Need a washing machine – here is what you need to know (guide)
If you need a washing machine, there are way too many choices and options. We have narrowed it down to top-load, front-load and washer/dryer combos. Of course, there are a lot of variations on that.
Interestingly Harvey Norman lists 156 different brands and models – whew. These range from $495 for a 7.5Kg cheapie to over six thousand dollars for combos and drying/steaming cabinets.
Top-load – like mum and grandma had
I remember as a child my mum using a wringer/washer. I also remember her delight in the 60s at getting a top-load washer. These and twin-tubs were the only style of washer back then.
They have stood the test of time, offering fast washing, lower-up-front costs and are best for people who cannot bend over to load a front loader.
They have a vertical drum and a central impellor to agitate the wash. Many have simple time settings (longer the wash, the cleaner), but some have multiple programs. But these are on their way out with only four 10Kg models still available from $849 to $1649.
- Lowest cost to buy
- No need to bend over to load, although some are too deep to unload
- Simple engineering means lower repair costs
- Easy to add more items mid-wash
- Typical wash cycle is about an hour
- Price does not equate to wash quality – all top loaders perform similarly
- Reasonably energy efficient due to shorter wash cycles but need hot water to achieve that
- Don’t wash as well as front-loaders
- Most require both hot and cold water – more expensive ones will heat the water
- Can be noisy and heavy (especially those with cement block stabilisers)
- Harsher on clothes
- Requires a high-suds (foam) detergent
- Slightly smaller capacity than front-loaders
- Once washed, the impellor spins the water out, causing creasing and wrinkles but also leaving clothes appreciably wetter than a front-loader
- Generally, larger footprints and the need to open the top and requires more vertical space
- Don’t have a flat top for a workspace or to stack a dryer
Just as mum swears by her top-loader, I have used front-loaders since the 70s and would not consider anything else – if only for the dryer stackability and space utility.
All the new tech is going into front-loaders – multiple cycles (delicates, wool, tough stains, fast, superfast, active wearand more). Some have optional steam and IoT capabilities to communicate with smartphones or dryers.
Front-loaders tumble the wash – there is no impeller to tangle the clothes. So, they are easier on the clothes. They can also delay the spin cycle to leave clothes in water (reduce creases) until you need them.
They start from $495 for a 7.5Kg and go to $4999 for a 9kg Miele although you can get from 7-14Kg models. As a guide, 10kg is now the most popular size and can fit a single load of king bed sheets and bath sheets and accessories. So, it is suitable for a family of four or a very messy couple.
- From 7-14Kg capacities
- Starting price is about $500 but 10kg from $1000-2000
- Better washing performance (than a top-loader)
- Gentler on clothes
- More energy efficient
- Most can use cold water only wash and heat water if required (30-90°)
- Cheaper to run
- Use about half the water of a top loader
- More programs and options – you can even wash pillows, wool, stuffed toys and handwash items
- Higher spin-dry speeds leave clothes dryer
- Most fit a standard 600mm nook and have a top flat workspace for stacking
- Some have a hatch to add extra items during the wash
- Longer cycle times from 2-3 hours, but newer models have broken the 60-minute top-loader wash cycle barrier
- Can vibrate due to faster spin – need a stable floor
- Can crease clothes if you use too fast a spin cycle – avoid using over 1100RPM
- Need low suds detergent
Combo washer and dryer
CyberShack does not recommend combos for several reasons
- The washing and drying capacities are usually different, e.g., 9Kg wash and 4.5kg dry, meaning you have to unload half the wash to dry the other half
- Most use Condenser dryers (see our Need a Clothes Dryer guide) which means painfully long wash and dry times
- They have a worse service record and are more prone to breakdowns
- Use a lot of water
The only reason to consider these is if you only have space for one 60cm device. Otherwise, buying a separate front loader and dryer with similar capacities is vastly better.
The cheapies (<$800) include Haier, Solt, Inalto, Hisense, Beko, Westinghouse, Simpson and most are Chinese-made. A five-year life is all you can expect.
Mainstream brands ($800-1500) that Joe and Jane Average buy are LG, Samsung, Electrolux and Fisher & Paykel (no longer New Zealand owned – now owned by Haier and Chinese-made). LG and Samsung are your safest bet, and both compete on features and price. You can expect 5-10 years of use.
Upmarket brands are AEG, Ariston (Harvey Norman brand), Bosch, Asko, Miele and some LG and Samsung designer products.
Don’t be a brand snob. Some of these are Chinese-made (not knocking this, but the quality may not be on a par with European-made), you are paying for the badge, and usually a smaller capacity. You should expect ten years plus life, but we note that warranty periods are decreasing.
CyberShack’s view – Need a washing machine, stick to LG or Samsung front loaders
Unless money is no issue, buy a 10+kg washer from LG or Samsung and stack as large a vented dryer as you can on top.
Sure, look at energy and water use ratings. Unfortunately, these are a theoretical guide for washing a 3.5kg load in cold water (Eco mode), so don’t place too much stock in them.
While Apps, IoT and internet connectivity sounds good, you will only use this once. You don’t need this gimmick, so don’t pay for it. However, added sensors that measure wash load weight and AI to auto-adjust the programs are good.
Avoid combo washers unless you have limited space.
Need a washing machine