/ Home & Energy, Shopping

What bells and whistles do you want on kitchen appliances?

Ice dispensing fridge freezers, eco washing dishwashers and fully programmable cookers… kitchen appliances come with lots of extra features, but which do you find essential and which can you live without?

Modern kitchen appliances are packed with features designed to make life easier, from holiday settings to egg trays. But what are the features people actually want and need?

We asked over 10,000 Which? members their views to sort the indispensable features from the gimmicks.

Practical features came out on top, with the most popular being a frost-free fridge freezer to save you from the chore of defrosting it. Other essential fridge freezer options included temperature and door open alarms, deep drawers and ice dispensers.

Fan-assisted cooking is a must for ovens, sensor drying for tumble dryers was rated quite highly, and a time-remaining display was deemed the most useful for washing machines.

Useful versus useless features

One theme that came out from our survey was that appliances come with lots of options and features that we use just because they’re there, even if we don’t actually find them that useful. And some settings are used just a few times and then left alone.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I generally wash most things on the same setting and hardly ever make use of the extra rinse cycle on my dishwasher. And does anyone ever use the sport setting on their washing machine? One member sums all of this up quite well:

‘I hate buying white goods with bells and whistles that cost me money but don’t make it work any better.’

We’ll ensure manufacturers listen

The least useful features included a pause wash on washing machines, holiday settings on fridge freezers, and being able to delay the start or end time on tumble dryers.

We’re sending our findings to manufacturers to ensure your voices are heard, and in the meantime we’ll be using the survey results to update our online reivews for all the kitchen appliances we covered, allowing you to filter by the features that were rated highly.

What kitchen appliance features do you find the most useful? Are you delighted by a delayed start, or is a memory function a must-have? Do you find endless options on control panels frustrating, or are they genuinely useful? Here’s your chance to rant and rave about your appliances’ features.

Adam says:
6 January 2012

As far as I can see, Which? have not included ISE Appliances in their testing. ISE claim that their washing machines, dryers and (soon to be available) dishwasher are designed to be simple and very long lasting. They are NOT cheap – on a par with Miele I think – but if their claims are justified could well provide an excellent long-term solution.

Apparently their ‘eco’ washing machine, which allows both hot and cold fill as opposed to cold fill only on their other washing machine, is unique in that it ‘intelligently’ allows both hot and cold to fill the machine as and when needed. ISE claim that other hot and cold machines only do one or the other depending upon the chosen programme.

Finally, their dishwasher uses a fan to dry so I imagine would avoid the steamy atmosphere referred to in posts above.

Please Which?, test them for us!


I’ve heard good stuff about ISE appliances. ISE claim to be very reliable and cheaply repairable when repairs are needed in future – *much* cheaper to repair compared to Miele.

I do hope Which? are reading these comments. Please Which? – test ISE appliances from now on, only award “Best Buys” to washing machines that rinse properly and persuade manufacturers to include hot fill on their washing machines AND dishwashers.


Most of the early ISE washing machines were relatively normal washing machines with the emphasis on ease of repair and aftersales.

However, the ISE10 is potentially the best washing machine available when the promise of much cheaper no-profit-markup parts, freely available technical information and ease of repair plus the definite higher build quality are taken into account.

I think it potentially is the best washing machine available at the moment for potential longevity and ease of maintaining over its life, something that needs to be very much more taken into account by reviewers. What use is a washer that washes fantastic, uses low water and energy but doesn’t last very long because of poor build quality or outrageously expensive parts, lack of technical information or deliberate not-repairable design?


Hello Adam

Which? did test an ISE washing machine but it was back in 2007 so the review has been archived as the model is no longer available and our testing has changed since then.

I can give you some information about the CI555WH washer we did test.
Although it wasn’t good enough to be a Best Buy, it wasn’t a long way off. The cleaning was good on the standard 40 degrees and easy care cycles and the short wash was pretty good, however we found the main 40 degree cycle rinsing wasn’t great.

Pros: Good cleaning, excellent short wash, free five-year warranty, delay start
Cons: Noisy, poor rinsing on standard 40 degree program

We’re currently planning ahead and looking at what models are planned to launch in 2012, so will keep the ISE brand in mind, though I’m unable to categorically say we will include one of their models.

I hope this information is of some use


Here’s the ISE washing machine with hot and cold fill.

It would be nice if they offered warm rinsing as well; is anyone from ISE reading this? 😉


Wow! A washing machine with intelligent dual fill – just like I – and others – have been suggesting on the washerhep forum for years. It’s a pity it’s not a washer/dryer as space consideration preclude my having separate units.

But I will be writing to them to ask whether they intend to make one and furthermore, whether they have any plans for a dishwasher as well.

What’s the betting that, once these machines are introduced and pprove to meet a need, the other manufacturers will suddenly discover that, what do you know, dual fill is better after all!


With regard to the many extras on modern equipment, it seems to me that the only benefit of these is to the energy companies for the unnecessary power used. I will go so far as to say that I suspect collusion between the manufacturers and the energy companies. Most appliances on standby have to be switched off at the plug and some need re-programming each time, which is a pretty effective way of ensuring most are left on standby. I recall when most household appliances had a memory and could be switched off.


You are absolutely right, Patsy. I assumed that the need to reprogram anything would be gone by the end of the 1980s, but it did not happen. We can name and shame manufacturers but it would be useful for Which? to look at this when testing appliances.

Appliances should consume no mains power when not in use. In the case of equipment that is activated by a timer (e.g. PVRs and DVD recorders) it is possible to store the power needed in an internal battery or capacitor.


Good idea Wavechange: that WHICH should look into why appliances need to be on standby. Bog standard computers are set-up to retain all their information when turned fully off and it would be simpler to do so with kitchen appliances, TV’s etc. The idea of dozens of appliances on stand by, when I am out or asleep, worries me. Times the unnecessary electriciy used on standby by households in the UK and the resultant profit from pure greed and collusion must be into the mega-millions by now. Times that figure by the rest of the world and Wow! Wonder what the guy who dreamed up standby got for Christmas? Don’t expect a rush to look at this matter though