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Is older better when it comes to kitchen appliances?

Old vacuum cleaner on retro carpet

New Which? research shows that some brands are significantly more reliable than others. We looked at cooking, cleaning, laundry and refrigeration appliances, but have you got an oldy that’s better?

Our new survey shows that if you own a cylinder vacuum cleaner made by Bosch, Miele or Numatic (makers of Henry machines), you’ll be faced with far fewer reliability problems than if you have a Hoover.

And LG and Miele fridge freezers have a much better overall reliability record than those made by Samsung.

Reliability and Best Buys

We know that reliability matters and that’s why, before awarding products with our coveted Best Buy status, we make sure that brands don’t have a poor reliability track record.

We also ask Which? members to tell us how satisfied they are with their products and whether they would recommend them to a friend. From this, we produce a customer score to show which owners are happiest.

Owners of Miele cylinder vacs give them the thumbs up with an impressive customer score of 87%. Which? members with Hoover cylinder vacs are less happy and give them a customer score of just 48%.

Oldest appliances in the country

Over 10,000 survey results tell us about the reliability record of products up to six years old, and the brands to go for now. But what about older machines?

We regularly hear about trusty old appliances that keep on going. They may need a bit of TLC and the odd repair, but it appears that up and down the country, plenty of old appliances are still delivering the goods for consumers.

When I started a Conversation about how hard it is to repair home appliances, your comments soon turned the trusty appliances that haven’t given up the ghost over the years:

‘My Toshiba microwave I bought in 1983 for £299 is still going strong apart from a bulb replacement done free within the five-year guarantee period,’ said Argonaut of the Seas.

Christopher Ninnis sang the praises of a Hotpoint washer dryer bought in 1978:

‘It has only just started to give up the ghost… sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t. I think the control unit is worn out – if I knew how to find the model number which has worn off I would try to get it repaired. I asked my local Hotpoint dealer if he could help, but he said buy a new one. Seems a shame to lose a trusty old friend.’

Tell us about your ancient appliances

Our research shows that these examples aren’t alone. Some Which? members are making tea with kettles from the 50s, drying their hair with hairdryers from the 60s and getting their dishes clean with dishwashers from the 70s.

So if your coffee maker pre-dates the Beatles’ first number one or your vacuum cleaner was bought before Hillary and Tenzing conquered Everest, let us know.

And with Christmas just around the corner, I’d also love to hear from the owner of the oldest oven or cooker cooking this year’s Christmas dinner? Can you beat the Gas Light Co. cooker from 1930?

CarolineR says:
22 December 2011

I have a Brother microwave that was bought just after I got married in 1986. I have had to replace the internal bulb but it is still plodding on. I dread the time I will have to replace it, as I don’t like the new ones on offer! I also had a Bosch washing machine for 17 years with no repairs apart from a new door seal. It finally gave up the ghost and became irrepairable, much to my dismay and I have had a number of other brand washing machines since then and have now bought another Bosch.

(I also have my mothers’ electric sewing machine (Cresta) which was purchased in 1957, which makes it older than me!)

Riccoh says:
22 December 2011

A Bamix “Magic Wand” hand held food chopper/mixer purchased by my parents in 1975. I use it mainly for soup making when blending the veggies after cooking. Still works perfectly.

Hi everyone – wow, there’s some impressive lengths of service here. Lots of trusty Kenwood Chefs in particular (the review of the latest incarnation of this kitchen machine is over on the main Which? site: http://www.which.co.uk/home-and-garden/kitchen/reviews/food-processors/kenwood-chef-classic-km336/review/).

Looks like IEK’s 1950 Prestige dome pressure cooker is the oldest example so far, along with Dave D’s handed-down Hoover Junior vac from the early ’50s… Would love to see some pictures of these!

@Kelly – where should we post / send pictures for you? You are welcome to see pics of my Hoover Junior (and indeed the other Hoovers and the washer) if they interest you.

Hi Dave – thanks very much! Would be great if you could send to homeeditor@which.co.uk.

That goes for anyone else who’d like to share pics of their reliable old appliances and gadgets with us – if we get enough, we can pull together in a gallery 🙂


Longley Shopper says:
25 December 2011

Interesting to compare the comments on here about long-lived Kenwood Chef’s against the review that Kelly points to and specifically the negative owner feedback attached to that review with regard to Kenwood refusing to apologise for altering the fittings so that people’s attachments won’t fit newer machines.

Suggests to me that, rather like the ubiquitous Hoover Junior which was so reliable that at one time Hoover offered electricity board showrooms a substantial sum for every Hoover Junior they could get back from a customer on part exchange, so they could be destroyed by Hoover, the Kenwood Chefs were so well made in the first instance that Kenwood’s shareholders actually don’t want people to carry on using them as it’s affecting their profits.

What a shame that quality is despised by the capitalists in this way.

Bet Hoover are not happy with Dave D and his old vac’s and washer!!!!!!!!

I’ve just realised that if I included my mum’s appliances, and moved slightly out of the kitchen, I might be able to offer some more (near) record breakers:

Mum is very much anti-gadget and has very few appliances but …….

Wedding Presents in 1956:

Morphy Richards two bar electric fire. Used daily (in cold weather) from the day they were married until we had heating in in 1969 and then used extensively in the early 1970’s coal strike as our heating was coal fired.
Belling one bar electric fire. Use as above.
Neither of the fires has ever had a new element or any other fault and both are still fully functioning and like new, but rarely used now.

Smiths Sectric mains powered mantel clock. Run continuously since their marriage and still running now.

Morphy Richards hairdryer. Monstrously heavy and hasn’t been used for a good 10 years as it’s too heavy for mum to lift now she has arthritis, but was still working absolutely fine last time she used it. Never been faulty.

Morphy Richards Senior dry iron. Wonder how many million items that has ironed since 1956? Still working fine though. Had a fair few new flexes over the years but that’s it.

Mum’s first washer was in 1984 and it was a Hoover Electron 1100 de luxe (just like my first one). Hers ran faultlessly until 2006 when the door latch became faulty. Parts obsolete so mum bought a Miele Prestige 6 model but we’ve now had the Hoover mended and she uses that (now in the garage) rather than the Miele as it washes better and faster.

Mum’s only Hoover (vacuum) is her 1959 model 1334A junior. It’s as good now as the day it was new, although it has had several sets of bearings and at least 2 replacement outer cloth bags that I know of.

@ Kelly – I’ll send you some pictures later.

@Dave – thanks for these, they’re great!

If anyone else has pics of their trusty old appliances do send them to homeeditor@which.co.uk, along with how long they’ve been going for…


My parents (also Which? members) have a Lec fridge which functions perfectly and is a little older than me. I’m 52 in January.

Lec/b> fridges were the subject of consistent good reports
in Which? in its day.

I have a GEC, still works, but do not use it anymore as having
something much more modern and spacious of a fridge/freezer,
the latter seemingly taking a more prominent role.

Had a wonderful and roomy Kelvinator but I accidentally
disabled it, shame on me.

I’ve always bought Lec until now because of a) knowing people with ancient Lec fridges still going strong and b) them being British.
Sadly I’m told that they are no longer British made (does anyone have any way to confirm this?) and although to be honest what Which? say doesn’t carry very much sway with me normally, the fact that Lec no longer get good Which? reports coupled with them not being UK made means that next time I need a Fridge I’ll probably go for Miele if I can afford it or else some thing like Frigidaire which is cheap but seems to get very favourable reports these days.

I use a Whirlpool **** fridge and freezer- no one’s particular recommendation-
and have been for quite some years. I constantly monitor temperatures in both
freezer and fridge compartments and they stay at recommended levels, always,
so no grounds for complaint about anything.

If, however, have to buy again and money were no problem, would probably
settle for a more refined Bosch or a Miele.

Old fridges may still work but whether being able to attain required temperature
levels is quite another thing. Personally am a bit doubtful they can.

An error re previous…. bold text is meant to apply to ‘Lec’ only
…..jinx playing up. I did the correct things, believe me.

Mike P says:
24 December 2011

I have a Hotpoint washing machine (can’t read model No) dating from around 1986 used regularly and never even had a fuse replaced. I also have a 21st birthday present of a Philips potable radio and only ever replaced the batteries, I am now 71 so 50 years can’t be bad.

Claudine says:
29 December 2011

My Kenwood Electronic food processor is nearing its 20th birthday and has never gone wrong. I have never had to replace anything.
My Bosch washing machine and dishwasher are both nearly 10 years old, and have never failed.

Hanna says:
30 December 2011

We have a Hoover dryer that is a s old as our son (39 years). It has been repaired and serviced once about 15 years ago. It no longer stops turning on opening the door, and it is quite noisy but that is not a problem in our semi-detached location It still dries beautifully. I am sure it would get a low energy rating, so we now only use it occasionally.

Lorna says:
30 December 2011

I have a Kenwood Chefette that was a wedding present In 1969 that I use regularly also a second hand Kenwood Chef that dates from the 1960s.

mark says:
20 January 2012

My cooker is a baby Belling bought by my parents when they got married in 1961, eventually they bought a full size cooker and this one went into storage in the garage, In 1987 when I left home and got my first flat the cooker came with me and has been in constant daily use ever since and is still in full working order, It cooks amazingly well and cooked 6 Christmas cakes to perfection for family and friends this year (albeit one at a time)! It is so economical to run as it plugs into an ordinary socket and has a grill/boiler, the grill element heats up a cast iron plate above so you can grill and boil pans at the same time so saving on electricity, I love it and wouldn’t dream of replacing it unless I absolutely had to.

Young says:
8 February 2012

We bought a (Which? recommended) Miele S4210 cylinder vacuum cleaner a few years ago. It performed well but then suddenly – without warning – it died on us. The repairer confirmed that although still mechanically sound, it required a replacement circuit board costing around £80. A new cleaner – with at least two years’ guarantee – could be purchased for not much more than this.

So we bought one – a Bosch BSG71266GB (also Which? recommended). Again, this did an excellent job before suddenly conking out last week. And again, the diagnosis is that the motor is in good nick, but requires a replacement electronic component costing £80(+).

Bosch and Miele both make much of their environmental credentials. But there’s nothing very green about a pricing policy which encourages customers to chuck out (almost) perfect machines and buy brand new ones when a minor component fails.

By contrast, my grandparents were still happily using in the 1960s an Electrolux cylinder cleaner that they’d bought some 40 years earlier. Any repairs were straightforward and inexpensive.

So much for technological progress…

My AEG so-called Compact electronic 408 microfilter cylinder vacuum cleaner
is still going strong after in excess of 20 years; I bought this in preference
to Which?’s recommendation of Miele or Bosch because it was a
little cheaper….don’t recall Which? recommending the AEG.

I don’t rely so much on Which? reports that I wd perhaps in older days.

Dorothy A says:
25 March 2012

I also have a Moulinex electric carving knife from 1972 I received as a wedding present…This knife is used all the time and is in perfect working order, and the blades are still sharp!!!! Incredible. This knife lasted way longer than the marriage did!!!!!!!!!!

Tee says:
19 April 2012

Well today, my Phillips Microwave from 1980 bit the dust! (a hole has burned through the inner roof) it had been passed through the family and has out lived up to 3 other Microwaves purchased in the past 15 years. Also I had a Phillips light bulb in my bathroom from 1990 to 2009! It’s a shame things now are not built to last for so long.

Your microwave is not dead, Tee. All you need to do is to replace the mica waveguide cover. If food gets splashed on this cover it will spark, arc and burn away, but it is usually an simple job to replace. You probably paid a lot of money for a microwave oven in 1980, so you might as well fix it and get your money’s worth.

Carole Broughton says:
29 April 2012

I have a Kenwood Chef inherited from my mother, heavily used by both of us. My mother aquired it late 1960s early 1970s.

Joan Vaughton says:
8 August 2012

I have had a Miele washing machine and dryer for 40 years, they are limping a bit now but what great value for about £600 each, a lot of money then….but I am looking into buying a new washing machine for not that much more now..

J Reid says:
18 September 2012

I also have a 1983 toshiba microwave used daily and no problems apart from the occasional light bulb

I too have a trusty Toshiba microwave purchased in 1979, used in our home kitchen until 2001 when it was replaced with a Sharpe, the Toshiba was then moved to my office and has been daily heating up pasties, cakes and the occasional cup of tea / coffee that gets cold when I’m busy, Still going strong AND still has the original bulb working.

Callmecor says:
2 December 2012

I have used an old Ewbank sweeper for years . My mother gave it to me in the sixties and I am still using it. It is quick and efficient especially on wood floors. I recently wrote to Ewnbank and learn that the Ewbank model I own was last issued in the thirties so I estimate my sweeper to be over seventy years old and still used daily. It has had new brushes but apart from some rust and knocks it is still going. It has printed proudly on it Made in Great Britain.