Help & advice

A comprehensive guide to choosing a washing machine

When planning a renovation, whether it's your kitchen, utility or bathroom, you are likely to find yourself needing a new washing machine.

Washing machines can be a significant investment and if you get a good one it will likely serve you for 7 years or more, so it's important to choose one that is suitable for the needs of your household.

This guide walks you through the key factors to consider when choosing a washing machine, helping you to make an informed decision.

The best way to reduce the environmental impact when buying a washing machine is to purchase a reconditioned / refurbished machine. Many reputable suppliers now offer refurbished models in full working order and with the same consumer protection as brand new products. If you choose wisely you can snag a great brand and high spec machine (with great energy and water efficiency ratings) at a bargain price!

Capacity

Capacity is arguably the most critical factor when selecting a washing machine. Measured in kilograms (kg), it indicates the weight of dry laundry the machine can handle in one cycle. Choosing the right capacity ensures you maximise efficiency and minimise the number of loads.

As a general rule of thumb, you can select the right capacity for you based on the size of your household.

  • Small households (1-2 people): 5-7 kg
  • Medium households (3-4 people): 7-9 kg
  • Large households (5+ people): 9+ kg

However, it is worth factoring in your family's lifestyle and interests too. You may only be a family of 4, but if you are all super sporty and/or do lots of activities that require specific uniforms or clothing, you might find you create more dirty laundry than the average medium household and may be better off going for a larger machine.

The same could be said for a family with small children using reusable nappies, or a family that is still growing, you might want to opt for the larger capacity to be prepared for the near future.

Size / Dimensions

Whether you are just planning your room layout now, or already have the space and need a machine to fit, it is important to ensure the machine will fit the space available.

Measure the space you intend to place the washing machine, remembering to include the height, width, and depth of the appliance and ensure you leave some extra space for ventilation and easy access. A least 25 mm (2.5cm) of clearance on all sides, 150 mm (15cm) of clearance at the back to accommodate power cords and water and waste pipes and 50 mm (5cm) of clearance at the front and at the top. Remember that when it comes to clearance around the washer, more clearance is better than less.

Dimensions can vary so you should always check the product details, but standard washing machines are typically:

  • Width: 60 cm
  • Height: 85 cm
  • Depth: 60 cm

Compact models are available for smaller spaces, and there are also slimline versions if you need a machine to fit a narrower area.

Access / Door Opening

The location of the door, and the direction in which the door opens can hugely impact the suitability of a washing machine to where you place it in your home and how you use it. There are two main types:

Front-Loading - The door opens from the front.

This type is significantly more common in the UK and these machines are generally more energy-efficient and gentle on clothes. They also allow for stacking with a dryer which can be important if space is tight.

The other aspect to think about when planning your room layout or selecting a washing machine is which way the door opens, right to left, or left to right. Far too many people get caught out by missing this factor. Some washing machine models come with adjustable doors that you can unscrew and switch over to optimise for your space, but many are fixed so it's important to get it right. This is most important when you are planning to have your machine in a corner, if the door opens the wrong way it can make access tricky.

Top-Loading - The door opens from the top.

These are easier to load and unload without bending over, making them a good option for the elderly or those with back issues.

Consider your laundry room layout and the ergonomics of the door opening when choosing your washing machine.

Wash Features

Modern washing machines come with various wash features that cater to different fabrics and cleaning needs. Here are some common features to consider:

  • Quick Wash: Ideal for lightly soiled clothes and urgent needs
  • Delicate Wash: For sensitive fabrics like silk and wool
  • Eco Wash: Saves water and energy, suitable for regular loads
  • Intensive Wash: For heavily soiled garments

Advanced models may offer steam cleaning, allergy care, and custom wash cycles.

Assess your typical laundry needs to prioritise the features that will be most beneficial, baring in mind that the more advanced features often come at a premium.

Energy Efficiency

Selecting an energy efficiency washing machine is crucial for reducing utility bills and environmental impact. Washing machines are rated from A+++ (most efficient) to D (least efficient). Look for:

  • Energy Star Ratings: Indicates high energy efficiency
  • Eco Modes: Programs designed to use less water and energy

Choosing a highly rated energy-efficient model may cost a little more upfront but will save you money in the long run.

Noise

The noise level of a washing machine, measured in decibels (dB), is another factor to consider, especially if your laundry area is in your kitchen or close to other living spaces or bedrooms.

  • Quiet Models: Typically range between 50-60 dB during washing and spinning
  • Standard Models: Can go up to 70 dB or higher during spin cycles

For a quieter home environment, look for machines with features like inverter motors and anti-vibration technology.

If you are planning your space for a renovation, as well as a quieter machine, you can also look for opportunities to locate your machine as far away from living areas as possible and ideally behind closed doors to reduce noise.

Smart features

With advancements in technology, many washing machines now come with connectivity and other smart features that enhance convenience:

  • Smart Connectivity: Allows you to control the machine from a mobile app
  • Voice Control: Integrate with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant
  • Automatic Detergent Dispensing: Ensures the right amount of detergent for the load
  • Load Sensing: Adjusts water and energy usage based on the load size

These features can make laundry day more efficient and less time-consuming, if you actually use them! They also tend to come at a higher price point.

Reno today

The current Reno app

Reno, our home renovation app, is the missing link between Pinterest and Checkatrade.

Starting with kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms, we've built our renovation design and planning tool to guide you through key decisions, from big ones like layout to little ones like how to edge your tiles. We turn this into a neat, sharable brief that homeowners and trades can use for more realistic quotes.

Best of all, you can try it for free for one room.

Reno tomorrow

The Reno wishlist

We've got big plans! You can see where we're going on our product roadmap, and see what's new on Instagram. Our top priorities:

Support for more room types

Full renovation process including payments and maintenance

Tools to discuss and track changes

Automatic estimates, shopping lists and invoices

Contact us

We're available to help, and we welcome your questions and suggestions.

Live chat

Available at the bottom right, 9am-6pm Monday-Friday UK time

Email us

One of our team will get back in touch ASAP

Email us

Start your renovation with Reno