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Best washing machines for large families

We talk you through how to choose a great washer for a large household, plus the models that scored well in expert testing.

Last updated: 26 April 2024


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If you have a big family or household, it likely means you spend more time than most doing mountains of laundry (we salute you). 

It also means you need a washing machine that's up to the task – one that's not only big enough to cope with the piles of school uniforms, towels, bed sheets or dirty gym gear, but one that's also easy to use, reliable and makes light work of a grubby, stained load.

And there's even more to consider, such as how much your machine will cost to run, and how long that load is actually going to take – we know time is often of the essence!

So if you're on the hunt for a new washing machine that can handle your bottomless loads of laundry, we've rounded up some expert advice. And for CHOICE members, we'll highlight the largest machines that our CHOICE experts recommend for big households. 

What size washing machine do you need?

First up, how big a washing machine does a large family actually need? 

Washing machines start at around a capacity of 6kg – this is the dry weight of the load of the washing you can fit into it. But 10kg-plus machines are now commonplace, and you can even find a few with a truly cavernous 18kg capacity!

While size definitely matters, you might not need as much capacity as you think. Most of us only wash about 3.5kg of laundry at a time – about a full laundry basket's worth – irrespective of our washer's capacity. 

You might not need as much capacity as you think ... most of us only wash about 3.5kg of laundry at a time

So you might be OK with a smaller washer, just pack more in it. CHOICE experts recommend that when using the cottons program you can wash as much laundry as you can literally stuff in. Don't worry if you can barely shut the door on a front loader!

But if you are looking at a gargantuan machine, then make sure it'll actually fit in your laundry. And that will mean different things depending on whether you're buying a top loader or front loader.

CHOICE laundry expert Ashley Iredale says: "Top-loader dimensions vary wildly, so before buying make sure you measure the space first, and check if cupboards or other overhead obstructions will prevent it from opening. 

The taller the washer, the deeper you have to reach into it to get your clothes out

CHOICE washing machine expert Ashley Iredale

"And remember: the taller the washer, the deeper you have to reach into it to get your clothes out, which could be an issue for the shorter of stature."

Front-loader dimensions are relatively standard, so they'll fit under a bench and into cabinetry. But high-capacity front loaders may come in the larger 'American' form factor, so check this before you buy.

Do bigger washing machines cost more to run?

A larger machine will not only cost you more to buy, but will cost more to run in both water and energy. So it's important to buy the right size of washing machine for your family, and not go overboard if you're not going to use the larger capacity.

It also means that when buying a large machine, it's even more important that you choose one that scores well on water and energy efficiency in our CHOICE reviews.

Which washing machine brand should you buy?

There are a handful of brands synonymous with washing machines that have likely cropped up in your research, including big names such as Samsung, Bosch, Fisher & Paykel, Miele, LG and Westinghouse. 

Our experts test machines from all of these brands and more, and we certainly find that some are better than others.

We've gathered data on brand reliability for washing machines over the past five years, taking into account things such as the number of breakdowns, the types of problems owners experience and owner satisfaction with their appliance brand.

We've identified the best brands based on our test results, and on feedback from our members on satisfaction and reliability

We've identified the best brands based on our test results, and on feedback from our members on satisfaction and reliability. 

In 2023, we found the most reliable and best front loader washing machine brands to be Miele and Bosch, followed by Samsung and LG. 

It's important to remember, though, that good brands are still capable of producing poor performers, so you should still check results for individual models in our washing machine reviews.

What's better – top-loading or front-loading washing machines?

"In general, we prefer front loaders for their superior performance, gentleness and water efficiency," says Ashley. 

But all that water efficiency comes with a tax of longer cycle times – a full capacity load can take up to several hours.

If you've got multiple loads to do, then time is a luxury you don't have, so a top loader might be a better option for big families. 

We prefer front loaders … But all that water efficiency comes with a tax of longer cycle times

With their higher water consumption, top loaders tend to have much faster programs, so you can power through whites, coloureds, delicates and duvets – and get them all on the line with enough daylight to dry thoroughly.

Still prefer a front loader? Just load it the night before and use the delayed start function so it's done at dawn if you've got multiple loads to get through. Then start the second cycle early for the best chance of same-day drying.

Should you consider a washer-dryer combo?

Think a washer-dryer combo is a good option for a full house? Think again.

Two appliances in one is a space saver, but their drying capability isn't suitable for large quantities of laundry.

This is because their drying capacity is typically only half their washing capacity, so if you do a full load of washing, you'll need to take half out and dry it in two lots. 

Plus, drying takes ages in these types of machines – up to six and a half hours. You're better off with stand-alone appliances.

The best washing machines for large families

We've taken into account all the needs of a large family doing loads of washing, and come up with a list of the biggest and best models we think it's worth spending your money on, based on our test results.

These are all models we've put through their paces in the CHOICE laundry labs, assessing them on everything from how well they remove dirt and rinse out detergent, to how fast they wash and how much water and energy they use. 

Our detailed washing machine testing data is available exclusively for CHOICE members. 

Consider becoming a CHOICE member to access this section and our full washing machine results, plus reviews from more than 200 other categories.

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The best front-loading washing machines for large families

1. LG WV9-1412W front loader

  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 83%
  • Price: $1799
  • Capacity: 12kg

Households of at least five or six people are likely looking at a machine that's 12kg or more, and this LG model received the top score in our review. LG is also one of the brands that rates highly in our reliability research. 

Our experts say it has excellent rinse performance, is very good at dirt removal and is water efficient. 

It also has 12 wash programs and a feature that lets you pause and add items mid-cycle – handy if you're often finding stray bits of clothing around the house that you want to chuck into the wash you've already started.

Downsides are that it's relatively expensive to run, at $1263 over 10 years, and if you're using the cotton cycle, prepare to wait a while – it takes over 4.5 hours.

Read the full LG WV9-1412W review.

2. LG WV10-1410W front loader

  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 82%
  • Price: $1499
  • Capacity: 10kg

If you're after a similar machine to the previous one that's not quite as large, here's another LG model that's a great buy. 

It also has excellent rinse performance, very good dirt removal and very good water efficiency. But it also has a very long cycle time and is relatively expensive to run –$1186 over 10 years.

You can choose from 15 different cycles, including specialty programs such as wool, and quick wash for when you need a shirt or two cleaned in a hurry.

Read the full LG WV10-1410W review.

3. Samsung WW12TP04DSH front loader

  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 82%
  • Price: $1449
  • Capacity: 12kg

From another brand that ranks high for reliability is this 12kg washer that scored just one percentage point behind the top performers in our test. 

Although it has a long cycle time of 159 minutes for the program our experts tested on (the cotton cycle), there is the option for a 39 minute super speed cycle for loads of 5kg or less. 

Our experts say this machine gets a "very good" rating for dirt removal, rinse performance, water efficiency and spin efficiency. 

Read the full Samsung WW12TP04DSH review.

4. Bosch WAX32K41AU front loader

  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 81%
  • Price: $2899
  • Capacity: 10kg

With automatic dosing, smart connectivity and a feature that lets you pause and add forgotten items after the wash cycle has started, this Bosch has plenty of bells and whistles alongside its (admittedly very expensive) price tag. 

It's also thankfully a top performer in our review, scoring just two percentage points less than our top recommended products. 

It's also cheaper to run over 10 years than the models above, costing $756 over 10 years, which helps balance out the purchase price somewhat. 

The only negative point noted by our testers was that the cotton cycle is quite long, taking 168 minutes from start to finish. 

If you're willing to sacrifice just a kilo of capacity, though, you can pick up a 9kg capacity Bosch front loader that our experts recommend for over $1500 less. 

Read the full Bosch WAX32K41AU review.

The best top-loading washing machines for big families

The vast capacity and faster wash programs of many top loaders make them an enticing product for households regularly confronted with huge mounds of laundry. 

Just be aware that their washing performance is generally not as good as a top loader, and they use a lot of water.  

If you have your heart set on a top loader, though, here are the models that scored the best in our tests.

1. LG WTG1434VHF top loader

  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 73%
  • Price: $1499
  • Capacity: 14kg

Managing a whopping 14kg of laundry is no small feat, and CHOICE experts say that this sleek stainless steel top loader is very good at dirt removal and has very good rinse performance. 

It also lets you add items after the wash has started, and its glass lid means you can keep an eye on your wash if you're so inclined (you do you!). 

It's the largest top loader available from LG, and the top scorer of the top loaders we've tested recently, with a CHOICE Expert Rating of 73%. 

We remind you though that, like many top loaders, it's tough on your clothes and not as water-efficient as a front loader. But if you're set on a top loader, it's one to consider.

Read the full LG WTG1434VHF review.

2. Fisher & Paykel WL1068P1 top loader

  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 70%
  • Price: $1499
  • Capacity: 10kg

With 12 wash cycles including allergy, hand wash and sheets, this Fisher & Paykel top loader got a CHOICE Expert Rating of 70%, which is the best score from a Fisher & Paykel top loader in our latest review. 

CHOICE expert testing reveals it has excellent rinse performance, but, as is the case with many top loaders, a gentleness score of just 46%. 

Read the full Fisher & Paykel WL1068P1 review.

Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.