A Guide to Comparing and Buying Washing Machines

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Washing machine

Washing machines are a useful household appliance, without which we would still be washing our clothes by hand. Washing machines make our lives easier, but it can be difficult to decide which machine to buy or even if it’s time to take the plunge and get rid of your old one. Learn more about how to choose the best washing machine, the costs associated with them, and how to keep your washing machine like-new for many years, by reading more below.

Is it time to buy a new washing machine?

Washing machines are an expensive purchase, but sometimes it’s time to bite the bullet and get a new one. If your washing machine is acting a little funny, or making weird noises, it might be time for an upgrade.

 The age of your washing machine: The life expectancy of a new washing machine is around 11 years, but it’s recommended that you start thinking about replacing your old machine after eight unless it’s a particularly high-end model. Replacing your old washing machine can reduce water consumption.

 Check the warranty: If your washing machine is still new, but no longer covered by a warranty, it might be cheaper to replace your machine rather than repair it.

 Loud noises: Weird or loud noises coming from a washing machine usually means something is off-balance. After rebalancing the clothes in the machine, and checking to ensure the base is level, you can get a technician out to tighten up anything that’s loose. However, this might be a temporary fix and it might be more cost effective to opt for a new machine rather than continue to pay for short-term repairs

 Water problems: If your washing machine leaves leftover water in the drum, doesn’t fill up enough, or leaks, it might be time for a new machine. It could be as simple as cleaning the filter but call your technician to check for other problems.

 The cost of repair outweighs the cost of replacement: No matter what the problem might be, if the cost of repair is greater than the cost of replacement, it’s usually always a better idea to buy a new washing machine.

 Is it still being manufactured? If your machine is no longer being manufactured, it will be more difficult and expensive to find replacement parts and someone who will repair the machine. If your washing machine is no longer being manufactured, it’ll usually be wiser to purchase a more up-to-date model.

Choosing the best washing machine

If you decide it’s time to buy a washing machine, either as a replacement or for a new home, it’s important to consider the different choices you’ll have to make when purchasing one. Depending on your budget and lifestyle, different types of washing machines might be a better fit for you.

Different types of washing machines

While there might be different features available with your washing machine, the first step is to decide if you want a top loader machine, or a front loader machine.

Top loader washing machines are the traditional choice, and are still the most popular option for washing machines. They generally have a larger capacity than front loader machines, and often run faster cycle times. In addition, people with bad backs might prefer a top loader as they won’t need to bend down to load and unload the machine. However, top loader washing machines are usually less energy efficient than front loaders, but can be found in high-efficiency models (which are generally bulkier), and they are often noisier.

Front loader washing machines are considered the premium choice for washing machines. While slightly more expensive than top loader machines, they are more energy efficient and use both less water and electricity to run. However, because they use less water they do take longer to wash cycle. Front loaders, in addition, are gentler on clothes and use less detergent than top loading machines, which means your clothes will stay in better condition for longer.

Top loader vs front loader washing machines
Top loader washing machinesFront loader washing machines
  • 15-30 minute cycles average
  • Less energy efficient
  • Noisier during running cycles
  • Less expensive upfront costs
  • Can be more rough on clothes
  • Use more detergent
  • Cost more to run
  • One hour long cycles average
  • More energy efficient & use less water
  • Quieter when running
  • More expensive upfront costs
  • Gentler on clothes
  • Require less detergent
  • Cost less to run per cycle

Choosing an energy efficient washing machine

Energy efficiency is an important factor to think about with all home appliances, no matter if it's an air conditioner, heater, TV or fridge and freezer. Choosing an energy efficient appliance might make your upfront costs more expensive, but more often than not your annual energy bill, will be reduced when opting for an energy efficient model.

SustainabilityVictoria recommends you purchase a washing machine with at least 3.5-star energy rating, and a 4-star water rating, but aim for at least 4-star energy efficiency and 5-star water efficiency

Choosing an energy efficient washing machine can greatly reduce your energy consumption and how much you spend on your annual energy bill. When comparing washing machines for energy efficiency you’ll want to consider a number of factors:

 The red band: The red band of stars shows how energy efficient a home appliance is, from one to six stars, and some home appliances having up to ten for super efficient models. The more stars, the more energy efficient and every additional star on your washing machine could save you up to 25% on your washing machine’s energy usage.

 Energy consumption: How much energy your washing machine uses, if used once per day for a full year. This is often shown for warm water cycles, but might also have a blue band for cold water cycles. If two washing machines have the same star rating, choose the machine that uses less energy.

 Water efficiency: Like energy efficiency, water efficiency labels are on a blue six-star system. More efficient systems (meaning more blue stars), will use less water and therefore you will pay less for the water you use.

What other features should I consider for a new washing machine?

Washing machines come with so many features, buttons, cycles, and technology these days. Whether you want a basic machine that just gets the job done, or the latest technology with all the bells and whistles, here are some features you might want to consider:

 Hot and cold water connections: Look for a machine with both hot and cold connections, which means the washing machine will draw water from your water heater rather than heating it directly in the machine. This is far more cost effective, particularly if you have gas energy, are on an off-peak electricity tariff, or use a solar water heater.

 Cold cycles: Make sure your washing machine has a cold cycle. Most clothes don’t need to be washed in warm or hot water, and switching to cold for the majority of your laundry can reduce energy consumption by 80%.

 Load-sending: A washing machine with a load-sensor can tell how big or small of a load of clothes you're washing and adjust the amount of water used accordingly.

 Programmable options: Choosing a washing machine with a programmable or delay-start function can make it easier to schedule your laundry around off-peak electricity tariff hours, overnight, or when you’re not at home.

What size washing machine is best?

Washing machine sizes are generally measured in weight, meaning how much dry clothing it can fit comfortably at one time. Smaller households that require less laundry will do better with a smaller washing machine, however it can be less cost effective to be running the machine multiple times every day when a larger machine could run once a day.

How to choose the right size washing machine
Number of peopleSize of washing machineWhat the machine can hold
1-2 people4kg-6kg4-6 towels or 4-6 outfits (pants, tops, underpants, and socks) or 1 single-size doona
3-4 people7kg-8.5kg7-8 towels or full outfits, or 1 double or queen-size doona
5+ people9+kg9+ outfits or towels, or 1 king-size doona

Source: The Good Guys Washing Machine Buying Guide. 1 towel = 1kg, 1 full outfit = 1kg

Washing machine cost

Washing machines, like most major home appliances, are an investment meant to last several years. The cost of a new washing machine varies greatly, depending on everything from size, to energy efficiency, to the features it comes with. The average washing machine can cost an Australian household anywhere from $800 to $1,300, with front loading washers being more expensive than similar top loaders.

Running cost of a washing machine

The running cost of your washing machine depends on a number of factors. Everything from the size, to the energy efficiency, to what type of cycle you run (hot or cold), to whether its a top loader or a front loader, all affect how much it costs you to run a load of laundry. In general, however, it can cost anywhere from over $100 per year for a large 8.5kg washer with 1.5 star energy efficiency, to under $20 per year for a super efficient 3-to-5 star model of the same size. When it comes to the running cost of a washing machine, you can keep how much you spend down by:

  • Choosing a more efficient model
  • Washing in cold water as often as possible
  • Using a front-loading machine
  • Installing a dual hot and cold water connection

How to extend the life of your washing machine

The lifespan of your washing machine depends entirely on how hard you make it work. The more you run it, load it, or otherwise make it work harder to clean your clothes, the shorter a lifespan your washing machine will have. In order to keep your washing machine working efficiently, optimally, and for a long time, it’s important to consider the following:

 How often you run your machine: The life of your washing machine is dependent on how often you run it. The more often it’s run, the sooner it will wear down. Stick to 5-8 loads of laundry per week, and keep the machine full (without overloading) to be as efficient as possible.

 Don’t overload the washing machine: Avoid cramming large amounts of laundry into the machine at one time. It can overload the machine and strain the motor which causes the appliance to wear out faster. In addition, it can cause detergent to stick to clothes which, in turn, leaves them feeling dirty more quickly.

 Don’t use too much detergent: Too much detergent can cause buildup and residue which will force your machine to work harder to clean your clothes, leading to a shorter lifespan. In addition, your washing machine could overflow from suds.

 Remember to hand wash: Washing things like underwire bras, or clothes with heavy zippers, can cause damage to the interior of your washing machine.

 Regular cleaning: Wipe out the detergent and fabric softener dispenser after every time you use it to prevent clogs or build-up. In addition, make sure to deep clean your dishwasher once a month.

 Avoid mold: Mold is one of the biggest issues with washing machines, it leaves clothes smelly and shortens the lifespan of the appliance. Always remove wet clothes and put them in the dryer as soon as possible after washing and leave the door open for a while to allow the washing machine to air-dry between use.

Washing machine FAQ

How do you clean a washing machine?

Washing machines need to be cleaned regularly to ensure they work at peak performance. Without regularly deep cleaning your washing machine, buildup of leftover detergent, water deposits, mold, and mildew, can all build up and leave residue or a funky smell on your freshly washed clothes. To clean your washing machine:

  1. Run a hot cycle with two cups of white vinegar instead of detergent to remove and prevent bacteria and deodorize your machine
  2. Mix ÂĽ cup of vinegar with a quart of warm water and scrub the entire inside and outside of your washing machine with a sponge and toothbrush including inside and around the door, and detergent and fabric softener dispenser
  3. Run a second, empty, hot cycle without detergent or vinegar to clean everything out. You can choose to add ½ a cup of baking soda to remove any final buildup that was loosened before
  4. Wipe down the inside with a soft, microfiber, cloth

How much water does a washing machine use?

The average washing machine, according to Energy Star, uses approximately 19 gallons of water per load. For the average household that runs between five or six loads per week, this is approximately 5,600 gallons of water per year. However, more energy efficient options can reduce that amount to 14 gallons per load or by 33%.

How long should a washing machine last?

With proper maintenance and basic care, your washing machine should last you between five and 11 years. It’s recommended to replace your washing machine after eight years, with the average machine lasting ten.

Should I get a second hand washing machine?

While it’s usually recommended to purchase a new washing machine, in order to get the most out of it, choosing a used washing machine can be a good way to upgrade your much older model at less cost. If you’re considering a used washing machine, make sure to consider:

  • Where you buy your used washing machine
  • The brand and year of the used washing machine
  • Whether the machine is still being manufactured or not
  • The general working condition of the machine

It’s always advised to check that the used washing machine is in good working order before you buy. Make sure the speed of the spin cycle is good, there are no strange noises when the machine is running, no sign of rust along the inner parts of the machine nor any sign of leakage or damage to the outer body, and the condition of the motor is good.


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