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: Samsung QuickDrive WW6800 (WW80M6450PW)
- Best budget washing machine: Whirlpool FreshCare FWG81496W
- Best premium washing machine: Miele WCR860
- Best washing machine for build quality: Miele WDB020
- Best washing machine for flexibility: Samsung AddWash WW80K6414QW
- Best quiet washing machine: Whirlpool FSCR10432
- Best large capacity washing machine: LG Centum FH6F9BDS2
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. Samsung QuickDrive WW6800 (WW80M6450PW)
Incredibly low running costs, fast wash action and the ability to add washing mid-cycle make this machine stand out
The Samsung QuickDrive WW6800 (WW80M6450PW) is the pinnacle of washing machine technology. QuickDrive is built in, promising fast washes with great performance. We can safely say that this washing machine washes clothes faster than its competitors, and does a brilliant job of getting stains out of clothes: on the cotton programme, we estimated saving around an hour of washing time. This makes it easier to forgive the optimistic display, which always shows a very optimistic end time for loads, and inevitably ends up increasing the run time as the machine starts running.
As with previous Samsung washing machines, this model has AddWash, so you can use the small door to add extra items (the odd missed sock or two) to the machine mid-wash. That’s more useful than you might think and saves those moments of frustration.
Throw in low running costs, app-based control and very quiet operation and the Samsung QuickDrive WW6800 (WW80M6450PW) is the ultimate washing machine.
Drum size: 8kg, Size: 600 x 850 x 600mm, Spin speed: 1400, Rated efficiency: A+++, Special wash modes: AddWash, Delicates, Super Eco Wash
Read our full Samsung QuickDrive WW6800 (WW80M6450PW) 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. Miele WDB020
The innovative CapDosing system and great build quality make this machine a winner
The Miele WDB020 is one of the most affordable washing machines in Miele’s appliance catalogue, with pricing starting at a reasonable £650. For your money, you get an A+++ energy rated 1400-spin machine with Miele’s innovative CapDosing system, which makes it an outright steal.
In tests, the WDB020 delivered great wash results and was wonderfully simple to use. This coupled with its stellar build quality and spectacularly good energy and water efficiency make it a great choice for small families on a budget. The 20-minute quick wash is also a godsend if you find yourself needing to do an emergency wash.
Larger families may want to look elsewhere, however – the WDB020 has a limited 7kg drum capacity. People in flats should also be aware it isn’t the quietest machine around and could lead to some complaints from neighbours one floor below.
Drum size: 7kg, Size: 596 x 850 x 636mm, Spin speed: 1400rpm, Rated efficiency: A+++, Special wash modes: Delicates, Woollens
Read our full Miele WDB020 review
5. Samsung AddWash WW80K6414QW
A high-end washing machine that lets you add items mid-wash
If you think you’re immune to getting giddy over a washing machine, think again. With Samsung’s AddWash feature and app-based Smart Control, the Samsung AddWash WW80K6414QW has more bells and whistles than any washing machine to have ever graced our testing room.
So what’s AddWash, and why should you be excited about it? Simple yet genius, the AddWash feature lets you pause the washing cycle, open a small drawer built into the door and add small items such as socks and undies that you might have dropped on your way to load the machine. Brilliant.
Speaking of pausing, the WW80K6414QW’s Smart Control feature is just as exciting. With an app on your phone, you can start, stop and pause a cycle any time – and even receive notifications when your load is done.
Along with a nigh-on unbeatable estimated yearly running cost of just £33, a solid array of programmes and great washing performance, the WW80K6414QW is a great choice.
Drum size: 8kg, Size: 600 x 850 x 550mm, Spin speed: 1400rpm, Rated efficiency: A+++, Special wash modes: AddWash, Bubble Soak, Delicates, Baby, Wool
Read our full Samsung AddWash WW80K6414QW review
6. Whirlpool FSCR10432
A very quiet washing machine with great cleaning performance
The kitchen is a noisy enough place without the infernal rumbling of a washing machine. But worry no more, because the Whirlpool FSCR10432 is here to restore domestic peace and tranquillity. Part of the brand’s top-spec SupremeCare series, it packs in sensor load detection, water-jet washing, a gentle wave-motion drum, and a tumbling cycle once the wash is complete to keep it from stagnating. And its most important feature of all? Silence.
This feat is down to a new traction motor system. In our regular cycle tests, the FSCR10432 hummed gently along at an average of 44-45dB, peaking at 48db at faster spins. If there’s anything going on in your kitchen much nosier than someone reading a Sunday paper, you simply won’t hear this machine. Peace at last.
Along with its stealthy silence, the FSCR10432 packs in a whopping 18 programmes and a respectable wash. You probably do need to leverage all of these programmes to make the most of this machine’s performance. After being left disappointed by the machine’s main wash stain results, we had to turn to the Intensive and Bio Stain options.
Drum size: 10kg, Size: 595 x 850 x 640mm, Spin speed: 1400rpm, Rated efficiency: A+++, Special wash modes: Delicates, Wool
Read our full Whirlpool FSCR10432 review
7. LG Centum FH6F9BDS2
The ultimate washing machine: powerful, quiet, cheap to run and with a huge capacity
The LG Centum FH6F9BDS2 is expensive. So, why pay this much? The simple answer is because of the quality that you get. For starters, there’s the enormous 12kg capacity, which means you can fit in large loads and big items, such as duvets, with ease.
Next, there’s a direct drive motor, rather than using a belt. This gives the LG Centum FH6F9BDS2 a 6-Motion drum action, which improves wash quality and makes the washing machine very quiet. Then, you get the steam option, for refreshing clothes and killing bacteria, all backed up with app-controlled programmes designed specifically for different types of clothes.
Impressively, the LG Centum FH6F9BDS2 is super-efficient and has an A+++ rating across the board. With its excellent cleaning performance and all-round quality, the LG Centum FH6F9BDS2 is a great machine for those who need impressive results and want to clean large loads.
Drum size: 12kg, Size: 595 x 850 x 640mm, Spin speed: 1600rpm, Rated efficiency: A+++, Special wash modes: TrueSteam, TurboWash, Gentle Care
Read our full LG Centum FH6F9BDS2 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.