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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.

Comments

In a word, “NONE”.

The member quote in the intro sums it up quite well for me, though I’d go a little further and say that I don’t want ANY of these features because I WON’T use them and the WILL make the appliance more expensive to buy and almost CERTAINLY make it less reliable and efficient.

For me a letter from the Energy Saving Trust when I was challenging how they could give their EST recommended award to a washing machine which used 4 times more electricity than a 23 year old model says it all:

“We know that ALL modern washing machines will use more electricity than older models due to the additional features in modern machines”. (I have the letter still if anyone wishes to check that I am quoting verbatim.)

So why bother asking us to save energy then?

“Back to basics” should be the motto of all appliance designers and manufacturers.

Dave D,
I agree with a lot of what you say. The only gizmos I want are temperature control and a “go” switch.
I’m not sure about you figures on the 23 year old model using only a quarter of the electricity that a modern machine does though?
It could be that the older model had hot and cold supply fill, whereas modern machines tend only to be cold fill.
Reality is however that even back then they wern’t really hot fill.
In my house and I’m sure most houses turn on the hot tap and it takes a while to get hot water because the initial water is what is the cold water in the pipework between your tap and hot water cylinder or combi boiler.
Translate that to a washing machine “hot fill” and you’ve filled with cold water before any hot gets to the washing. So in most cases you still need the heating element in the washer to do the job. This being the case I don’t see how an old, most likely hot fill, washer really gets by with a quarter the electricity usage? Water heating is energy hungry, gizmos and contol circuitry use very little.

This, and of course cost of manufacture, is why modern machines are only cold fill. The hot fill more often than not actually “wasn’t”.

@ Chris, Gloucester.
Well, I know that my old machine really does use a quarter the electricity of the EST recommended modern one because I measured the energy use of the LG and the old machine using the same plug in power monitor on a good many occasions when gathering evidence to make my complaint to EST, which as I am sure you have read already, the EST made no attempt to dispute.

As for the argument that not much hot water actually reached older machines, this is of course technically possible and in some installations with unusual and contorted pipe runs, especially those fed from older combi boilers that took a long time to start to deliver hot water, it is certainly a thought that cannot be dismissed out of hand, but in an average installation, especially one fed from a cylinder, plenty of hot reaches the machine. Mine is in a utility room and the hot water cylinder is directly above the washer and the boiler directly next to it. I also have solar hot water heating. In my case, which is possibly not the most common but it certainly isn’t UN common, hot water reaches the washer instantly and makes a huge difference to wash times and energy use compared to cold fill only.

The other board on this topic, to which Richard English has also referred several times, has discussed these postulations for several years and reached an almost unanimous conclusion amongst all participants that due to the almost infinite number of plumbing configurations, what is desperately needed is machines that accept hot and cold water and can also be user-configured for the specific plumbing configuration to which they are connected.

Dave D,
I can accept what you say about “better plumbing” enabling one to actually make use of the hot fill facility on older machines, athough I would still argue that in most cases it would go the way I explained.
As for your 23 year old washer using only a quarter of the energy (but to be fair you said electricity) I still have my doubts.
Look at what the energy in a washer is used on. Very little on the flashing lights, the clock or the control circuitry, but I too still accept some of this is unnecessary. By far the lions share of power is used to heat the water and some to run the spin cycles.
Your energy monitor will be showing the wattage consumed at any given time, but the power consumed is really what level of wattage over the time of the whole washing cycle. In other words Kwh’s.
Now I cannot believe a newer washer is going to use so much more hot water or spin at such tremendous speeds that vastly more electricity is used. If you are managing to hot fill then great but the energy used to heat that water going into the machine has to be added to the total. so another batch of Kwh’s to include.
If that hot water comes from your solar array great for you it’s free, but that bonus is an external factor not everyone can call upon so nothing to do with the primary energy consumption comparison between the older and newer machines.

Fact is you need the same number of Kwh’s of energy to heat the same quantity of water to the same temperature today as you did 23 years ago. Yes you’ll use a bit more power on higher spin speeds and a tiny bit more on the clock, controls and lights but I still have a job believing you’ll use four times as much. If you are, what’s all that power being used to do?
Or is it just you’ve ommited water heating costs?

Hi Chris (Gloucester).

Sorry – the energy used is indeed the whole number of kWh over the cycle. This is an argument that has been had many many times on the other board that Richard English and I referred to and many people attempting to defend cold fill only machines make the mistake of thinking that those of us who have measured consumption are only taking the momentary readings; we’re not.

I hate to point it out as if trying to score points but I am a qualified electrician and the EST did accept and agree with the kWh figures when they wrote to state that they know all new machines use more energy (electricity) to operate.

My old washer spins faster than the LG I had so it isn’t that that explains the difference, though the fact that the old washer spins for exactly 6 minutes and the LG used to spin for something indeterminate between 8 and 12 mins might account for a very tiny amount of the difference.

The major difference is that the LG heated all water from cold and, for whatever reason I know not, took a hell of a lot longer to heat the water than the old machine does. My unscientific guess is that this might be due, at least in part, to the modern machine constantly circulating the water through pipes and pumps (and the pumps will of course use a tiny bit of extra power) and spray jest in order to try to make an inadequate amount of water do for the wash, rather than having the water contained entirely within the tub but an adequate level to do the job. I guess that the water being constantly circulated probably makes it cool down rapidly and take longer to heat to start with.

Energy for heating the water before it reaches the washer: you are right that I have not allowed for this in so far as I have not attempted to calculate the amount of gas used to heat the fraction of the cylinder-full of water that is used in the washer. However, as I get all my hot water and indeed much surplus too heated by the sun for about 8 months of the year, and always have a vast cylinder full of water heated by gas for the dishwasher (also hot fill), the power shower and all other domestic hot water needs, I don’t actually use any fuel to heat water for the washer that I would not be using to heat water for other jobs. In other words, I never heat water purely for the washer.

Sorry if this sounds a bit defensive: it’s just that I am fed up (like Richard E) of having to repeat these same things over and over again to ‘non-belivers’.

The most frustrating thing is that there are so many washer manufacturers who openly tell all consumers in almost every country except the UK that hot and cold fill does use less energy (electricity) to run than cold fill only. It’s clear that these are the facts but the mystery is why the UK won’t accept it.

Well dave, interesting debate.
But I think we’re sightly at cross purposes.
Your comments to date have suggested, to me at least, that newer cold fill only machines are less energy efficient that the older hot and cold fill.
Wheras in reality you are saying, I think, that if and because your plumbing is such that instant hot fill is possible less electricity will be used when washing with an old hot fill machine?
No electricity is used to heat water therefore less is used.
Well yes of course that is true, but total energy use to complete the wash cycle will be not much different because the water won’t heat itself, so there are no grounds to say older machines are more “energy efficient”.
In fact I’d suggest modern machines which often use less water and have fancy cycle programmes will overall be more energy efficient. That is of course energy effecient rather than purely electricity effecient.
When it comes to total energy cost an older hot fill machine could well be a little cheaper to run than a modern cold fill machine (if hot fill is instant) because heating water by gas, solid fuel or solar is usually cheaper than by using electricity. Although in the overall scale of thing we’re not talking about very much water (or water heating cost) for washing cloths.
However I would still maintain that for most people with normal plumbing hot fill offers very limited or no advantage because of the delay from turning on the hot to actually getting hot. I’ve just checked my own combi system and it takes 25 seconds so very limited hot fill advantage there, and I’d suggest a very common situation for most people.
If you are able to get instant hot water, good for you, get yourself a hot fill machine, and have slightly lower overall energy costs to run it. But to suggest (if you are) that modern machines are much worse or less energy efficient than older models just because of the way they operate is perhaps a little unjustified.

Hi Chris,

I would be rather inclined to agree with you had I not had the experience of the LG EST recommended washer which was A++ rated and found a) that it used over 4 times as much electricity as my old hot and cold fill machine and b) got a letter from EST in which they write in black and white that they KNOW that ALL modern machines WILL use MORE electricity than older ones.

That’s why I got a 1983 reconditioned hot and cold fill washer and now enjoy very much lower energy bills.

I think it is also important to recognise the difference between energy EFFICIENT and ECONOMICAL energy use.

EST themselves point out in the context of white goods and also gas boilers that an appliance can guzzle many times the AMOUNT of energy that an old one did and this does not concern them as long as it uses that energy EFFICIENTLY. This is, for example, why British Gas can get away with saying that replacing your boiler will not see you use any LESS GAS, but you will (supposedly) get more heat out the gas that you do use.

I think this is an area that Trading Standards should take a keen interest in because the general public is easily tricked into thinking that energy EFFICIENT means using LESS energy, and this is far from always the case.

Well Dave at the risk of extending our debate any longer than the subject justifies I’ll make one final comment.
Yes modern cold fill only washers will use more electricity than older “hot and cold” fill machines plumbed into instant hot water, simply because they will heat the water electrically themselves within the machine, rather than have hot water externally supplied.
However this does not necessarily make them any less energy efficient when, and as should be the case, the total energy consumed is taken into account (which includes external water heating).
If you disagree with me on that we’re going to have to agree to differ.

There is however a comment you made I certainly do agree with.
Energy efficiency and economic efficiency are not always the same.
An example.
Now you’re electrically qualified so you’ll know a heat pump system for space heating can give 2 or on exceptional days even 3 Kwh of heat output for 1 Kwh of electricity input. Now thats a theroretical efficiency of well over 100%.
However electricity cost per Kwh is as much as three times the cost of the gas you might use to run your 90% efficient condensing boiler. So although the heat pump is more energy efficient which system makes more economic sense? Which is more economically efficient most of the time? This is an even more pointed example if the difference in installation cost and life of system is factored in. To go for a heat pump system or not I would suggest is more about the existence of a gas supply or not. So clearly energy efficiency and economic effeciency are not always the same thing.

Now the same argument could be used where hot fill washers use gas (or even cheaper solar) as the hot water source. But washers use only a few litres of water heated to say 40 degrees so the cost difference gas (or even solar when the extended installation payback period is taken into account) to electric is to say the least minimal.
And if you’ve NOT got perfect instant hot water supply plumbing, as most of us won’t have, there is little or no saving at all.
As for modern machines consuming electricity (on other than water heating) at the alarming rates you suggest, well I simply don’t believe it’s really happening in the way you think it is. So there we’ll have to agree to differ.

Finally, I would agree manfactures should when asked tell us just what the electricity in their washer is used for. They should without too much difficulty be able to break down consumption relative to water heating, the spin cycle, the control system, pump system etc. etc. Then you can make your own judgements on both the energy efficiency and economical efficiency.

Hi Chris,

I’m happy to agree to differ and I certainly don’t want us to “hijack” this convo for this one topic.

I’ll only add (or rather repeat) that the facts that I have presented have been accepted and in no way disputed by the EST, and that on the White Goods Help Blog to which Richard and I have referred there are large numbers of people, of all qualifications and backgrounds, who have found the same; and, of course, some more people who find it as hard to accept as you do.

The crucial aspect of this, and indeed the one that is most relevant to this convo, is, as you have said in your last post, that manufacturers and test institutes (such as Which?) need to be obliged to be explicit and clear about what energy is used by appliances and in what way it is used. This would both enable people to make informed choices (as you pointed out) and would also expose the truth about modern appliances in a way which would be hard to dispute (or misunderstand).

Regarding washing machine energy efficiency – This is an interesting discussion. Reflecting over our results of the last ten years, the same period the Energy Label scheme has kicked in, there are some notable changes. Firstly, machines have got bigger, increasing from an average 5kg capacity to 7kg. The energy used in a complete wash cycle has also crept up, however, and this is the interesting part, energy use per kg of load has remained more or less the same but seems to be reducing over time.

Longley Shopper says:
29 December 2011

I’m with Dave D (Cat) above.

Most useful feature of a washer the time remaining display? You’ve got to be joking! Neither mine nor anyone else’s I know gives a time that’s anything like accurate! On mine it sits at 1h37m from when I start it until the rinses start (about 40 mins) then jumps to 49m and sticks on that until the spin starts when it says around 13m (give or take 2 mins) and carries on saying that for anything up to 40 minutes whilst it attempts to balance the load. When it actually spins it starts to be roughly accurate, going first to 6 mins and then counting down in ‘minutes’ that seem to last about 50 secs on average until it gets to 0h0m …….where it stays even though the drum carries on turning for at least 5 minutes.

I know someone with a Miele – thought they were the best? – and the time goes both up and down regularly during the cycle but never seems to bear any resemblance to the actual time it takes.

Can’t see the point.

Delay start? WHY???? Look back at the convo about leaving appliances unattended: I think you’ll find that a few firemen contributed to that pointing out that using delay start features is more or less asking to set your house on fire. That’s a feature that should be banned by law.

Only feature mentioned by Lisa that I find useful is the extra rinse on the washer (not dishwasher though), but that’s because these modern ones don’t rinse properly without it, so really what we need is either washers that use enough water to rinse properly in the first place or make the “extra” rinse part of the normal programme and stop pretending.

Well done Which? for saying you’ll make manufacturers understand that we don’t want these gimmicks, but good luck: I don’t personally think any manufacturer will take any notice – they’ll just laugh at you and carry on.

The extra “rinse” option proves that washing machines (not dishwashers) don’t rinse properly in the first place. Allergy sufferers beware! Appliances are full of gimmicks and features which people don’t want/need, because manufacturers want to make it appear that they are inventing and innovating new ideas, when in reality it seems they have run out of ideas, so they have to invent new ones to appeal to the public and make the public feel like they are getting something new, more modern etc.

The “pause” button on the washing machine exists for adding the forgotten sock after starting the wash, before the water inside has become too hot. Please don’t get rid of this feature!

Why not bring back the hot water connection, especially as more people have solar heated water now? Ditch the other fancy features and bring back the hot water inlet. Talking of hot water, I’ve read that warm or hot water rinses better as it dissolves the detergent, which cold water does not. Warm rinsing would be a very welcome feature, to save you, your household or guests from itching. What do you think?

Fully agree with you David, on everything except the Pause button matter: I have a 1983 washer (which is hot and cold fill). It has no pause button. In fact it has just one knob and that’s it. You turn the knob for the programme you want, pull it out to start and push it in to switch off. If you do find a forgotten sock or whatever you simply push tie knob in and open the door, then close the door and pull the knob out again.
As you quite rightly say, David, the new “features” are just reinventions of the wheel and in the case of the pause button it’s a way to get round the fact that modern solid state (and in my experience sadly unreliable) controls, when made cheaply, don’t ‘remember’ where they were (like a rotating knob) if you stop the machine to add the sock.
If the machines were made to a decent standard (e.g. mum’s Miele – which does have solid state electronic controls, doesn’t have a pause button, but does remember where it was at if you stop it temporarily, as does my own Miele dishwasher) then there would be no need to invent daft things like pause buttons.

But, in-depth discussion on the pause button aside, yes, David, you have got it absolutely right about inventing “features” for the sake of it.

As for hot and cold fill: yes, as per another recent convo there is a substantial campaign group running on another site pressing for this, especially as we are now just about the only country in the world, certainly in the EU, that does NOT have hot and cold fill washers.

Warm rinses: mum’s Miele offers this as did an LG that I briefly had (but it was useless so it went fast!). Both manufacturers say that warm rinses shift detergent better and indeed mum is of the opinion that this is correct having tried it. That said, there is absolutely no doubt whatever that my 1983 machine, like mum’s last machine, which rinses in water that comes half way up the door, shifts far more detergent, in much less time, using cold tap water, than the Miele or the dreadful LG. In my opinion trying to rinse in a teaspoon of water, and heating that water up electrically from cold, is both stupidity and also far less environmentally friendly (not to mention costing more) than using a decent level of water to start with. What’s more, the time saving means that my old washer does a 95 degree hot wash in an hour and 10 minutes – modern machines seem unable to do a 40 degree “quick” wash in under an hour.

Which, bringing this back to the original convo intro, comes back to my earlier post: “Back to basics”. Hot and cold fill washers, with no daft gimmicks, that wash and rinse well and quickly, would be infinitely better than all the gimmick-laden and ineffective modern machines. And the same applies to most other appliances: we just need machines that do the job they are supposed to do without all the bells and whistles.

Louisa J says:
5 January 2012

David – I’m with you on the pause button, I have used mine numerous times as I’ve suddenly spotted the dropped sock on the floor by the washing machine as the machine has started filling or wanted to change the programme. It is great as it stops the fill immediately allows you to make amendments and do not have to wait for the door lock timer to release to add an item to to the wash

Louisa J says:
5 January 2012

Hi Dave

I’ve got the LG direct drive washing maching which I absolutely love and a 40 degree quick wash on it is 40 mins standard, 47 mins if you turn the spin speed up to 1400 rrp. Although if I’m doing a quick wash I tend to leave it at 30 degrees which is 37 mins on 1400 spin

Louisa

LOL! I’ve just remembered something quite amusing that is a bit relevant to this.

When my neighbours moved in they bought a huge Fridge with ice dispenser in the door and all kinds of things like chilled water dispensing and fancy LCD displays and all sorts. They are a gadget-mad family.

However, when it was delivered, it would not go through the front or back doors of the house! To get it in they had to take off both doors (of the fridge) and remove the ice dispenser. Once in the house and re-assembled they found that the door seals did not work properly, the ice dispenser did not work and the water chiller leaked.

Not surprisingly, given that it had been half dismantled, the manufacturers refused to repair under warranty. I’m not sure how much the fridge was to start with but my neighbours said that once they had paid for the repairs it had almost exactly doubled the cost of the fridge.

Strikes me that rather than all the daft gimmicks, it would be better if appliance (fridge in this case) manufacturers stuck to making appliances a standard size that is known to fit though ordinary doors? (or on making purchasers measure their doors before the order is accepted).

Prudence says:
10 January 2012

A sensible suggestion – what is the point of having an appliance that is your ideal or dream one if you can’t get it into your home?

I have a chill box in my fridge and I wouldn’t be without it. I only wish the fridge had a butter conditioner. I had one on my fridge in Canada and it was great to be able to keep the butter in the fridge without it becoming a solid lump. I agree that ice and water dispensers are a waste of space and only add to the cost.

Which? – you say on this page: “We’ll ensure manufacturers listen” – can you please do something very important for your members and for consumers: demand that washing machines rinse properly? I’m an eczema sufferer and I find all new washing machines don’t rinse properly and require lots of manual extra rinse cycles, as the option of “extra rinse” on its own makes no noticeable difference!

No washing machine should be awarded a Which? “Best Buy” rating if it can’t rinse properly. If Which? requires that a washing machine must rinse properly in order to achieve a Best Buy, this would benefit everyone. I would be pleased to hear what Which? says about that.

@Dave D – please explain why your 1983 washing machine works better and uses less energy? Do you think it washes better than newer washing machines? Does it perform the main wash cycle with more water?
Thanks.

@David.
My positively ancient washer fills with hot water only for 60 degree and hotter washes, and with a mix of hot and cold water for 50 degree and cooler washes. This makes it much faster and far cheaper to run as it isn’t heating the water from cold in every cycle.
The main wash water level is about the same as modern machines (possibly a little higher) but crucially the machine fills “all in one go”, not, as some modern machines do, a spurt at a time over about a 10 minute period. This also makes the wash faster and means that the washing starts immediately too.
The machine is controlled by an electromechincal timer, as all older machines used to be. This operates in conjunction with the pressure switch for the water level and the thermostat for water temperature. The result is that the machine washes in a reasonably fixed time (unlike new machines) and it really does wash AT the selected temperature, not in tepid water which is drained the very second it REACHES the selected temperature. This means that the duration of the cycle is pretty well known and varies little and that the washing phase doesn’t need to be anything like as long as newer machines as the wash process is far more effective.
Rinsing is carried out by first adding cold water to the wash water at the end of the wash phase. This dilutes the soapy dirty water and gets rid of a lot of soap at the first drain, and then by three rinses with water half way up the door. After the first rinse there is a short spin which extracts almost all the dirty water so that the second rinse water is usually all but clear. Each rinse lasts barely 2 minutes, unlike modern machines which seem to make 2 rinses last nearly and hour, judging by the LG and Miele ones I have experience of. Finally the last spin starts as soon as the timer ticks over to spin, and I don’t know whether it is good luck or superb design and manufacture, but the machine doesn’t waste anything up to 45 minutes trying to balance the load, it just spins, and in 20 plus years of me using this same model I doubt if there has been an out of balance load more than 4 times. This means that it is not only quick but also far quieter than Mum’s Miele, my partner’s Zanussi and the awful LG I tried once, all of which waste ages so-called balancing and then sound like pneumatic drills when they do spin.

Finally, and in my opinion most importantly, my machine gets through a boil wash (95 degrees) using about 1.25 units of electricity and does a ‘non fast coloureds’ (40 degree wash) using less than 0.5 units of electricity. The LG I tried was A+++ rated and used well over 4 units to do a 60 degree wash and almost 3 units to do a 40 degree wash. How much of that energy use was down to it being cold fill only and how much was down to the stupidly long wash times (about 3 hours and just under 2 hours respectively, compared to about an hour and 10 mins and about 50 mins for the nearest cycles on my old washer) I don’t know, but it was the energy use that prompted me to correspond with EST and I have referred to their assertion that “all new machines use more energy………” above. That’s why the LG went in a skip and my current machine was brought back into service.

There have been endless arguments about old versus new washers on many forums, most especially white goods help blog run by washerhelp (Andy Trigg), and whilst no one seems to be able to to agree on why it is the case, there is widespread agreement that modern washers (made in the last 10 years or so) are costly to run, unreliable, ineffective (most especially at rinsing), short-lived (even very expensive ones) and cannot really compete with the old hot and cold fill machines for either speed or running cost.

Frustratingly most washer manufacturers (Miele, Zanussi, Electrolux, LG to name 4 big names to start with) sell hot and cold fill models all over the rest of the world and advertise them as being more energy efficient, but refuse to sell them in the UK. As yet no one I know of has managed to get anyone to say why this is.

I fear that I’ll be told off for straying so far off topic, but I hope this answers your question.

David – Try using less washing powder or liquid than recommended. That can help eczema sufferers and everyone else to save money. Biological powders/liquids are best avoided by SOME eczema sufferers, though it is best to use them if you are not affected.

There are better ways to save water than to design washing machines that do not use enough water.

Absolutely agree Wavechange: when I had the LG I used to have to rinse EVERY load I did at least 3 more times after the programme had ended to get anything like all the detergent out, and I was (still am) very frugal with detergent. sometimes I took the washing out of the machine and rinsed it by hand in the bath, then spun it again.

Whether I used extra rinses in the machine or manually did the rinsing, the amount of water used was far far far greater than anything an older machine used to use to do the job right.

And to be fair to LG, you only had to read Which? test reports on Washers, which I have to say I take with a pinch of salt because Which? give “Best Buy” to machines that according to their own reports I would never touch as they appear to be very poor, to see that poor rinsing necessitating extra rinsing is a very very common thing on almost every brand these days. It isn’t an exclusively LG problem.

I do agree with David though: how can Which? possibly recommend, let alone give Best Buy status, to any machine that doesn’t rinse really well? If which? stopped doing so at least some manufacturers would make changes to the machines very very swiftly indeed.

IMHO rinsing that is less than “outstanding” (by which I would mean at least 95% or detergent removed) should prevent a machine from being a Best Buy and rinsing that is less than “average” (Which? will know what the average amount of detergent residue is) should make any machine a “don’t buy” without any further hesitation.

To say something on topic, washing machines should allow the user to choose the number of rinses and spin speed for all programmes.

It seems odd that any washing machine that does not rinse adequately should be selected as a ‘Best Buy’, but that depends whether other machines are significantly better in this respect. It is possible that manufacturers are under pressure from to cut water consumption. There must be some reason why modern machines use much less than those made 30 years ago.

You make a good point wavechange.

Instead of all the fancy features that no one uses, all appliances should allow the users to choose what they want rather than a restrictive ‘menu’ of things they don’t want.

In the case of washers that would mean being able to select water levels, temperatures, spin speeds and whether the machine is to use hot water inlet or now. Miele do this – they call the machine the AllWater…but they refuse to sell it in the UK. That machine is a good example of how appliances, not just washers, SHOULD work: user-configurable.

Longley Shopper says:
29 December 2011

Reading what Dave D (Cat) says about rinsing and Which? Best Buys I think I know why Which? don’t already do this – if they did I don’t think there would be any best buys at all and I think about 60% of machines they test would become don’t buys. I know Which? say they are independent buy I don’t think they would dare to upset the makers that much!

I think modern machines are bad though, and have you noticed that in a Laundrette the machines all use hot water, all fill up to a higher level and all wash and rinse better and faster than at home?

Prudence says:
10 January 2012

I agree: Which? needs to have “teeth” and if an appliance isn’t doing the job well they need to be bold enough to say so, even if that means that the number of appliances they recommend becomes a very small number.

Hi Longley Shopper

Regarding washing machine rinsing scores, we’re tough on rinsing but all Best Buys get at least 3 stars for this. We also aim to mention if machines have an extra rinse option if rinsing is comparatively poor to other models on market. Rinsing is a notoriously difficult subject but it’s worth noting that detergent fragrances intended to stay in fabric after washing are a likely source of irritation.

I would like all fridges and fridge-freezers designed with the type of hinges that make it impossible to leave the door slightly open. A simple, elegant solution to a common problem.

Prudence says:
10 January 2012

A brilliant suggestion. Why have none of the manufacturers thought of this? So simple yet so valuable.

That would be a great idea though it would need to only kick in when the door is almost closed as we often need to leave the door ajar whilst loading, cleaning, or reaching in with one hand whilst cooking or juggling beers 🙂

I can see why ovens have clocks, so why don’t fridges have calendars so I can check what is going out of date?
Seriously, Which? must take this washing machines “cold fill only” issue on board and shame manufacturers into providing the option to fill from the hot tank. Apart from the excellent point made by David about solar powered water supplies in many homes, why should I have to heat the washing machine water electrically when I have a reasonably economical gas heating system that has ample capacity. In the light of previous comments about the benefits of a warm rinse, I am wondering why I could not just couple the machine to the hot supply rather than the cold. OK, it would be difficult to get a 40C wash but we hardly use that programme anyway.

All these extra features and programs on washing machines are down to a few lines of computer code – really no extra cost there.
As for extra rinse , some clothes can benefit with the extra rinsing and the feature is useful for those who have sensitive skin and want a lower level of detergent residue. Its a matter of balancing water usage/wastage and what the average wash requires.

Thanks for replying Dave D. Your 1983 washing machine sounds like it can easily out-perform every Best Buy on here! 🙂

Instead of manufacturers adding more and more silly features that nobody uses on a regular basis, why not make washing machines that actually do the job properly without costing too much money to run or repair?

I once did a test, a few months ago, to see if I really am allergic to detergents or if it was all in my mind. I tried a wash load without the extra rinsing. One night shortly afterwards, I started itching and couldn’t explain why, so I took off my t-shirt and the itching stopped after about 10 minutes. Close inspection of the t-shirt inside, which I was wearing at the time, showed small white streaks (the t-shirt is black). After that one time of not doing the extra rinses, I went back to performing the extra rinses manually, as I had done for so long and I’ve never had the itching again and never had the same white streaks appear on anything since.

Maybe one day we will see washing machines with hot and cold fill and have properly rinsed clothes without wasting extra time? As for other kitchen appliances having fancy gimmicks, I find it annoying that modern dishwashers (with all their fancy marketing) don’t dry properly and metal items rust very quickly if you don’t open the door quickly enough at the end to let out all the steam. What’s the point in trying to dry items in moist air? Older dishwashers used a heating element at the bottom and yes this was risky, but you placed plastic items securely on the top rack to avoid melting heat-sensitive items. Why don’t simple kitchen appliances like toasters last very long now? Do the manufacturers make these items overly complicated and sell at such a competitive price that the reliability is non-existent now?

David – Liquid capsules will not leave the white residues that powders and tablets leave, but they are not so good with whites. People react differently, so it is essential to find out the best solution.

Proper rinsing and using a small amount of detergent are probably the best solutions.

I’ve tried all the detergents, including liquids. Since liquids don’t leave behind white streaks, this gives a false sense of good rinsing because the liquid detergent will still be left behind in your clothes without being visible, just a strong “perfume” smell being the only indication. Yes I’ve reduced the dosage and used softener without perfumes – the only thing that works is an entire extra rinse cycle.

Older washing machines used to fill much higher with water during the rinses and I never had these allergies 20 years ago because washing machines rinsed better back then.

Forgot to say in my previous comment… Here’s a USEFUL feature which every dishwasher should include: an indicator light or notification on an LCD to remind the user to clean the filters and another reminder to run the dishwasher empty with a cleaner. Maybe the really useful “features” are those which remind us to perform maintenance, which is easily forgotten about when there’s a million and one things to do everyday! A similar reminder should be used on washing machines to remind people to run the washing machine empty on the hottest cycle with a cleaner, as this gets rid of the hidden residue that builds up and smells. I’m sure it’s easy to monitor how many times a washing machine and dishwasher has been used and to remind the user after X number of uses to clean the filters etc.

It seems clear to me, both from the comments above and from the statistics presented in the Which? report, that there is a case for both ‘Bells and Whistles’ and ‘Back to Basics’. In other words, people should be able to exercise a choice through a range of models and manufacturers.

There is a danger that calling for everything to go back to basics would remove that choice.

I’m not one for ‘unnecessary’ bells and whistles but, for example, I still like to have an accurate ‘time remaining’ display. May not be useful to you, but is useful to me! The main thing is that any bells and whistles work.

My dishwasher uses an ‘intelligent eco’ mode that reduces water requirements based on the dirtiness of the water. The problem is that food that has stuck on plates does not enter the water and never will if reduced water is used. So much for ‘eco’ when I have to wash them again! (By the way, this occurs because I tend to run the machine once a day when there is a reasonable number of pots to wash.)

My washing machine uses an ‘eco’ mode to use less water. Again, every single wash I do has to have an extra rinse to ensure that the soap is removed from the clothes. Otherwise, I suffer from an allergic reaction to the soap residue. (By the way, I already use less soap than indicated in the manuals.)

Effectively these ‘eco’ modes on these machines are a waste of time for me, but I still find ‘time remaining’ very useful!

I say: keep the choice but when you do spend more on an appliance with ‘features’ make sure they both work when required and can be disabled when not.

Perhaps using a washing machine which provides a choice, Which could do some testing on whether clothes benefit from an initial cold soak before the water heats up, or whether hot-fill does give just as good washing results as is implied by many of the correspondents above. Certainly if any blood stains need removing it is essential to risnse in cold water first.
A similar situation exists with the dishwasher where I think an iinitial cold ‘rinse’ is beneficial.
With regard to delayed start etc., I suspect these will become essential in due course when more electricity comes from renewable, intermittent, sources. Pressure needs to be placedon manufacturers by Which and other consumers to ensure that the risk of fires being caused by unattended machines is acceptably small.

My Miele Dishwasher doesn’t do a cold rinse at the start – but the instruction book claims that this is because rinsing dishes with food scraps on them in cold water makes the debris stick more firmly. The book especially mentions protein items like egg in this situation.

Possibly this is why Dishwashers don’t usually have a cold rinse at the start?

Would be good to hear the Which? response to many of these comments regarding effectiveness and comparative efficiency of modern machines, benefits/downsides of hot/cold fill.

Like many, I’m not convinced of the benefits of many ‘features’ of modern appliances – but ironically, many that were rated most useful in your survey, I’d put at the bottom of my list, and vice versa – so personally, I’m hoping manufacturers don’t listen too much! But, in common with almost every comment here, I’d say, unless there is a good functional reason otherwise, bring back hot and cold fill.

JamesAard1 says:
6 January 2012

I’d like to see all fridge doors opening WITHIN their own size. Countless clients have had to replace and re-replace their gleaming new treasures (indeed bereft of ‘features’, as manufacturers also tend to make ‘bare’ versions if you look for them.) as one can’t open the door/s when installed. Surely only those with large enough kitchens to have free-standing objects can use them. The masses (us) have to have a ‘fitted’ kitchen where everything is shoe-horned into a ‘standard’ space of 600mm or 1m. Why don’t fridges ‘fit’ into this standard?
I have recently seen TV screens put into fridges!? Surely there should be enough to watch in the washing machine and oven?
As a student, I used to have my weekly shower together with my clothes in the bottom of the bath, upon which I used to tread as the water level rose. They came out lovely and my feet were subsequently stink-free for longer too due to the washing powder! It kept me a bit fitter too.
The means to decent washing of clothes, I have found, is unsurprisingly -lots of water. Sadly we don’t have enough to go around anymore, but the greywater recycling facility for every home would be extremely useful for the future…..

Colin says:
6 January 2012

Having delayed start on my dishwasher, washing machine and drier saves me around 40% on my electricity use for these appliances by being able to use off peak electricity during the night. It’s certainly an essential feature for me !

I hope you have good smoke alarms Colin. Ever since I had to deal with a small fire for a neighbour, over 30 years ago, I have never left the washing machine on when I am out of the house or in bed.

I agree with wavechange regarding leaving any washing machine, tumble drier or dishwasher on unattended. These things can flood the kitchen or catch fire, it’s just not worth the risk!

Percentage figures are commonly the most misleading figures ever. They advertise washing on 30 degree washes can save 41% on electricity but my calculations when I researched it were that this equated on average to about 2 pence because they don’t use that much energy on a 40 degree wash.

Washing machines do not use vast amounts of electricity to do one load, and one load is all you can set them to do during the night. According to a leading detergent manufacturer the average wash programme uses 0.482 KWh – less than half a unit of electricity. Even if paying 30p per unit it’s 15p so you might only be saving 40% of 15 pence.

Chris Gordon says:
6 January 2012

Hot and cold fill on both dishwashers and washing machines should be standard. My washer dryer (bought in about 2003) does have a hot fill but the dishwasher does not. More capacity to make a manual selection of temperature, spin speed and drying time is really essential. The issue about excema is interesting; I suffer from it and will experiment to see whether there is any laundry liquid left in the wash. I use liquid for sensitive skin.

“The least useful features included a pause wash on washing machines”

No, no, and no again! I wouldn’t say I use it every time I do a wash, but I do use it regularly. There’s nothing more annoying than discovering that dropped item that’s missed the boat and now has to wait perhaps a week before it gets washed. What conceivable harm does the function do? It surely isn’t particularly complicated and doesn’t use extra electricity.

The most useful feature for me is the wool hand-wash program. It really works, even with the most delicate of yarns, and it’s bliss not having to wash by hand all the garments I have knitted over the years.

John Harwod says:
6 January 2012

I always use delay start on my washing machine and dishwasher so that they operate on cheaper electricity during the night. I would love to see a hotter but much shorter cycle on dishwashers as I think this would give more effective drying than the present lower temperature eco type cycles.. Forget the multi programs on both w/m and d/w… like virtually everyone else I tend to use the same cycles all the time. As for the rest of the gizmos, apart from chilled water and ice dispensers on fridges, the most are pretty useless and unused. I wish manufacturers would put as much energy into energy saving as other things.

What could be more useless than chilled water dispensers?

I’ve long wanted to get one of those big American style fridge-freezers; the factor that more than anything stops me from getting one is the ridiculous amount of space wasted by (to me) totally useless water and ice cube dispensers. Fridges and freezers are for storing perishable foods. Why would I want to store tap water in them? It keeps perfectly well in the tap as it is!

If one could have them as an option, that would be fine, but they appear always to be built-in.