Washing Machine Features
Washing machine technology is always improving, and there are a whole host of features available on modern models. Exactly what you get varies with the brand and model. Usually the more expensive and high quality the machine, the more features it will have.
This section of our buyers guide explains what these features do, from time delays to fuzzy logic, so that you can compare machines more easily.
Looking for information on washing machine programmes? Click here.
DISPLAYS AND CONTROLS
Most washing machines have a control panel with all the buttons, switches or dials used to set the machine. High-end models now feature touch control displays, making it easier than ever to control and set up a cycle.
Indicator lights tell you what settings you’ve chosen and how far through the cycle the machine is. Some machines also have a memory or favourite button, which lets you save your favourite wash settings to use again.
Pause buttons are another useful feature – especially when you’ve found an extra sock to go in the wash when the cycle has already started.
Some machines have an LCD or LED display instead of, or as well as, indicator lights. These are clear and well-lit for good visibility, and often have a countdown timer to show how long the wash will take.
You may want a model with a time delay, which allows you to set a programme to start or finish when you want. This is useful if you have cheaper night-time electricity rates, or don’t like your damp clothes sitting in the machine for hours while you’re out.
EFFICIENT USE OF RESOURCES
With environmental impact a big concern, washing machine manufacturers are adding features that make their models more efficient – in terms of electricity, water and even detergent usage.
Many machines will give you a range of different temperatures you can use, as low as 20°C, to help you to lower the energy used by the appliance.
Some machines use sensors to calculate the exact amount of energy and water required for a wash cycle. This is a very efficient way of washing and helps to lower your bills. Siemens iSensoric models are just one example of machines with this technology.
Automatic dosing features ensure only the correct amount of detergent is used in each wash. The machine determines how much detergent a particular wash programme needs, based on the type of material and weight. This saves you money on detergent and makes sure that too much foam isn’t created.
Some high-end brands now also feature a consumption forecast, so you know how much energy and water each cycle will use before it starts.
Many washing machines feature various safety features to protect you against floods or accidents.
Child locks stop curious fingers altering programme settings once a wash has started. Door locks can also stop little ones from opening the machine and making a mess.
Overflow and leak prevention systems have sensors to detect any potential problems. This cuts off the water supply if something happens so you won’t come home to a flood. Many machines also have overheating protection for the water heater or motor, which helps to extend their life span.
If you add an excessive amount of detergent to a wash, it can cause an overflow of foam or bubbles. Anti-foam technology prevents this as it automatically adjusts the length of the cycle to compensate.
New technology helps to make washing machines quieter than ever before. Modern brushless inverter motors reduce highfrequency noise for quieter, shorter and more efficient wash programmes. And, the machine walls can be designed to absorb more of the sound and reduce the vibrations.
Self-cleaning detergent drawers and drums are handy additions to some higher end machines. They use powerful water jets to flush out any residue after a wash, to keep your machine clean for the next use.
Recently, brands like Samsung have included port holes with mini doors which allow you to add items to the wash once it has started.
Variable spin options let you manually alter the spin speed of wash programmes. This is ideal if your clothes and sheets are coming out very creased. Just lower the spin speed, and they won’t get as tangled. Different fabrics also require different speeds; for example, silk items get the best results at around 400 RPM.
Some machines have specially designed drums, created to move your laundry items around evenly during a wash. This helps to ensure that every piece is thoroughly cleaned and washed.
If you have uneven floors, look out for levelling legs. These are adjustable, and ensure that the machine sits level. This is important in getting an evenly distributed wash, and ensures the machine is quiet and doesn’t move around.
WASH CYCLE EXTRAS
An anti-stain feature is a great addition for messy households. By using carefully controlled temperatures, the cycle can remove everything from red wine to grass. This is a particular feature of some Hotpoint machines, although other brands have similar functions.
Some machines offer a wash tailored for organic washing detergents, like laundry balls or soap nuts. These cycles use more water and hotter temperatures to give you optimal results.
If you want the best performance with minimum fuss, it’s worth looking for a machine with Fuzzy Logic. This is a sensor system that monitors and controls the conditions inside the machine, including the washing process, water intake, temperature, wash time, rinse performance, and speed. The machine automatically detects the type of fabric, soiling levels, water hardness, and weight of the load, then alters the conditions for the best results.
Concerned about hygiene? A service/ maintenance wash will help to keep your machine as clean as possible. This cycle runs at a very high temperature (about 90°) to sterilise the inside of the machine and remove bacteria, soap scum and mould.
Bosch and Siemens washing machines often have a feature called VarioPerfect, which allows you to select either a shorter or more eco-friendly wash. However, other brands offer short and eco cycles too. These are great if you need something washed quickly, or have more time and would like to save some electricity.
Some washing machines have a steam refresh option. This isn’t a wash programme as such, but a cycle where your clothes are steamed to remove odours and freshen them up. This option can be added onto the end of a wash cycle to help reduce creases, and remove particles that may irritate people with allergies or sensitive skin.
Are you concerned about hygiene? A service / maintenance wash helps keep your machine as clean as possible.
THE FUTURE OF WASHING MACHINES
Wi-Fi enabled washing machines are the latest trend. Although this technology is relatively new, models with this feature are starting to become much more common.
As long as you have a Wi-Fi connection, you can remotely monitor and control your washing machine using an app on your Smartphone. Start, stop, pause, or receive an alert when your load has finished, all at the touch of a screen. Some apps can also detect any issues with your machine and suggest solutions. Plus, you can download additional cycles to use and receive a programme suggestion based on the items you’re washing.
Some apps can detect any issues with your machine and suggest solutions.