How long should a washing machine last?

FAQ Many people say washing machines are now deliberately designed to only last 5 years. The truth is many don’t even reach 5 years these days – but are they cynically designed not to last or just made so cheaply that it’s inevitable they won’t? Washers used to commonly last a minimum of 10, and often up to 20 years, I’ve seen many as old as 30 years. However, they also used to cost a lot more.

I have information that many parts inside washing machines are specifically designed to run for a specific number of wash cycles. In many cases the amount of cycles they are designed for is shockingly small, and can equate to only 3 years under heavy use for a big family. This means many washing machines are completely inadequate for many people, but these manufacturers don’t publish the cycle times to enable people to make informed purchasing decisions. It’s safe to say though that you should not buy a budget washing machine for a large family unless you are happy for it to last only a few short years.

The only manufacturer I know in the UK who publish how long their appliances are designed for are Miele whom I constantly recommend as producing the best washing machines to buy. They claim they are designed with a life span of around 20 years (average use).

The last official stats I saw indicated the average washing machine’s lifespan was now just over 7 years, but it might be less now. My poll (on the right column) currently shows about 35% of washing machines have lasted 5 years or less, but surprisingly – over 40% of people said their last washer lasted 10 years or more, with almost 15% claiming it lasted over 15 years! Check it out, add your experience to the figures. Sadly there are many that have lasted very short periods indeed.

Are modern washing machines only built to last 5 years?

Clearly no one wants to build a washing machine that lasts so long that they go out of business but we still expect a lifespan that leaves us feeling we’ve had good value for money. Some washing machine manufacturers seem to want to make their profits by simply selling new washing machines on a massive scale as often as possible. In the old days they used to sell machines and support them throughout a reasonably long life through a good (and reasonably priced) supply of spare parts, and by giving good technical support to independent repairers. These days, a washing machine can easily be uneconomical to repair once out of guarantee – even as young as 18 months old.

In order to save money on production costs, many manufacturers use techniques that make some repairs impossible, and make other repairs require the replacement of whole assemblies of parts instead of being able to strip down the old one to repair it. Examples of this are motors that are spot welded together instead of bolted, pumps that have no parts available – only a new pump – and drum bearings that can't be knocked out and replaced so a complete new tub is needed with them pre-pressed in. Needless to say the cost of fitting a new tub is uneconomical so most washers get scrapped if bearings fail. The latest trend, and the worst practice yet, is entire outer tubs which are welded and cannot be stripped down even to retrieve an obstruction such as a bra wire.

All this is most probably a side effect of cheap washing machines rather than a deliberate attempt to stop it being repaired. However, the pricing of washing machine spares by the manufacturers appears to be deliberately designed to either make up a lot of the lost profit on selling the complete washing machine at such unrealistically cheap prices – or to deliberately make them beyond economical repair so they don't have to stock many parts or to cause excessive washing machine replacement.

Summary: Most washing machines will not last anywhere near what we once all expected and experienced. The budget washing machines are definitely not built to last, or to cope with washing for a large family for a long time. Many mid priced washing machines are full of extra features such as faster spins, bigger drums and many more options but although they can cost many hundreds of pounds they are commonly not built to a much higher standard and are often just as unrepairable. If you want a washing machine to last well over 10 years the best bet these days is a Miele.

Alternatives to buying – renting an appliance

Although buying is likely to remain the main choice of most people, renting from a professional company may make sense and may be worth looking into. Prices start from only a few pounds a week fully maintained. Check out my affiliate Forbes Rentals who rent brand new appliances.

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  1. avatarcatherine says

    I bought an Ariston washer dryer which has begun leaking all over the kitchen after only two & a half years of use. It cost me £300, & all the repair companies that Iv`e contacted have quoted repair prices of at least £120. I feel that I got a raw deal with my machine, because I expected it to last a decent time before it packed up. I`m wondering if it`s worth repairing, or should i sell it for scrap?

  2. avatar says

    A lot depends on why it’s leaking catherine. It could be something pretty minor, or even to do with the plumbing at the back and not the washer at all. Have you had an engineer actually look at it or have they just made up prices on the phone? Unless you get (hopefully a trustworthy) local engineer out to find out exactly what’s gone wrong you can’t judge the best course of action.

    If it is going to cost £120 after 3 years, which is not too far off half the purchase cost you might have a case that it hasn’t lasted a reasonable time but these days they are so cheap to buy that expectations of how long they should last have plummeted. The last figures I have seen say they last on average 7 years but the sale of goods act doesn’t say they shouldn’t break down, only that they should last a reasonable time and be free from inherent faults.

  3. avatarAlan Thompson says

    I purchased a £600 LG F 1402FDS, I assumed that buying a top of the range expensive washer would mean years of trouble free service, however exactly 2 years into its use the motor went south, it cost me £191 to repair and even though I sent a copy of the bill to LG they refused to pay, now the washer is 4 years old it is starting to fail again ( it sounds like a concrete mixer ) undoubtedly this is the bearings, I don’t yet know how much the repair will be buy it could mean my total outlay will be close to £1,000 for a washer that is only 4 years old, I could of course had FIVE cheap washers for the same money and if they only lasted 3 years each I would have been better off, once agin though LG simply don’t want to know. I reckon I have a case against LG, what do you think ?

  4. avatar says

    LG aren’t a top quality product, for the same £600 you could have just about bought a Miele but it would have far less features. LG are a mid-price appliance focussing more on features than build quality. You need to complain to the retailer as under the sale of goods act it’s only they who have any responsibility if it has an inherent fault or doesn’t last a reasonable time.

    Two of my articles which are relevant are –

  5. avatarAnda@Travel Notes @ Beyond says

    Thanks for the very informative post on the life of the washing machines. I have an 7 year old Mile washer and the motor needs to be replace. I wonder if it’s worth spending about $8-900 for the repair or just buy a new machine. Your input would be much appreciated. Thanks.

  6. avatar says

    This is one of the problems with the top quality appliances Anda. Repairs can be horrifically expensive. It’s a combination of the true cost of making and stocking extra quality spares and lack of competition. Brands like Miele can cost more than a new competitor’s washing machine to replace just one part. They are designed to last much longer than 7 years but the motor appears to have failed a little prematurely unless it’s been really heavily used. In theory the machine should last at least as long again but it’s one of those calls you have to make.

  7. avatarAlicia says

    Hi.. My 3 year old Hotpoint washing machine (supposed to be nearly silent) costing £350 became extremely noisy recently and has now stopped working altogether. An enginer has been and advised that the drum has collapsed probably because the bearings had gone. I asked whether it seemed reasonable that this should happen within 3 years and he said that anytime after 18 mths could face problems, just depends if you are lucky or not! this is a case of bad luck really for 2 reasons – 1 the drum is sealed unit so whole of the inside of the washing machine needs replacing (over £200 parts only + labour costs) and 2 – i use non-biological powder all the time. this apparently rots the parts and without using a maintenance product once a month, would cause damage to the machine. a hot wash monthly is not enough apparently as use non-bio! I’ve basically got to pay £187 over the next year to get labour and parts free (so cheaper option in this case) for a guarentee plan but I believe that this should not happen after a relatively short time in the lifespan of a washing machine. what do you think? thanks in advance for your help.