With a plethora of washing machine brands and models available on the market, it is natural to be confused about which one to choose. Often we start with our favourite brand and then take it from there. Yet another approach is to map our needs to the brand that offers them. In this article, we take the approach of combining both. We shall take a look at the important aspects to consider while choosing a washing machine and also talk about the brands and models that excel at it.
Type of Washing Machine
The first and foremost decision to make when buying a washing machine is whether to choose a semi-automatic, fully automatic top-loader or a front-loader washing machine.
If budget is a concern, you could opt for a semi-automatic or a fully automatic top loader. If not, a front loader would be the best option to go for. We shall look at the pros and cons of each in detail.
Semi-Automatic Washing Machines
Semi-automatic washing machines have two tubs. Washing takes place in the first tub. After draining the water, the clothes have to be manually transferred to the next tub which spins to get rid of the moisture.
The body of semi-automatic washing machines is made of plastic. Being lightweight, they are likely to vibrate a lot when spinning too. Though marginal, compared to fully-automatic top loaders, they consume more energy.
The main advantage of semi-automatic washing machines is their budget-friendly pricing. Water consumption is also moderate. The disadvantages are limited wash programs that are harsh on clothes and the need for manual intervention. It takes up more space compared to other options too.
Fully Automatic Top Load Washing Machines
Fully automatic top loaders have a single tub in which washing and spinning take place. They have more wash programs and functionalities compared to semi-automatic washing machines. As a result, you can expect better cleaning performance. But, generally, their spin speed is around 600-800 RPM. So clothes will retain higher level of moisture. Also, most options don’t have an in-built heater that provides warm water for washing.
The main advantages of fully automatic top loaders are their pricing, and availability of a fairly wide range of wash programs and functions. It is also a preferred choice for those who do not want to bend over to load and unload clothes. The disadvantages are you find a higher level of moisture in clothes after washing and lack of in-built heater in most options. Also, they consume a large quantity of water per wash ( around 16-20 litres of water per kilo of clothes loaded).
The few top loaders that come with an in-built heater are from Whirlpool, IFB, Godrej and Panasonic. Some of the options with pretty good performance are- Godrej WTEON ADR 75 5.0 FDTH GPGR with 7.5Kg capacity, Panasonic NA-F67BH8MRB with 6.7 Kg capacity, Whirlpool STAINWASH ULTRA with 7 Kg capacity. These models are available in 6-9 Kg capacity also.
Front Load Washing Machines
Front-loaders are considered the most superior type of washing machine. They have a wide variety of wash programs, you can adjust the temperature, spin cycle etc and there are a lot of added functionalities too which enhance the user experience. Comparatively, they use a very less quantity of water per wash cycle. However, as they have an in-built heater, the energy consumption is higher. The cleaning performance is also the best among the various types. You also get front loaders with wi-fi connectivity and other sophisticated features.
Some of the drawbacks are that it is expensive and you need to bend to load and unload clothes. Also, the rubber door seal of front loaders is prone to mold and mildew. So, you need to ensure they are clean and dry at all times- this calls for extra efforts for maintenance.
The capacity of a washing machine indicates how many clothes can be washed in a go. Too little and you will have to run the washing machine once or sometimes even twice a day resulting in higher wear and tear. Too high and you end up using more water and energy than is necessary.
A 6 Kg washing machine would be apt for 2-3 members. But, it is not suitable for washing queen size comforters.
A 7 Kg washing machine is ideal for 4-5 members. They can wash double duvets too. But, may not be suitable for large curtains.
An 8-9 Kg washing machine is ideal for 6-8 members. They can be used to wash duvets and curtains comfortably.
As mentioned, semi-automatic washing machines have just 3 wash programs ranging from delicate to heavy. A fully automatic top-loader has many more wash programs like cotton, jeans, delicates and so on, which are sufficient for most families. But, if you have small kids who soil their clothes or immune-compromised individuals at home, you may want to consider having a front loader that comes with advanced wash programs. They have wash programs like cotton, woollen, delicates, quick wash, daily wash, synthetics and so on. Certain models from LG with NFC or Wifi have options to download new wash programs like swimwear, children’s wear, stain care etc.
In most front loaders, you can set the temperature from cold to 60 or sometimes even 90 degrees Celsius. Also, many of them have wash programs that are able to get rid of allergens and any other residues that could trigger allergies in individuals. Overall, the wash quality of front loaders is better as the clothes are tumbled thoroughly in all directions to rub against each other and the drum for better cleaning.
Noise and Vibration
Low noise and vibration are key aspects that most people take into consideration while choosing a washing machine. The main factor that affects these aspects is motor technology.
Conventionally, the motor is connected to the drum using a belt with a pulley mechanism. This results in higher noise and vibration. IFB and Bosch use this system. Though they have incorporated many mechanisms to reduce the vibration, it is still noticeable.
Samsung and LG use a method different from the conventional system called direct drive technology. In their washing machines, the motor is connected directly to the drum. As a result, noise and vibration are very minimal. The tumbling action is smoother too in washing machines with direct drive inverter technology. But, due to this, the drum is shallow and taller compared to what you find in Bosch and IFB.
Inverter technology is found not just in front loaders, but also in top load washing machines. LG also uses turbo drum technology in top loaders whereby the agitator and drum move in the opposite direction for better abrasion and cleaning results.
Compared to fully automatic top loaders, semi-automatic washing machines make more noise and vibration as it spins at a higher speed.
Semi-automatic and fully automatic top loaders are comparatively low maintenance. But, front loaders require more maintenance because their rubber seal is prone to mold. So, you need to wipe the seal often and keep the door always open so that there is sufficient airflow to hinder the growth of mold. We have noticed that mold is more prevalent in Bosch and IFB washing machines which have a folded seal. LG comparatively has a lesser menace from mold as the seal doesn’t have a folded design.
Whichever be the type, you need to clean the lint filter every 1-3 months and remove lint and any larger debris like buttons, coins etc from the filter. In top loaders, the lint filter is located inside the tub. In front loaders, they are located at the bottom right corner.
When it comes to major repairs, Bosch and IFB are comparatively cheaper as their pulley system connecting motor to the drum is easy to repair. But, LG and Samsung with inverter technology will be more expensive to repair as it has a more sophisticated system.
Fully automatic top loaders consume the least energy of the various options. But, if it has in-built heater, the energy consumption increases. Next comes semi-automatic washing machines. Though they do not have any electronic components or advanced programs, they consume higher energy because they spin at a high RPM of around 1000 cycles. A fully automatic top loader rotates only at 600-800 RPM.
Front-loaders consume a higher level of energy because they have in-built heaters. Their wash programs are more elaborate and time-consuming. Further, most of the front loaders have a spin speed of 1000-1400 RPM which itself is a huge energy guzzler.
Washing Machine Best Suited For Hard Water Supply
One of the major problems urban dwellers face is the hard water supply. As a result, clothes don’t get cleaned properly. Moreover, it affects the durability of washing machines and other appliances.
IFB has a feature called aqua energie which breaks down the carbonates in the water to reduce the hardness of the water. But, it is effective only if water TDS is below 250.
If the water TDS is extremely high ( above 600), it is recommended to install a water softener to protect your washing machine and improve the wash performance. Also, if you have hard water supply, run the washing machine on drum clean cycle with a descaler powder every month. Limescale deposits may not be visible on the drum, but could be rampant inside the tub which contains the drum, heater and other components.
Descaling the washing machine regularly will enhance the durability of the washing machine.
LG, Bosch, Samsung and IFB are the market leaders in the front load segment. Whirlpool is a market leader in the top load segment too. All these brands have fairly good washing performance and are durable too.
Top Brands of Washing Machines
The Korean brand LG is one of the market leaders in the washing machine segment. They sell semi-automatic, fully automatic top loader and front load washing machines. The main USP that LG projects is its inverter technology, which is silent, vibration-free and energy-efficient.
As mentioned earlier, LG’s top loaders come with turbo drum technology whereby the agitator and the drum rotates in opposite direction for better cleaning performance. The direct drive technology in front loader enables easy movement of clothes. LG claims that it moves the clothes in 6 different patterns like stepping, rolling, swinging, scrubbing, filtration and tumbling.
LG’s higher-end models come with steam wash programs and wi-fi connectivity too.
Just like LG, Samsung too sells all types of washing machines. Compared to LG, Samsung’s washing machines are a bit more affordable. Their top loaders are basic and budget-friendly offering fairly good wash performance. Just like LG, it too has direct drive inverter technology.
They sell basic to high-end front loaders. Even the basic models have steam wash technology and can wash clothes in hot water at 90 degrees Celsius temperature. The advanced models have opening in the front door to load clothes mid-cycle and automatic detergent dispensers. Another advantage that Samsung claims is that they use ceramic heater which develops lesser scaling.
Bosch washing machines are more environmentally friendly than the rest. Its energy and water consumption is lesser compared to other options. They come with speed perfect feature that can reduce the wash duration and energy consumption of each wash program. The active water function adjusts the water consumption depending on the load.
Bosch claims to have anti-vibration side panels that reduce noise and vibration. However, we have found that it is not as silent and vibration-free as LG.
IFB predominantly focuses on fully automatic top load and front load washing machines. They started off their company in collaboration with Bosch for the technical know-how. Their products are quite durable and high performing. But, you find a lot of complaints about their after-sales service.
A distinguishing feature of their washing machines is the Aqua Energie which reduces the hardness of the water to improve the washing performance. Yet another feature is the cradle wash in which clothes are washed at a low RPM of 35 cycles and spun at just 400 RPM. Extra water is used so that clothes glide smoothly in the tub minimizing abrasion. This gentle wash program is suitable for delicates, silk, satin and lace and is a trademarked technology from IFB.
Though Whirlpool sells front loaders, their market share is higher in the top load and semi-automatic segment. Their top loaders have numerous wash programs and features which makes them close next to front loaders in terms of wash performance.
Many of their top loaders have in-built heaters too- something found rare in top loaders. The ZPF technology, found in Haier too, starts the wash program even when water pressure is low. On the other hand, options like Bosch needs a higher level of water pressure for proper functioning.
Other Maintenance Tips To Enhance The Life and Performance of Your Washing Machine
- Avoid using excess washing powder as it can damage the clothes and other components. Mold too feeds on detergent residue.
- Use the right detergent for your washing machine. Avoid using a regular detergent for front loaders as it will cause excessive foam and damage the rubber seal. Also, certain washing machines have foam detection technology When it identifies excess foam in the drum, it will incorporate an additional rinse cycle to get rid of the foam. As a result, the wash duration will increase, resulting in more water and energy consumption.
- Keep the door of the washing machine slightly open so that excess moisture gets aired out. This prevents a musty smell and mold growth inside the washing machine.
- If water is excessively hard, install a water softener to enhance the life of the appliance.
- Wipe the rubber seal of the washing machine frequently to remove any mildew, detergent residue and moisture that can lead to mold growth.
- Descale the washing machine on a monthly basis to prevent limescale deposits from damaging the components.
- Never overload the washing machine as it can cause drum imbalance. Also, balance the load by adding smaller pieces of clothes with larger ones. Else, the washing machine may vibrate excessively and the washing machine may even start “walking”.
- Take out the laundry immediately after wash. Wet laundry can cause a musty smell that will linger inside the drum and transfer odour to other clothes.
- Clean the lint filter (drain pump in front loaders) every 1-3 months.