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Ikea: best buys and what to avoid

From cots to mattresses, ovens and fridges, we dish the dirt on what you should and shouldn’t buy from Ikea.

closeup_of_ikea_storefront_showing_ikea_logo
Last updated: 08 October 2019

Need to know

  • Ikea's iconic highchair, mattresses, cot mattresses and certain kitchen appliances get positive reviews from our expert testers
  • Ikea cots and dishwashers sit somewhere in the middle, so it's important to check our product reviews before you buy
  • A fridge and change table are on our 'things to avoid' list, both scoring poorly in certain categories in our testing 

Does the sight of the bold blue and gold that heralds Ikea send a frisson of retail-related pleasure down your spine? Or perhaps you're literally offended by the thought of paying money for furniture you have to assemble yourself? Maybe you just go there for the meatballs. 

Whatever your thoughts on the Swedish Temple of Homewares, there's no denying that Ikea often hits the mark with a huge range of great-value, functional products, and there are probably few homes that don't lay claim to at least one item with an unpronounceable Scandinavian name.

However, our expert CHOICE testing has found that Ikea is also home to many dodgy buys that are probably best avoided on your journey through the warren of Hemnes, Hovags and Bjurstas.

Whether you're renovating a kitchen, furnishing your home, preparing for a baby or just love dropping cash on things you didn't know you needed, here's our round up of the best buys and the scandi-lous (sorry) rip-offs.

Good buys

Ikea mattresses

CHOICE home expert Peter Zaluzny says buying a mattress from Ikea is not a bad option when compared with other cheaper models such as Koala. 

"Ikea's free trial period is three times longer than Koala's, their warranty lasts a whopping 25 years and it's easy to try each mattress in store before entering the free trial period," he says. "Plus, they have quite a few models to choose from." 

The five Ikea mattresses we've tested range in price from $249 to $699 and we recommend three Ikea mattresses. You should choose wisely however, as Ikea doesn't have free delivery or pickup if you want to exchange the mattress, and you're only eligible for one exchange under the free trial period. 

Ikea cot mattresses

We test cot mattresses for safety, which includes for firmness and accuracy of dimensions. Of the 39 cot mattresses we've reviewed, we recommend over half. We've tested four Ikea cot mattresses in our CHOICE labs and, although none were among the highest scoring, they performed well (see full scores and cot mattress reviews).

"When choosing a cot mattress, it's really important to check for firmness," says CHOICE expert Kim Gilmour. "We test each mattress to Australian/New Zealand firmness standards, however it's not mandatory for cot mattress manufacturers to meet these requirements. This makes if difficult for Australians to be confident they're buying a safe mattress." Check out our cot mattress reviews before you buy.

toddler_in_ikea_highchair

Cute baby not included: CHOICE testers agree that the Ikea Antilop high chair is easy to clean, lightweight and affordable.

Ikea Antilop highchair

As one CHOICE member aptly put it: "Can all the restaurants in the world be wrong?" And indeed, this famous, sturdy plastic highchair is used en masse by eateries all over the globe, and equally revered by millions of parents tired of wiping up smears of spaghetti bolognese. 

We reviewed the iconic product and although it didn't score as highly as other highchairs in our tests, at $24.99, it's hard to deny that this is a bargain buy that does the job. 

It's cheap, lightweight and easy to clean, although our testers did note some downsides:

  • the harness has no shoulder straps (and it's not permanently attached, so could be a safety issue if you lose it)
  • it's not foldable
  • it has no footrest
  • the tray is extremely hard to remove

A CHOICE member said: "The Ikea high chair is simplicity and function rolled into one affordable piece of baby equipment. Everyone I know who has purchased a cheap Ikea highchair as a 'back-up' at granny's, or for a holiday house, have soon discarded their fussy, expensive chair in favour of this one."

 See our expert highchair reviews.

ikea-kulinarisk wall oven

We are known for roasting terrible ovens, but the Ikea models performed well in our tests, especially when you consider their lower price point.

Kitchen kit: wall ovens and gas cooktop

Although neither of the Ikea wall ovens we tested made our recommended list, they both scored above 80% in our testing, which is either close to, the same or better than other branded models that are significantly more expensive. 

Another star Swedish performer is the Ikea Matmassig gas cooktop ($299), which did score high enough to be recommended – it was very easy to use and performed well at all temperatures.

And more...

Wooden coat hangers, lingonberry jam, paper napkins, kids' plates and cutlery, tea lights… these are just some of the other items our members have told us they love to stock up on at Ikea. Not to mention the famous Billy bookcases, bought in such volume that there apparently exists nearly one for every 100 people in the world (fun fact: they're named after Ikea employee Billy Likjedhal).

ikea stuva cot

Got a fear of flatpack? Check our cot reviews before you buy.

Exercise caution with these Ikea products...

Ikea cots

If you're asking yourself if you should buy a cot from Ikea, it's important you take a look at our cot reviews. We've tested six cots from Ikea with mixed results – we recommend two models while others have minor failures or ease of assembly issues. 

The one to avoid if you have a fear of flatpack? Our testers say the Ikea Stuva cot ($409) is extremely hard to assemble and had a minor fail for safety.

Ikea dishwasher

Our household goods expert Ashley Iredale says: "The Ikea Lagan dishwasher is fine. It delivers middle-of-the-road performance, with limited features (no child lock controls, delayed start or specific programs) but it does the job and doesn't cost a lot. It's relatively noisy and expensive to run, though."

ike nedkyld fridge

The Ikea Nekyld is the worst-performing fridge we have ever seen.

Best to avoid

Ikea Nedkyld fridge

The Ikea Nedkyld fridge is so bad, we awarded it a Shonky in the 2019 CHOICE Shonky Awards. 

Not only is it a basic fridge with limited features, but it shockingly failed its energy test, meaning it uses a lot more electricity than it claims on its energy star rating label. It's also one of the worst-performing fridges we've ever seen, which means your food won't last as long. 

CHOICE's king of whitegoods, Ashley, says: "A fridge should last you 10 to 15 years, so you'd be wearing the expense of this misguided purchase into the next decade and beyond." Save yourself the trauma and check out our fridge reviews.

white ikea sundvik change table

This cheap nursery buy failed to impress CHOICE testers.

Ikea Sundvik change table

This is one cheap nursery buy that's best avoided. It may only be $249, but this unit has been plagued with issues. Not only is it supplied in 199 pieces and took us about two and a half hours to assemble, it failed our in-house stability test.

Our expert Kim Gilmour says: "The instructions warn that this table should always be secured to a wall, but we don't believe people are likely to always do this, so we tested on an unsecured unit." 

Ikea says the change table assembly includes securing it to the wall and that the change table will be safe in this configuration. But whether or not this table is secured to the wall isn't the only issue.

In May 2019, Ikea issued a recall of this model due to three reports of incidents where the foldable part came loose and children fell off the changing table. 

Kim says: "This change table is a recipe for trouble and is best avoided. The hinges that are used to unfold the table can buckle if they're not secured. Parents are obviously busy and are likely to flip the table open and change their child without latching the hinges, which makes them weaker and prone to breaking."

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