We are often asked, "what's the best washing machine" or, "what's the best washing machine on review" when ,to be perfectly frank, that's a bit like asking what's the best car or, what's the best camera?
The trouble is that washing machines, like cars and cameras and most other things we all purchase, are often not a case of simple, "what's the best one" but more a case of, "what's the best washing machine, for me?"
The latter question is far more important to ask that most others. But, in order to help you answer that and, we do it almost daily in the forums, you need to have a little bit of information to allow us to help you.
The absolute must have information are the following questions in order to offer you real advice that will be relevant to you personally:
With those questions we can start to offer some real world recommendations on which is the best washing machine to buy and, which ones you'd probably be best to avoid.
With the best will in the world the people that usually review washing machines haven't got a clue what's inside them. They are all too often deliriously disinterested and tend to focus on the features, the noise level or other things that are generally used a key indicator of performance. But that doesn't really tell you if the machine is suitable for your needs. What it tells you is what the reviewer thought of the machine in the short time they had it and, how it performed under the tests that it was set.
There are of course exceptions to this rule and some, but very, very few, good reviews of washing machines can be found out there, but usually from the people that actually own and use them.
So you can get a quick overview from the likes of Which? and some independent websites but, in the end, you have to decide what suits you and work out which washing machine offers you the best value for your own circumstances.
The best washing machines, it will come as no surprise, are the most expensive ones.
At the top end and the very pinnacle of modern washing machine technologies, design and durability are ISE, V-Zug and Miele. Move further down the scale and you do start to compromise on both performance and durability but you will often get added features that ISE, V-Zug and Miele completely ignore.
They ignore these features for several reasons, they are all too often not used by people after the initial novelty wears off and, they all too often introduce durability issues. It's this simple, the more you add, the more there is to go wrong.
Keeping it simple, clean and reliable is the order of the day with both these top end brands.
After that the best you can get are real German made machines or other flavours but, they are becoming increasingly hard to find as competition in the sub-£700 bracket is fierce and it's all about price. Because it's all about price cost cutting creeps in and Germany or any other country is very expensive to manufacture in. So, the washing machine may have have a German or German sounding name on the front of it but, that's not to say it is actually German or ever saw Germany. Most people don't even have a clue who they're buying from much less from where, you can find out more about who makes which brand of washing machine in this article.
Drop down again and you're into the realms of the mass mid-market. Competition is even fiercer and price as well as the perception of the brand name is everything. The better the name, the higher the price, even if it's got the same innards of many cheaper machines.
Below that, at about the £300 mark and under, you're into the real cheap and nasty end of the market. Quite simply, the best washing machine doesn't exist here. It never has and, it never will. For a normal family use you will be lucky to get two or three years out a machine without incident or a replacement being required as they are all generally rated for about 6-1000 cycles of use. The average household does 250-280 loads per year and most of these machines won't see their third birthday. You can read more about the durability of washing machines in this article about how long washing machines should last.
The cheap machines are fine for single occupant homes or people with a very low use but, for a family, generally utterly useless. The performance tends to be mediocre with normal washes taking two hours or more, reliability low and build quality not so great. But more about cheap washing machines in this article.
If you simply wish to buy the cheapest washing machine that you can, we can't help you, just Google it to death.
But you will be sucked into what we refer to as The Great Washing Machine Swindle.
One thing that's been noticed rather a lot is that often the person that uses the washing machine isn't the person that buys it and, as sexist as this may sound although it most certainly isn't, it's most often a female rather than a male operator.
Women on the other hand tend to like simple, functional design that's easy to use and easy to maintain.
The one piece of advice we'd offer is that, if you are a man shopping for a new washing machine and you want the best washing machine you can get, make sure that the person actually using it approves before you hand over your cash. It is very, very common for us on the service side to see problems that are not covered by warranty created just because the person that uses the machine doesn't like it and will "find" problems. You don't need the hassle and expense of that sort of simple error.
One of the largest is people not following the wash care labels on their clothes and getting poor wash results.
Okay this is the point at which, when you tell people what a good washing machine will cost and that will usually be the best washing machine for them, we get a sharp intake of breath followed by, "I'm not spending that much on a washing machine".
But stop for a moment and think about it.
You are buying a machine to clean and care for your and very likely your family's clothes. All of them.
How much money have you spent on those clothes?
If you add it up, for a lot of people, it will very likely run into many hundreds if not thousands of pounds worth of clothing you want to wash over and over and, you want them to last. So, a good washing machine that performs well in order to do that might just make a little bit of sense and skimping on it and buying a washing machine that isn't so good might not look like such a good idea.
Think on it this way, two pairs of designer jeans, a couple of shirts and a t-shirt or two can easily cost more than a bottom end washer to clean them in. We see it all the time, people washing more in terms of value in their wash load than they paid for the washing machine and yet they complain about the washing machine! That's called putting it into perspective.
The bottom line here is that, if you want a good washing machine and you wash a lot of expensive top quality clothing, special clothing for sports or just designer wear for teenagers that you don't want ruined, for goodness sakes don't skimp on the piece of equipment you rely on to get them clean and look after them, buy the best washing machine you possibly can.
Next you want a machine to last because, the longer it lasts the cheaper the washing machine becomes over time. The problem is that, until you start to hit the top end of the mid market you won't get a washing machine to last beyond perhaps three to five years depending on how much use you give it. And, that's the key factor here, how much use you give it. Washing machines are not designed to last a set length of time, more a set amount of use.
To get a good washing machine that is durable and will last costs money and there's really no getting around that.
In our experience the more expensive machines last much, much longer and will work out cheaper, perform better and give you less hassle so we'll always start at the top and work down, that's why.
In perspective though, per wash load, they will virtually always come out streets ahead of the low end or even mid-market machines.
On UK Whitegoods we collectively know more about washing machines and other appliances than a great many people because we live and breath the things. The guys on here sell them, install them and maintain them, they see them every single day and work with them every day of their careers. You might not completely agree with them but they will know much more about appliances than most people ever want to. And, you can ask them for help and advice about buying a new washing machine, figuring out which washing machine is the best for you or just about anything else you like by just asking in our forums.
We'd rather people did that and got some honest advice from people that aren't really biased other than trying to steer people toward buying the best washing machine for their own needs and, that's the important thing.