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The Ultimate Washing Machine Buying Guide

The Ultimate Washing Machine Buying Guide


11 minute read

Guide to Buying the Best Washing Machine

Buying the best washing machine for your needs can seem daunting. How do you choose the right size, brand or settings? As you’ll see below, it’s not as difficult as you think. The quirks and differences all make sense and serve a purpose.

Here’s a guide to purchasing a washing machine that’s right for you.

What are the main factors to consider before I buy a washing machine?

The main thing to consider is what’s right for your lifestyle and circumstances. Everyone’s day to day life is a little different, and there is a washing machine out there that’s perfect for you.

Size

The most affordable washing machines tend to be the smallest, so if your washes are small, that could work for you. Conversely, if you have a big family, a larger drum size would be appropriate (more on that later).

Integrated or Freestanding

Aesthetically, some prefer an integrated washing machine; but for others, a freestanding is more convenient to operate and to install. (We’ll describe these differences further in the next section.) You should also consider the space available in your home.

Your Preferred Features

A washing machine’s features will depend on what you need. Some people value the timer, which will start the wash at a designated time (finishing when you get in from work, for example). Or you might like the “add wash” door, which is available in higher-end models and allows you to add stray or forgotten clothes mid-wash cycle.

Warranty

No matter what you buy, try to ensure that you get a warranty. Depending on what you’re getting, a warranty might last anything from 2 to 5 or even 10 years.

What are the different types of washing machines?

At first glance, the sheer range of washing machines can be intimidating. But the differences between models are quite clear. Let’s start with the most common question:

What is the difference between a freestanding and integrated washing machine?

Freestanding washing machines

Freestanding washing machines can operate anywhere where there’s access to power and plumbing. This is probably the most common kind of washing machine.

Integrated washing machines

Integrated washing machine

Integrated washing machines are installed into a space – behind a cupboard door for instance. You might notice the bottom plinth of a washing machine is indented or recessed, to allow for possible wooden fitting.

As you might imagine, it’s not a good idea to use an integrated machine outside of a kitchen unit. They’re not designed to stand steadily unless integrated.

Semi-integrated washing machines

A relatively rare model, these machines are mostly integrated, but with controls and/or display accessible without having to open any doors.

Top loading washing machines

These machines are more common in countries outside of Ireland: You’ve probably seen them used in American TV shows.

Front Loading Washing Machine

As the name suggests, these machines have a lid on top and require you to lift the lid and load the washing in from there.

Front loading washing machines 

Front loading washing machines are the kind you’re probably most familiar with, with a round window in front.

 

How do drum sizes/capacity vary? What capacity do I need?

Size of washing machines is not usually measured by the width or depth of the drum, but instead by the volume of a wash you can fit in it.

These can range from 5kg to a hefty 12kg. A medium-sized household should find that a 7kg machine is big enough.

There are advantages to different sizes: a smaller one would be cheaper to run (using less energy and hot water), but a larger one is handier if you have regular, big loads of laundry to deal with.

A good rule of thumb is that a 5kg machine could wash a load of 7 bath towels; a 7kg machine can handle 10 towels that size; while a 12kg drum would take 17!

What are the various washing machine settings?

When it comes to washing machines, it’s easy to get lost in the sea of settings. Here are some of the most common ones and what they mean, followed by some recent setting innovations. Some of the advanced settings may not be available for every machine.

Basic washing machine settings

  • Normal wash
    Washing Machine Programmes

This is the standard-setting and is effective for linens, t-shirts, jeans and so on. Good for a deep clean.

  • Quick wash

Perfect for when you’re in a rush, this can reduce the cycle to about 30-45 minutes. Naturally, it’s a less thorough clean, though.

  • Pre-wash

This is ideal for stained items, as it soaks the clothes before the normal wash. Make sure to include detergent in the pre-wash and normal wash trays.

  • Permanent press

This means the water is warm but not hot, and the spin cycle’s a little slower, suitable for button-down shirts and trousers

  • Temperature

You know what it means, but what are the effects? Essentially, the hotter the water, the more likely to remove stubborn stains or dirt, but it could lead to shrinkage in some clothes. Similarly, cooler water is kinder to your clothes, but a less vigorous clean. Somewhere in between is ideal for most washes. If in doubt, your clothes’ labels will guide you.

Advanced washing machine settings

  • Denim

This option prevents creasing and streaking discolouration and is ideal for washing denim.

  • Shirts

This helps to prevent creasing.

  • Dark garments

This raises the water level and ensures thorough cleaning of clothes leaving no trail of detergents.

What are the washing machine spin speeds?

You’ll be given several spin speed options. A good rule of thumb is that higher spin speeds are suited to durable, casual clothes (jeans and hoodies, for instance). A higher spin speed means a faster drying time, but more creases.

Conversely, a lower spin speed takes longer to dry but makes ironing easier, so is suited to formal clothes (including school uniforms).

Some delicate items cannot be washed on high speed (silk, for example). And, in many cases, your clothes labels will tell you the maximum advisable spin speed.

Spin speeds can vary from machine to machine, from 1,000rpm (revolutions per minute) to 1,800rpm. The most common range from 1,000 to 1,400.

 

Washing Machine Features to Lookout For

Samsung Washing Machine Addwash Feature

The washing machine that’s right for you will depend on your circumstances. Here are some factors to consider, based on your home and lifestyle…

  • Noise level

If you keep your washing machine in the kitchen, or close to the living room, remember that the highest speed machines can be noisier than standard ones.

  • Integrated Dryer

A washer/dryer is ideal for apartment living where you don't have space for a seperate tumble dryer, or if you prefer not to dry clothes outside on a washing line.

  • Size to match your space

The depth of a washing machine can vary from 40cm to 70cm, so measure the space carefully to make sure you have room

 

What is a smart washing machine?

A smart washing machine can connect to your household Wi-Fi, just as your other smart devices do. This means that they’re operable via your smartphone or tablet.

Applications of this neat technology include:

  • remote control via an app;
  • automatic programme selection (meaning that the machine will choose the settings to use itself);
  • additional downloadable programmes (such as steam washes and cycles that clean the drum);
  • auto dosing of detergent;
  • smart energy use, meaning that it will determine how much water to use based on load weight;
  • a memory feature, so it can remember settings for future washes

 

Water and energy efficiency: How much does a washing machine cost to run?

This varies, naturally, based on many factors; frequency of washes, energy efficiency of the machine and size of loads. An hour of washing might cost around 16c or more. So, calculate how often you’d put on a wash per week, then per year to work out the annual cost.

Try, if possible, to purchase a machine with as high an energy rating as possible. Higher-end machines tend to have better water efficiency too.

 

What is the best cheapest washing machine and what is the average price?

A washing machine can range in price from €179.99 to €2,299.99. Our cheapest models will serve you well, but their capacity is smaller, they have fewer features and the warranty is shorter. That said, you will get two years warranty and the machine is built to last well beyond that.

However, you do see the benefits of a more expensive machine – longer-lasting, more features, likely a bigger load capacity, more energy efficient in many cases, and (often) a sleeker design. 

 

What is a good noise level for a washing machine?

This depends a little on your lifestyle. If your washing machine is near your living room, if you have small children or if you expect to put on washes at night, a quieter machine is optimal. But if your machine is more separate (or even in a garage), naturally, it’s less important to have a quieter machine.

You might see decibel (dB) levels on a machine’s specifications. To illustrate what they mean:

  • The ambient noise in a library is about 40dB
  • A conversation between two adults is about 50-60dB
  • A vacuum cleaner is about 70dB

Your average washing machine will generate between 40-70dB. And anything at 50dB or below would be considered a quiet model.

 

What warranty should I get on my washing machine?

DID Protection Plan

All of our machines have the option of a warranty, and in many cases, you can even get a 5-year warranty upon registration. Generally, warranties are a good idea if you can afford it and if the price of the warranty is not greater than replacement in (for example) five years.

 

What are my delivery options?

We offer flexible delivery services across Ireland, with next-day options in several locations. We also can install your appliances, a service we’ve been providing for over 50 years.

Another popular option is “click & collect”, available from one of our 23 stores nationwide.

 

How do I know if my washing machine is broken?

Even the best appliances eventually reach the end of their road. But how can you tell that a machine needs repairing or replacement?

Here are some tell-tale signs that your machine has seen better days:

  • Increased noise levels. If it’s gotten louder in recent times, that suggests it’s struggling to maintain its current workload.
  • Water not filling the drum. This suggests a blockage or damage hose or valve.
  • Water remaining in the drum. This might be as simple as tangled clothes blocking the pump, or (much worse) a damaged pump.
  • Drum not turning. This suggests something might be wrong with the drum, the belt or the lid switch.

Some of these issues are easily addressed, or they might be symptoms of a greater problem. Before calling a repairman, bear in mind the cost of a replacement machine: a whole new machine might cost the same as fixing your old one and ultimately be the better investment.

 

Maintaining your washing machine

Washing Machine Maintenance

If you take proper care of your washing machine, it should last you several years: in fact, it’s not unusual for a washing machine to last over a decade. Reaching that milestone takes a little care and commitment, though. So, we have a comprehensive guide to cleaning your machine.

 

 

Getting rid of your old washing machine

An old appliance used to be a nuisance to get rid of, but now, it’s never been easier to safely and responsibly dispose of one. Even a washing machine can be largely recycled, and we’re happy to take old machines off your hands.

If the machine has been properly disconnected, we can collect it from your home. Otherwise, you can drop it into a DID store. We have more information on our guide to recycling old appliances.

 

WEEE Recycling - electrical appliance recycling

 

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