We round up the best washing machines in our bite-sized reviews and help you choose with our handy buying guide.
Unless you have a penchant for laundrettes, investing in the best washing machine you can afford is a wise decision. It’s not the most glamorous purchase you’ll ever make, but choose wisely today and you’ll have a machine which will pamper your clothes, tackle the toughest stains and last for years to come.
Heading to any reputable online retailer will leave you facing a daunting array of bland white boxes, each adorned with specs and buzzwords, but make no mistake: it’s impossible to choose the best washing machine by looks or specifications alone. That’s why we’ve put together this shortlist after extensive research, including our own exacting hands-on testing and reliability feedback from long-term owners.
How to buy the best washing machine for you
Choosing a washing machine should be fairly straightforward – but there are probably things that you haven’t even thought about. One example is the cost of running a machine: it may be better to spend more upfront to get cheaper running costs, saving you money over the lifetime of the machine.
We’ll take you through everything that’s important about choosing a washing machine and all of the key specifications that you should look out for – although, depending on your budget, you may opt to compromise on some.
What features should I look out for when buying a washing machine?
1. Energy consumption
Energy consumption and water use are the two factors that determine how much your washing machine will cost to run per year.
Each label contains a figure for the washing machine’s power consumption rated at kWh/year, and the water consumption in litres per year. Look for the machine with the lowest figures: there can be a significant difference between different models.
2. Drum size
Drum size is quoted as the total weight of dry washing that can be loaded into the machine. For a typical household, a 6kg drum will suffice, but a larger 8 or 10kg drum can be very useful. Not only does it let you wash more clothes in one go, it means you can wash larger items, such as duvets.
A larger drum will also tend to be more efficient, requiring less water and detergent to wash the same amount of clothes as a machine with a smaller drum.
3. Spin speed
The spin speed tells you how fast the drum is capable of spinning in revolutions per minute (rpm). Generally speaking, the faster the spin speed, the drier your washing will be when the machine has finished. Budget washing machines may spin at around 1100rpm, but look for a 1400rpm or 1600rpm machine for the best performance.
All washing machines come with adjustable feet, and it’s important to ensure that the machine is level when you install it. A wobbly machine will rattle about and make a racket, and other vibration-related problems could develop further down the line.
4. Special features
Each washing machine manufacturer has its own special features, designed to improve wash quality and save money. For example, Samsung’s Ecobubble technology dissolves detergent using water and air to create bubbles that penetrate and clean clothes more efficiently.
5. Wash modes
Pay careful attention to the special wash cycles on a washing machine. A Woolmark-certified machine can wash woollen garments, while some machines have special silk modes. If you frequently wear delicate items, a hand-wash mode can save you a lot of manual labour. Some machines have anti-creasing and easy-iron settings, which will make it easier to care for those items you need to iron at the end of a wash.
6. Display and ease of use
As washing machines get smarter and smarter, it’s important to have a model that’s easy to understand and use. It can also be handy to have a washing machine with a clear display that shows you its current setting and how long is left on the current wash cycle.
The best washing machines to buy in 2021
Beko AquaTech 10kg: Smart washing machine for under $1000
Price: $898 | Buy now from JB Hi-Fi
On paper, this Beko looks to be the match of much pricier models. It has a 10kg wash capacity which is great for bigger households, the design and build quality are superb for the money, and it even has Bluetooth remote control.
Washing performance isn’t in the same class as the Bosch Serie 4 below, but the Beko did put in an acceptable performance in our 40c Cottons test. That said, we’d avoid the quick wash programme as it really isn’t every effective at lifting stains, and the 60c Cottons programme is only marginally better than the cooler 40c wash.
Unlike some corner-cutting budget rivals, Beko is to be commended on including an emergency drain-down feature. In the event of a power cut, that may save you a lot of hassle.
At the almost $1000 asking price, we’d still advise most people to stretch to the Bosch Serie 4 below – it’s dramatically better at washing clothes. If you can find the Beko on offer, however, then it’s a great bet for a budget machine.
Key specs: Drum size: 10kg; Max spin speed: 1400rpm; Energy rating: 4-star; Wool wash: Yes; Delicate Wash: Yes; Hand wash: No
Bosch Serie 4: The best washing machine under $700 (and better than some above)
Price: $699 | Buy now from The Good Guys
This superbly priced Bosch sailed through our recent test, highly commended for both price and efficiency. Our testers were blown away by how well it performed, especially on the 40˚C and 60˚C cycles. In fact, it achieved better results than some machines at twice the price.
They were equally impressed by how quiet it is in operation. Unlike many budget-priced washing machines that use a brushed motor, this one uses a maintenance-free brushless motor that doesn’t whine when the drum spins.
Aside from its aforementioned EcoSilence Drive, the Bosch also features a mid-cycle pause function so you can add any stray items you forgot to put in, anti-vibration sidewalls to stop it from rattling the rafters when a full load is on spin, a full gamut of 14 programme cycles and an intuitive electronic dial with clear labelling.
Key Specs: Drum size: 8kg; Max spin speed: 1200rpm; Energy rating: 4.5-star; Wool wash: Yes; Delicate Wash: Yes; Hand wash: No
Bosch Serie 8: The best mid-priced washing machine
Price: $939 | Buy now from Appliances Online
If you’re wondering why this list has so many Bosch models on it, then the simple answer is that they’re really rather good. The Serie 8 is Bosch’s upper model and it does even better than the Serie 4 above.
It has a slightly larger 9kg wash capacity, and this combines with the ingenious i-Dos feature. Fill the i-Dos tanks with liquid detergent and softener, and it’ll tackle around 15 full loads before you have to fill them again.
Another big plus point is how quiet it is. It’s noticeably quieter than the Serie 4 model above, so won’t draw attention to itself during its spin cycle. Factor in the full complement of safety features – emergency drain down, user-accessible filter and so forth – and the fact it is made in Germany, and it’s a stunner.
Key Specs: Drum size: 9kg; Max spin speed: 1400rpm; Energy Rating: 4.5-star; Wool wash: Yes; Silk wash: Yes; Hand wash: Yes
Samsung Ecobubble: Stylish and efficient
Price: $1089 | Buy now from Appliances Online
Samsung’s Ecobubble washing machines have been great for running costs and now pack in even more features.
With its 8.5kg drum, this machine can wash a big load of clothes in one go, yet running costs are reasonable for high-usage households. Cleaning performance is very good, even using the ultra quick 15-minute for 2kg of laundry is reaosnable. Longer runs work better for tougher jobs, and when doing so you can add missed items into the cycle using the trap door on front.
To top it all off, it’s well-priced and not particularly noisy, making it a great value 8.5kg washing machine. It also has the BubbleSoak and BubbleWash features to help remove stubborn dirt.
Key Specs: Drum size: 8.5kg; Spin speed: 1,400rpm; Rated efficiency: A+++; Wool wash: Yes; Silk wash: Yes; Hand wash: Yes