Last updated on February 6th, 2017
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.
Is renting an appliance a good alternative?
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.
Alternative Washing Machine Reviews
You can easily obtain a 1 month trial from Which? and they review and advise on virtually everything, not just washing machines. Why take out a 1 month trial – what's the catch?. (NOTE: The Which? reviews and consumer advice is available immediately online).