BUY ONLINE OR IN-STORE?
Buying a washing machine can be a daunting prospect, with the huge choice of brands, styles, features and sizes on offer. In this section we’ll help you decide whether to shop in-store or online.
Before you go into a store, do as much research as you can. Technology and features are always being updated, so it helps to have an idea of what you’re after.
Research the average prices for the type of machine you’re interested in, so you know roughly how much you’ll be paying. Energy ratings are also worth finding out about if you don’t want huge running costs.
If you find certain models or brands you like the look of, check if your local store stocks them and if not, why not. Write down any questions or features you want explained and take the list with you so you can ask the shop assistant. They’ll provide more information and can help you narrow down your options.
Technology and features are always being updated, so it helps to have an idea of what you’re after.
BE CLEAR ABOUT YOUR NEEDS
Figure out what your priorities for a machine are based on your washing needs.
If you have a large, active household, a sportswear programme will be a useful addition. Similarly, a large drum is helpful if you have lots of large bed sheets and towels to wash regularly.
Take a look through the rest of our buyers guide for help on programmes, features and more. If you have a clear idea of what you need, you’ll be less likely to feel overwhelmed in the store.
STICK TO YOUR BUDGET
Decide on a rough budget and stick to it. If you only have the money for a basic design, don’t look at the top of the range, high-tech models. Remember to ask an assistant if they have any sales or discounts coming up. You could also sign up to their email newsletter to see the latest deals.
Ask the shop assistants what their delivery and installation policy is. Sometimes, the terms and conditions when you buy in-store are slightly different from those online.
Do they deliver from the store, a central warehouse, or direct from the manufacturer? Do they deliver for free or have an extra charge? Will they take away and dispose of your old machine? Do you need to disconnect your current machine yourself? Some shops will also charge more for a weekend delivery, so it may work out cheaper if you can get the machine delivered during the week.
Decide on a rough budget and stick to it.
Once you’re in store take a good look at the machine itself. First, measure the dimensions to make sure it will fit into your space at home.
Check that the machine has the features, programmes, wash rating, energy rating and noise level you want.
Open the door. On a freestanding model it should open almost flat against the machine, so it doesn’t get in the way when you’re loading a wash. It should be weighted, so it doesn’t swing shut on you, and the handle should be easy to open. Note which way the door opens, as this can affect how well it fits into your home. Some models do have reversible doors so you can change the direction the door opens out.
Check the drum. Spin it to check it moves smoothly and doesn’t make any loud, clunky noises. You could even put a jumper or jacket inside to get a feel for its size.
Check the opening. It should comfortably fit an A4 sheet of paper and the larger it is, the easier it will be to fit bulky items like towels in.
Open the detergent drawer. Check it’s easy to slide in and out, comfortable to grip and doesn’t stick. Is it removable for cleaning or does the machine have an automatic cleaning feature?
Take a look at the control panel to familiarise yourself with the dials, display and buttons.
Ask the shop assistant about the model you’re interested in. It’s worth finding out about a warranty and how popular the machine is with customers.
Don’t buy the first model you look at. Shop around to find one that suits your needs and budget.
Nearly all online retailers will have a reviews section for each washing machine.
This means customers can score and rate the machine on factors like cycle times and value for money. There will also be comments, where customers discuss positive aspects of the machine and any negative experiences they have had.
All this information is incredibly helpful when it comes to choosing an appliance. You may need to take very negative comments with a pinch of salt, but reviews are definitely useful for narrowing down your choice of machine.
Some sites even have a feature where you can ask questions to people who own a particular model.
As you won’t see the machine in-person to take measurements or look inside, it’s important to read the description on the website carefully.
Every model online comes with a full specification, including sizes, features, programmes, and energy ratings.
FINDING THE RIGHT MACHINE
Shopping online gives you access to a much wider variety of washing machines, from a range of brands.
The filters on the website make finding a machine with the exact qualities you want easier. You can usually filter by type of machine, brand, spin speed, washing capacity, colour, and energy rating. Some websites also allow you to filter machines by a specific feature – for example, an Anti- Allergy cycle or interior light. You’ll also be able to sort the products by popularity and price.
PRICE AND PAYMENT
Buying online is sometimes cheaper than shopping in-store.
Exclusive discounts and seasonal sales are often advertised online so you can save extra money on your machine.
Online payments are now very secure, especially if you shop with a reputable, well-known brand. Just make sure you see a padlock or green bar in the address bar of your web browser when you’re at the checkout. Paying with a credit card also gives you some extra security.
Business websites have an array of customer service functions. Be sure to take a look at information on installation and delivery before you order, as well as reviews of the retailer.
If you’re still unsure on which model to choose, remember that you can always do some research online before popping into your local store. Most websites also have a store finder function to help you locate your nearest location.
Online payments are now very secure, especially if you shop with a reputable, well-known brand.