Spending a small fortune on major appliances is a big deal for us, and it likely is for you, too. Last year we had to replace our washing machine as our nine-year-old washer started to smoke and smell one Monday morning. It wasn’t the best way to start the week. We did a lot of research before purchasing our current washer, and I thought it could be helpful for us to share a few of the things to consider before you next purchase a washing machine.
As you read through our suggestions, you will probably notice that many points directly or indirectly relate to costs. A washer is a major purchase and will keep on costing you money to run so you will be wise to take these calculations into consideration. It won’t do you any benefit to buy a cheap washer but have it cost a fortune to run each week; that’s a false economy.
Before You Purchase A Washing Machine:
Most obviously, one of the main concerns when purchasing a washer is the upfront cost of the appliance (and don’t forget about delivery charges and fees to remove and safely dispose of your old washer). Have a budget! We had a price in mind, but because we were paying cash upfront we were able to stretch it a little and get a better washer that would be more suitable for us and save us money over the long run by paying a little extra on the sticker price.
Next, calculate the on-going running cost of your machine. You will need to figure out how much it will cost you over a week, month, year to see if it will fit your energy budget. The costs will vary depending on the cycles you use, too.
What type of warranty or guarantee does the washer come with? Generally speaking, the longer the warranty period is, the better quality the machine is, but you will likely have to pay a little more for a machine with a longer manufacturer’s warranty (you want the warranty from the company…not the ones that will cost you more money each year from the shop). You want a company that stands behind their work and respects their customers. Consider the cost of having to replace your unit with the cost of a longer warranty and make the decision accordingly.
Do you need a washer-drier combo or separate units? Our home is set up only to have a single washer in the kitchen, so we didn’t have to make this decision. But this time around we did forgo the washer and drier all in the same machine option as those cost a fortune to run, take hours, and we didn’t actually use this feature on our last machine for these reasons, and it never actually dried anything fully anyway. Your own living circumstances may dictate what you’re looking for.
Front loading or top loading? In Canada and Japan I had top loaders. ‘They’ said front loaders were more efficient, but since moving to the UK I’ve only had front loaders as they are generally kept in the kitchen in a space under the counter next to the sink. If I had the choice, I’d move back to a top loader in a moment…the front loaders get moldy very quickly behind the soap drawer and in the pipework where we cannot reach. It’s awful. And instead of a load taking just 30 minutes to wash, ours takes 60-120 minutes. What I could do in a morning in Canada now takes 2 days.
As I mentioned above, you may want to consider how easy it is to keep a particular model clean.
Noise level might be an issue if you have young children, live with others who work shifts, or if you live in an apartment. Our new washer is usually more quiet than our previous model, and this is something I researched ahead of time.
Look into the time it takes to wash a load of laundry on the setting you normally use. This can vary greatly. Our old washer took 85 minutes for a load. Our new one is about 65-75 depending on the size of the load (it automatically adjusts to the weight of the load).
Maximum Load size is also something to think about. Will you be washing duvets, large blankets, heavy work clothes. Do you have a large family, or a small one? We wanted something with a larger capacity than we had in the hopes that this would cut down on the time spent doing laundry. Our washer auto senses the load size and adjusts the program timing accordingly.
If you want to save money and not destroy the environment, look for these features in your new washer. Things like turbo or eco programs. But be sure to research what these programs do, how to use them, and how long they take to run. We discovered our eco program may save us a few pennies on electricity and use a little less water….but one load will take 2.5-3 hours! So that isn’t time economical at all. Because washers are one of the biggest causes of house fires here in the UK, (and our old one was sending smoke out the back of it which caused us to purchase a new one), I don’t want to have our washer running while we are sleeping or not at home. And I don’t want to be doing laundry every single day. So the eco feature isn’t one that we use, unfortunately. However, our friendly installer instructed me that for our particular machine, the best way to run it is on the turbo setting which will cut down load time and ultimately use less energy (although at times it doesn’t always get all of the soap out of the clothing). There’s always a balance to be played, isn’t there.
You may also want to look for other programs such as cleaning, disinfecting, cold-water settings, diaper wash, delicates, there is even a school uniform program available. You may have the option of downloading programs from an app to your machine to make your machine have just what you need!
Does the potential machine have child safety features? Does it have a lock so that children can’t open the door while the machine is running and cause a flood? Look into features such as these depending on your situation.
Don’t forget that you will have to dispose of your old washer. What will happen with it? Are you able to take it to a recycling centre yourself, or is the cost of disposal included with your new delivery, or is it another expense to factor in? Each store will have its own policies.
Following on, who will do the installation of your new washer? Are you able to do it yourself, or is the warranty only valid if a qualified electrician does the installation? Some home insurance policies may also be affected, so don’t take this lightly. We purchased our washer from a smaller, family-owned business and the owner himself delivered our washer, installed it (our home has our machine wired right into the electrics; it isn’t simply a matter of plugging it in), and removed our old machine for us all at once.
Without doubt, at some time you will need to have some sort of repair done on your machine before it needs to be replaced. Don’t forget to look into the ease of repair for your particular modal. Who can do it? How much do they charge? How long will it take for them to come out to do the repair? If you have toddlers you may not be happy waiting for a week for a repair man just to come out to see you and then tell you it will be another week or two for parts and another appointment.
And finally, of course, the actual design and style appeal of your new machine may be a factor for you. The colour (white, silver, black, red), is the door flush with the rest of the machine if it’s front-loading, or does it stick out (Phil told me this one was flush, but it arrived and it is about 2″ out from the front…but there are compromises that will have to be made in some way, and as much as that door frame gathering dust annoys me, I have learned to live with it.
And there you have it; our top 16 things to consider when purchasing a new clothes washing machine! I’m sure there are many more; share them below in the comments. If possible, I would recommend not having to make major purchases like this while the kids have chicken pox and you can’t go out and see the machines in person yourself. But of course, we can’t control these things and if there’s a bad time for something to stop working, that’s when it will happen; like our freezer needing replacing at the same time….