Something to put a sparkle in the day

01 Oct 09 11:00AM EST

Well yesterday was a change from the usual work in the laundry lab: evaluating washing machines and dishwashers.

Choice usually publishes a story on sparkling wines coming up to the festive season. To score the wines we have a panel of experts do a blind tasting. And as a follow-up we also have a lay panel of staff do a similar taste test, just to see if there are any wild differences in preferences - and I was on that panel yesterday. And for the record there was a reasonable correlation between the experts and the lay panel.

The nearest we get to sparkling wine in the lab is when the colour of the machine is referred to as Champagne. And that’s an exception for washing machines at least, most are white – why is that? When on holidays in Southeast Asia I’ve seen purple and green washing machines but back in Oz they’re almost always white. Stainless steel doesn’t seem to have penetrated the Australian laundry yet.

Mind you stainless steel hasn’t penetrated my household at all, even though it seems very popular. And that’s something we keep in mind as testers: we need to know what your preferences are when we evaluate products, and not be guided by our personal idiosyncrasies. The community section of our site gives you an opportunity to tell us what you think in a much more direct way. We’ll also do formal research and this will explore in more detail comment received via our blogs.

What you’ve told us so far is that Choice members are ahead of the trend in the increasing proportion of front loader ownership. This in turn seems to be showing an increasing dissatisfaction with the long normal wash times these machines tend to have. So some people, perhaps up to fifty percent of front loader owners, are opting for shorter wash times. I’m a front loader owner and quickly got tired of waiting two plus hours for each load of washing – I’ve got better things to do on my weekends. It’s now programmed to the shortest wash it’s capable of.

The other thing I’ve noticed with my machine, and some Choice members have reported this too, is that being incredibly water efficient, I sometimes don’t get effective rinsing of the detergent and so get residue on my clothes, which is particularly noticeable on dark items. I have a lot of dark clothes and aren’t about to change my wardrobe, so my solution was to dramatically reduce the amount of detergent I use. At about a quarter of the recommended dose it worked and I’m still satisfied with the wash.

Maybe you’ve had similar experiences?

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