Washing machines, an essential piece of tech in every household, are often tricky to shop for. There’s lots of jargon to understand and more than a few models to pick from. Thankfully, a good quality washing machine should last you a very long time, so it’s the case of spending some time deciding on the best model first and then enjoying fresh laundry for years to come. Our washing machine buyer’s guide will take you through all the latest features and help you find the best model for your household. test
Types of washing machines
Clothes go in the front of the machine and are spun with a spinning drum.
- Better for smaller spaces
- Shorter drying times
- Kinder to clothes
- More energy and water efficient
- More settings to customise washes with
Clothes are moved around by a central pole (agitator) or water is used to move clothes around using a propeller-like device (impeller).
- Faster wash cycles
- Cheaper in price
- Larger capacity
- Can be opened mid-cycle to add more laundry
Washer dryer combo:
A front loader washer is combined with a sensor dryer in one machine.
- Ideal for anyone with limited space
- Water and energy efficient
- No need to manually transfer clothes between the washer and dryer
- Compact design is easy to incorporate into different spaces
Dual load washing machine:
This model features two washers in one; a larger capacity front loader for big washes and a smaller capacity top loader for delicates.
- Wash separate colours at the same time
- Easy to separate delicate fabrics from everyday laundry
- Set different programs for each wash
- Saves space and time
This model uses technology to automatically add the right amount of detergent based on your laundry's weight.
- Get the ideal amount of detergent for each wash, without under or over-dosing
- Save time as detergent tank needs only needs topping up infrequently
- Can be more cost-efficient in the long run
Washing machine capacity
It’s important to get the size of your washing machine right. It’ll make doing laundry easier, more convenient, and can even save you money in the long run. An average family of four will usually find a 6-7kg capacity model sufficient. A smaller capacity model will of course make sense for singles or couples, while anyone planning to expand their family over the years may want to invest in a bigger capacity model upfront.
1-2 people: 4-6.5kg
Average price range: $300-$800
Each wash can fit an average of:
- Up to 6 towels, or
- Up to 6 outfits (shirts, underwear, socks, trousers, dresses), or
- 1 single doona (only for 6kg+ machines)
3-4 people: 7-8.5kg
Average price range: $400-$1200
Each wash can fit an average of:
- Up to 8 towels, or
- Up to 8 outfits, or
- 1 double or queen doona
5+ people: 9+kg
Average price range: $700-$2500
Each wash can fit an average of:
- 9+ towels, or
- 9+ outfits, or
- 1 king doona
Measuring for your new washing machine
Take your time and measure the space where your new washing machine will fit. Ensure that a space of 2.5cm is available around your chosen model and the wall, which will allow the power cable and hose connections to sit comfortably. Also check that there’s enough space for the door or lid to open with ease.
Washing machine efficiency
When it comes to efficiency, you want to consider both electricity and water consumption.
The Energy Star Rating (from 1-10) will estimate how much electricity your machine will use over the course of a year, typically in kilowatt hours per year. Newer models tend to be more energy efficient.
The Water Efficiency Labeling Scheme (WELS) (1-6 stars) is an easy way to spot models that use the least amount of water. The more stars a model has, the more efficient it is.
Typically, the most efficient machines will be pricier upfront, but the water and electricity savings make them good choices financially and environmentally over the lifespan of the washing machine.
Washing machine controls
Models now come with a variety of controls and displays for you to choose from when shopping.
- Entry level and basic models are likely to still use mechanical controls, like dials and knobs. They’re easy to use.
- Newer machines are more likely to use digital and touch displays, which don’t affect performance, but do look more modern.
- Models with an LCD display allow for the most accuracy as the screen always gives an update on what’s happening inside the machine.
Washing machine programs
The variety of a model’s programs will help you to get the best results and keep your clothes looking better for longer.
- A ‘hand wash’ function is good for delicates and practically any other items, saving you time doing it by hand.
- A ‘sportswear’ function is specifically designed for materials typically used in workout clothes, helping to protect them and eliminate odours.
- A lot of models now come with adjustable spin speed settings, allowing you to get your clothes ready faster.
New and noteworthy features to consider
- Auto spin balancing - important to look out for if you’d like to stack your washer and dryer on top of each other.
- Stainless steel tubs as it gives your machine more durability.
- Smart-home models can be connected to Wi-Fi and controlled through a phone app, like starting a wash when it’s most convenient for you, wherever you might be.
- A dampener system or extra insulation for noise reduction so that you can do your laundry at any time of the day.
- Some front loaders now have features allowing you to add clothes during a cycle, even if it’s already in progress.
- Quick refresh function, which freshens your clothes without using detergent.
- Adjustable legs to keep your model steady.
Some stores offer a fitting service, ensuring it’s connected correctly, while removing your old model and all the packaging. Ask about your options when purchasing your new machine.
You can have the appliance installed in a few different ways, depending on the layout of your home and the model you’ve purchased. The below only applies to separate washers and dryers.
Side by side: the washer and dryer are next to each other.
Side by side with pedestal: the same as before except the units are elevated by a pedestal, creating extra storage space.
Stackable: the washer unit sits underneath the dryer which is stacked on top. This configuration is only suitable for front loaders.
Cleaning your washing machine
Now that you have a brand new washing machine, you’ll want to keep it working as new for as long as possible. Cleaning your machine regularly is recommended as it removes build-up of detergent that can cause unpleasant smells and limescale, which can lead to damage. Typically, cleaning your machine once a month is good practice. Some models will tell you when it’s time for a clean while some have settings that switch on the cleaning function with the touch of a button.