How to buy the right washing machine

  • We earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.
  • We've listed all you need to know before buying a washing machine

    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?

    We've got plenty of advice to help you find the right model


    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

    Look out for special features to help you make the right choice

    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.

    All the latest from Ideal Home