Looking for a new washing machine? There's a big old market out there packed with appliances all promising to make your laundry whiter than white. But which ones are easy to use, reliable and actually live up to their claims to leave you with consistently clean clothes?
How to buy a washing machine
Our advice on buying a washing machine would be this: carefully weigh up your budget and needs. Families will need a large capacity drum and rapid spin speed for instance. Then, once you've done that, go and buy a Miele. They're just the best.
We recommend the "mid-priced" Miele WKG 120, but all its machines are very good, with options from about £500 to over £2,000 - that's for the truly discerning and/or minted.
However, if your budget won't stretch to the German brand's admittedly rather premium prices, all the choices here will do a stand-up job.
In our experience, washing machines are one of those purchases where paying more really is worth it.
Not only will the machine itself last longer but because pricier models tend to wash clothes both better and more gently, your garms should also look their best for longer.
These are our favourite, tech- and feature-laden washing machines. You can get a perfectly decent washing machine for 300 quid, but these are worth the extra. They're listed with our favourite first, then the other options in order of price, from high to low. Happy laundering, suds fans!
1. Miele WKG 120
The daddy of sub-£1,000 washing machines
Miele's domestic appliances consistently top the reliability ratings charts of Which? magazine and this mid-range model is a case in point.
Granted, just shy of a grand is a lot to spend on a washing machine but in this instance your hard-earned wedge buys you a feature-packed machine of exceptional quality.
Let's begin with the TwinDos and CapDosing automatic detergent dispensing features. Not sure how much detergent to use for a given wash or can't be arsed with faffing about with detergent liquid? This machine comes with two large detergent containers filled with Miele's proprietary detergent (you can refill them with your own brand, too).
Simply open the bottom door and slide them in. Voila, you now not only have enough detergent installed for up to 30 washes but the machine will only use what it needs. Clever.
The Miele comes with a family- and fashion-lover-friendly 8kg drum and enough cycle programmes to meet any eventuality, from rendering white sheets like new, to gently 'hand washing' your delicates.
It even uses steam during the wash to make clothing easier to iron.
However, what really sets this machine apart from its competitors is the silence during operation. Really, you might find yourself checking the wash a few times just to be sure it's still working. A smart bells-and-whistles model for the discerning, well-heeled laundry fiend.
2. LG 6 Motion FH6F9BDS2
Hulking, 12kg-load brute of a washer
LG's model has a baffling quantity of features, but all Laundry Man needs to know is that its drum holds a massive 12kg of soiled rugby gear, it uses steam to remove 99.9% of allergens, the Turbo Wash function blitzes a wash load in just 49 minutes, it has six different washing motions, and it has a big control knob with lots of handy words written around it, like Sports Wear, Dark Wash and Duvet.
Oh, and you can operate it remotely using your Android phone and LG's SmartThinQ appliance connectivity system.
But that's not all. The LG's real pièce de résistance is its unique Centrum suspension system, which uses shock absorbers to soak up vibrations during heavy wash loads and spinning. And that means no more bits of plaster falling from the ceiling.
3. Siemens Avantgarde WM14U640GB
Premium model with features galore
Like the Miele, Samsung and Bosch machines, this features an automatic detergent dosing system. Simply fill the special compartment with your preferred liquid and the machine's intelligent sensors detect the size of the load, the fabric type and - though this is difficult to comprehend, the degree of soiling. It then trundles off on its cycle, using the precise amount of detergent and water required for the load. Expect up to 20 washes from each top-up. It's in the same kind of price bracket as the LG, offering more finesse, but a smaller, 9Kg maximum load. Your choice…
4. Samsung AddWash WW12K8412OW/EU
Tech-head's app-controlled dream machine
You know that moment when you stumble on a stray shirt that needs cleaning after you've set the washing machine off on its unstoppable course? Well there's no waiting for the cycle to complete with this Korean cracker; simply pull open the separate AddWash chute and bung it in – before it gets to the rinse sequence, obviously.
Perhaps more useful, if less high-tech is that the Samsung swallows up to 12 kgs of laundry at a time, but can also wash a small, 2kg load in 15 minutes flat.
Samsung likes to create new words for its proprietary inventions and "Ecobubble" is as good a word as any to describe a system that uses airy bubbles to help dissolve detergents more effectively. The machine's Digital Inverter Motor also helps keep running costs down by being more energy efficient.
To cap it all, the whole shebang can be operated using an Android or iOS app. Although quite why you'd want to do that, we're not sure.
5. Bosch Serie 8 WAWH8660GB
Feature-packed and decent value laundro-bot
Washing machine manufacturers are very mindful of wasted water and too much detergent being pumped into the drains. Consequently all machines are given an energy rating – usually signified by the letter A and a series of plusses – but some are better than others.
The A+++ rated Serie 8 uses two energy-saving methods: ActiveWater Plus and i-DOS detergent saver system. The former uses a sensor to control the amount of water according to the fabric type and quantity while the latter measures the exact quantity of detergent required for a given load.
Simply open a small hatch, fill up the reservoir with your preferred brand of liquid and let the machine do the rest. A single top-up will last for around 20 washes.
The Serie 8 also boasts app control, a 9kg drum and quiet running. So in short, it has many of the same features as its more expensive rivals. And that makes it a bona fide contender for anyone who wants fuss-free washing on a (slightly) tighter budget.
6. Panasonic NA-168ZS1WGB
Good value, yet premium, package with added steam power
What is it with white goods manufacturers giving their products model numbers like a BT Wi-Fi passwords? Wouldn't it be better to just call them LG Cobra, Samsung Spinmeister or Miele Matrix?
Picture the scene… 'Can I help you sir?' 'Yes, I'm after a particular Bosch washing machine but I can't remember the model name. I know it's white, if that helps.'
But, hey, mustn't grumble, the handsome Panasonic NA-168ZS1WGB is very well specced for the price and features automatic wash-load analysis and a 1600rpm spin speed for the efficient purging of much moisture.
It also has an allergen-busting steam function that can be used to freshen up a worn shirt without the rigmarole of putting it through a full wash.
7. AEG L79485FL
Good value, yet premium, package with added steam power
The AEG is a reliable, mid-priced machine replete with 8kg drum and a raft of features that help reduce running costs and protect your precious garments from too heavy a thrashing.
ÖKOMix technology (no, it has nothing to do with IKEA) saves on water use and ensures the detergent is thoroughly mixed before it's squirted straight to the heart of the contents, while the machine's ÖkoInverter motor keeps everything spinning smoothly.
The machine's OptiSense sensor, meanwhile, weighs the contents of the drum and adjusts the wash cycle accordingly.
And fear not if you have Europe's largest collection of cashmeres because the product also comes with the Woolmark Green logo which means you won't end up with a pile of jumpers small enough to fit Barbie.
8. Smeg WMF147X
Stylish, Italian vision in steely silver
If your kitchen's a paean to modernity and white appliances are simply not an option, consider this dapper brushed stainless steel model from the house of Smeg.
It has a 7kg drum – not huge compared to some of the monsters here, but big enough for a duvet. For those always in a hurry, there's a spritely express wash cycle of just 15 minutes.
The Smeg is pretty simply to control, though the jury's out on some of the unfathomable icons on its fascia, and the cheap-looking plastic control knob.
Other than that, the machine performs its washing tasks admirably well and has an excellent spin cycle that leaves the clothes just the right side of damp.
9. John Lewis JLWM1414
Good value machine from a highly reliable retailer
John Lewis-branded products can be a bit hit and miss but luckily they have one of the best return and refund arrangements in the business, should your purchase prove to be an unwise one.
However, you shouldn't have any complaints about this keenly-priced, A+++ rated washing machine.
For your comparatively modest outlay, you get a textbook, if slightly dull, washing machine: 8kg drum, supersonic, 1,600rpm spin speed and full gamut of wash programmes – including a 20-minute cycle for smaller loads. An inverter motor keeps it running relatively quietly, too.
In true John Lewis fashion, it comes with a three-year guarantee. Yes, at the end of the day, this is a rebadged Zanussi, but the John Lewis name and guarantee undeniably make it feel more 'hay clarse'.
10. Grundig GWN47430C
Affordable price but premium look and performance
Grundig GWN47430C Grundig isn't a name one usually associates with domestic appliances – it only started making white goods in 2013 - and this is quite cheap compared to the other machines we've recommended.
But we've got to hand it to the brand, which is German-born, Turkish-owned - it's part of the same group as Beko, owned by the really quite excellently-named Arcelik and Cok Holding.
This A+++ rated machine looks dead snazzy in black, and the two-tone control panel is extremely classy. It also comes in white, if you're a traditionalist about these things, and a stainless steel finish.
For what is, by the standards of this list, a budget choice, it's an impressive start, and wash performance is equally as good for the money.
Its 7kg capacity is on the smaller side but fine for a couple and a sprog. It's Woolmark Silver approved, and will sense the size of the load and choose the most efficient program for it.
If you're trying to avoid the colour white – not easy – and you're on a bit of a budget, give this washer serious consideration.