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How we test washing machines

All washing machines go through identical tests to let us gauge wash performance, noise levels, and power and water consumption. The exact tests are detailed below.

We use a dedicated test facility which enables us to run side by side tests if necessary, and we run standard tests across all machines. We plumb all washing machines within our test lab, connecting water, drainage and power.

We use the same type of clothes and material load of washing for each machine.

Our performance tests

Wash performance: into the regular load we place a test strip, which includes dried-on red wine, cooking oil, ketchup, orange juice and gravy. We then use a leading non-bio powder (or liquid if using an auto-dosing machine) and fabric softener for each load.

We test each machine with a 30C cotton wash and the 40-60 Eco programme (a standardised programme on all new washing machines). At the end of each was, we can compare the stain strip before and after to measure each washing machine’s stain cleaning performance.

Spin performance: by measuring the washing before and after it goes into the machine, we can see how much water is retained after the final spin cycle. We grade machines on the amount of water retained: an additional 29% weight is exceptional; 35% is so-so; higher than this is poor.

Energy and water performance: we measure the water used and energy consumption of a variety of cycles, from standard cotton at 40C through to any Eco modes that are available. This lets us see how the cycles differ and which ones are best to use.

From the default Cotton or Eco Cotton cycle we get our typical running cost per load, priced using average water and electricity unit costs.

To work out yearly running costs, we use the provided test figure from the manufacturer to work out an average cost per full load. However, we work out our yearly running costs based on a level playing field, by first of all working out an average amount of washing per household in kg, assuming 274 washes per year.

This lets us calculate high usage of 6kg loads (1644kg per year), medium usage of 4.5kg per load (1233kg per year) and low usage of 3kg per load (822kg per year).

Then, for each washing machine, we work out how many full loads it would take to complete that amount of washing. For example, a 10kg washing machine would need just 164.4 loads to complete our high washing loads.

From that we can generate yearly running costs, assuming full loads and the same amount of washing. In this way, a washing machine with a larger drum may cost more per cycle, but if used to full capacity can have lower yearly running costs.

Noise and ease of use tests

We measure the sound in dB of each washing machine. We take measurements during the standard wash phase, where the machine gently spins, and during the spin test, where full rotational speed is reached.

We explain how easy each machine is to load. We examine how easy it is to add detergent, pre-wash fluid and fabric softener. And, we carefully examine each machine examining the build quality.

We examine how easy each machine is to programme and how clearly its controls are laid out. We explain the wash options available and what they do, too.

Where we have smart machines, we hook each one up to our internet and use the provided app, and rate how easy that is to use. We also test with Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant if there’s compatibility.

Scoring and verdict

After all the tests are complete, we score the machine using the criteria outlined in the criteria mentioned here. We first check to see if the machine’s performance matches the manufacturer’s claims, and that all the features work as expected and advertised.

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