a must to buy a washing machine that has variable temperature settings, although most models these days allow you to adjust the temperature to your needs as standard. Some models now also have eco settings which allow you to do a wash at 30°C or lower.
Ultimately, choosing the right washing machine and the features you’ll find crucial, will come down to your budget as well as clarifying how you’ll use it. Ask yourself some key questions such as the amount of washing you do in a typical week, how much time you have to get the job done and how much space your home has. It’s also advisable to find out what people are saying about various models by reading washing machine reviews.
About the Author: Michael Dehomme is a washing machine repair shop owner.