Everything You Need To Know About Washing Machines

washing machine buyers guide

The time has come. Perhaps you are moving and need to finally purchase a new washing machine or your old washing machine has finally packed it up and gone to appliance heaven.

Lets face it no one enjoys doing the laundry.

Unless you have the luxury of buying new clothes instead of washing your dirty ones, then unfortunately doing the laundry is a task we all must do.

With so many choices out there this guide will help you find the right mix of features and wash performance to suit your budget. You will not only save time and money choosing the right washer for your needs.

But will leave you with more time and make your clothes fresh and clean time after time.

Let’s start with the most common question.

Top load VS front load washing machine

front vs top loader washing machine

This is usually the first question asked when searching for a new washing machine.

Before we move into comparing each design you must consider the space where the washing machine will be installed and most of all your personal preference of machine.

Stating the obvious both designs will wash your clothes.

However each design has its advantages and drawbacks so let’s compare them below:

Top Load Washing Machine

  • Faster cycle times
  • Larger capacities available
  • Can add more clothes mid cycle
  • Generally cheaper for the same size than front loaders
  • Uses more water and detergent than front loaders
  • Top loaders can be louder and vibrate more
  • Can create more lint due to the clothes rubbing together while washing

Front Load Washing Machine

  • Uses considerably less water and energy
  • Gentler on clothes leaving less lint behind
  • Less vibrations and quieter
  • Faster spin speeds leaving clothes more dryer than top loaders
  • More cycle types available
  • Cycle times can take up to twice as long
  • Considerably larger money investment up front
  • Front loaders can develop mold and funky odors if not maintained properly
  • Need to bend down to load and unload clothes.
New models are available from many manufactures that have addressed some of the most common problems with each design.

This leaves more choice for you, especially if you are set on a specific design or have space issues.

Samsung have designed a front load washing machine with a new feature called AddWash which is a smaller door located on the main door that allows you to add more clothes to your washing machine mid wash. The Samsung WF45K6500AW being a popular model.

Samsung WF45K6500AW

High-efficiency Washing Machines

With the addition of many manufacturers now offering High Efficiency Top loader washing machine addressing some previous disadvantages of traditional top load designs such as the Kenmore Top Load washing machine.

These new designs use less water, are gentler on clothes, quieter and vibrate less than the traditional top load designs with agitators.

HE (High – Efficiency) washing machines use intelligent sensors to only fill the tub with the exact amount of water required reducing water wastage using only 50% of water than traditional top loading washing machines.

HE washing machines have done away with the agitator (that plastic rod in the center of the wash tub that extends from the bottom to the top) of traditional top loader washing machines. This gives you a higher wash capacity for the same physical size as traditional top load washing machines.

agitator impeller

Some other advantages of HE top load washing machines:

  • Faster spin speed than traditional top load washing machines, close to the spin speeds of front load washing machines, leaving your clothes dryer.
  • More advanced cycle options than traditional top load washing machines.
  • Gentler on your clothes as the agitator has been replaced with a lower-profile impeller.

There are some minor drawbacks with HE top load washing machines. The main being the higher initial purchase cost compared to traditional top load washing machines.

Also more routine maintenance needs to be carried out to keep your HE top load washing machine running in tip top condition.

If purchasing a High Efficiency Top Load washing machine you will need to use a HE (High – Efficiency) detergent as the amount of suds needed is less than a traditional top load washing machine.

front loader washing machine pedestal

Also available are pedestal stands for front load washing machines which bring them up from the floor requiring less bending to load and unload your clothes. Most also offer additional storage in the stand to store washing powder and other laundry chemicals.

There are a few other types of machines available such as 2 in 1 combo washer dryers for the space conscious buyer.

2 in 1 washer dryer combosWestland Splendide WD2100XC

A relatively new design manufacturers have started offering are combo washer dryers.

These combos are designed and appear as front load type washing machines. They have a built in heating / dryer element which allows you to both wash and dry your clothes in one convenient machine.  

2 in 1 washer dryer combos are perfect for consumers who have limited installation space or are busy and need a machine that will automatically dry their clothes after the wash cycle has completed.

However there are some disadvantages that need to be mentioned before considering a combo washer dryer

  • Wash and dry cycles can take a considerable amount of time up to 6 hours to complete
  • Limited range of capacities available
  • Clothes generally are still a bit damp after the drying cycle has finished compared to a traditional dryer.
apartment washing machine

If you live in an apartment with no laundry or you only have room for one machine but require a dryer, 2 in 1 washer dryer combos are a perfect solution to your needs.

In small homes seeing a combo washing machine in the kitchen is a normal sight. As there are water, power and drainage connections available near by and without a laundry is the next suitable location for installation.

The Westland Splendide WD2100XC is our pick in our Best Washing Machines Buyer’s Guide.

Twin Tub Washing Machines

Giantex Twin Tub

If you’re in the market for a new washing machine a Twin Tub one may be tempting. The Twin Tub design was very popular in the 1960’s and offers some advantages over the newer automatic designs.

Due to the Twin Tub washing machines particular design they are more suited to certain homes than others.

Twin tub washing machines are cheaper than their top and front loader counterparts. Offer precise water usage and are generally more reliable due to their simpler design.

If you live in a drought-prone area or have water restrictions Twin Tub washing machines offer a way to use less water as you can manually fill the machine with water and also you can recycle the water once the wash cycle is finished.

Twin Tub washing machines are also very popular with consumers who work in industries and trades that are considered to make your clothes much more dirtier such as landscapers, labourers and mechanics.

These washing machines are sometimes used to pre wash the majority of dirt and grime from clothes before they are placed with other clothes in an automatic washing machine.

Twin Tub washing machines are cheaper than their larger automatic counterparts and are great for budget conscious buyers.

Also most portable washing machines are Twin Tub’s due to their simplistic design, low power and water consumption. If you are looking to travel in an RV or equivalent and need a washing machine with you Twin Tub washing machines are a perfect solution.

The Twin Tub washing machines advantages may also be its disadvantage.

Due to the design of Twin Tub washing machines they are much more of a manual machine.

As the name suggests you have one tub on the left used to wash the clothes and another tub on the right which spins the clothes.

Also you must manually move the clothes from one tub to the other. Most Twin tub machines also have to be filled manually with water and drained manually.

If you want to avoid the extra work involved with a Twin Tub washing machine then this design may not be suited for you.

Washer dryer pairs

washer dryer pairs

With the best in style and function washer and dryer combos offer a perfect solution.

There a many options available that come as a vertically stacked space saver unit such as the GE Spacemaker which can fit in smaller laundries. All the way to the top of the line Electrolux Laundry Pair washer dryer pair which come in a Titanium finish.  


The main advantage to washer dryer combos is they allow you to wash and dry your clothes at the same time.

Because let’s admit it you would rather be spending more time doing something you enjoy than doing the laundry.

Being separate units washer dryer combos are perfect at their jobs. Unlike 2 in 1 combo units which are more a jack of all trades but master of none.

For example you clothes will come out cupboard dry from your dryer compared to still damp from a 2 in 1 washer dryer combo.

Also available are stacking kits (amz link) allowing you to place a dryer on top of a front loader washing machine freeing up more space in your laundry.

This also gives you more freedom when you decide to add a dryer to your laundry allowing you to mix and match brands to better suit your needs.

You must also keep in mind that side by side washer dry combos do take up more room in your laundry and are also much more expensive.

Steam washing machines


In the late 90’s LG introduced the first steam washing machine to the market. Since then many manufactures such as Kenmore and Electrolux have released their own versions.

But what are the benefits of steam washing machines?

As the name implies Steam washing machines heats water to 212 degrees and releases the steam into the washing machine.

Steam will actually sanitize your clothes, reduces allergens and help the detergent penetrate tougher stains.

Steam allows the washer to reach temperatures normal washers can not to lessen allergens such as pollen and dust mites and help against people with pet allergies.

Also for consumers who hate ironing, steam washing machines help soften the fabric in your clothes leaving less wrinkles than traditional washing machines.

However steam washing machines are more expensive than equivalent washing machines of the same size.

If sanitizing your clothes and reducing allergens is your top priority than steam washing machines are well worth the extra investment.

Colors and finishes

black red gold washers

With the explosion of home renovation and home designer trends of recent, Manufacturers have started to offer a much wider selection of colors and finishes to their washers.

Deciding on the color and finish may reduce the number and type of washing machines to suit your needs.

From the traditional white washing machine other choices now include:

  • Silver
  • Black
  • Red
  • Gold

And some combinations in between, Also finishes such as stainless steel are on offer.

Now you can match your washing machine to your homes decor.

Size and capacity

sizes capacities

By now you have a good idea on the type of washing machine you are looking at purchasing.

With the various number of sizes available how do you know which size suits you best?

Physical size

Ultimately the space you want to install your washing machine will determine the washing capacity of your new washer. The larger the installation area the bigger the washing capacity you can fit.

Measure the area in which your washing machine will be installed.

Remember to leave at least 1 inch on each side and 3 inches on the rear to allow for water inlet hoses and drain hoses.

Also make sure there is enough room above the machine to open the door on top loading washing machines and there is enough room in front of the machine for front loading washing machines.

Washing Capacity

Understanding the right washing capacity for you and your families needs are an important factor.

The average washing capacity of the typical washing machine is 4.5 cu.ft or 6 to 7kg. This washing capacity is typically enough for the average family of 4.

If you there are fewer people in the household opt for a smaller machine.

Don’t fall for the trap of choosing a smaller machine because it is cheaper. You will end up doing more loads consuming more detergent, water and electricity.

Also as washing machines typically last for a few years plan ahead if you are going to expand your family and choose a larger washing machine to accommodate.

Below is a guide for determining different washing capacities

Small Medium Large
small washing machine medium washing machine large washing machine
1-2 people 3-4 people 5+ people
4 or less cu ft / 8 – 12 pounds 4 – 4.5 cu ft / 12 – 16 pounds 4.6 + cu ft / 17 – 24 pounds
Each load can wash approx Each load can wash approx Each load can wash approx
4-6 towels OR  7-8 towels OR 9+ towels OR
4-6 clothing items (tops, pants, shirts) OR  4-6 clothing items (tops, pants, shirts) OR 4-6 clothing items (tops, pants, shirts) OR
1 single size quilt 1 double or queen size quilt 1 king size quilt

Water and Energy efficiency

There is a wide variance to the amount of water and energy a washing machine consumes.

It is always a good idea to consider the efficiency of each washing machine to determine its ongoing running costs.

The price difference between a cheap and more expensive machine may be minuscule when you take into account the yearly running costs and life of the machine.

In the America the ENERGY STAR rating of appliances determine the Energy Efficiency of appliances .

You will save more money by choosing a washing machine with a high integrated Modified Energy Factor (IMEF), and one that consumes less water by having a low Integrated Water Factor (IWF).

Additional features

control panel

Having many additional features and setting may be more confusing but it will also offer you more flexibility. Leaving your clothes cleaner and increasing their longevity.

Faster spin speeds allow your clothes to come out dryer at the end of the wash cycle.

Useful washing cycles vary for each machine some examples such as bedding, woolens and delicates are useful as well options for fast washes for less soiled clothes.

Top of the line models also offer fully automatic cycles allowing the washing machine to select the right type of cycle and water level with its various sensors.

Other features to consider

  • Refresh cycle – refreshes your clothes without the need for detergent
  • Additional damping systems – reduces the noise of the machine allowing you to wash at any time of the day.
  • Stainless steel tub – Increased durability increasing the life of your washing machine
  • LCD display – Easier to adjust settings and view were your clothes are in the washing cycle
  • WiFi enabled – Allows you to use your smartphone to remotely control your washing machine and helps in troubleshooting
  • Auto lock function – Preventing the door from opening mid cycle
  • Tub Clean – Helps in cleaning your washing machine and increasing its lifespan


moving washer

Another important factor to consider when choosing your washing machine is where it will be installed.

Obviously make sure your new washing machine will fit.

If you are installing your washing machine yourself make sure to leave enough room around the washing machine. Also only install the washing machine on a flat surface.

Washing machines are heavy and will vibrate so they need to remain steady to re distribute the weight of the clothes in the tub.

Most washing machines have adjustable feet to account for the drainage fall in laundries.

Make sure you spend enough time leveling your washing machine properly. Some washing machines have built in spirit levels to help aid you.

Levelling the machine now can help avert many problems later on down the track including less vibrations, increasing the life of the machine. Also some machines will stop and throw an error code if the machine isn’t leveled properly.

You could damage your new washing machine if you don’t remove the transit bolts from your front loading washing machine or the bowl straps underneath your top loader washing machine before using.

You can find the instructions on how to remove them in your washing machines installation instructions.

If you don’t remove them you could damage your new washing machine and the manufactures warranty doesn’t cover damage to your washing machine from incorrect installation

Installation types

There are a few different ways you can install your washing machine. This will depend on your space and type of washing machine you have. Below are the most common type of installations.

Side by side – Your washer and dryer are positioned next to each other making it easier to transfer clothes from one to the other.

side by side install


Side by side with pedestals – Front load washing machine combos may also be installed with a pedestal for extra storage.

side by side pedestal 

Wall mounted – With the addition of a bracket you can wall mount your dryer to save floor space in your laundry (only advisable to wall mount dryers).

stacked dryer

Stacked – With the use of a stacking kit you can place a dryer on top of a front loading washing machine. Also vertical stacked combos are designed this way for top loading washing machines and dryers.

stacked front combo
stacked top combo

Installation considerations

I bought a new washing machine but I had to exchange it for a smaller one because I couldn’t get it in my house

doorway measurement

This is an easily overlooked factor some people make. Meaning you will have to exchange your new washing machine and more than not incur a restocking fee.

To make your purchase experience a more smoother one. Plan out the route you will take when moving your new washing machine to its installation space.

Measure any door ways that need to be navigated and corners that need to be turned to make sure your new washing machine can safely make its journey into its new spot.

Always allow at minimum ½ inch on each sides of the washing machine when measuring door ways.

Also make sure tap connections and a drainage allocation for your washing machine are nearby.

There are water connection hoses and drainage hoses available if the standard ones included are not long enough.

Also for your well being consider if you need help moving the washing machine. Front loader washing machines are heavier than top loaders typically weighing about 130 lbs.

You need to consider if you only have a cold water outlet nearby your installation spot. Some washing machines require a hot water outlet for all the cycles and functions of your washing machine to work.

This can limit your options when selecting your new washing machine.

However some front load washing machines have a built in water heating element and only require a cold water inlet.


It is important to maintain and keep your washing machine in working condition.

Helping your clothes constantly coming out clean and fresh as well as increasing the life of your washing machine.

cleaning washing machine

It is paramount to clean your washing machine about once a month. It helps remove build up of detergent and washing soils which can cause your machine to have foul odours, mould or mildew.

Some washing machines will remind you when it is time to clean it.

If your washing machines doesn’t have a tub clean option you can run it on a heavy cycle with the hottest water option selected and if desired add a cup of chlorine bleach. Don’t add any laundry when cleaning your washing machine.

There are many commercial cleaning solutions that you can also use to clean your washing machine such as Affresh Washing Machine Cleaner Tablets which you simply add to your washer on an empty load making the process fast and easy.

To help prevent funky odors in your machine it is always good practice to leave the door ajar once you have finished your laundry. This allows the tub to dry out fully preventing mould and moisture accumulating. If you have kids at home make sure to lock the laundry door.

Also don’t forget to remove the detergent tray (most have a small clip you need to press to remove it) and clean any accumulated washing powder or fabric softener out.

It is also good practice to remove and clean the filters in your washing machine every so often from lint and built up debris. Read your washing machines instruction manual on where to locate and clean your lint filters. 


filling washing machine detergent

Just as important as choosing the right washing machine is the detergent you use. The best detergents will help remove tough stains and spills. Washing detergent amounts to about half the cost of running your washing machine so it pays to choose the right type.

The choices of detergent are numerous and often just as confusing as deciding which washing machine to buy. The type of washing machine, hot or cold washes, type of laundry you are washing and detergent can affect the outcome of how clean your cloths come out from your washing machine.

There are many scents, features such as oxygen boosts and allergen sensitive detergents. However we will be talking about different types of detergents, Liquid and Powder.

The main advantage of powdered detergent is the cost. It is cheaper than liquid and is simpler to measure when adding to your washing machine.

Powdered detergent also performs slightly better in removing stains and gives a superior clean.

The main drawback of using powder is sometimes depending on the temperature of the wash cycle can leave undissolved powder on your clothes after your washing machine has finished its cycle. However by using a better quality powder this can be avoided.

Liquid Detergent is a relatively new compared to powder. It aims to address the issues of powdered detergent. The latest liquid detergent gives just as good washing performance as powdered detergent.

The main advantage of liquid is not having to rewash clothes due to undissolved washing powder and easily dissolves with water providing a more thorougher wash.

Also some appliance technicians have reported that cheaper powdered detergents leave grit in the water pumps of washing machines wearing them out faster, an issue that is non existent if you use a liquid detergent.

The disadvantage of using liquid detergent is that it does cost more per wash than compared to powdered detergent.

Finally a new addition to the detergent category are Washing Detergent Pacs. These are dissolvable packets of pre measured liquid detergent. These have been designed to solve the main problem of measuring liquid detergent.

Simply place the detergent pod in your washing machine and your done. No measuring, no spills, no fuss.

The only drawback with detergent pacs are they do cost a bit more per wash than powdered detergent or liquid detergent

tide powder detergent

If you are looking for the Best Powder Detergent you cant go past Tide Original Powder Laundry Detergent.

true laundry liquid detergent

If its liquid detergent you are after the Best Liquid Detergent is True Laundry Liquid Detergent.

gain detergent pods

With the ease and simplicity of just flinging a detergent pac into the wash the Gain Flings are the Best Detergent Pacs

Ready to buy a washing machine

Hopefully by now you have a better idea on which type of washing machine is best suited for your needs.

What considerations you must take into account will differ based on your needs, budget and space you have available.

With so many different washing machine models out there we have narrowed down the best ones based on the most popular criteria in our Best Washing Machines Buyer’s Guide.

Buyers Guide
Calvin Goodman

Calvin Goodman

Calvin has worked in the retail scene for over 20 years. He has extensive knowledge and experience in a large range of home appliances and electronics.

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