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It pays to do your research before you buy. From drum size to spin speed, discover what you need to know to get the best washing machine with our expert buying advice and Best Buy recommendations.
If you already know what type and brand of washing machine is for you, head straight to our washing machine reviews.
Here’s our pick of the top Best Buy and Eco Buy washing machine, including large capacity and integrated models, plus the cheapest washing machine to ace our tests.
See more of the best cheap washing machines from our tests.
For more eco washers, see our list of the top energy-efficient washing machines.
Last updated: September 2022
Join Which? to get access to all our Best Buys and washing machine reviews. We’ve tested hundreds of washing machines from brands including Bosch, Hotpoint and Samsung, but only the very best earn our Best Buy recommendation
Watch to find out how our Best Buy recommendations and buying advice can help you avoid buying the wrong washing machine.
Whether you're totally new to washing machines or looking for a replacement for your old one, read on for our advice on how to buy the best washing machine. We've covered everything from features to look out for to how much you should expect to pay.
Once you’re set on the size, type and features you need, head to our washing machine reviews to filter and find out which model you should buy, or find out which five washing machines have impressed in our tests.
Discover the difference between freestanding washing machines (the standard type), integrated washing machines (built in behind cupboard doors), top-loading washing machines and washer-dryers.
Freestanding washing machines are the most common type. They can be placed anywhere as long as they’re connected to a drain and a plug socket. They come in a range of sizes – from 3kg to 12kg capacities – and some models are available in different colours.
An integrated washing machine is designed to sit behind a cupboard door, so you don't see it when the door is closed. The bottom plinth panel of an integrated washing machine is recessed to allow for the fitting of a wooden kitchen plinth along the bottom of the washing machine.
Don't try to use an integrated (built-in) washing machine as a freestanding model. They're generally not as stable, as they're designed to be held in place by your kitchen units.
These machines are like integrated models but the furniture panel does not cover the controls at the top, so you don’t have to open the door to change the settings or read any displays. There are very few models of this type available.
These models are quite rare in the UK. Clothes are added through a lid on the top of the machine, as opposed to a door on the front. They're narrower than normal washing machines (about two thirds the width) and they cannot be kept under a work surface due to the way they open – unless you want to pull them out each time you use them.
The spring-loaded inner doors tend to be awkward. The force of the spring makes them hard to open, and the doors don't automatically line up with the outer door when the wash finishes, so you have to turn the drum to get the washing out.
When we last tested top-loading washing machines, none were good enough to be Best Buys. They were noisy, awkward to use and vibrated too much.
You might consider a washer dryer combo if you're short on space. But it's hard to find a machine that does a great job of both washing and drying. And it's worth knowing that the drying capacity in a washer-dryer is always smaller than the washing capacity. See our washer-dryer reviews.
Washer-dryer or washing machine and tumble dryer: find out which is most cost-effective
'If you need a new washing machine, it pays to invest in a good one – after all, taking care of our clothes means we can keep them for longer. Make sure you choose the right size of washing machine for your household’s needs, so you’re not spending money on a bulky machine with a drum size you’ll struggle to fill. As a general rule, the bigger the washing machine, the more it costs to run.
Our expert tests pinpoint the washing machines that are best at cleaning, most economical to run and have the least environmental impact. Head to our washing machine reviews and look out for our Best Buy and Eco Buy labels.'
Christina Woodger, Which? washing machine expert
We've found several of the best washing machines in the £200-£350 price bracket, proving you don't need a big budget to have cleaner clothes. But we've also found plenty of models in the same price bracket that are so bad at the basics we've labelled them Don't Buy washing machines. So it pays to do your research.
A machine with fancy features, such as the Miele AutoDose (which will measure out just the right amount of detergent for your wash from a large tank you fill you), will cost at least £800.
Our experts explain the easy steps you can take to potentially cut your laundry costs by £162 this year
You don't have to spend big to get a great washing machine. In fact, our top five best cheap washing machines include models for less than £400– they score better in our tests than some machines more than twice the price.
When shopping for a washing machine, pay attention to the retailer's returns policy. If you're replacing an aging washing machine, note that some retailers will recycle the old model for you.
Popular online retailers that sell washing machines include:
Find out which retailers are rated highly by Which? members with our expert guide on the best home and DIY shops.
Working out which is the best value washing machine involves more than just looking at the initial cost. On average, a washing machine will add £77 per year to your bills following the October price cap rise (up from the previous average of £63 we calculated). But running costs can vary from £31 to as much as £115 per year.
Running costs are largely influenced by drum size. And some of the most efficient machines we’ve tested are terrible at cleaning.
The energy label ratings on washing machines are meant to help you choose a more energy-efficient model. They go from A to G on new models. But the energy rating is calculated mostly on the 60°C cotton program. Our energy ratings and costs are based on washes you actually use often: 40°C programs.
Use our running cost tool below to find the washing machine that will cost the most and least over its life. And use the search bar to find a specific model or brand.
Bear in mind, though, that these costs will only apply until April. We'll be updating the tool soon with new energy running costs from April.
To find the washing machines that use energy efficiently, head to our guide on energy-efficient washing machines.
A lot of a washing machine's environmental impact will come from using it, day-in and day-out. When replacing a faulty model, buying one that is efficient is a great way of reducing your environmental impact, and saving you money along the way.
Unfortunately, our testing shows those that use the least energy and water often fail to clean well.
That's why we've started recommending Eco Buy washing machines. These are models we've carefully chosen because they clean well and are energy and water efficient.
To find the most sustainable models, read our washing machine reviews and filter for Eco Buys.
All may not be lost just because your washing machine isn't draining or turning on. Many common problems can be fixed by yourself or with the help of a professional.
Read our full repair guides to find out if you can keep your current washing machine for longer.
Any repairs that require dismantling your washing machine or fiddling with the electrics should be carried out by a professional. Choose a Which? Trusted Trader to ensure you'll be dealing with a qualified repairer you can trust.
Repairing will not only save you money but will also save your washing machine from the scrapheap, reducing the environmental cost of recycling and producing a new one.
Common washing machine faults - find out the fixes you can do yourself, the ones best left to professionals and when it's time for a new machine
When buying a new washing machine, you may also need to sort out what to do with your old one. Fortunately there are plenty of options. Every item that has either a plug, a charger, batteries or carries a crossed-out wheelie bin logo can be recycled, and that includes washing machines.
If your washing machine is still in working condition and you want or need a new one, you can sell it second-hand (more on that below).
Many retailers, including John Lewis, Currys and AO.com, offer to remove your current washing machine when installing a new one, although you will have to pay extra for this, typically around £20.
Another option (which may not cost anything) is council pick-up of large items. Many councils let you dispose of one large item per year for free, charging for any more in that year. Search your local council's website for large item collection.
If you've already disposed of a large item this year and want to avoid being charged for another item, you can take your washing machine to a local recycling centre yourself. Most of these will have an area especially for waste electronics.
In some cases, you may need to obtain a permit before dropping off broken items, so check this on your local council's website before you travel anywhere. Find your nearest recycling location (including stores and council sites) using Recycle Now’s electrical recycling locator.
And for more advice, see all our sustainable living advice.
When buying second hand it's worth knowing the difference between key terms.
In general, we recommend buying a washing machine new rather than second-hand as there is less risk of safety problems.
That's why when buying second-hand you need to ask whether a PAT test (Portable Appliance Test) has been carried out to ensure the appliance is safe for your home. Equally, if you are going to sell second-hand, make sure you get the washing machine PAT tested before selling.
Also check whether the seller offers a guarantee, particularly useful for third-party sellers and marketplaces, such as Amazon and eBay. This will give you more security in case the washing machine goes wrong quickly, or in case there is a safety problem with the product.
Buyers should also check if a product has been recalled before purchasing. You can use the Electrical Safety First website for this.
Washing machine drum sizes range from 5kg to 12kg. The most popular drum sizes are 9kg and 10kg.
Drum size is based on the number of kilos of dry clothing you can fit into the drum.
However, the number quoted usually only refers to the main cotton programs. Other programs have smaller capacities – sometimes less than half.
You'll find details of the difference in capacities between the cottons and synthetics programs in the tech spec section of each of our washing machine reviews.
Most medium-sized households in the UK will find a 7kg capacity machine perfectly adequate. Swipe our graphic below to see what you can fit in each different drum size.
The standard dimensions of a front-loading washing machine are 85cm high, and 59.5cm to 60cm wide. They are designed to fit into a space 60cm wide.
But there can be exceptions, so check the specifications before choosing a model.
The depth of a washing machine can vary quite a bit, ranging from 40cm to 70cm. Don't forget to leave 7cm between the washing machine and the back wall for the pipes.
Check to make sure you don't end up with a machine that sticks out from underneath the work surface or takes up valuable space in a smaller kitchen.
Use our washing machine measurements table below as a guide, but always measure before you buy.
|Drum size||Average depth||Min depth||Max depth|
Table notes: Source GFK washing machine data 2016-2018
If you're thinking of moving your washing machine, tumble dryer or washer-dryer into its own space, read out top tips on designing a utility room before you get started.
The spin cycle removes water from your clothes at the end of the wash program. Here's how to find the best spinner for your needs:
A machine with a good spin should remove most water from your laundry, reducing how long your clothes will need to spend tumbling in a dryer or hanging on a washing line.
Our washing machine tests have found you can’t always trust that a washing machine advertised with a high spin speed will actually be any better at spinning than a slower one.
And some fast machines don’t spin at their top speeds for as long as slower models.
We survey thousands of washing machine owners every year to find out how satisfied they are with the brand they've bought and whether they'd recommend it to a friend.
Washing machines should last beyond seven years without any problems, but we've found that for some brands as much as one third need to be repaired or replaced in that time.
There’s a big difference between how reliable the best and the worst brands are. The least reliable brands are six times more fault-prone than the most reliable.
Browse the top washing machine brands to see which washing machines are your safest bet for a long life.
Silver, grey, red and black washing machines are all popular and also fairly common.
If you want a more unusual design, such as green, blue or even a metallic finish, you'll probably have to pay more or go for a lesser-known brand.
Gone are the days of standardised box models too. Brands are adding larger portholes with coloured glass, sophisticated control panels and even contrasting colour door trims.