With over 250 models available in 2021, it's hard knowing what is the best washing machine to buy in the UK.
They all look the same and it can take ages wading through specs to find one you're happy with.
To help people in your position, we've put together a buyers guide which will show you the things to look out for.
Pushed for time? Try our quiz below and find your perfect washing machine in under 30 seconds!
Be sure to check out our review pages, too!
How To Find The Best UK
Washing Machine in 2021
How Much Does A Washing Machine Cost?
Whenever you buy a new appliance you need to set a realistic budget.
The temptation is to always spend more, but you may well end up with loads of features you'll never use and spend ages paying for (or at least regretting!).
(And you should definitely check out our page for Cheap Washers!)
On the other hand, you don't want something that sounds like an aeroplane taking off in the kitchen and costs about the same to run! The good news is, there's never been a better time to buy a new washing machine.
Out of the more than 200 washing machines we surveyed, the prices ranged from just under £200 to £1500.
The average price was around £400 and 25% of the washers on the market cost less than £320.
Hopefully, this should give you some idea of the prices involved.
For less than £320 you'll still be able to find A+++ energy-efficient Bosch, Whirlpool, Zanussi and Hotpoint washing machine models.
Of course, the bigger the size and the more features and programs you need, the higher the price.
What Size Washing Machine Do I Need?
Washing machine drum sizes usually range from 6kg to 12kg.
This measurement refers to the maximum dry weight of washing it can hold. And of course, overloading the drum can result in drainage issues and potential long-term damage.
So what drum size do you actually need? This will come down to the amount and type of loads you're going to wash.
You can't stick a massive duvet in a 6kg machine and buying a 12kg machine for your elderly mother will be a waste of money and energy.
Hopefully, this graphic can help you with your decision.
Is Spin Speed An Important Factor?
Many consumers look at spin speed as an important factor when buying a washing machine.
Just like with pixels on TVs and digital cameras, it's easy to assume a higher spin speed is better – but that's not always the case.
A faster spin speed can help get your clothes cleaner and reduce both cycle time and the amount of residual water left afterwards.
But here are 3 things you need to know:
Some people buy a 1400 RPM spin speed washing machine and think it'll always spin at that speed. When they get it home, they're disappointed to learn that the average spin speed is closer to 1000 RPM. Programs for wool and other delicates will never use the higher speeds.
Providing it's of a good build quality, a decent 1200 RPM washing machine can match the performance of a 1400 RPM or even a 1600 RPM machine – and they usually have lower running costs, too.
Energy Efficiency Ratings (EER) are another way that washing machines are graded.
As you're probably aware, a washing machine uses a lot of energy to heat water. The good news is that the latest machines are around one-third more energy-efficient than those made in 1990.
The best washing machines today mostly have A+++ energy-ratings.
An A+++ washing machine uses around two-thirds of the energy of a machine with an "A" energy rating.
The EER ratings are based on EU directives and calculate how much energy is used for an assumed 220 wash cycles per year. These tests mainly use cotton at a heat of 60 degrees. 63 out of the 220 tests are half-load washes at 40-degrees though.
As with the spin speed discussion, there are other variables which affect how energy efficient your washing machine actually is.
Some things that affect this are:
Bosch Serie 4 - 7KG Vs Montpellier 7KG
Bosch Serie 4
So as you can see, the A+++ rated machine uses 19.5% less energy than the A++ one.
The cash saving may be small (based on 220 cycles per year) on your electricity bill, but water usage is also a factor.
The Montpellier model uses 10,337 litres of water per year, but the Bosch Serie 4 only uses 9,020 litres - which is 12.7% less.
(BTW you can find more reviews of the best energy-efficient washers here)
To decide which one is better, some features you should also check are:
- Number of programmes - 14 vs 15
- Quietness - 74db vs 79db
- Fast Wash - 30 mins vs 15 minutes
- Length of warranty - 2 years vs 2 years
Which UK Washing Machine Brand Is Best?
There is a lot of discussion on-line as to which is the best washing machine brand in the UK.
A lot of it comes down to personal preference, and usually people staying loyal to the brand they or their parents had before. As with any purchase, we always feel better with an established, reliable company.
When it comes to high-end washers, some brands people swear by (and not just about!) are Miele, Bosch, LG and Samsung.
For the more budget to mid-end market there's Hotpoint, Zanussi, and Whirlpool who have been in the UK market for ages.
As well as the more established UK brand, there are quite a few “up and comers” such as Neff (owned by Bosch), Beko and Hisense.
When deciding which brand to go for, cost will certainly be an issue as is reliability. For the latter, be sure to read customer reviews online and look for as long a warranty as possible.
Check The Availability Of Parts
A washing machine is a piece of machinery like a car, and if the worse does happen you'll want to know it can be fixed quickly and relatively cheaply. It's something people don't often think of when considering washing machines to buy.
You can find official parts websites for companies like Hotpoint,Zanussi and Beko online.
Which Features & Programs To Compare
Some of the main ways that freestanding washing machines differ are the kind of programs and features available.
The higher-end machines will have a lot of “Smart” features such as being able to control your unit via your phone or iPad.
However, a lot of people don't want a smart washing machine. They just want something that is easy-to-use and cleans clothes quickly.
Aside from the energy considerations discussed above, here are 8 bog-standard features you can check and compare your shortlist against:
If you have kids, chances are they will always want certain clothes ASAP all the time. Of course, many times this problem can be solved by actually putting said items in the wash, but I digress!
Many of the latest washing machines have a 15-minute Quick Wash feature. Some however only have a 30-minute Quick Wash and a small number don't have this feature at all!
When comparing different models, you should also look at the weight restrictions as these quicker cycles are limited to a couple of KGs only.
Another great feature that the majority of new washers have is a 24-hour time delay.
This is great for setting your washing to finish for when you get up or return home. Some models only have a 20 hour delay timer or less.
Extra bonus points are awarded for washers that count down the time (accurately I might add!) on big LCD screens. This makes it even easier to plan your time around getting the laundry done.
A washing machine is one of the few products you don't actually get to see or hear working before you buy it.
Many older models sounded like a cement mixer full of screws when they reach the high-spin part of the cycle.
Fortunately, great advances have been made in this area and the majority of the 2021 models are pretty quiet. Still there is a lot of variation between them so this is something you should check.
As a guide, the best washing machines create less than 60 dbs during the spin cycle, compared to others that are more than 80 db.
A lot of people would be surprised about the different bacteria that can live inside a washing machine.
The best washing machines have self clean programs which help keep things hygienic and convenient for you.
If you or your family members play sports regularly, then you should find a washing machine with a “Sports Setting”.
These programs are excellent for getting mud, grass stains and perspiration stains out of clothes.
There are also a few models which allow you to wash trainers, too.
Antibacterial Hot Wash Settings
There's a growing belief that you don't actually need hot water to get clothes clean. Whilst this might be true, the fact is washing clothes at 60% and above will eliminate harmful bacteria and allergens from clothes.
If you are buying a washing machine for allergy sufferers, young children or the elderly to use (or perhaps you work with food) look for models with anti-bacterial programs that wash at 80 degrees.
Especially now we are living in a post-COVID world.
Water Left After Washing
A lot of focus is placed on A+++ energy ratings, or 1600 RPM spin speeds, but another feature that is equally important is the amount of water left after washing
The best washing machines leave between 45% - 50% behind, compared to less efficient models which leave up to 60 %.
If there is a lot of water left, you will have to spend extra time, effort and energy to get your clothes dry.
Tumble dryers are also much more expensive to run than washers, and we can never rely on the UK weather to help out!
A child lock is a great feature every good washing machine should have.
Young kids love to push all the buttons and twist any dial that they come across.
There are now quite a few models with child locks that prevent programs from being changed and help parents keep their sanity.
Should I Pay Extra & Buy A Washer Dryer?
A lot of people are attracted to the added convenience that washer dryer combos bring.
Washer Dryers are especially helpful for people with limited mobility. Taking wet, dripping washing out of one machine and then moving it over to the dryer can be quite a workout!
If you're moving house, it certainly makes sense to combine 2 things into 1 and save some space.
Quite often, the price of a washer and dryer is cheaper than the cost of buying them separately, so they can make sense in monetary terms.
You do need to be aware that the drying capacity is usually much less than the drum size. This is fine if you're only doing half-loads and need something in a hurry. However, you can’t dry everything from a full-load wash cycle.
Also, washer dryer combos use a lot more energy than just a washer alone, and there are more safety risks involved.
Finally, here is a quick video from Zanussi which discusses all of the above points and more.