Nappies, toilet training and bathing

Babies will need nappies until some time into their second or third year.
 
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  • Updated:2 Sep 2009
 

05.Washing machines and washing tips

Before baby, you might have been able to get away with one or two loads of not-very-dirty washing per week. This could increase to a load or more every day, especially if you’re using cloth nappies. Now might be the time to look at replacing your washing machine.

Top loaders vs front loaders

Top Loaders

Pros
  • Slightly fewer breakdowns and repairs compared to front loaders.
  • Faster normal program wash cycles.
  • Generally cheaper to buy.
  • Lighter and so easier to move.
  • Easy to add clothes once a cycle has started.
  • Tend to have better rinse performance.
Cons
  • Generally harsher on clothes.
  • Use up to three times as much water as front loaders.
  • Use more energy when washing in warm to hot water.
  • Use more detergent.
  • Cost more to run.

Front loaders

Pros
  • They’re gentler on clothes.
  • Most use less water.
  • Most use less energy when washing in warm to hot water.
  • Use less detergent.
  • More programs, and higher temperature wash options.
  • Cheaper to run.
  • Higher spin speeds, which means they get more water out – convenient however you dry clothes, and money-saving if you use a dryer.
  • Best for small spaces – you can fit most models under a bench or put a dryer on or above it.
Cons
  • Longer wash cycles – up to two hours in some cases (but many have ‘fast-wash’ options for lightly soiled clothes).
  • Generally more expensive to buy.
  • Higher spin speeds and less water can mean more creases – so more ironing. Some models have ‘anti-crease’ cycles to avoid this.
  • With some models you can’t easily add to the wash load after the cycle has started.
  • Heavy to move.
  • Some models need special brackets if placed on a wooden floor.
  • Tend to have louder spin cycles .
  • Some may rinse poorly due to their very low water usage.

What to look for

Space savers

  • If space is limited consider a front loader or a top loader with a lid that folds back leaving space to put a dryer or shelves above it.
  • If width is a problem, consider a top-loading drum type (they’re narrower than most machines).

Ease of use

  • Is the labelling on the controls clear and the program selection straightforward?
  • Access to a front loader drum is easier when the door opening is large, and the door opens through 180°.
  • Is the lint filter easy to clean, and are the detergent and fabric dispensers easy to use and to remove for cleaning?

Water matters

A limited water supply:

  • A front loader is more water-efficient.
  • Look for auto-sensing water level options.
  • Reduced load functions can help save water when washing smaller loads.
  • A suds or rinse water-save feature reuses sudsy and/or rinse water.

Hot and/or cold water connections:

  • Some machines need both to operate correctly, or a special connector or a sealing cap for the hot-water inlet, if you want to connect it to cold water only.
  • Check the maximum temperature recommended for the hot-water inlet. Many manufacturers recommend a lower temperature than most hot-water systems deliver—particularly solar hot-water systems. You may need a tempering or thermostatic valve to reduce the temperature. It can also help prevent major burns—important if you have babies and children in the house.

A limited hot-water supply or potentially very low cold-water temperature and you only have a cold-water tap:

  • Look for a washing machine with a heater. (Some machines offer a ‘controlled cold’ option, which brings the temperature up to around 20°C, either by adding hot water, or heating the cold water.)

Energy matters

  • Front loaders are generally more energy efficient.
  • If you use a dryer, look for a washing machine with a high spin speed (at least 1000 rpm) that extracts more water from the clothes.
  • Switch the machine off and unplug it from the power point when it’s not being used. It could also save your machine from damage if there happens to be a power surge.

Other useful features

  • An extra rinse option or an allergy program—good for sensitive skins.
  • Pre-wash and/or soak programs for really grubby children’s clothes or soiled nappies. Particularly good with the use of enzyme-based detergents which break down biological stains.
  • Wash temperature options 60°C and higher to get whites really clean without as much bleaching and for hygiene reasons.
  • A separate rinse function—useful for rinsing nappies after soaking.
  • Delicate/gentle and/or woollens programs for very delicate baby clothes.

What to buy

CHOICE currently has 48 washing machines on its database, below are the top and front loaders we recommend sorted by size.

Up to 5.5kg

Fisher & Paykel MW512

F&P MW512Price: $749
Size: 5.5kg
Type: Top loader / agitator

Good points

  • A good overall performer.
  • Excellent rinse performance.
  • Extra features include a gentle/delicates wash, fast wash, woollens wash, out-of-balance correction, water-saver option and selectable spin speed.

Bad points

  • It’s not gentle on clothes.
  • Has a low water-efficiency score.

Fisher & Paykel GW512

F&P GW512Price: $859
Size: 5.5kg
Type: Top loader / agitator

Good points

  • Excellent rinse performance.
  • Extra features include gentle/delicates wash, fast wash, favourite wash, auto-sensing water level, woollens wash, out-of-balance correction, water-saver option and selectable spin speed.

Bad points

  • It has a low water-efficiency score.
  • Not gentle on clothes.

6 to 7kg

Fisher & Paykel WH70F60W2

F&P WH70F60W2Price: $1139
Size: 7kg
Type: Front loader

Good points

  • Very good water efficiency
  • Extra features include: selectable spin speed (max 1200rpm), time remaining display, woollens wash, gentle/delicate wash, fast/quick wash (2.5kg load only), extra rinse option, out-of-balance correction.

Bad points

  • Lowest wash temperature for cottons is 30°C.

Asko W6362 Quattro 1600rpm

Asko W6362 Quattro 1600rpmPrice: $2199
Size: 6kg
Type: Front loader

Good points

  • Very good spin efficiency and good water efficiency.
  • Good rinse performance and gentleness.
  • Relatively short ‘normal’ cycle time for a front loader.
  • Extra features include: gentle/delicates wash, out-of-balance correction, fast wash for smaller loads, variable spin speed (max. 1600 rpm), time-remaining display, auto-sensor wash, woollens wash, extra rinse option and delay start.
  • Outer fold-down door.
  • Door automatically opens at the end of the wash (can be deactivated).

Bad points

  • If the program time runs longer than a previous wash with the same program, ‘1’ will be displayed until the program is finished (annoying if you’re waiting for it and think there’s only a minute to go).
  • Loud during spin cycle.

Miele W3725 Honeycomb Care

Miele W3725 Honeycomb CarePrice: $1999
Size: 6.5kg
Type: Front loader

Good points

  • Very good dirt removal and water efficiency.
  • Good gentleness and spin efficiency.
  • Extra features include: gentle/delicates wash, out-of-balance correction, fast wash for small loads, variable spin speed (max. 1300 rpm), time-remaining display, auto-sensor wash, woollens wash and extra-rinse option.

Bad points

  • Rinse performance only OK.

Electrolux EWF1074 Time manager

lectrolux EWF1074 Time ManagerPrice: $899
Size: 7kg
Type: Front loader

Good points

  • Very good water efficiency.
  • Extra features include: selectable spin speed (max 1000rpm), time remaining display, gentle/delicate program, quick wash (as an option, not program), extra rinse option, out-of-balance correction.

Bad points

  • Only OK spin score.
  • Lowest wash temperature for cottons is 30°C.

Fisher & Paykel GW612

F&P GW612Price: $969
Size: 6.5kg
Type: Top loader / agitator

Good points

  • Equal best overall top loader in its size range.
  • Excellent rinse performance.
  • Very good dirt removal.
  • Extra features include gentle/delicates wash, fast wash, favourites wash, woollens wash, out-of-balance correction and selectable spin speed.

Bad points

  • Low water-efficiency score.
  • Particularly low score for gentleness.

7.5kg or larger

Electrolux EWF1083 Time manager

Electrolux EWF1083 Time ManagerPrice: $1059
Size: 8kg
Type: Front loader

Good points

  • Very good water efficiency.
  • Extra features include: selectable spin speed (max 1000rpm), time remaining display, woollens wash, gentle/delicate wash, fast/quick wash (3kg load only), out-of-balance correction.

Bad points

  • Scored only 63% for rinse performance.

Fisher & Paykel Aquasmart WL80T65CW1 / WL80T65DW1

F&P Aquasmart WL80T65CW1Price: $1249 / $1199
Size: 8kg
Type: Top loader / low profile agitator

Good points

  • The best top loader in this size range, using front-loader-like quantities of water and yet still achieving very good dirt removal.
  • Extra features include a gentle/delicates wash, favourite wash, auto-sensing wash, woollens wash, out-of-balance correction, selectable spin speed and time-to-go display.

Bad points

  • Some consumer complaints about detergent residue and linting, see Downsides of water efficiency for details.

Bosch Logixx 8 WAS28440AU

Price: $1949
Size: 8kg
Type: Front loader

Good points

  • Very good rinse effectiveness.
  • Spin and water efficient, and gentle on clothes.
  • Has a relatively short “normal” cycle time for a front loader.
  • Extra features include: gentle/delicates wash, out-of-balance correction, fast wash for smaller loads, variable spin speed (max. 1400rpm), time-remaining display, woollens and hand-wash programs, an extra rinse option and delay start.

Bad points

  • Scored only 67% for dirt removal. The manufacturer recommends using the “Intensive” button for a full or very dirty load. This is likely to improve the wash performance, but will also significantly increase the time.

Tips for stain removal

  • Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for application, dosage, fabric type, soak or wait time prior to laundering, and safety.
  • Check both product and garment washing instructions—some products aren’t suitable for fabrics such as silk, wool and some synthetics.
  • Treat stains immediately if possible, as the longer they’re left, the harder they’ll be to remove. Soaking can loosen heavy soiling.
  • Identify the stain before treatment, as some stains (such as blood) can be ‘set’ by a high water temperature, ironing and direct sunlight. When in doubt, remove any excess, then rinse or soak the soiled items in cold water before laundering or applying a stain remover.
  • Check whether the soiled item is colourfast—if you’re not sure, test the stain remover on an inconspicuous part or a clipping from a seam.
  • When applying a stain remover directly to the stain, work from the outside of the stain inwards, to prevent it spreading.
  • Mix powder soakers in water at the correct temperature before adding the soiled items.
  • Don’t use powder soakers on metal buttons. Don’t use aerosol sprays on wet fabric.

Safe use of cleaning products

  • Keep all your cleaning products out of reach of children, especially sprays without a childproof trigger.
  • If swallowed, check the packet for instructions before doing anything. Most of them say not to induce vomiting but to rinse the mouth, drink plenty of water and call the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26, plus contact your doctor immediately (and take the package along).
  • Ensure adequate ventilation with any of the sprays and aerosols.
  • Aerosols are highly flammable and should be stored in a cool place. Don’t puncture or incinerate the cans, even when empty. Some also recommend not spraying on washing machines, dryers, painted or plastic surfaces.
  • Some ingredients can irritate eyes or skin. If you get some in your eyes, flush them with water and contact your doctor.
  • Avoid contact with skin: don’t treat clothes while you’re wearing them and always use rubber gloves or wash your hands thoroughly after use.
 

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