6 Considerations When Buying a Washing Machine

  • Aug 10, 2022
  • 4171 views

Unlike with most major home appliances, buying a washing machine is a relatively straightforward process once you cut out the jargon and marketing talk. Our washing machine guide narrows down on the primary considerations to think about before making a purchase.

1. Is there a need for a dryer + spatial considerations

When buying a washing machine, you’ll also want to think about whether you’ll need a dryer. Sure, you can always add on a dryer later on, but it pays to consider both machines at the same time so you can maximise your space.

If you do decide to get a dryer and plan to stack the dryer atop the washer (and no, you cannot stack a washer atop a dryer because washers are heavier after all that water weight), you’ll want to get a front-load washing machine. A matching washing machine and dryer will make it easier to stack, but there are also stacking kits that will help out with this. Make sure the washer you get can also be stacked with a dryer.

Design: In-Expat

A stacked washer and dryer configuration can help to save space, but it does make it more difficult to reach the dryer, especially if you are more petite. Consider also if you have the headroom for this configuration (especially if you are thinking of placing them within a cupboard or some other built-in) by taking into account the dimensions of both the washer and dryer you wish to buy.

For those with enough room in their service yard or laundry room, you can always have the washer and dryer located side by side to make it easier to transfer washed clothes directly to the dryer. There are fewer restrictions on what washing machine to get with this configuration, but you’ll want to make sure there is enough clearance on all sides of the machines (check the manufacturer's recommendations) as well as about an inch or so between the washing machine and dryer.

Design: Fineline Design

If space is really tight, then a washer-dryer combo may be something you want to go with. This is usually reserved for smaller households or for homes that don’t rely on the dryer a lot because the dryer component can only dry half the amount of what the washer can hold. So you are essentially only able to tumble dry half a full laundry load each time. The biggest downside to this 2-in-1 appliance though is that even if one component breaks down, it will essentially mean the entire machine will need to be repaired or replaced.

» Read more about buying a dryer in Singapore

2. Do I want a top load or front load?

Design: E-Casa Studio

When narrowing down what sort of washing machine you are planning to get, there are essentially two choices out there: top load and front load.

Here’s a quick rundown on what you can expect from the two types of washers:

 

Top Load

Front Load

Efficacy

Uses a pull and twist motion to wash clothes, which may not be as effective in removing stains.

Purportedly able to remove stains and soils on clothes better, because of the tumbling washing motion. It also forces more water out of your clothes at the end of the wash cycle because of a higher spinning speed so your clothes won’t need to spend too much time in the dryer or out in the sun.

Ease of use

Easier to load and unload clothes since opening is at waist-height level.

Need to bend down to load and unload clothes. May not be very ergonomic for older folks, but this can be suitable for those who use a wheelchair or who need to constantly be seated down.

Can it be stacked?

No

Yes

Noise levels

While front loaders tend to be slightly quieter, top-loaders aren’t that noisy either.

Wear on clothing

The twisting motion can lead to more wear and tear on clothes.

Gentler on fabrics, as motion mimics that of hand washing.

Time taken

Cycle times are usually faster for a top load.

Cycle times are slower.

Water usage

Less efficient. Majority of the top-load machines are given 3 ticks, which means they use between 6 to 9 litres of water per kg load.

More water-efficient. Majority of the front-load machines in Singapore are given 4 ticks, which means they use 6 litres or less of water per kg load.

Detergent

Uses more detergent because the laundry cycle runs longer and uses more water.

Uses less detergent because the laundry cycle uses less water. Requires a low-suds laundry detergent.

Adding clothes mid-cycle

Possible, most of the time.

Some machines do not allow clothes to be added to the cycle mid-wash. Some models come with a hatch that allows for this, however.

Maintenance

Unsealed top, which allows for evaporation so less tendency to have mildew and mould problems.

Tends to have mildew and mould buildup over time. To prevent this from happening, wipe down the insides of the drum and rubber gasket and leave the washer door open after every cycle.

Pricing

More affordable, with cheaper ones going for about $300.

More expensive in general. 4-ticks models start from around $500.

 

3. What size do I need?

What washer capacity to get primarily depends on how often you do your laundry. If you have the habit of doing smaller loads regularly rather than one large load per week, consider going with a smaller capacity washing machine, household size notwithstanding.

Design: Space Atelier

For the uninitiated, the weights used in relation to a washer refer to laundry load when dry, rather than the weight of the machine itself. So a 7-kg washing machine, for example, can hold and wash 7 kg of dry clothes.

Design: Lemonfridge Studio

As a general estimate, 1 kg of clothes is about 1 shirt and 1 pair of jeans OR 2 towels OR 5 t-shirts.

4. Belt drive vs direct drive

Design: The Dreamer Home

There are two main types of motors used in washers: a more conventional belt driven one, where the motor and drum are connected using a belt, and a belt-less direct drive motor. Brands like LG and Fisher & Paykel rely on a direct drive motor for their washers, where the motor is directly connected to the drum without a belt. This helps with stability, reducing noise and vibration levels.

In the event of repairs, belt driven washers are typically easier (because it's a more common system) and cheaper to replace and repair, whereas washing machines with direct drive motors will cost more to fix. But direct drive motors are typically and theoretically more reliable since the stability helps to reduce wear and tear on the motor.

Nonetheless, even in washers with belt driven motors, there are other technologies and features that help to minimise vibration and noise, such as in certain Bosch washers that are equipped with Anti-Vibration side walls.

The Bosch Series 8 Washing Machine features Anti-Vibration side panels.

5. What washing programme do I need?

Design: The Interior Lab

Most people tend to only use the standard programme cycle for every wash, but using a variety of wash cycles and separating your laundry accordingly can clean your clothes better and help to minimise the wear and tear of your fabrics. Here are some useful wash cycles to look out for when buying your washer:

  • Cotton: Most washing machines will have this programme. This is a standard cycle that runs at a high temperature and is suitable for regularly soiled and non-delicate fabrics. 
  • Quick: For clothes that aren’t too soiled or if you have a smaller load. The cycle will run shorter than standard cycles. It can also help to save energy and water. 
  • Delicates or Wool: Suitable for lingerie or clothes made of delicate materials like silk, wool and lace. These typically run at lower temperatures and a lower spinning speed. 
  • Baby Care/Allergy: This cycle usually runs longer with more water usage and at higher temperatures to kill off bacteria and to minimise substances that cause allergic reactions on clothes. Some cycles will run the steam function in this cycle if your washer has one in this programme. Suitable if you have younger children or sensitive skin. 
  • Drum Wash/Drum Clean: This helps to clean out your washer, removing any residue on your drum. 

6. What other washing machine features to consider?

Design: Yang's Inspiration

Sensors: Some newer models of washing machines come with intelligent sensors that help to detect the load weight in the machine and how dirty the clothes are so that it can determine how much water and detergent to dispense as well as how long the cycle should run—great for minimising waste and saving energy.

Detergent dispensers: Some washing machines come with bulk detergent dispensers. They let you store several detergent loads in the machine at a time, so you won’t need to fill up the dispenser every time you wash your laundry.  Samsung’s 8kg EcoBubble front loader for instance lets you hold enough detergent for up to 1 month of washing, automatically dispensing the detergent during each load cycle.

Samsung's 8kg EcoBubble front load washer.

Steam function: Washers with steam function purport to kill allergens and bacteria, but we think cycles that employ higher washing temperatures will do the same job. The only real advantage of steam, we think, is that it does help in reducing wrinkles on clothes, since they are usually released at the end of the cycle, which can make your ironing later on easier. If you hate ironing, you may want to consider a washer with a steam function. Otherwise, we don’t see how much it adds to the washer’s cleaning ability. Plus, washers with steam do tend to use higher amounts of water and electricity, adding to your utility bill.

Smart features: If you wish to operate your washer remotely, consider getting machines that are Wi-Fi enabled. You can then control your washer anywhere from your phone or tablet, typically via an app, or through voice assistants like Google Home or Alexa.

Samsung washers use the SmartThings app, while LG’s washers can be controlled via the ThinQ app. Bosch washers can be controlled via the Home Connect app, Candy uses the Simply-Fi app and Miele has WiFiConn@ct.

Screengrab of Samsung SmartThings.

Some apps come with extra features that you don’t get on the machine itself. LG’s ThinQ for instance lets you monitor energy usage, while Samsung lets you plan out your laundry day so you can let your machine know at exactly what time you want the cycle to end. The SmartThings app also remembers your laundry habits and will suggest cycles. Candy's Rapido front load washers can be controlled via the Simply-Fi app, which has a 'Snap and Wash' function that recommends a suitable laundry cycle based on the picture you take of your laundry load. 

The Candy RO1696DWMCE/1-80 9kg front load washer.

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