Need to know
- The $1899 Samsung top loading washing machine uses a whopping 214 litres of water to do just one load of washing
- Although top loaders are usually slightly cheaper to buy than front loaders, they can use a lot more water and generally don't wash quite as well
- To get the best value for money and to check the water efficiency of different models, check our washing machine reviews before you buy
In a drought-susceptible country such as Australia, the benefits of conserving water are undeniable. And when you consider that Australia is the driest populated continent on earth, yet we still consume the greatest amount of water per capita, it's clear we have a long way to go.
Reducing water usage at home not only saves money, but it also helps relieve the strain on water resources and benefits the environment in a number of ways. The laundry is a great place to start, as it's responsible for almost a quarter (23%) of our indoor water use.
And if you're in the market for a new washing machine, there are a few water-wasting culprits you should avoid – including one we recently tested that receives the dubious honour of being the least water-efficient washing machine we've ever seen: the Samsung 13kg Activ DualWash Top Load Washing Machine WA13M8700GV.
"When we used the default program on this Samsung machine, it used a whopping 214 litres of water to do a complete load – that's the most water we've seen used by a washing machine in quite a long time, so it receives a score of just 0% for water efficiency," says CHOICE home appliance expert Ashley Iredale.
We test a washing machine's water efficiency by calculating the amount of water used per kilogram of the test load of washing. The lower the water consumption per kilogram of clothing, the higher the efficiency score.
This is particularly awful in a country as dry as Australia where saving water should be a priorityAshley Iredale, CHOICE home appliance expert
This isn't the first time Samsung has been in the bad books with our testers water-wise. Last year, another Samsung model, the 8.5kg Activ DualWash top loader, scored a similarly bad 1% for water efficiency, using 199 litres of water to do one load of washing.
Ash says: "This is particularly awful in a country as dry as Australia where saving water should be a priority. The larger capacity of the newer Samsung machine means it takes in more water to do its job – this is especially disappointing, as we've seen front loaders from Samsung that are significantly more water-efficient."
When we used the default program on this Samsung machine, it used a whopping 214 litres of water to do a complete load.
The problem with water star ratings
"Manufacturers must declare how many litres of water are used per wash cycle of a dishwasher or washing machine, which determines the water star rating you see on the front of the machine when you buy," says Ashley.
"Many people don't realise that manufacturers often use the most efficient program – an eco or water-saving mode – for this rating. If you don't then use this same program when you do your own wash at home, you could be using significantly more water, as we can see with this Samsung machine, which, despite claiming to use 133 litres of water per wash, actually drank a staggering 214 litres in our test.
"That 133 litre figure is achievable, but only by selecting a very specific combination of programs and settings – something the typical user just isn't going to do, so we think it's a little sneaky."
This latest water-guzzling washing machine from Samsung has provided another example of why the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) scheme needs to changeDean Price, CHOICE campaigner
CHOICE is campaigning the government to make changes to this water rating labelling, known as the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) scheme.
CHOICE campaigner Dean Price says: "The water labelling scheme is generally good but as this Samsung example shows, there are gaps in the current rating system that need to be fixed. The Australian government is currently reviewing the scheme and we are urging them to change the testing settings to better reflect how people use their washing machines.
"This latest water-guzzling washing machine from Samsung has provided another example of why WELS needs to change, so people know how much water they are likely to use when they get the washing machine home."
Man vs machines: CHOICE appliance expert, Ashley Iredale, puts dozens of washing machines through their paces in our labs.
How this washing machine stacks up
When trying to conserve water, there's a big difference between using 214 litres per wash and 133 litres per wash, especially when you think about how many times you run that machine in a typical week. Here's how a couple of different machines stack up:
Samsung 13kg Activ DualWash Top Load Washer WA13M8700GV
- Cost: $1899
- CHOICE Expert Rating: 58%
- Rinse performance score: 98%
- Dirt removal score: 63%
- Gentleness score: 55%
- Water efficiency score: 0%.
On appearance, this is a slick machine with a few pretty impressive features that might entice you to buy – it comes in sleek black with 12 programs and a built-in pre-treatment sink where you can put heavily soiled clothes for stain removal. But it's also a shameful water waster, using up a massive 214 litres during the default cycle.
By comparison, if you choose a water-efficient front loading machine, you'd be looking at about 60 litres of water used per load.
And it's not only water efficiency this Samsung machine does poorly on – it's also relatively expensive to run and came third-last in our tests with a CHOICE Expert Rating of just 58%.
Top loaders typically use more water than front loaders, but this Haier model was the best of the top loading bunch for water efficiency.
Most water-efficient top loader
There are no top loading washing machines that score highly enough in our tests to be recommended. This is mainly due to their high water use and tendency not to wash quite as well. But if you really want a top loader and saving water is important to you, this model scored the highest for water efficiency:
Haier 7kg top loader HWT60AW1
- Price: $569
- CHOICE Expert Rating: 67%
- Dirt removal score: 72%
- Rinse performance score: 78%
- Gentleness score: 39%
- Water efficiency score: 72%
- Water used per wash: 71 litres.
5 ways to save water while doing the washing
Along with checking our washing machine reviews for water-efficiency scores and water use, you can also follow these tips:
- Choose a front loader – they use less water than top loaders.
- Automatic load-sensing or reduced-load functions can help save water. Or run a cycle only when you have a full load.
- Reuse the wash and/or last rinse water on your garden (so-called 'grey water').
- Use the 'eco setting' or water-saving option and pre-treat heavily soiled items so you don't have to wash them twice.
- If you use a grey-water system to recycle water for use in your garden, make sure you use a garden-safe laundry detergent. See our laundry detergent reviews for your best options.
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.