Most people want to know which make of washing machine is the best to buy. As an engineer I think the best washing machines are ones that can be repaired easily and at reasonable cost. But sadly, these days most washing machines are very un-repairable so it’s not easy to pick one.
Another problem is that essentially, the majority of washing machines are extremely similar in build quality and design. When I recently stripped down a dozen different brands of washing machine (as part of a Which? investigation) I was shocked at how most parts look virtually identical.
So as far as build quality and design is concerned there’s really not so much between them. However, Which? still produce plenty of reports showing that some seem more or less reliable. The trend tends to be that the most popular ones often appear less reliable. But is that because there are just a lot more of them so there’s a lot more reports of faults?
The main differences for me are in other aspects (mentioned later). However, Miele are one brand that really stands out as being built to a much higher standard.
Don’t choose on looks & features or even price
It’s common for people choose based on looks and features. There’s little point in having a good looking washing machine full of features though if it’s unreliable, and if it’s too expensive or difficult to get repaired.
A cheap washing machine that doesn’t last very long is an expensive washing machine. However, buying an expensive one is not a guarantee of getting any better quality at all. This is explained properly in my article is a more expensive washing machine a better one?
Which are the reliable brands?
According to Which? some of the most reliable makes of washing machine are AEG, Bosch, Siemens, Zanussi and Miele. Out of those brands Miele are far superior, but of course they are more expensive to buy. None of the brands in the budget and mid-price range can be whole heartedly recommended because they are so unrepairable. But if they are reasonably priced and reasonably made they can still give relatively good value for money. If you will be doing a lot of washing though, they might not last too long.
Least reliable brands?
The least reliable brands according to Which? were Indesit, Hoover, Candy and Hotpoint although these are also the most popular. This was from a survey which is now a few years old though. Their latest findings can be found online, which I obviously recommend you check out – Get your Which? offer (article continues below).
A look at the best washing machines
If you want to know which brand available in the UK makes the best washing machines it’s Miele (Miele awarded best domestic appliance brand again). They are way above anyone else in build quality and sophistication. They aren’t necessarily the best washing machine for everyone though, there are pros and cons to buying expensive, quality washing machines. Read my overview about them here Miele build quality review.
If cost is not a problem you can’t beat a Miele washing machine for build quality and sophistication. Many models come with a 5 or even 10 year warranty.
Looking for cheaper recommendations?
Sadly it’s very difficult to recommend any other brands at the moment. After Miele they all tend to be very much the same inside with all parts looking so similar it’s impossible to see any significant difference in either design or build quality.
For me, the main differences between brands now are how the company operates, how long the guarantees are, how good their repair engineers are plus how easy it is to buy spares for and get technical information once out of guarantee. As an appliance engineer I take being able to repair an appliance very seriously.
So these days none of the manufacturers are producing appliances I would personally recommend apart from Miele. But the best of the bunch after Miele (to me) are Electrolux | Zanussi | AEG (All owned by the same company). These brands still have undesirable issues such as welded drums, and can (like all the rest) be too expensive to repair far too young, but the choices are limited. If I was buying a new appliance, and wasn’t getting a Miele I would most likely go for an AEG or Electrolux. Or maybe a Zanussi (John Lewis brand washing machines are currently made by Zanussi and have 3 year warranties) or even Bosch.
Brands not made in Europe
In my experience, and according to reports on my forums and comments on articles, the brown goods manufacturers such as LG, Panasonic, Samsung make decent washing machines similar to their competition. They tend to focus more on features – especially innovative ones. I’ve yet to see any genuinely essential features though. They also often have longer guarantees. However, as they are based so far away they tend to rely on third party companies to do their in-guarantee repairs. I’ve seen a lot of complaints about aftersales service. I’m sure most of it is fine, but a large network of independent repairers can result in an inconsistency in quality. Personally I prefer to buy from a manufacturer that has their own network of engineers based in the UK.
Don’t Buy Badged washing machines
Finally I wouldn’t buy any brand of appliance that does not make their own appliances. There are quite a few cases of brands like Kenwood, Bush, Russel Hobs, or other brands you’ve never heard of before. Many of these appliances are “badged” appliances. They have them made by someone else who puts their branding on them. Buying a washing machine from a company that does not actually make washing machines is in my opinion a bad idea.
Many big retailers also have their own brand appliances. These appliances tend to be more difficult to get repaired in the future. It’s often difficult to find out who actually made it, and often it’s much harder to buy spare parts down the line when they’ve stopped making them. The only exception I would make is the John Lewis brand. They tend to carefully choose a brand and get the manufacturer to make small changes or additions. John Lewis also guarantee their own brand appliances for 3 years.
More research into best washing machines
If you take advantage of the Which? £1 offer you get a lot more than you’d expect including full access to all their latest washer and appliance reviews.
Use the information in my other articles to help make good buying choices – Buying Washing machines articles and check out Which? who do extensive up to date tests and survey their members.