How to buy the right washing machine

We've listed all you need to know before buying a washing machine

 white washing machine and bucket with cloths
(Image credit: Future PLC/Jon Day)

Don't get in a spin about choosing a washing machine, instead take a look at our comprehensive guide on how to buy a washing machine. Before you buy, make a list of your 'must-have' features - large-capacity drum, hand-wash programme, and so on - before you get bamboozled by the choice.

The current trend is for washing machines to have large load capacities, high spin speeds and top energy ratings to make the washing process more energy efficient. To help you, here's our guide to some of the most important features.

Related: Best Washing Machine

What features are available on washing machines?

white washing machine and bucket with cloths

(Image credit: Future PLC/ jon day)


AAA or A+AA (for energy efficiency, washing and spin drying performance) rated washing machines may cost more, but are more economical to run and leave your washing drier.


machines are very popular and some even have drums that will hold from
7kg-10kg loads. Clever design means many models with larger drums can
still fit into a standard space. Don't forget, with any size of machine,
it's more economical to wash a full load than do lots of small washes.


Faster spin speeds reduce drying times and keep fabric creasing to a minimum. An rpm of 1200 is perfectly acceptable.


facility whereby sensors adjust the water intake, wash and rinse times,
and so on, to ensure optimum performance with minimum energy and water
use. A good feature if you have a water meter, or you want to wash


Digital LED displays are
usually straightforward to read and use. A 'time left to run' display is
useful and worth having. Delay timers mean you can set the machine to
start and finish when it suits you.


quote the noise level in decibels. Those rated in the 40s are
considered particularly quiet. Check the decibel level if your washing
machine is to be used in an open-plan room.


you only want a dryer for occasional use, a combined machine is a good
option. Drawbacks are that you can't wash and dry at the same time, so
may end up with a backlog. Usually drying needs to be done in smaller
amounts, but some can dry up to a 5kg load.

Special washing machine features to look out for

black washing machine blue bucket and cloth dryer stand

(Image credit: TBC)

Today's latest washing machines will often offer several useful cycles on top of the standard ones we are used to, although the terms different manufacturers use to describe them may vary slightly.

For example:

Hand Wash

For clothes that are labelled 'hand wash only' - not the same as the delicates or woollens programmes.

Freshen Up

A recent introduction to some washing machines. It basically rinses and spins clothes that may just need a spruce up rather than a complete wash.

Stains Guide

Siemens' latest models have a built-in guide to the right programmes to use for specific stain removals.

Use our product guide to find the right washing machine for you.

Thea Babington-Stitt
Assistant Editor

Thea Babington-Stitt is the Assistant Editor for Ideal Home. Thea has been working across some of the UK’s leading interiors titles for nearly 10 years. 

She started working on these magazines and websites after graduating from City University London with a Masters in Magazine Journalism. Before moving to Ideal Home, Thea was News and Features Editor at Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc and Country Homes & Interiors.