While all washing machines may seem equal, there's a lot of choice that will affect how clean your clothes are as well as how much money you can save. In fact, it's best to think about the purchase of a new washing machine or washer & dryer as one of total cost, the more efficient the washing machine you buy, the more money you'll save over its lifetime.
Washing machines This is what you need if you have a separate tumble dryer or you hang your clothes to dry. Most are the same size, so you can swap out an existing machine with a new one (or have it installed for you), but check the measurements before you buy. Some slim-line models are available, but they're only a good choice if you're really tight on space.
Washer & dryers Washer dryers combine a washing machine and tumble dryer in one, giving you the benefit of both in the space of a single appliance. Best of all, washer & dryers kick the water from the drying process out of the drainage pipe, so you don't need a condenser bucket or outlet as you do with a standard tumble dryer.
Integrated or free-standing Integrated washing machines are designed to fit into your kitchen and be hidden from view behind a door; free-standing washing machines are plainly visible. For integrated washing machines you'll need to have the necessary kitchen cabinet and matching front door - you can remove this from an existing kitchen or plan it if you're having a new kitchen fitted.
Spin speed This states how fast the drum spins in revolutions per minute. In simple terms, the faster the drum spins the more water is extracted from your clothes, the dryer your clothes when they're removed, the quicker they'll hang dry or shorter the drying cycle you'll need. 1,200rpm is standard, on most washing machines but you can get up to 1,600rpm.
Wash capacity The higher the wash load, measured as dry clothes in kg, the more clothes you can fit in one wash. This can help you save money, as you can get away with fewer wash cycles every week. The other advantage is that you can wash larger items, such as duvets. Look for 5kg or 6kg as standard, but 7kg, 8kg or 9kg are also popular, with 11kg the largest
Drying capacity In washer & dryers, the drying capacity tells you the weight of the wet clothes you can dry in kg. The capacity is always less than the wash capacity, partly because it includes the weight of water and partly because tumble dryers need space to turn the clothes over.
Energy efficiency You can save money on your electricity bill every year by choosing washing machines or washer dryers with better energy efficiency. All washing machines are rated from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient), with A+ and A++ the best you can get. Look for washing machines that are at least B rated.
Wash performance grade The entire point of washing machines is to get your clothes as clean as possible. The wash performance grade tells you how good each machine is, with a rating from A (best) to G (worst).
Special wash cycles If you have handwash, wool or silk garments that you'd rather deal with automatically, look for washing machines that have these special wash cycles. A woolmark-approved machine is best for wool. Look for similar drying cycles if you want to dry your clothes in a washer & dryer.