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Washing machines are now generally thought to be an essential kitchen item for every household, and choosing a new one is an opportunity to upgrade to include features not previously available. However, the array of different products can be bewildering and take much study to be sure of choosing the product that fulfils all the customer’s expectations. Not only are many more operational features available, but also many energy saving measures have been added to keep running and environmental costs to a minimum. The following is a short guide to clarify some of the mysteries surrounding the ‘washing machine jargon’:
All Washing machines are graded from 'A' to 'E' for Wash Performance, Energy Efficiency and Spin Efficiency with "A-Grade" being the best in each area. For the best of the best - look out for "AAA-Grade" models. This denotes an A grade in each category. Wash Performance - An "A Grade" in washing performance is awarded to washing machines which give the best wash results and prove to be the most efficient at removing stubborn stains.
Energy Efficiency - An "A Grade" energy efficient machine will be more economical to run, using less water and electricity.
Spin Efficiency - Machines given an "A Grade" for spin efficiency will reduce drying time by extracting more water from the washing than other machines. These are the criteria used to grade washing machines, and this information will be available at point of sale.
However, there are other aspects to consider, such as the size of drum a washing machine has - the greater a washing machine's drum capacity the more washing you can do at any one time. Large capacity machines are useful for washing bulky items like duvets or bath towels but you should also be aware that washing smaller loads in a large drum would reduce creasing and make ironing easier.
Then there is spin speed - the higher a machine’s spin speed the faster water is extracted from your wash. This is an especially useful consideration for those who do a lot of washing as faster spin speeds mean less drying time.
If your wash regularly includes delicate items such as fine cottons or silks, you may wish to consider a machine with 'variable spin speed' as this feature allows you to select a lower spin speed to better protect your garments.
1000rpm 90 mins**
1200rpm 80 mins**
1600rpm+ 70 mins**
*All figures are based on a typical washing machine using a standard 5kg cotton wash load
**To dry in a vented tumble dryer
All washing machines include a number of programs and special features to help you get the most from your machine. The following are a few of the most useful to look out for: - Economy wash - reduces running costs by using less water, electricity and detergent Silk wash - washes at a lower temperature to protect delicate garments Light load/Mini load/ Half load - ideal when you only want to wash a small number of items. Hand wash - a gentle program to let you wash clothes marked "hand wash only" in your machine
Modern washing machines are available in two configurations: top loading and front loading
What type of washing machine should I choose?
Front loading freestanding washing machines are the type most widely bought.
Top loading models are not suitable if your machine is to be stored beneath a work surface, or if you want to stack a dryer on top.
Front Loading / Top Loading
Tests comparing front loading and top loading machines have shown that, in general, front-loaders wash clothes more thoroughly, cause less wear, and use less water and energy than top-loaders. As a result of using less water, they require less detergent to be used. They also allow a dryer to be more easily mounted directly above the washer.
Top-loaders have historically had the advantage that they complete a washing cycle much faster and allow clothes to be removed at intermediate stages of the cycle (for instance, if some clothes within a wash are not to be spun). Top-loaders also tend to be easier to load and unload, since reaching into the tub does not require stooping Now, however, many front-loaders can be stopped for washing to be added or removed mid cycle because the water level in the horizontal tub is still below the door level. Traditionally, top loading machines have tended to be more complex mechanically than front loading washers. Front-loaders feature a washing style that requires less water than a top-loader and today's front-loaders achieve much better washing results while treating the garments more gently. Front-loaders offer quick programs, which are in the same time range as top-loader cycles. Washing times for front-loaders are more flexible and some manufacturers offer programs which last just 15 minutes.
Front loading machines in general tend to operate more quietly than top loaders.
Built-in or Integrated
Built-in, or integrated, models are hidden behind a cabinet door as part of an integrated kitchen. If hiding your washing machine is not important to you, you will probably want to choose a free standing model, as built-in models are smaller and cost around twice as much.
Would I benefit from a large capacity machine?
Typically, most washing machines can wash a 6kg load of washing, which is ample for most people. But you can buy some with the capacity to wash loads of between 7 to 10kgs. This is useful if you want to wash duvets or curtains or if you have a large household as washing one large load is more energy efficient than doing two smaller loads. But remember, if you do not fill the machine up, you are wasting water and energy, unless you go for a model with a load size sensor feature, enabling you to put loads of varying sizes in, relying on the washing machine to adjust the water level accordingly. When washing delicates, such as woollens, you are less likely to make use of the large capacity drum. Capacity and cost are the main considerations when purchasing a washing machine. If intended for use by a small family, a capacity of under 5 kg should be sufficient (thus saving energy and running costs).
What are the most useful programs?
All machines offer standard wash programs like 30, 40 and 60 degree washes, which are most widely used. But some offer extra programs, like quick wash or freshen-up programs, hand-wash, delicates, extra rinse (see ‘Glossary’, below for explanations). These can be useful, for example, if someone in your family has an allergy to detergent, an extra rinse cycle will remove more detergent from your washing. However, an extra rinse uses more water, of course, so extensive use of this program will have environmental and economic effects. If you think you will find any of these programs useful choose a model that has them. But don’t buy a machine with lots of programs if, like most people, you only use standard programs as you pay extra for them. Some models allow you to tailor programs to your wash type by adjusting the temperature, wash time and spin speed, which can have the same effect as special programs.
What maximum spin speed should I choose?
Most models spin at around 1,200rpm. Models with higher spin speeds of 1,600 or 1,800 rpm will produce dryer clothes but they will be more creased. This is an advantage if you use a tumble dryer as they will need less time in the dryer. But models with high spin speeds tend to cost more to buy and are noisier. Variable spin speed lets you change the spin speed for different washes, for example to protect delicates from damage. This is useful if your machine’s default spin speed is higher than 1,000rpm.
What features make using a washing machine easier?
Models with wide doors that open 180 degrees make it easier to load and unload your washing. Models with a ‘start delay’ function will allow you to program the washing machine to wash during the night and finish just as you get up, which you may find useful. Alternatively, some models will wash and hold the washing in water, performing the final spin at your later request. This can be useful to reduce creasing if you are unable to attend the machine as soon as it finishes.
What is an electronic display or touch screen control?
These show what stage your washing is at and how long your washing machine has left to run, which can be useful. Some machines have liquid crystal display (LCD) touch screens instead of dials and buttons.
What is a noise level rating
Most machines are allocated a noise level rating which is measured in decibels (db) during the spin cycle. If you have an open plan house, or people especially susceptible to noise, choosing a quiet machine is a good idea – machines rated at around 50 db will be on the quieter side while those rated at around 70 db will be noisier.
Should I get a hot-fill or cold-fill washing machine?
Most washing machines are cold-fill only – where the water is heated to the appropriate temperature inside the machine rather than taking in hot water already heated by the boiler. This is more energy efficient at temperatures below 50 degrees, and helps to prevent clothes shrinkage, as hot water taken in is then cooled by the addition of cold water. However, if you do a lot of washing at 60 or 90 degrees, it may be more economical to get a hot-fill machine.
Should I use water softening tablets in my washing machine if I live in a hard water area?
Yes, these help prevent the build-up of lime scale on the heating element and inside the machine. You can also use less detergent with water softening tablets as they make the water lather more.
What maintenance do washing machines need?
Pump filters need to be cleaned regularly, to avoid small itemns or lint causing blockages, and reducing rinsing efficiency. You also need to wash the detergent drawer regularly to prevent it from clogging up. Wipe around the rubber door seal ring with light bleach cleaners or sprays. Manufacturers recommend you do at least one high temperature wash at 60 degrees or above a month to help clean the machine and remove any bacteria or mould that may have built up.
Brands that Leeds Appliances recommends
For your cheap lower end appliances Statesman would be a good choice as they are affordable and come with a 2 year guarantee.
For a Mid range appliance Bosch would be a good brand, Bosch also offer a at the moment we cannot sell Bosch over the internet so for prices please call 0113 3936690
For top of the range appliances we would recommend Miele, Miele strive to create appliances that are strong and last. Miele guarantees range from 5-10 years