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Deciding which washing machine is right for you can be a bit of a challenge. But don’t worry this buying guide is here to help you understand all the different features and functions, so that you can find the right model to suit your needs.

Washing Machine Buying Guide

If you’ve never bought a washing machine before, or if it has been a while since you last bought one, you’ll probably be surprised by the wide range of different models available to you; so deciding which one is right for you can be a bit of a challenge. But don’t worry this buying guide is designed to be jargon free, highlighting the key features to help you quickly find out what choices are right for your needs.


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Size Drum T-Shirts Duvet Household Size
5kg 25   2 people
6kg 30 Single 2 people
7kg 35 Double 2 – 3 people
8kg 40 Queen Size 3 - 4 people
9kg 45 King Size 4 - 5 people
10kg 50 Set of curtains More than 5 people
11kg 55   More than 5 people

The total amount of laundry a washing machine can handle in one go is dependent on its drum size. We have created a table to show how much washing you can load into your appliance based on drum capacity.

  • The larger the drum size the more clothes can be fitted in a single cycle without overloading the machine.
  • It can work out cheaper, in terms of how much water and electricity gets used, to do a few big washes rather than lots of little washes.
  • Small wash loads can be quicker and better suited to particular types of fabric, such as delicates and wool.

To read about drum sizes in more detail, please see: What capacity washing machine will cope with my weekly loads?

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freestanding washing machine

When choosing your new washing machine it is important to think about how it will fit into your kitchen and what size and fit type you require. Typically washing machines will measure between 80 - 90cm high x 50 - 60cm wide x 50 - 60cm deep.

  • Freestanding washing machines are good if you want your machine to be seen and they're fairly easy to fit in as they just slot into a gap in your kitchen.
  • Built in/ integrated washing machines are designed not to be seen. They have a flat front and space to attach door hinges so they can be completely hidden.

When fitting your new appliance please remember it must be fitted in reach of a water supply in order to be connected. If you would like someone else to connect it all up for you look at our appliance connection services .

To read about more how your washing machine will fit into your kitchen, please see: How is my new washing machine going to fit in my kitchen?

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To help meet the challenge of different types of clothes and different stains, modern washing machines generally have adjustable settings to allow you to get the best results. Useful programmes you may not be aware of are:

integrated washing machine
  • Woollens hand - wash has an exceptionally gentle soft wash action and special spin phase that ensures all your clothes keep their shape.
  • Sports wash cycle is equipped to get your sportswear fresh clean and ready for your next workout whatever sport you play.
  • Baby cycle providing care of your little one's clothes by strategically tackling the toughest stains, including baby food, mud and grease, giving visibly better results when compared to using a standard 40°C cotton wash cycle.
  • Refresh cycle is a short programme that uses only steam (no detergent or fabric softener required) to help remove odours such as smoke or food smells or to freshen up garments that have only been worn for a few hours.

To find out more about the different programmes available, please see: What clothes care options should I look out for?

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The amount of time it takes to finish a complete cycle varies from model to model, and these times can vary even more depending on which programme is used.

  • Most models feature some sort of quick wash programme designed to get smaller wash loads cleaned as fast as possible, these programmes usually last between 15-40 minutes.
  • All models now offer a delay start/time delay option, so you can pre-set your machine to start at a time which suits you. This can be up to 24 hours.
  • To make doing the washing really quick and easy for you, many machines are equipped with sensor technology. The amount of clothes in the drum are weighed and the sensors determine how dirty the water is (and therefore how dirty your clothes are) adjusting the wash time to your individual wash load.
  • Select models also come with programmes like the reduced ironing function which prevents your clothes from getting tangled and creased, saving you time when ironing.

To find out more about the time saving features available, please see: How long will it take me to do a load of washing?

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spinning drum

Spin speed determines how fast your clothes are spun around in the machine at the end of the washing cycle, the faster your spin speed the more water is extracted from your washing, meaning quicker drying times.

  • To get the most out of your spin cycle you need a drum size big enough to let the clothes move around a lot.
  • You might think this means you should always choose the highest spin speed so your clothes dry faster, however certain spin speeds aren’t suitable for certain fabrics.
  • Delicate fabrics such as wool could be damaged by higher spin speeds, so always be careful when choosing your wash options.
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Energy Rating Chart

All washing machines are now rated by the EU to let people know how much energy is needed to run them. The energy ratings go from A+ to G with A+ being the best.

Select manufacturers have designed some of their top of the range washing machines to be even more efficient than the standard A rated machines. These manufacturers label these models as:

  • ‘A+' energy rated models will save you money by achieving up to 10% reduction in energy consumption, compared with ‘A’ energy rated models.
  • ‘A++’ energy rated models are designed to help you save up to 20% more on your energy bills, than ‘A’ rated models.
  • ‘A+++‘ are rated as high as 30% more energy efficient than ‘A’ rated models

If you are upgrading your old appliance remember ao.com offer a recycling service, whereby we collect and recycle your old appliance when we deliver your new one; for full details of this service please see our appliance connection service.

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