There’s no way that you can live without a washing machine: it really is an essential part of modern living. But buying a new one is fraught with uncertainty.
Usually a new washing machine isn’t at the top of most people’s shipping list – until an old one breaks down, or you move house. That’s when most people get stuck. The following is a quick summary of the best washing machines we’ve tested, but you can read the full reviews via the links below.
- Best overall washing machine:LG V9 F4V909BTS
- Best budget washing machine: Whirlpool FreshCare FWG81496W
- Best premium washing machine: Miele WCR860
- Best mid-range washing machine: Hisense WFGA9014V
- Best washing machine for convenience: Bosch Serie 6 WAT286H0GB
As a result, choosing the best washing machine isn’t as easy as you think: do you need certain special cleaning modes? What about a large drum? How well does a machine actually clean? We’ve covered off a bunch of common questions in the text below.
How we tested each machine
We’ve reviewed washing machines at every budget from every major manufacturer, and in depth. We put every single machine through the same in-depth tests, which allows us to accurately compare models.
Unlike some other sites, we actually get the machines in, and test them with real clothes and real stains, in a dedicated testing facility.
The following are stain strips, which we add to a representative load of washing. We then run a full wash cycle to see how well the machine cleans them.
Here’s an example ‘test stain’ strip that is placed in every washing machine we test. It features wine, blood, ketchup, coffee, fruit juice and oil – it is placed inside every machine we test, and washed using a branded non-bio detergent.
Above is what a test strip looks like after a standard cotton wash in one of our recommended washing machines. Almost all the stains are entirely removed. There’s just a hint of oil remaining, which is normal given we use a non-bio detergent.
Here’s the result from a less proficient machine, one that didn’t receive such a glowing review. The oil is almost untouched, while the wine (far left), coffee (middle) and fruit juice (second from right) are still clearly visible.
That’s a poor result, but it’s important to know that there are cheap machines that wash well and do so efficiently. More expensive machines do typically wash better and have more features, but you don’t have to spend lots of money to get a machine that will do the job well – some models in our list of best washing machines cost less than £300.
For each machine, we also measured the power and water usage, which lets us accurately work out running costs and efficiency.
1. LG V9 F4V909BTS
A highly-efficient and powerful washing machine
It might be a touch more expensive than many washing machines but the LG V9 F4V909BTS is a high-quality washing machine that more than deserves its price. A+++ rated, this is one of the most efficient washing machines that we’ve tested, and we worked out that this is one of the cheapest machines to run, provided you use its full 9kg drum load. As well as being efficient, this machine’s direct drive drum means that it’s also one of the quietest that we’ve tested, too.
Wash performance, thankfully, lives up to the rest of this washing machine, and on our 30C and 40C tests, the LG V9 F4V909BTS scored almost perfectly, cleaning away our tough stains with ease. To top it all off, there’s an app for remote control, along with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant skills.
Fast to wash, ultra-effective in its cleaning and with some of the lowest running costs that we’ve seen, the LG V9 F4V909BTS is an excellent buy and our current favourite washing machine.
Drum size: 9kg, Size: H85 x W60 x D56cm, Spin speed: 1400, Rated efficiency: A+++ -50%, Special wash modes: Duvet, Allergy Care, Turbo Wash 39/59, TurboWash 39, Sports Wear, Silent Wash, Speed14, Delicate, Wool (Hand/Wool), Intensive
Read our full LG V9 F4V909BTS review
2. Whirlpool FreshCare FWG81496W
A well-priced washing machine packed with features
The Whirlpool FreshCare FWG81496W isn’t a particularly exciting washing machine, but it’s well priced and gets the basics right: it washes very well, it’s easy to use and it will comfortably handle its maximum load.
While some of its features are a little questionable, but there are some neat options. FreshCare+ helps keep your clothes smelling nice after a wash cycle by gentle tumbling them and injecting steam. This works for up to six hours, and could be handy if you start a cycle and aren’t sure when you’ll be back to unload.
Wash performance was very good, although the FWG81496W had a tendancy to twist things into a creased mess, which could make ironing a bit of a chore. Overall, then, this a solid and reliable washing machine at a good price.
Drum size: 8kg, Size: 595 x 850 x 645mm, Spin speed: 1400rpm, Rated efficiency: A+++, Special wash modes: FreshCare+, Big Items, Delicates, Baby
Read our full Whirlpool FreshCare FWG81496W review
3. Miele WCR860
The best washing machine that money can buy
Costing £1500, there’s no denying that the Miele WCR860 is one expensive washing machine. It’s not even the most expensive in the range, with the top model coming in at £2000. While it may be expensive, the Miele WCR860 is also staggeringly good.
Thanks to the TwinDos auto-dosing detergent, the wash results across the board were excellent getting even our toughest stains out. With that excellent performance comes some of the lowest water and electricity costs that we’ve seen, making this machine very cheap to run. That’s slightly offset by the high-cost of the TwinDos detergent (you can use standard detergent but the results weren’t as good).
There are 26 programmes to choose from, too; fortunately, a smartphone app and Wi-Fi connection help you customise and choose the right setting for you. In short, then, this is an expensive washing machine but it’s also extremely good.
Drum size: 9kg, Size: 596 x 850 x 636mm, Spin speed: 1600rpm, Rated efficiency: A+++, Special wash modes: Automatic plus, Delicates, Silk, Woollens
Read our full Miele WCR860 review
4. Hisense WFGA9014V
Powerful washing performance and some neat features from this mid-range washer
Although the Hisense WFGA9014V has a solid mid-range price, it has some neat features that punch above its weight. First, provided the water hasn’t been filled beyond the bottom of the door, you can open it mid-cycle and add items; it’s enough to catch the odd sock or item that has dropped on the floor. Secondly, you can use the dosing feature to have the washing machine tell you how much detergent to use.
What’s really important about this machine is that it’s a quality cleaner, removing most of our stains in a 30C wash; only the tough red wine stain remained, but even this had mostly gone. Impressively, this machine washes quickly, too.
A+++ rated, the Hisense WFGA9014V is cheap to run, although a little way behind the most efficient models in this list; however, the low initial price makes up for this. There are no smart features, but if you want a simple-to-use, effective and well-priced washing machine, this is the one for you.
Drum size: 9kg, Size: 600 x 850 x 610mm, Spin speed: 1400rpm, Rated efficiency: A+++, Special wash modes: Antiallergy, Down Jacket, Sportswear, Wool, Quick 20′, Power Wash 59′
Read our full Hisense WFGA9014V review
5. Bosch Serie 6 WAT286H0GB
An excellent machine for powering through washing
If you’re after a washing machine that makes it quick and simple to power through multiple loads of washing, the Bosch Serie 6 WAT286H0GB is a great choice. With its door that opens 171-degrees, the 9kg drum is easy to access and, importantly, load, even for larger items.
Then, there’s Bosch’s i-Dos system, which lets you load the machine with a load of detergent and fabric, with the washing machine choosing the right amount to use for each one. This lets you load and go withing a couple of minutes, making it a great choice for those that regularly wash. There’s also an app that helps you choose programmes and gives you the option to remote start a wash.
As with many modern washing machines, the Bosch Serie 6 WAT286H0GB is A+++ rated, making it very efficient, although a little off the pace of our top choice on this list. Washing performance was generally good at 30C, although a few stains were left behind, improving on our 40C wash. For homes where multiple loads are often pushed through a machine, this is a great and convenient choice.
Drum size: 9kg, Size: H84.8 x W59.8 x D59cm, Spin speed: 1400 rpm, Rated efficiency: A+++, Special wash modes: Down Wear, Shirts, Mixed Load, Automatic, Allergy +, Super Quick 15/30, Drum clean with reminder, rinse/spin/drain, Wool/Handwash, Delicate/Silk programme
Read our full Bosch Serie 6 WAT286H0GB review
How to buy the right washing machine for you
What size drum do you need?
Washing machines have different drum sizes. These are measured in kg, and tell you the maximum weight of dry washing that you can put in. The bigger the number, the larger the drum and the more washing that you can do in one load. Larger drum sizes are also useful if you want to wash more generously sized items, such as duvets. Typically, most households will find that a minimum of a 6kg drum will do for weekly washing; go for 8kg or larger if you have a lot of washing.
What spin speed do you need?
Spin speeds, measured in revolutions per minute (rpm), tell you how fast the drum spins. The faster a drum spins, the more water can be expelled from your clothes, leaving them drier when the cycle is complete. This cuts down the time that your clothes have to be hung up for, and can reduce the time needed in a tumble drier. Budget machines tend to spin slower. If you want the best performance, look for a machine rated at 1400rpm or 1600rpm.
What are efficiency ratings?
All electrical appliances have an energy certificate that tells you how efficient they are, with A+++ at the top and A at the bottom. The more efficient the machine, the lower the running costs. We work out the running costs of each machine, based on typical usage, so you can compare total running costs.
What wash modes do you need?
All washing machines will give you basic wash modes for cottons and synthetics, plus half load or eco options. If you want to clean a wider variety of clothes, look for the wash modes to match. Woolmark certification is essential if you want to wash woollen items; a silk wash is useful; and a handwash mode can save the drudgery of washing delicate items.
What temperature should I wash at?
All washing machines have a variety of temperature settings from which to choose. Our reviews demonstrate how well each mode performs, but there are some general tips:
- Washing at the cold setting (20ºC or below) is great for lightly soiled items and reduces running costs.
- Most normal clothing can be cleaned at 30ºC or 40ºC. A higher 60ºC wash is useful for very soiled items or to reduce bacteria, such as on towels or underwear.
- Some machines even have a 90ºC wash, which you shouldn’t need very often, but could be handy to run as an empty cycle to keep the inside of your machine in tip-top, bacteria-free condition.