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A washing machine is a pretty much indispensable household appliance, but sadly not the cheapest one. Ideally you shouldn’t need to replace a washing machine more often than every five-seven years (it used to be over ten but unfortunately this number has dropped in recent times), but when the time does come to get a new one what should you look for?

washing machines

There are a few different things to consider. Firstly, how large are the wash loads you tend to put on? If you have a large family who often wear jeans and thick jumpers then you’re going to need a washing machine that can take a lot of clothes at once. In this case look out for one that can take a 10 kg load or more. While smaller machines may be cheaper and a good option if you live alone as they will use less energy and less water, buying a smaller machine and overfilling it when you really need a bigger one is a false economy – overfilling will damage your machine and mean that it won’t last.

In terms of how long it will last, also look at how long it’s warranty lasts for and what it covers – some warranties can be as little as 12 months. Although cheaper this does suggest that perhaps the manufacturers don’t expect the machine to last very long…

What you wash will dictate how large the range of programmes the machine has needs to be. If you don’t get mud covered very often and regularly wear jeans and hoodies and that’s about it, then you probably don’t need a machine with lots of delicate cycles or extra soak options. This will save you some money. But if you might be washing a grass-stained cricket jumper one day and then a silk shirt the next, you’ll need flexibility in the wash cycles.

Next to the construction. Washing machines come in two main types: top-loading and front-loading. While top-loading machines tend to be a bit cheaper and mean that you don’t need to keep bending down to deal with the laundry (good if you have back problems), they tend to be less energy efficient and aren’t always an option if the washing machine needs to be part of a fitted kitchen.

The front-loading machines use less water than a top-loader (about one-third to one-half) which means that less energy is needed to heat up the water, and they also on the whole spin faster which means that clothes will take less time to dry. Other things to consider in the construction are; whether you will need a machine with additional insulation or a reinforced frame which will reduce the machine noise, whether you will need a machine which you can programme delayed timings into, and whether you live in a hard water area (in which case it might be worth buying a hard water filter for your machine at the same time, or checking if the machine has one already included).

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