Washing machine size wars
The typical washing machine capacity these days is around 7.5kg, but if you have a big family – or run a small boarding house – you might be casting a keen eye over the newer large capacity washers that are cropping up in stores around Australia.
We take a closer look at these large – and we do mean large – washing machines. Does 18kg sound big enough for you?
Super-size my washer
LG and Samsung have both released washer/dryer combos with capacities of over 16kg, and it's likely other brands will follow. However, we don't see the typical household having pressing need for these new commercial-size models – and with huge pricetags to match their cavernous capacities we imagine they'll be out of reach for most of us.
A difficulty with producing domestic washing machines with capacities topping 16kg is that the Australian Standard for testing washing machines only goes up to 10kg, so some tweaking goes on in the background to move these machines through the process.
As we speak, movements are afoot to accommodate new machines with up to 20kg capacity in the standard, which no doubt will open up the way for even more manufacturers to develop these larger-capacity machines.
Whether or not the standard adopts these, they should still keep within the minimum rinse and wash performance required to be sold within Australia.
While our washing machine tests focus on the smaller, more popular sizes, we'll be including more and more larger capacity washers as their range and popularity grows, and we'll keeping a close eye on whether the increase in size affects reliability, wash performance or time when testing to CHOICE methods (which differ substantially to the Australian Standard).
Video: Are you filling your washing machine to its capacity?
What size washing machine do I need?
If you're tempted by the marketing spin to supersize, remember that those extra kg cost you money.
When you're thinking about buying a washing machine, measure your average wash size to get a real idea of the size you need so you don't get suckered into a size you'll never use. Most of us only wash around 2–4kg of clothes at a time, regardless of the capacity of our washing machine. Opting for a 10kg + appliance may be a false economy as chances are you won't use that extra capacity.
Speaking of economy, an easy way to save money in the laundry and is to wash full, rather than half loads. One wash cycle with 7.5kg of laundry will be use less water, electricity and detergent than two cycles of 3.5 kg, but most of us don't realise how big a 7.5kg pile of clothes actually is.
Jump on a set of bathroom scales, then pick up your laundry basket and look at the difference. Now keep adding clothes to your basket until that difference is 7.5kg. You may be surprised at just how big your laundry pile is, and while you may not think your 7.5kg washer can wash that much in one go, it certainly can.
The other trend we're seeing in washing machines are washers that multitask.
LG Twin Wash System and Samsung's Flexwash are a completely new appliance concept and feature two washers in one – a large capacity front loader for your main wash, and a small capacity top loader for washing your dedicates – or if you've just got a small load and don't want to fire up your main washer. They also make it easy to wash both colours and whites at the same time.
Costing over $3000 they're not cheap, but offer a gargantuan 18.5kg total capacity, as well as a suite of advanced features to match their premium pricetag.
Meanwhile, Samsung has also showcased an old-school washing method by incorporating a washer tub into the top of their top loading washing machine. This means you can use the sink to do some scrubbing which might take place in the laundry tub and when you're finished, you can just tip the scrubbed clothes straight into the wash below.
This might be useful for apartment blocks that don't come with laundry sinks.