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How long should your washing machine last?

Wrecked washing machine

How long your washing machine lasts is one of the main considerations when shopping for a new model – so how about putting expected lifetimes on washing machines?

According to research by WRAP, the average consumer expects a washing machine to last six years before it needs replacing.

It has also found that a product’s lifetime is one of the highest buying considerations, just behind reliability and quality, but more important than price. It’s something that the Which? Convo community has been discussing at length on this faulty washing machines debate.

Manufacturer warranties too short?

While washing machines do not currently come with lifetimes, they do have manufacturer warranties. However, these often cover just a one or two year period. Would you feel hard done by if your machine broke just outside this warranty period?

I would. Two years seems a much shorter time than a washing machine should last, even if I’d paid a relatively small amount of money for it, say less than £250.

Lifetimes for washing machines

One solution could be to decree that all washing machines should have a minimum lifetime, perhaps three or four years, ideally with a manufacturer warranty to match?

Or perhaps it would be better for manufacturers to apply expected minimum lifetimes to their own machines – and have the freedom to give different life expectancies to different machines?

That means if I’m in the shop, I might see a cheap washing machine for £250 that the manufacturer expects to last a minimum of two years. But next to it could be a near identical machine that costs £450 and has an expected minimum lifetime of five years. That would give me a clear basis to consider paying more for the pricier model, or to save some money but lower my expectation as to how long it will last.

Manufacturers on lifetimes

So why are lifetimes not already in place? We asked LG, Bosch, AEG, Miele and Indesit how long they would expect their own washing machines to last.

The responses vary but almost all mention the same problem – there are a lot of factors that affect the potential lifetime of a washing machine, making it very difficult to predict. Such factors include:

• Correct installation.
• Where in the house washing machine is installed (a machine may not last as long as it could do if placed in a garage without central heating).
• Over/under loading.
• Frequency of use.
• Detergent usage.

Of those that provided a figure, Miele came back with the strongest answer, saying that all their machines are tested to last 20 years. But Miele does not offer a free 20 year warranty. Instead, a small handful of models have a free 10 year warranty. Five year warranties are more common, but the remaining machines have the standard two year Miele warranty.

Indesit, which also owns Hotpoint, came back to say they’d expect their washing machines to last seven to eight years, with consumers looking to replace within five to six years to pre-empt the need to replace. The standard warranty for an Indesit/Hotpoint model is one year.

When I asked why the warranty length was so much shorter than the expected lifetime, a spokesperson from the company said that warranty length is an ongoing discussion, ‘but there are some retail outlets who like to sell their own extended warranty’. Of course, a documented expected lifetime will be very helpful when exercising your rights under the Sale of Goods Act once the warranty has expired.

Do you think that all washing machines should have a minimum lifespan, or that manufacturers should be able to set their own life expectancy? Or both?

Do you think manufacturers should give minimum lifespans to their washing machines?

Yes - manufacturers should provide minimum lifespans for their own machines (85%, 1,741 Votes)

All washing machines should have the same minimum lifespan (11%, 228 Votes)

No - manufacturers should not have to prescribe a product lifespan at all (3%, 70 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,039

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Durability and economic repairability are key attributes of a decent appliance in my view, and I’d like Which? to examine and report on these aspects when comparing them. Sustainability is becoming more and more important.

Economic repairability and availability of spares is certainly becoming worse. The obvious solution is to push for longer guarantees and sensibly priced extended warranties. An increasing number of products do offer these, and we could make more progress if Which? included information when reporting its product tests.

Sadly we have some products that are very cheaply made and unlikely to last much longer than the guarantee. On the other hand, paying more is not always rewarded by good reliability, but with a decent guarantee, then it is the responsibility of the retailer to deal with the problem.

I would like Which? to look again at extended warranties, including multi-appliance insurances. As Ken would no doubt remind us, many people want cheap appliances and are prepared for the consequences. That should not mean we all have to of course.

Collecting data on durability and repairability is something I think a consumers’ association should be doing as a matter of course. The sooner you start, the sooner you will get some useful results. BEUC (the European consumer group’s umbrella body) say they take sustainability durability and repairability seriously. A concerted voice in the EU’s ear might not go amiss.

But are there any votes in promoting consumers needs?

I’m not convinced that there is a place for cheap products that could let us down, but if we are coming out of Europe then we could insist on a minimum guarantee of 5 years for all larger or more expensive products with the exceptions of products such as phones which most people replace frequently because they become outdated.

If a product has a decent guarantee then it’s more likely to be repairable and for spare parts to remain available.

If we both cross our fingers, maybe consumer issues will be mentioned in the run up to the election. 🙂

I think its strange to regard £5-600 as not worthy of a decent lifetime. If it is essential to have the latest gizmos (why?) then the older phone can be passed on to another family member.

Got distracted! I meant a £5-600 device. 🙁

Which? list a lot of washing machines around the £200 mark – mostly with poor scores (no surprise). No mention of whether they are well built, likely to be durable, whether they can be repaired, or the guarantee. They are not cheap if they fail relatively quickly, must be thrown away, and don’t do a good job of washing.

We often talk of “honesty”. Is it “honest” to sell such products that don’t perform well and don’t last – without pointing this out?

One got 65% overall score – a Montpellier at £219. It’s price was orginally £319. Wonder just what it actually is worth?

If manufacturers were required to provide a decent guarantee, consumers would be protected from repair costs. It would not be economically viable for companies to sell machines if a significant proportion needed even one repair during the guarantee period.

Abuse is a common problem with washing machines. I wonder how many of the new £1 coins have put washing machines out of action. I wonder how many machines are replaced due to unintentional money laundering and other forms of carelessness.

I wonder how many people replace working products with new ones. Before Christmas, someone along the lane had a replacement kitchen fitted. All the white goods were sitting in the rain on the drive for more than a week before collection. My guess is that they were still in working order. Some people replace working products just because they would like new ones. One reason is that plastics can become yellowed after a few years, or shelves in fridges and freezers get damaged, either due to flimsy construction or abuse, or both. How many users fail to follow the manufacturers’ instructions regarding space around fridges and freezers? This is a factor in both reliability and running costs.

I would like each Which? report to prompt us to ask ourselves if products need to be replaced, in each product review. This would help counter the efforts of the marketing men who peddle their latest, greatest products.

I have not found much benefit in moving from a 34 year old washing machine to a new one. The new one does not rinse as well so I often choose the option to use extra water. The new one has a ‘dirt trap’ door seal that has to be cleaned and dried. Other brands have this feature and I hope there is a purpose, like trapping foreign objects. The first time I used the machine I watched as the laundry detergent capsule went into the dirt trap and remained there for most of the washing cycle, resulting in detergent being released during the rinses. It does not happen every time but I’ve had to do a second short wash after the spin cycle. I must try washing powder but with my old machine it tended to stick in the dispenser, resulting in detergent being added during the rinsing cycles.

If a manufacturer a of cheap product advertises it as durable(or a retailer does this) and that model proves not to be, they have made a dishonest claim. Which? focuses on brand reliability and often alerts us to products that perform poorly or there is some other problem.

If Which? was to focus on product guarantees and affordable extended warranties we might have a quick win.

I missed your earlier comment about mobile phones, Malcolm. The fact is that the majority of phone users replace their phones every couple of years and might not be interested in a five year guarantee. Mine is over three years old and I have not thought about replacing it.

I know of no requirement to give particular guarantees. They should become selling points, as have happened to some degree with cars, but if you buy a £200 washing machine that possibly cost £50 to make I doubt you’ll get a guarantee longer than a year.

As has been pointed out before, one obstacle is the greater or lesser use to which products are put, but this can be got over with length of time of use / cycle counters for example.

Which? could (and I think should) when it tests a product take it apart after testing and look at the quality of components, construction, repairabilty and give us much more useful information. Durability testing is done by the German consumer group; why not by Which? – or why not pass on their results. Protecting the consumer is not just about checking initial performance of a product but advising for how long we can expect it to work. Value for money. Is it too much trouble?

Spending £5-600 on a mobile phone is a considerable expense for many. To expect it to be redundant after a couple of years is very wasteful and perhaps typical of a consumer society that many of us do not want to support. There is no reason to tolerate such a short life, and there are plenty of people who would take on a used phone if the owner simply had to have all the latest gizmos.

” I would like each Which? report to prompt us to ask ourselves if products need to be replaced, in each product review. This would help counter the efforts of the marketing men who peddle their latest, greatest products.”

We do not have to do what the “marketing men” (many are in fact women) tell us, as we have the brains to make our own decisions. Companies advertise products to make us aware of their existence and will tell us all of the good points. I don’t know of any that balance these with any bad points – you wouldn’t expect them to give negative publicity, would you (with rare exceptions like Gerald Ratner of course). Giving a balanced assessment is one job of people like Which? but it does need doing fairly and properly to be of use.

I am pleasantly surprised with my new Siemens washing machine as I was not expecting to be satisfied with any machine since they are required to use less water.

It has the option of 3 extra rinses and an extra water feature and clothes are getting well-rinsed much to my surprise.

It has a very unnecessary feature of Wi-Fi so I can turn it on from my smartphone – something I will never do. ☹ More useful would have been a memory setting so I don’t have to go through the rigmarole of setting the rinses and spin speed every wash. It is automatically set to spin at 1400 rpm. I think 1200 rpm is adequate and will hopefully lengthen the life of the machine as less stress is placed on it.

For many years I have put a liquid detergent straight in the bottom of the drum as it stops the pipes getting mucky.

When liquid detergents first appeared the advice was not to put them in the drum because they can go straight into a sump below the drum and not be used. That’s why plastic dosing balls were introduced. I don’t know if this applies to modern washing machines.

I don’t use the maximum spin speed of 1400 on my machine to help avoid wear on the bearings and noise. 900 or 1200rpm removes sufficient water to allow immediate ironing. Strangely, my old machine achieved this at the maximum spin speed of 800rpm.

It’s a fair point that machines are required to use less water, Alfa, but in a country where we flush the loo with drinking water, perhaps our priorities are wrong. It’s surprising that there are many properties with no water meter.

Liquids can be used with colours and that’s it, useless for lights and whites as they cannot technically contain bleach. Instead they use optical brighteners.

This means that if you only use liquids, there is zero sterilisation other than heat and, as has been discussed here before, what is labelled as a 60 wash may not in fact be a 60˚C wash as assumed.

Using liquids all the time gives rise to bacteria build up in the drum and on the alloy drum spider that can be corrosive and cause that to crack, gives rise to bad smells/odours, poor wash results and so forth.

Basically, using liquids all the time is a very, very bad idea.


Malcolm – I think we are just going over old ground. If manufacturers told us how many cycles our hours their machines were designed to last we might move forward. I do want companies to be honest with me and if anyone deliberately lies to me will be politely but firmly put in their place.

It is often said that ‘you get what you pay for’. If only this was the case, life would be simple.

Kenneth – I certainly do not use liquids all the time, but I do use them for loads containing dark colours. My washing machine has a 60 and a 60˚C setting and it seems to be the 60 setting that reaches around 60˚C. 🙁

Effective washing action removes bacteria and other microorganisms, in the same way it removes dirt. When using low temperature washes it is essential to do regular maintenance washes to prevent the insides of the machine becoming coated with bugs, which could cause smells and corrosion – as you say. I would suggest doing this more frequently than the manufacturers suggest, unless you wash at 60˚C at least once a week.

I have no experience of using quick washes or temperatures below 40˚C but I’m not convinced that they are adequate.

Whether or not it is “old ground” does not stop it being relevant. I think Which? could do a better job in assessing products and providing information on warranties.

We will never get what we pay for, but i’d like to know just what we are getting when we do pay. If that tells me the bearings are good quality and replaceable – as an example – then I’d be better informed. If machine B ran X% more cycles than A before a problem then I’s also be better informed than i am now.

I don’t see the need to sterilise washing every time it is washed. We are getting too sterile which I believe is behind many allergies these days.

I might use powder on a very hot wash occasionally, but don’t like powders generally as they don’t always completely dissolve at lower temperatures.

I do a 90 degree hot water only cycle regularly to make sure the machine stays clean. My last machine still smelled ok after about 10 years so the ways I use it can’t be that bad.

I am allergic to many detergents so have used Fairy for many years. These days there are probably alternatives, but I still use what I know is ok for me.

It’s not about the need to sterilise every wash Alfa, it’s about keeping the machine clean and preventing a build up of un-removed grease, dirt etc from clothing.

I’d post a link to a full explanation as this is a lengthy topic that most users of washing machines have little idea how complex it is but apparently some people regard that as spamming.

The bottom line is this, you should always have to use at least two detergents or three detergents if you was wool/silk or other natural materials as they require something different again. Using one is, frankly, a recipe for disaster that will ruin clothing way before it should be “done”.

You need, basically:

— Bleach containing powder detergent for whites/lights

— Non-bleach containing powder or liquid for colours

— Additional for specialist washes.

If you don’t do that you risk damage to laundry and the machine. Some damage is immediate, some will take 10-20 washes to see as it’s incremental, hence the old “after ten washes” adverts you used to see.

That is it I’m afraid.

As to allergies… ehm, no. You’ve more chance of winning the lottery ever week for year than a detergent causing any problem and, that’s not just from the detergent guys but also the medical community. It’s a myth.

Doing the maintenance wash though, well done, that’s a really good practice.


Cotton 60.

You’d think it was a 60C cotton wash wouldn’t you?

It ain’t!

It will often use a lower temperature than that, extends the wash time and “mimic” the wash of a proper 60C wash.


Because people are led to believe that the machine somehow defies the laws of physics and uses massively lower amounts of energy, deluded (tricked?) by marketing to thinking that buying a spanking new “efficient” machine will save loads of cash on electricity.

Which is obviously a fallacy perpetrated by marketers that want to sell people stuff and in this case by fudging the numbers.

And as it’s a very important selling point to many it’s important that it’s “sold” to people.

So if a manufacturer can claim that they can do a cotton 60 with 1 unit as opposed to 1.5 for others then you are on a winner in the marketing arms race. Whether that proves true or not, of course assuming it’s ever challenged, isn’t really an issue. They get to claim, uses 50% less energy.

People swallow it hook, line and sinker.

But it gets worse as they can do that or, they can use the load capacity and divide the theoretical kg load weight by energy used and get a random figure that way that, looks great but you’ve not a hope of ever achieving in real world use.

There’s all manners of tricks to fool people on energy use and why that the seemingly small change for 60 degrees centigrade to Cotton 60 might not seem all that important but, it really is.

Take for example NHS staff that launder their own uniforms, if the machine doesn’t hit 60C then it won’t kill MRSA stuff so, they reinfect as it’s still in the clothing. The users, completely oblivious to this and under the belief that they’ve done everything correct which on the face of it they have.

Detergent use, understanding washing laundry and sanitisation which is a major part of that process, are important.

But what people think they’re getting opposed to what they’re actually getting are very often worlds apart.


The introduction of new European standards for washing performance was the reason why we have moved to longer washing cycles and lower temperatures. That posed an immediate problem for manufacturers, but some machines no longer mention temperature. It’s high time that all manufacturers did this because it is more than misleading to show temperatures that are not achieved.

Nurses working with infected patients should not be bringing their uniforms home for laundering. They should go to the hospital laundry, as in the past. My guess is that some administrators charged with saving money decided on home laundry.

There is nothing magic about a temperature of 60˚C. It will not kill Clostridium difficile, a well known problem in hospitals, but effective washing will certainly help remove this and other bacteria.

Lower temperature washing causes less damage to washing and I have little doubt that it is here to stay. If someone has soiled clothing then nappy sanitiser (or bleach for whites) should be used before washing.

It’s best to keep up with maintenance washes and help people understand that different laundry detergents have different uses – as Kenneth says.

Edit: Here is what the CDC has to say about laundry and MRSA: https://www.cdc.gov/mrsa/community/environment/laundry.html

Kenneth, I can assure you I am not “sold” any of the things you mention. I couldn’t care less what claims are made on energy as I assume EU laws take care of that for me.

As to washing temperatures, if I get a new garment, I will check the label for instructions and will probably follow them accordingly.

Towels and jeans say 40 degrees but I give them 60. 40 doesn’t always get them clean especially the kitchen towel.

Dark items that say 40 will probably get the lowest temp if it gets them clean as dark colours run and will last longer.

You seem to forget many of us go by our own experiences having done washing for maybe decades. The degrees could be marked 1-10 and after all these years we would know which number worked best.

I agree, Alfa. It’s best to experiment and find out what works best for us. However, I have not experimented with a quick wash at low temperature.

Hi Kenneth, sorry for just asking this but do you have a guide as to what is best use of a machine? Our 5 year old Bosch drum needs replaced (bearings) and as I’m out of warranty I’m left with a possible £430 repair bill. Bosch have offered me £105 off that cost. The retailer has directed me to the consumer act 2015 that I need to prove inherent fault. The machine was bought 2014 so he’s wrong it’s the 1979 sog act. However I’ve not the time or energy and now will buy new.
We only use persil. Consistently same wash cycle easy care about 1hr 43 mins 40 degrees.

Honestly the smell got so bad too that my wife was doing 90 degree cycles with all.kinds of cleaning detergents to fix it. Maybe twice a week the last year.
So we’ve been wrong?
N.B we’ve used persil powder and fabric conditioner every time.
What is right?

Hi Kenneth, I refer to my earlier comment today. It seems to have been moved to a new post when it was a reply to you originally. Can you advise? Have you the time or inclination?

gm2849: the post to which you’re replying was made more than two years ago, so it’s unlikely Kenneth will be watching this topic.

On the point regarding the post being moved, although it’s difficult to see you’re actually replying within a sub-thread originated by Wavechange. That means although the box you used said ‘reply’ anything you posted would be inserted at the bottom of all the other, earlier replies. When you initially post the reply, it will appear to be where you wanted it, but as soon as the screen refreshes it will be moved down to where the system thinks it ought to be chronologically.

Malcolm wrote: “Spending £5-600 on a mobile phone is a considerable expense for many. To expect it to be redundant after a couple of years is very wasteful and perhaps typical of a consumer society that many of us do not want to support. There is no reason to tolerate such a short life, and there are plenty of people who would take on a used phone if the owner simply had to have all the latest gizmos.”

The fact is that most people do change their phone regularly, often updating when their two year contract expires. I recently heard an advert promoting new phones after one year and there are plenty of references to this online.

A neighbour’s granddaughter uses her grandmother’s old iPhone minus the SIM for a variety of purposes via the home WiFi and granddads iPad too. She might as well because he hardly uses it. Many sell or give away working mobile phones.

I’m very keen on people keeping products longer but I don’t try with mobile phones because I don’t want the be a patron saint of lost causes. Mine is telling me that the memory is nearly full but I can think of a better solution than a new phone.

Malcolm. We seem to have a couple of parallel conversations, so to take up one of your points: “We will never get what we pay for, but i’d like to know just what we are getting when we do pay. If that tells me the bearings are good quality and replaceable – as an example – then I’d be better informed. If machine B ran X% more cycles than A before a problem then I’s also be better informed than i am now.”

Kenneth has told us that few modern washing machines have replaceable bearings and I think Which? mentioned this in the article that also said that Bosch has moved to sealed door assemblies. The lifetime of bearings,even good ones, is rather unpredictable. I have signed enough purchase orders for bearings when I was working. I don’t know why people use machines on the maximum spin speed. There can be an enormous variation in the time products last before failure, so having information that machine B will on average last longer that machine A will not help if you buy one that fails. Household products are quite complex these days and failure of a single component may be enough to render them unusable. However, a decent guarantee would protect the owner from unexpected expense. Guarantees and warranties have become an important factor in choice of car.

I have said several times I want longer warranties – these will of course be paid for one way or another – but I also want the ability to be able to choose better quality products if it suits me, and I need information to help with that. I’d hope a consumer’s association would feel it one of their jobs,

Better quality components, whether bearings or anything else, will last longer than poorer quality ones. We need to know what we are buying to make properly considered decisions.

Kenneth wrote: “As to allergies… ehm, no. You’ve more chance of winning the lottery ever week for year than a detergent causing any problem and, that’s not just from the detergent guys but also the medical community. It’s a myth.”

That’s a rather sweeping statement, especially since ingredients of laundry detergents vary and there is no requirement to declare their composition. Allergy and skin irritation are often confused, but to suggest that the problem is a myth is not reasonable.

Not really.

Multiple sources have said there’s no link can be proven between laundry detergent and skin irritation but the one that I’ve lost the link for was a study by the British Association of Dermatologists that basically boiled down to saying it was a complete nonsense to think there was a link.

The basic compontnentts of almost all detergents are the same or similar, after all they all do the same job more or less.

The only real difference I guess, if you can call it that, is in the perfume used and the volume of each component. Perfume may be a cause of irritation but, if memory serves me, you’ve about a .00001% or less chance of it.

There’s also the use of clay based substance in one with conditioner built in but, aside that, more or less the same fundamental thing.

Unless of course you want to believe the marketers rather than science and evidence.

But then, the UK in this regard is the weirdest country in the world.

We have non-bio detergents. Largely due to fears about skin irritation and bad advice dating back to the 1960’s or so or, as I like to say, complete codswallop.

The UK is the only country in the world where non-bio is sold as far as I am aware.

So, either UK citizens have got skin that’s different from the rest of the world population or, UK citizens have been getting bad advice for a really long time and really haven’t a clue about this stuff.

Guess which is more likely to prove true.

Many people blame detergents for skin irritation but I suspect poor washing habits are way more likely a cause. Without a *proper skin test* by a doctor to determine the exact cause of the issue it is not possible to say what causes it definitively and, mileage may vary as each case will stand on its own evidence.

I am told doctors are not keen to do this. It costs money or something… NHS… etc.

Easier and cheaper just to tell people to change their detergent and get them out the door. If that’s true, I don’t know as it’s not my field, but what I can say is that if a medical professional does that, I’d think it incorrect.

To randomly blame detergents or indeed washing machines with zero evidence they are even remotely to blame when there’s plenty evidence to say they’re not an issue seems to me foolhardy at best. And as you and others here know all too well about me, no evidence and no prove means there’s only an opinion with nothing to support it.


Kenneth, I have had allergies as long as I can remember.

My first recollection is puffed, itchy, watery, 2 slits for eyes being allergic to pollen, not great living in the countryside and by the time I was in my late teens, immune to the treatment.

I had allergy tests at my doctors when I was about 20 and was allergic to almost everything they tested me for although the only three I was aware of was pollen, cats and sheep, the last 2 fairly easy to avoid. I know I am allergic to some metals and perfumes, a watch buckle gives me a rash, a cheap necklace gives me a rash, earrings that have a nickel post makes my ears itch and weep, perfumes can give me a rash, even good old cold cream I can’t use.

Years ago, when I stayed at my parents, I awoke looking like I had slept in a bed of stinging nettles. My mother had changed to Persil and her twin-tub rinsing left a lot to be desired. This happened again a year or two later when she bought it again when it was on special offer so I am pretty sure the connection is there. It was quite a long time ago and the ingredients might have changed but I would not chance using it again. Ariel makes me itch. A couple of years ago when staying with friends, in the morning it was noticed I had a rash on my arms, I asked what the sheets were washed in and the answer was Ariel and no conditioner. That will do it I said !!! My mother also never used fabric conditioner.

I always had itchy skin and seemed to itch more than everyone else. Fairy was advertised as being suitable for babies, I tried it and my skin improved, so don’t tell me I am ‘buying’ into anything. I shower every morning so don’t tell me I have poor washing habits. Most soap also makes me itch or gives me a rash by the way. Even Fairy will make me itch if it is not rinsed thoroughly.

Nobody has told me what to do, I haven’t bought into any hype, all my opinions are based on my own experiences with a lot of trial and error and a lot of money wasted on stuff I can’t use.

In the last few years, I now have food intolerances to contend with… but that’s another story.

I have read many stories similar to yours, Alfa. It’s highly likely that the problem with nickel is a separate problem. Many suffer from allergic contact dermatitis caused by nickel: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nickel_allergy

Some chemicals can stick to fabrics and are not rinsed away, the extreme example being dyes. Fabric conditioners will certainly remain because they are added after rinsing.

Thanks for the link wavechange….
Taking to The Lobby

Yes, fabric conditioner and perfume are the only two things that are designed to remain on clothing.

Perfume varies obviously but it’s not regarded as an irritant at all.

Conditioner is optional, there is absolutely no need to use it whatsoever although many have bought into the idea but it’s in effect an unnecessary add on designed to part people with their money in my opinion.

Alfa I’ve come across many people with issues that have been blamed on machines or detergents such as you describe, a good friend suffers from sever eczema as do two family members let alone anything else, like the hundreds or thousands of people I’ve advised over the years o this topic.

To avoid any irritation laundry related there’s some things I can advise you and others of that may help prevent any problems.

First is to ensure that the laundry is being properly cleaned (you’d be amazed how many people get it wrong out the traps) by separating the clothing correctly, selecting the correct wash cycles and using the correct detergent in the correct amount.

If you have skin issues forget using quick washes, that will cause you problems as they do not clean correctly, they’re refresh programs only dressed up by marketers as something else.

At the very least separate white/darks and cotton/synthetic and wash accordingly.

Using the correct dose will ensure dirt is removed and there’s no residues left on the laundry.

Don’t use conditioner.

If like a most people seem to, you just slam stuff into the machine with a random dose on one or two programs only etc then yeah, you’re gonna have issues with irritation as basically, your laundry is not being properly cleaned.

It is not even remotely uncommon for me to be told people know what they’re doing, they’ve been doing it for years yada, yada and yet I know for sure, 100% no doubt about it, they’re doing it wrong.

But for those that have easily irritated skin or whatever, not taking care to do all this stuff correctly all the time will lead to problems without question. Often, I strongly suspect, as skin grease, flakes, urine and other body excretions that are present on all laundry are not removed properly let alone whatever is picked up, much of it not visible to the naked eye is not properly cleaned off. That can over time build on clothes and in machines and be redeposited as well so, for those with skin problems, doing it right is vital.


This has me interested because I do have the link to the study to which you refer, Kenneth. Taking your statement point by point:

The basic compontnentts of almost all detergents are the same or similar, after all they all do the same job more or less.

More or less, perhaps, but some use enzymes and they’re known allergens. Also, the precise combinations of substances are likely to vary, and any chemist will tell you mixtures and compounds can produce some startlingly different effects. Let’s face it, adding a highly reactive metal and a deadly poisonous gas to your chips can be quite satisfying – providing they’re combined carefully.

To randomly blame detergents or indeed washing machines with zero evidence they are even remotely to blame when there’s plenty evidence to say they’re not an issue

But you can’t prove a negative, can you? So in truth there can’t be “plenty of evidence to say they’re not an issue.

There’s also a difference between an allergy and allergic contact dermatitis. It’s the latter most seem to complain of. Now, if you subscribe to New Scientist and Nature there are some interesting findings.

In 2008 a team including Dr David Basketter and colleagues from St Thomas’ Hospital, Nottingham University and St Mary’s Hospital released a study claiming to “demonstrate convincingly that enzymes were not responsible” for allergic contact dermatitis which is, I suspect, the study to which you were referring, Kenneth. Now, the thing with studies like this is that for them to have any validity you need to know several things, including the methodology employed and – perhaps most importantly – who provided the funding.

Interestingly, much came from Unilever, so no undue bias there, then, and in methodological terms it was a non-systematic review article. The authors referenced 44 papers that were relevant to the debate about whether enzymes added to detergent washing powders can cause skin reactions but did not describe how they searched for relevant scientific literature or the criteria they used to select them.

Now, with that approach there are significant weaknesses. Non-systematic reviews, those that have not described their searching methods, may fail to detect some publications which could influence the overall conclusion. It is not certain that all studies have shown no effect of these biological powders.
The quality of the individual studies in the article has not been assessed so the reader is unable to judge how reliable the individual study results are. The ability of researchers to control for hidden bias from the placebo effect or from the unequal selection of participants who took part in these trials would be particularly relevant for an appraisal.

So far from this study being the confirmation you suggest it seems not only was it funded by the soap powder manufacturers with possible other influences, as yet undisclosed, but it seems the methodology was insufficiently rigorous to provide any meaningful evidence about anything, other than soap powder manufacturers are keen to stay clean.

To be completely honest, this is redolent of the smoking studies that “proved” cigarettes were good for you, largely funded by the Tobacco companies.

I’m not saying soap powders can cause allergic contact dermatitis; but what I am saying is that we don’t appear to have sufficient high-quality research on the matter to be definitive either way.

That was the one about enzymes, there are more Ian and a quick Google will find you that study along with the associated conspiracy theories surrounding it.

In the end enzymes were introduced badly in the 1960’s by P&G, very poor marketing that led to the belief that they were an issue and, perhaps they were at one point on that I can’t say but it’s become an “accepted wisdom” in culture here in the UK is appears. What I do know is that now and for the past decade or three, the enzymes used are not harmful at all, most are naturally occurring and found in humans anyway.

What magic is done to make them work is a bit secretive of course by the detergent manufacturers but, on the whole there’s very little to no hard evidence that’s ever been put forward to prove any issue with them.

Sure, loads of anecdotal stuff about one detergent versus another and so forth but it’s all speculative at best.

Here’s the kicker in that.

The *only* difference between bio and non-bio is the use of enzymes in bio that are not present in non-bio. That’s it.

So, given non-bio is only sold in the UK and nowhere else and yet it’s only the UK that this seems to be any sort of issue of any note says a lot to me.

The whole enzyme use argument is to me, a false path leading to a dead end that holds no water given that, no other nation on the planet seems to have a similar problem.

Unless of course there are studies that say we UK citizens are somehow different to everyone else?


Kenneth – I don’t share your confidence that laundry detergents do not cause problems for users.

I assume that the article you are referring to is this review: Enzymes, detergents and skin: facts and fantasies D.A. Basketter,* J.S.C. English, S.H. Wakelin and I.R. White (2008) The principal author worked for Unilever and another has acted as a consultant from the company. Now Unilever don’t just make Marmite and mayonnaise, do they?

I suffer from allergic asthma and have been interested in biological detergents since Procter and Gamble launched Ariel. I don’t think there is any doubt that the enzymes used in biological detergents have caused problems with occupational exposure. To quote from the introduction to Basketter’s review: “However, it has long been recognized that the enzymes used in these products have the potential to produce respiratory allergy during manufacture, thus requiring very strict exposure control for the workforce.” P&G had to change their production method in the UK to control exposure of workers to dusts containing enzymes. These industrial enzymes are very crude materials likely to be contaminated with other proteins. Working in a packaging plant is very different from normal handling of biological detergents in the home. While I believe that much of the concern is unfounded, it would be unwise to assume that these detergents do not cause a problem.

Edit: Sorry Ian, I had not seen your post.

We are not entirely off topic discussing laundry detergents because washing machines are now designed with low washing temperatures and biological detergents in mind. 🙂

The mechanism of action of enzymes used in laundry detergents is quite straightforward. The enzymes accelerate the breakdown of dirt etc. to small molecules that are soluble. The first biological detergents included a protease to break down proteins. Lipase is used to break down oil/fat/grease. Amylase and cellulase can be included to break down carbohydrates. We are not told which enzymes are used in which products.

“We are not told which enzymes are used in which products.”

You are. At least in respect to laundry detergents.

Non bio = no enzymes.

Everything else does or may contain them but, it should be stated on the label.

It cracks me up that people, lots of them, go buy Vanish and all manners of add-ons to “boost” the performance of their wash, use non-bio and add this stuff when all it is really is a tub of weak bleach with enzymes in it. So, they put right back in what they made a choice, consciously or not to take out.

You see this stuff all the time out on the road, you open the cupboard next to the washing machine and it’s like an amateur chemistry set of stuff, much of it a total unnecessary waste of money and all too often contradictory!

What is required is clear simple instruction for people, not an Nth degree investigation on much of it as, clearly people do not understand and this causes harm to laundry, machines and probably people as well. I’d suggest getting the basics right was an obvious first step.

A few years ago I was working with a film crew shooting in a busy Asda store in London and the crew were briefed on detergents who of course needed educating as most do but went out to ask people what sort of detergent they were buying and why.

This might shock but, from hundreds of people that day they asked not one person could tell them correctly what detergent they were buying, not single person.

I think one or two knew a couple of wash symbols.

The level of ignorance on this stuff is staggering.

Is it any wonder people get it wrong?


You refuted my comment: “We are not told which enzymes are used in which products.”

Please tell me which enzymes are used in some of the common biological detergents. I’ve had a look at a few examples and it just says ‘enzymes’.

I am not familiar with Vanish etc. but any immediate effect is most likely to be due to a peroxide bleach.

Oh sorry, that was my bad I read that wrongly wavechange, my apologies. I missed the word “which” in that line.

No you’re right on that score as that’s a bit of a trade secret. To give that information out would be akin to manufacturers giving away their formula so that ain’t gonna ever happen.

That’s like asking McDonalds, KFC, Cola etc to openly publish their recipes… not a hope of it ever.


No problem. Routine analytical methods have made it easy to find out the the ingredients of commercial products, though estimating the amounts is of each component is more difficult. One of our contributors mentioned analysing competitors’ fragrances in an earlier Conversation. Cola and toilet limescale remover have something in common.

Oh Kenneth, you seem to have a very poor opinion of people.

I never said I was allergic to enzymes. Detergents and other products are full of chemicals and I have no idea what affects me. I did once try and keep a spread sheet of things I used and ingredients listed but there were so many long names that needed a magnifying glass to read, I gave up.

And yes, I probably have some of the chemicals that crack you up in my cupboard too. And sometimes they are required, but I never put them in my washing machine. If curry, grass, oil, blood, etc, gets onto clothes and will need extra help to remove, it gets treated before going in the machine. Not only that, it will get rinsed under the tap and given a bit of a Fairy hand wash to make sure the cleaning agent is thoroughly removed before going in the machine.

As to a delicates, the quickest way to ruin them is to put them in a machine, so they get hand-washed in Fairy.

People can do whatever they like Alfa, it’s not for me to tell anyone what to be doing.

I can tell people what’s correct to the extent of my knowledge. Can’t force them to do it.

But you need to understand my perspective as, when I see this stuff and I must have a good current working knowledge of it for service, there’s a problem being raised by a user.

In 99.9999% of cases, it’s a use issue. Not a detergent or machine issue.

Where it’s all done correctly I have yet to really see any issue at all and I’m not on the payroll of anyone so, that’s a completely impartial and independent view as I could care less if anyone was to blame or not for any problems. All I care about is people getting the correct information.

What people do with at information is not my concern.


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Kenneth – One of the annoying features of my present washing machine is what I referred to earlier as a dirt trap. The door seal retains a fair amount of water, which is not a problem, but when a gel capsule finds its way into the cavity and some of the gel is not released until the rinsing cycles then it is annoying. I have noticed that other modern machines have the same type of door seal, but I don’t know if the same thing happens.

Obviously if the gel is added at the wrong time, washing may be impaired and rinsing may not be effective as it should be. Sometimes (not very often) I see some foam remaining round the door towards the end of the spin cycles and I know it’s because the capsule has found its way into the door seal. I have tried a couple of times to make a video but of course it did not happen.

My ancient washing machine did not have a dirt trap and the door seal was fine when I retired it after many years of service. I’d love to know why the door seal of my new machine is designed in this way.

Duncan – I wish you would just provide links rather than saying you know secrets. 🙂 It’s bad enough having the commercial world denying us information that could be helpful.

When I have had skin tests done I have been told that they are useful but not always accurate because allergies are very specific. In my case I’m badly affected by some dogs but others hardly affect me. I wish people would not tell me that their dog does not cause problems because it does not shed hair. I believe it’s the dander that’s the problem, not the hair. With cats, salivary proteins can cause problems, or so I have read.

Kenneth: I suspect the problem is twofold: you have an unwarranted confidence in the major soap powder manufacturers, yet you freely admit that you have no idea exactly what ingredients they use and, secondly, you say things which are clearly unprovable and certainly unscientific. Saying things like “In 99.9999% of cases, it’s a use issue” demonstrates that rather clearly. You also experience, I suspect, perceptual illusions. There were several points in my initial post which you declined to answer, which is your prerogative, but to dismiss them as ‘conspiracy theories’ is revealing of a certain perceptual incapacity. Again – not saying what’s true and what’s not: simply questioning what you seem to think is gospel.

Exactly, Ian. Furthermore, manufacturers can change the formulation of their products without notice. Scientists generally make guarded comments.

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Not at all Ian.

I’ve been working with this stuff and the problems, misinformation and so on around it for 20+ years, probably more so I do have a huge depth of knowledge on the topic and a massive amount of experience.

I very much doubt anyone here would have even remotely similar experience or depth of knowledge on the topic.

So I can say what I do with a huge degree of confidence based in factual knowledge as well as hard won experience in dealing with these issues.

I do not need to be lectured on it nor do I entertain conspiracy theories around it either as, I know full well how detergents are made, tested and approved. I’ve seen it first hand. I know what components are in them, why and so on but not the quantities and *EXACT* compounds.

I’ve not cause to lean one way to the other, as I’ve said, makes no odds to me if people want to go chase down unicorns, aliens, political intrigue or big bad detergent companies, I really, really don’t care.

All I can do is tell you the information amassed over multiple brands, many years and hundreds if not thousands of customers in the field, real hard data on real world use. If people want to dismiss that to chase said unicorns, have at it.

But just as some perhaps don’t like the message, don’t shoot the messenger.


But Kenneth when you say

I know full well how detergents are made

you then contradict yourself by saying

not the quantities and *EXACT* compounds..

But they’re crucial to the process of how detergents are made, so isn’t it right to say you don’t know how detergents are made, except in the broadest way? I know how a fusion bomb is made, Kenneth, but I’m fairly sure I couldn’t do it. Not that my wife would let me, anyway…

And, to be fair, when you say

I’ve not cause to lean one way to the other

the facts belie that, as you spend an inordinate amount of time and energy refuting the ideas offered by others and dismiss out of hand, not to say ridicule their suggestions:

if people want to go chase down unicorns, aliens, political intrigue or big bad detergent companies, I really, really don’t care.

But you seem to. So it’s not really a case of shooting the messenger, is it? More a case of seeing if the messenger fully grasps the content of the message, surely?

No, I think you’re way off base there Ian.

I’ve been informing people about this for years in the hope that people might learn and understand better how to use the machines and care for laundry. Since this has been for me a daily issue fighting ignorance of what to do and how with customers that are often close to clueless telling me how machines and detergents should work, all the while knowing little of it.

It helps people generally, saves them money and saves wrecked machines.

No I don’t contradict myself at all.

I know how detergents are made and I know generally what’s in them. I don’t need to know the secret sauce recipe nor have I any right to know but the broad strokes of it, yes I know.

I am completely independent Ian and posting on here gets me nothing, not a thing. I’m not paid by detergent manufacturers, appliance manufacturers or anyone else so I’ve no stake at all in this or most any other conversation on here. Which also allows me the freedom to say whatever I like without fear of retribution.

If you want the inside track, take it. If not, ignore it.

If you wish to believe that two massive global companies that are each others arch enemies, a number of others and various independent organisations such as the British Association of Dermatologists are all lying in unison then so be it, believe what you choose.

Obviously I can’t address that if that’s what people want to do and just pick holes for the sake of it.


I’m not sure it’s quite as simple as you believe, Kenneth. I’m sure everyone appreciates your contributions and I’m equally sure you have a great deal of experience in what you do which has almost certainly saved people money and machines. But none of that is relevant.

You say you don’t contradict yourself, but you were very specific when you said

I know full well how detergents are made

but I would differ since you admit it’s only

the broad strokes of it.

you know. The point I was making and which is germane to this debate is that it’s the fine details that are crucial to understanding – which is one reason why they’re kept, as you say, a closely guarded secret. D’you not accept that if there were no importance to those details they would hardly be kept secret?

To continue, you seem to think I’m accusing

two massive global companies that are each others arch enemies

(do people have arch enemies?) and

the British Association of Dermatologists

of lying, but those are your words; I said nothing of the sort. What I did do was look closely at the 2008 study and found some worrying issues with it, that I believe needed airing. You see, had these sorts of questions not been asked about Tobacco studies, or about the now discredited Wakefield whose appallingly dishonest studies almost certainly contributed to deaths and serious long-term disabilities of young children, then medical science wouldn’t have made the progress it has.

But this is not “picking holes for the sake of it”, Kenneth; this is about the serious examination of evidence and I prefer my evidence with as many people as possible trying to pick holes in it. That’s the only way I can find out if it holds water. Too many holes and we know it doesn’t.

It would be useful to have information that can be understood by the general public but backed by independent research and with links to more detailed information for those who are interested.

I now use biological detergents routinely and have found no problems so far. I have occasionally had breathing difficulties when staying away from home and suspect that feather pillows were the problem. When going on holiday by car I take my own pillow in case it is needed. I don’t recall having a problem overseas.

One wonderful thing about the web is it can make us all into “experts” and, once we find a link, the proof is there. But it does enrich our Convos. Where we all miss out is on other experts stepping in to clear up the facts. I do hope Which? will address this, one day, as it might help resolve some arguments.

I’m not sure about that, Malcolm. Ian and I have voiced reservations about the Basketter review. Expert input could be very useful but is unlikely to lead to clear conclusions. In science we are often left with a balance of probability based on a variety of evidence of varying reliability. Whereas it would be easy to establish that a component of a laundry detergent or fabric softener can cause skin irritation or allergy but I would be surprised if any scientist would claim that there is no problem.

Here are some other concerns about the review: http://www.nhs.uk/news/2008/05May/Pages/Biowashingpowderrashesamyth.aspx

I am simply suggesting that where an argument gets batted back and forth it would be useful to get expert opinions. I think Convos serve different purposes to different people but I would like to see information verified and facts presented from knowledgeable contributors so those who are so inclined will learn from them. This is a recurring plea to Which? from a number of contributors. If Which?, as they say they do, make use of the information and views expressed in Convos then they need to be helped along appropriately.

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When I discovered Which? Conversation I did hope that it might develop into a more educational forum. I also hoped that we might gain an insight into how Which? allocates its resources and maybe we could collectively make an input.

In many Conversations, Which? invites us to provide examples of our experiences, for example broken oven doors or being victim of a scam, or for our opinion of how long we reckon a washing machine should last. Whether discussion of laundry detergents and the likelihood that they cause allergies is of use, I know not. That might be better discussed in the relevant Conversation such as this one: https://conversation.which.co.uk/home-energy/bio-non-bio-best-laundry-detergents-washing-clothes-allergies/

I share concerns about the contents of some of the Conversation introductions but I regard them as there for discussion and since they are written by an individual and not necessarily Which? policy, I think that comments should be a bit more polite.

Whether our discussions are fruitful or not, they certainly encourage us to look up information and check our facts. I agree with Duncan that there is a lot to learn but prefer when we are are told the source of information – so links are important to me.

I agree. And I also think Duncan’s comment in which he stresses the need to examine the details and substance of linked information is particularly apt. And in our community here we do have specialists in some fields. Engineering, Telecommunications, Biological sciences and Philosophy to name but four.

But I suspect the most useful aspect of the W?Cs is what and how the specialists contribute. Some, such as Wavechange and Duncan, do actively and frequently contribute positively and that makes for a very rewarding and informative exchange. But hey; Which? had all this in 1996 and more. It’s nothing new, but if there’s one thing I learned from the original forum it was that berating the W? staff or topic writers is extremely counter-productive. In the main they’re a highly intelligent crowd and very socially motivated. It’s really important to remember they don’t set policy and those that do tend not to contribute.

Maybe we should get back to discussing how long a washing machine should last…..

Back in 2012, Which? challenged whether the claim “Washing machines live longer with Calgon” was misleading and could be substantiated, because they did not believe the evidence used to support it reflected relevant washing conditions. The Advertising Standards Authority ruling did not uphold the complaint. https://www.asa.org.uk/rulings/reckitt-benckiser-healthcare-uk-ltd-a11-169732.html

Despite having seen examples of pipes virtually blocked with limescale, I never used Calgon or an alternative product and never had to replace the heater. I hope that heaters are still easy to replace if necessary, unlike bearings.

It was calculated that the all money you might have spent on Calgon would be better saved to repair your machine, or even buy you a new washing machine.

Back in the 80s, I assumed that the use of detergent would soften the water. Maybe I read that in New Scientist.

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Thanks very much, Duncan. The article you have given the link to provides interesting information about industrial laundry, which I have not seen reference to before. Martin Chaplin mentions lipases briefly and it would be useful to have an update, but he is now retired. Higher temperature washing with traditional laundry detergents will deal with grease but I guess that lipases are now widely used in household bio detergents. That is just a guess.

I will have a look at the other information later.

The American document refers to specialist products used for cleaning endoscopes and other medical equipment rather than for household use. I agree that the the US is better at making information available.

Interesting selection of comments here and some assertions which are of interest.

Firstly the irritants ” Perfume varies obviously but it’s not regarded as an irritant at all” is incorrect. There is academic research aplenty that people can react adversely to perfumes by smell additionally to any skin contact.

Secondly ” two massive global companies that are each others arch enemies” is perhaps a sad reflection on the knowledge that Which? fails to use or keep as a record.

In the last decade Unilever and P&G have paid over 300 million euros for rigging the market for washing liquids in eight EU countries. They may also have done it in the UK and Ireland however this appears not to have been chased up by any British organisation.

Cartels exist and may be organised, or by unspoken agreement they do not indulge in genuine competition as that reduces profits. In fact if 90% of the detergents available come from two companies they can both play at filling the marketing niches with differently named companies which ultimately give the illusion of choice between competing firms.

In 2014 it was recorded P&G had sold the Zest brand in Mexico to Unilever which is what archenemies might not do but business men would. The Wikipedia entry on Zest is incomplete in some ways but does illustrate several aspects of business that many many subscribers are unaware of:
– brand names being sold of
– cosy relationship of rivals
– brand names being owned by different companies in different parts of the world


As part of its educational remit I do wish Which? would have a section where people can see the extent of market dominance and the frequency of cartel arrangements.

And of course who owns whom with so many famous brand names being bought and used to cover for lower standard goods being sold at premium prices.

A low cost database on consumer brands surely must be affordable and if readers are invited to contribute or perhaps volunteers organised it may be beneficial. Buying , and supporting a British brand and jobs is difficult to do.

We can at least thank Kenneth for giving us an insight into the issue of brand ownership, and the problem of huge multinational companies controlling our lives gets the occasional mention, but most seem oblivious and individually we are powerless to make an impact.

I don’t think we are going to make a major impact on the strategy of Which? but perhaps we could achieve some quick wins. You have often mentioned that the Which? Connect surveys fail to ask how often products are used. No-one can doubt that this is an important factor in product life, so perhaps we could push this.

I would love Which? to focus on guarantees and affordable extended warranties in product review articles. Malcolm has mentioned multiple product warranties. Maybe we could push for this. I’m well aware that there are promotional offers but they are a bonus to be looked for. I believe that Which? helped drive down the cost of extended warranties as a result of publicity back in the 80s, maybe early 90s.

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Following the link above from wavechange https://conversation.which.co.uk/home-energy/bio-non-bio-best-laundry-detergents-washing-clothes-allergies/#comment-132229 …..

Back in 2012 Adrian Porter said:
We have tested ISE in the past – the CI555WH model (it got 4 stars for rinsing). We may test again in the future and continue to monitor ISE’s appliances and their availability and popularity in the UK market, but as with all extremely expensive machines we must make sure it is in the interest of our audience and not a select few before testing.

I find this statement very unacceptable from Which?

ISE washing machines were British and I was going to look into them when I needed a new machine but they have sadly gone.

But that statement highlights what I have found with Which? testing for far too long, they concentrate on cheap products, most of which are imported.

I wonder if Which? had tested a later model and it got 5 stars for rinsing and maybe got a ‘Best Buy’ or highly recommended, enough machines would have been sold to keep the company in business? Rinsing seems to have improved generally since that convo 5 years ago.

Testing an ISE machine would not have been in the interest of a select few but the whole economy and the jobs that go with it. Now we are leaving the EU, we need British manufacturing more than ever, and Which? need to get on board with this big time and start backing the UK.

After further reading, Which? did test another ISE machine and it did get a ‘Best Buy’ rating.

Such a shame the business didn’t survive.

Sadly ISE suffered a series of unfortunate events that led to its demise. The two key ones being, not enough people willing to pay for a better machine basically and the switch-a-roo around of production/ownership and increased costs on that as well as internal politics there. Also a saga around currency and some other bits didn’t help it but, in the end it is what it is.

Production got moved from Sweden, which was extremely good, to Slovenia that was made purely for financial gain by the parent group, labour was cheaper, land was cheaper and so on.

What I see now is a monumental shift from production inside the EU to outside it.

The former Soviet states have been a fave for a while but, as they’ve come up to European living standards and wage levels they’ve gotten less attractive. Poland, there’s still a fair bit.

But Italy, Germany, Spain, France, the UK… not as much as many people might think.

There’s a huge number of products now from Turkey, apparently Beko have now overtaken Hotpoint as the top selling brand in the UK.

People vote with their wallets I suppose.

But massive quantities of rebadged stuff come from Vestel and Termikel as well.

A lot of refrigeration is Chinese, various sources but Hisense and Haier produce boatloads of it. In some areas the Chinese companies can’t compete with the Turkish ones just due to the higher shipping costs I imagine.

You’ll even see mainstream brands with rebranded models bought in from any or all of the above as, it’s cheaper to do that than to set up production for a limited number.

To set up a line for a single product costs millions, you need to sell an awful lot to get the return on that investment and it’s extremely risky so, wherever it can be avoided, it’s avoided.

To set up in the UK as Ebac has bravely done although, some industry observers do think it madness that is doomed to failure, won’t happen.

You cannot get the labour in the UK and, even if you can it’s not cheap. Costs here are far higher to setup and operate. Margins are very low. You’re not centrally placed to distribute in the EU making that more expensive as well. Now, with Brexit looming, no producer in their right mind would setup in the UK as it’s all far too uncertain atop all the rest.

With all that, there’s almost no chance that UK production could have a hope against the likes of Turkey and to try to convince people to buy British as we all know full well, has been tried several times before with limited or no success.

Meanwhile the Great British public along with almost all of Europe, continue to buy ever cheaper and cheaper throwaway products and, if that’s what the market wants, that’s what the market gets.

Bringing it back to what I’ve said before on here a number of times, you’ve got two fundamental ways to change that… change public buying habits or, legislate to up the quality and durability.

In turn that’d force up costs and make the market more attractive to new entrants but, as things stand, it won’t happen as it is not an attractive investment area.

One thing that may prove interesting is if there is a political meltdown in any of these areas (another thing manufacturers need to think about) as if, for example, Turkey went into meltdown and production was hindered or stopped from there, the whole of the EU will suffer a huge dearth of many appliances. Opportunistic others would, probably, whack up prices to take advantage.


I hadn’t realised ISE machines were manufactured abroad.

After buying a Rangemaster cooker that was manufactured in Turkey even though their website said all their range cookers were produced in the UK, I would avoid anything else from there like the plague. I had several replacements, all were damaged, dirty, although very well packaged. Quality control was non-existent as damage had obviously occurred before packing.

My recent Siemens purchases were manufactured in Germany, so if they can do it, so can we.

That Rangemaster will be a Termikel made machine.

Now, I’d give you links but apparently that’s me spamming for commercial purposes and I’m done getting slagged for that but, that cooker is the same chassis as a Bush for £300 less or more, a Royale the same thing £3-400 less, a Montpellier and a number of others.

Having the “Made In” badge is easy, it’s the place or last major process, they could just put the panels on it an viola, made in whatever country you want.

All perfectly legal.

I’d say immoral at best but heh, what do I know?

There’s also been murmurs of some sending “Support (XXX-country) manufacturing” or such to put on products made elsewhere. Legal apparently as well but, in my opinion, merely intended to trick buyers.

In short, without research, people more often than not have no clue what they’re buying.


Interesting video about that here:


In many countries they DO support the national interests. EBAC seem to have strong a chord in the North East where perhaps they comprehend better the problems of losing manufacturing. The South-East is much insulated from this.

The stick is much needed in terms of rewarding durability over expediency/cheapness. As I have said before that if you build to last you pay a reduced levy on the new product you sell. If I sell toasters with a 1000 cycles before the filament dies and it is irreparable by design then surely the additional pollution and the landfill needs to be taken into account that will be incurred by replacing it.

1000 cycles in my house would be under 2 years and in other houses [holiday home] could be a decade. The fact remains a toaster with a 10 K cycles and replaceable parts surely have a minimal levy, or none, because it will not need replacement in a short term.

Most humans are poor at looking long term and I am afraid shiny glitzy and new is a weakness played upon by the manufacturers. Perhaps the Government can look longer term than its re-election in x years to what might be usefully done to level the playing field between the costs of disposable tat and equipment built to last.

In case you wondered testing to be carried out by a laboratory to machines plucked from the production line at manufacturers cost for testing and seal of approval for sale. And of course re-testing randomly in case a manufacturer decides to lower the quality of parts.

WRAP is an organisation that looks at sustainability. The first link is old, but compares the build and repairability of two washing machines. A pity it was not the expensive one plus a cheapy but it seems to me to act as a good guide for the way Which? might look at machines to evaluate them more usefully.http://www.wrap.org.uk/sites/files/wrap/Washing%20machine%20case%20study%20AG.pdf

This link is to all their W/M documents. From memory WRAP suggest a washing machine (presumably a “decent make at a decent price”) should last around 8 years. It might be useful for Which? to poll its audience – in particular Connect – and BEUC its whole European consumer group to see what life consumers want from a renage of key appliances and what they might be prepared to pay.

I’m sorry, I haven’t looked through these (yet) as I’m about to plant out my dahlias while the weather is fine.

The .pdf refers to ten years life span at the top of page 4 [of 17] .

Members of Connect already provide information on life spans of equipment, and repairs. That the surveys are not used more usefully is a question worth asking. Extrapolating from small numbers is of course much claimed in polling but perhaps not so good when you have a variety of machines and models.

Regardless of that caveat we were promised access tot he raw data originally and at least then we could tease out some detail.

I ought to publish the questions we get asked as they are not as robust IMO as they could be, notably how often is the machine used.

The most detailed by a mile of all the surveys was on sewing machines which lead to no magazine article or testing. Given it went into all the detail of the various additional gadgets one can buy and use it would have been very useful to purchasers.

I suspect that concentrating on the small range of electronic devices where testing results are cheaply bought in and avoiding sewing machines , electric bikes saves the charity money. But bikes and sewing machines are much longer lasting and expensive. If Which? chooses not study these perhaps we need to rely on the continental consumer bodies who do. But not really fair on UK manufacturers.

They’ve been on about that for years Malcolm. I’ve assisted WRAP a number of times who in turn report to DEFRA or the EA mostly.

And all that research and work has accomplished…. drum roll please… nada.

That’s right folks, all the time, money an effort poured into it achieved the sum total of, nothing whatsoever.

The reality from where I sit is, nobody cares enough to do anything and you’ll never find a politician that will stand up and tell the public that they can’t have shiny new things or, if they do, they’re going to cost more because that’s better for them and the environment.

To avoid the inevitable clash of thinking there’s been all manners of hair brained proposals and a few pilots on some that have, as advised before inception, crashed.

Put all that in a photocopier, duplicate and put copies in various other countries.

The media don’t care as it’s hard to explain to people, not a simple whizz bang headline and anyway, who cares?

It’s easier to glorify fires or explosions or whatever than to tackle the core issue/s on durability and longevity. Or some sensationalist story on who was seen o the beach wearing a new outfit this week.


If companies are required to guarantee their products for an appropriate length of time (say at least five years) then the consumer will be protected from the cost of repairs during that time unless they have abused the product. There would need to be a change in legislation to prevent companies saying that a product is not economically repairable – for example due to lack of available spares – and offering a paltry payment in recompense. If the customer was protected from the cost of repairs for a reasonable length of time then the quality would have to improve because having to pay for repairs would soon eat into profits.

The comparison produced by WRAP is interesting, though it might have been more interesting to compare a cheaper and more expensive machine produced by the same manufacturer or similarly priced machines made by two manufacturers.

I would like to look at on one of the comments in the report: “Bosch has found that electrical failure is currently the leading fault, particularly of the PCB (printed circuit board) caused by fluctuations in mains voltage supply, although surge protection is provided with these machines.” PCB faults are extremely common in consumer goods, and it is not just Bosch washing machines. In a washing machine, vibration can contribute to problems and depending on the design of the appliance, there may be risk of water damage – a point mentioned elsewhere in the report.

If properly designed, PCBs should be very reliable but manufacturers of consumer goods often build them with inadequate components or provide adequate protection against high voltage spikes that can wreck semiconductors in a fraction of a second. An advantage of modern mass produced PCBs is that the once common problem of dodgy solder joints is now uncommon, but repairs are not practical. If there is an intermittent problem, PCBs and other components may be replaced unnecessarily. The last time I watched an engineer in action they replaced a PCB and another component in an oil-fired boiler and was about to leave when the problem recurred. There is no doubt that problems can be difficult to diagnose and that switching components is the best approach where the engineer’s time is paid by the hour, but in the case I referred to, after finding the real fault, the engineer had no intention of replacing the original PCB until I asked him to.

One of the problems with paying more for products is the cost of spares and whether they are likely to be available in a few years. The cost of spare motor brushes for my vacuum cleaner would not be far short of £50 by the time that carriage and VAT are included, and I expect that having the job done professionally would be considerably more expensive because service engineers have to be paid and their overheads have to be covered. Do you spend your money on repairing an older product, with the risk of future repairs? I’ve seen many cases where potentially repairable products are scrapped and the owner buys a new one. In the past few years I have seen friends opt for cheaper products, even though they might not last as long.

Simpler solution:

Legislate that spare parts must be available for a certain length of time and exceed no more than a percentage of the whole cost.

This could easily be made apply to other goods also.

That way leaves the warranty market alone which is hugely complex and what you suggest the insurance industry would rally against and oppose vociferously as it kills their business. And, it’d put the prices up dramatically as I’ve said before.

Even if you did do the whole warranty thing, there is no legal requirement whatsoever to have spares available… none, not a single shred so products can be a “swap out” basis in warranty and once that expires, tough, but another.


I know that there is no legal requirement to hold spares. We have had this discussion a few times. With cars the position is better, with manufacturers’ or alternative parts generally available. I presume that this largely driven by the fact that cars are more expensive than vacuum cleaners and other household goods. It would be interesting to explore the high cost of spares and the possibility of legislation but maybe the top priority should be to deal with modern manufacturing methods that make products easy and cheaper to assemble while making economic repair difficult or impossible to achieve. You have pointed out that replacement of drum bearings is not possible on most modern washing machines.

I’m not concerned about the insurance industry if we can move towards a more sustainable society. We will not bring about change overnight, giving the insurance companies to gradually downsize warranty sales. I’d rather have natural wastage in the insurance industry rather than pointless waste of appliances.

I agree that it would be useful to require manufacturers to hold spares for a specified period, appropriate to the type of product, or to arrange for another supplier to do this. In view of the costs involved it would encourage more use of the same parts in a variety of similar products.

Oh it’s getting progressively worse. Fast.

Now you have dishwashers where the only way to get the roller wheels on the baskets is a new basket complete £50-150.

WM doors, complete only, £50 upwards.

WM pump filter inserts, commonly used part can often now only be bought with a full pump, £30 at least and up to £80+.

Water inlet valves with moulded assemblies, £50+.

We’re seeing people scrap machines at 18 months old for some of this stuff, if you can even get it as it’s a self destructive cycle, nobody stocks those parts as they cost to hold on stock and they’re low use. As they’re low use the price never comes down, the producers don’t make them in any quantity so the prices rise.

The likes of Alfa’s “Rangemaster” cooker, I’d bet you dollars to donuts that half the parts on that cooker are obsolete within 2-5 years at most.

If there’s a warranty on it you’ll get a, “Yes we’ll offer you £80 off a new one sir” and send you on your way.

That does not solve the problem, just moves it somewhere else and will not change how the industry operates in any meaningful way, the cost will just get shifted about and people will pay for it one way or another in the end anyway. It won’t address durability or longevity at all as there’s no need to, cheaper just to do the above in cases where the machines expire before the warranty does.

Is that a win for consumers? I don’t think it is.

It sure isn’t a win environmentally that’s for sure as they’ll just scrap more rather than repair.

That’s cheaper than the massive investment required to alter production for one little market here in the UK.


“one little market here in the UK.”. This suggests that only Brits are concerned about sustainability and durability. The BEUC (umbrella group for all European consumer groups) sees repairability, durability and sustainability as increasingly important (although it seems powerless to do anything about it). So maybe we are not alone.

No we’re not.

Same issues can be seen in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and all across the EU.

But each is governed by it’s own system and rules.

We’re just about to be outside the EU so….


Whether we are in or out of the EU I see of no real consequence as we will most probably continue with the bits that are of mutual benefit. Largely we will be taking essentially the same products as they do and i do not imaging the major manufacturers will treat us differently.

Until governments dictate what companies can and cannot do, I am not optimistic that we will move on. In the meantime, perhaps checking eBay for secondhand roller wheels and pump inserts might be an idea.

One of the reasons why I’m keen on guarantees rather than extended warranties is that I am not aware of retailers offering only a modest discount when a product fails under guarantee. I’m not claiming it does not happen.

Second hand spares are a nightmare.

Every day we have to explain, as most people don’t understand how hard it is to find **correct** parts, as we often compare looking for parts like looking for a needle in a stack of needles that is sitting in a field of needles. They all look alike pretty much, most are similar dimensions and so on as the units are standardised sizes but slight variations in size, mould or whatever mean that they are often not interchangeable at all.

The only way to get the correct part more often than not is to follow the path of make and model, often serial numbers and production codes as well that gets you to a part number. If you break that path or go outside it then the chances are you’ll get the wrong needle from the stack of needles.

To put that into perspective, from a mere two main suppliers there are in excess of over 20 million spare parts live at any given time meaning that there are hundreds if not thousands of variations on a single item. That makes finding a correct part a very, very precise thing to do at times.

Not easy when they all look largely the same.

To illustrate that some models from the like of Vestel, can easily have over 100 production runs with variances on them.

Electrolux, 30 or more is far from uncommon.

Whirlpool the same.

And on and on that goes.

But is government telling companies what to do to that degree not a step away from nationalisation? 😉


We’ve spoken before about legislation and agreed it is the way forward. It is difficult for commercial organistions to move on such problems unilaterally when that might put them at a commercial disadvantage. Just as with Safety Standards we, and they, need a level playing field. It has happened with car emissions for example. This is where the EU has a key role as it covers so many consumers. What we don’t want is individual countries enacting their own versions and giving the manufacturers a mish-mash of regulations to meet.

Once we have mutually-acceptable support for products the spares problem will solve itself; there will be either generic spares (just as Eurocarparts do for vehicles) or specific items will be stocked for the guaranteed years from the end of the product manufacture (unless manufacturers choose a complete replacement).

We may end up with cheapo machines with a free 1 year guarantee and a 3 year extended one provided by the manufacturer. That will indicate their faith in the longevity (or shortevity) of their product. A more expensive machine might have a 3 year guarantee and an 8 to 10 year extended version at a sensible price if the manufacturer has faith in the durability of their product.
We will understand then how good or bad the product might be.

It will cost consumers money – the cost of repairs will be passed on. But it should also save them money by having a longer lived repairable appliance – a £500 washing machine that lasts 8 years is a better buy than a £250 machine that last 3 (or the equivalent number of cycles). And it most likely does its job better.

The government telling companies what to do is nothing like nationalisation. What’s the alternative? Maybe do nothing and moan about lack of sustainability.

I’ve not tried to source secondhand parts from eBay etc. but would give it a go rather than scrap an appliance. I have often made my own parts, sometimes replacing a fragile plastic part with a metal one that does the job and is likely to be more durable.

Malcolm – My level playing field is to specify the length of guarantee and I have suggested five years. If anyone wants longer cover, let them pay for a warranty. I think we will live to regret voting to leave the EU, if not immediately, but maybe it gives us more opportunity to lay down our rules.

Re warranties – I don’t see a fundamental disagreement, just detail. I am happy for people to buy a machine with a 3 years if that is what they want, but I would also like it made compulsory for manufacturers to offer warranties for 5 and 10 teays – at a price. The better machines would have a better price and allow the customer to decide best value. All warranties/guarantees are paid for one way or another by the purchaser.

No, there is no need for nationalisation. We (EU/Government) can impose conditions on suppliers in exactly the same way we impose international safety standards.

No one knows the outcome of the EU separateion – that is a separate Convo for crystal ball owners. As far as product legislation is concerned I (personally of course) see no advantage to us or point in departing from many of the existing EU requirements, particularly as we will want to continue mutual trading.

I was joking on nationalisation, hence the smiley.

But I do know that the more red tape you wrap business up in the more inefficient it becomes. The cost of which is borne by buyers.

Therefore businesses will fight it just as they would with anything that they perceive as detrimental or anti-competitive and, rightly so. Consumers argue the same on certain things that are harmful or perceived as such to them.


OK Kenneth. No nationalisation. 🙂

I’m sticking to 5 years, Malcolm. If some cars are guaranteed for longer than that, why not appliances? The more options the greater the opportunity for confusion.

Nationalisation of most things seems a possibility. I understand they have even considered nationalising the Government. 🙁

Thanks for the link Malcolm. My previous washing machine was a Bosch (different model) and my new one a Siemens IQ-700, so I found the article interesting.

A circuit board on the Bosch had to be replaced a few weeks after the 2 year guarantee ran out. I can’t remember the cost maybe around £200, but it was extremely high in comparison to the cost of the machine but the replacement lasted the rest of the life of the machine, around 10 years and no other repairs were necessary. I think the machine was bought in 2004 and scrapped in 2016 so a reasonable life.

But the article generally bodes well for my new machine.

I won’t have to worry about the Rangemaster as I returned it as unfit for purpose. At last the company have changed the wording on their website and it no longer states they make ALL their range cookers in the UK which was a blatant lie.

Alfa gives an example of a component that failed after two years and a replacement that lasted ten years and may have still been in good working order. This is very common, since it is difficult to predict how long components will last. Some problems would be picked up with extended testing and others would not. A better solution is to have mandatory guarantees for a sensible length of time. Buying an extended warranty may not be good value for money – like having extras supplied with a new car.

If all manufacturers had to provide the same five year repair/replacement guarantee, that would make it easy to compare prices. Offer too many options and it confuses customers, as with energy pricing.

The customer has the choice. The power is with them.

There are plenty machines out there that carry one, two, five and even ten year warranties already.

If people don’t buy those…

Atop that, there’s the option of add-on warranties and many maintenance schemes.

If people don’t buy those…

But, the market already caters for it through a variety of mechanisms.


It’s all very confusing, Kenneth. If you are prepared to spend a certain amount, do you opt for a cheaper machine and a longer warranty or a more expensive one with the standard manufacturer’s guarantee?

If all machines were to come with a five year manufacturer’s guarantee, then we know exactly where we stand.

I don’t know if the present choices are intended to keep us in a state of confusion. Looking at the way that some supermarkets show unit prices as price per 100g or price per kg or toilet rolls as price each or per 100 sheets, I would not be surprised if the white goods industry did the same. Or push up the price of some models to that a product looks like a bargain.

The warranty you get isn’t really all that confusing on the face of it.

The devil is as usual in the detail.

Even with the cars that you hold in high esteem, what you think they cover and what they actually cover well, mileage may vary let’s say. The same applies here.

You can have the choices above, parts only warranties for a start with a chargeable labour element.

Then there’s exclusions which won’t cover things you’d not expect covered but make up a huge percentage of all service call reports, largely use issues.

To get an all encompassing, you’re covered for everything type warranty is prohibitively expensive and I can tell you with a high degree of confidence that the way modern appliances have gone, lack of parts, sealed assemblies etc making repairs less cost effective, the companies that offer these types of warranty are not as profitable as they ought to be.

There’s no fear of them going out of business or anything like that as yet but, they are having to rethink in some respects.

But those varying levels of cover demand different pricing structures so, you can’t have a one-size-fits-all here.

Then there’s products out there that nobody will touch, you can’t get parts or service on them at all. Even the like of DAG won’t touch some marques now.

Then there’s the different product types which, for some, even getting someone to repair can be next to impossible in many areas.

Manufacturers are extremely unlikely to lock themselves into a long term commitment that they cannot see what the liability might be or, if they can even honour the agreement. It is however extremely important to understand that in some instances that may well be completely beyond their control.


What I want is for government to make the rules and for companies to comply if they are to be allowed to sell their products. That’s not affecting competition.

With a guarantee, a company should be responsible for honouring the guarantee. With an extended warranty it’s insurance based and customers must deal with the insurance company. A lot can go wrong. Until recently my biggest problem was with a Miele product, and all to do with them using a wrong serial number. Even after many calls they failed to ensure that I was provided with the ‘free’ warranty. Now I’m dealing with an insurance claim, where the company, loss adjuster and two contractors have all managed to foul up in different ways. I assure you that it is confusing when you get referred to the other company. Understanding terms and conditions is the least of the problem.

I do think the motor industry should use standard terms and conditions and highlight if their guarantees differ. Cars are supplied with guarantees limited to a fixed number of years or miles – whichever comes first. The white goods industry could do the same for their products and provide the information on the sticker showing energy efficiency etc.

I’m certainly not keen on parts only guarantees because the risk is that the labour cost is likely to be inflated.

The EU has made the rules. Safety Standards, car specifications are just two major examples. However, government can be very poor at dealing with such matters. Whirlpool is a classic example where no one has intervened to get any sensible outcome.

I agree that a parts warranty is nearly useless – look at Hotpoint for example where a call out charge to fit a “free” part is around £110 – but if they cannot fix it with a part, you still pay. Labour + parts, or a replacement, is what a warranty should cover and we should be prepared to pay for it as an extra, not hidden in the appliance cost. that way we know better what extra the manufacturer is charging and can judge how much confidence they have in their product. I prefer these warranties to be provided through the manufacturer via the retailer; the cost would reflect the likelihood of a particular machine/brand failing.

Confusion? Well, if we regard presenting information and facts freely to people so they can make considered decisions that is not confusion; it allows people to decide for themselves what to buy but may require them to do a little bit of work in the process. Life is about that – we need to think about what we do and the vast majority of people manage this when they want to.

I think to a degree you might be missing a crucial point or two.

You cannot force manufacturers to give some arbitrary warranty based on factors over which they might hold no control thereby placing them in a position where they would breach that legislation. That is a completely unreasonable ask.

I full expect it’d be challenged in court and, it’d collapse.

For example, gas.

You can’t get gas repairs for love nor money in many areas of the country. Even service networks with their own employed service force can’t do it as, they can’t get staff trained due to the legislation around that.

So what are producers of gas product to do then?

They can’t have them repaired as they don’t have and can’t get repairers?

Immediately they’d be in breach of that and, through no fault of theirs they’d argue and quite correctly as well as, that’s a problem with HSE, EU stuff and so on, not their problem.

If government told me I had to offer some sort of warranty around that I’d tell them to stuff off or, pull the products and just not sell them in the UK. It gets to be to much hassle for all the money that’s in it.

But it gets worse as, we are seeing a huge decrease in repairers and there are many areas, especially low population ones, where you can’t get refrigeration serviced, gas you’ve no hope, LPG not even a glimmer of a chance and even laundry product getting harder to the degree that if you have a choice of repairer, it might be one choice only.

In that sort of environment you fall at the first hurdle as, if you can’t get it repaired you can’t offer any sort of unconditional warranty so, it won’t happen. Worse manufacturers looking forward see this and will be thinking to themselves, no chance are we committing to that unknown. Again, quite rightly.

Myself and others have been warning about this for years all of which on combination along with several other factors also worth noting makes offering a blanket type warranty practically impossible in the current climate.

Despite what you might think there are some very strong and persuasive arguments that would make your notion of a standardised warranty likely impossible to uphold and honour and government is highly likely to leave it well enough alone and just let the market sort itself out in that regard. It’s too hard to do much of anything other than that.


I am referring to a manufacturer’s guarantee, not a warranty that is insurance based. I know the terms are often used interchangeably but in this sort of discussion it might be useful to remove possible doubt.

I would not mind if some manufacturers pulled out if that meant leaving ones who would comply with legislation provided to protect the consumer and make support available for the products they sell.

At least I’m making suggestions, Kenneth. In our lengthy discussions you have often said that certain things either would not work or have been tried and have not worked. We managed to land a man on the moon in my lifetime yet many years later we allow companies to design washing machines that cannot be economically repaired or fail to hold spares. Sometimes I wonder if the commercial world could organise the consumption of lots of beer in a place that makes it. 😉

I think you should consider the other worlds that cannot organise brewery parties – government , Ministry of Defence, our education system, the probation service, care quality commission, the NHS……. So continually attacking the commercial world seems a little partisan.

We have bits of common ground between us all and instead of arguing over trivial details we might be better off putting a proper case together – which will involve understanding various points of view and making compromises.

In some respect yes, in some no.

Often issues form around other things, in this case pre existing established legislation that governs what can and can’t be done, commercial pressures, availability of repair and spares so there’s a number of factors in play.

To get what you want to happen all of those have to align.

Whilst not impossible, given what would have to happen to get there, it’s extremely improbable.

To demonstrate a bit.

If X Maker sells a machine with a whatever warranty that is part of the contract of sale, it has to be honoured as such under the SoGA and CRA, it’s enshrined in those anyway. X Maker then has absolutely no choice in the matter, they have to honour that warranty at whatever cost to them, reasonable or not.

If not they could face fines or prosecution.

But as I’ve tried to illustrate with merely one or two simplistic examples, if X Maker is placed in a position where they are, through no fault of theirs, unable to honour or service that warranty and its terms then they are liable.

They’re not going to go for that, too much uncertainty.

So, what they’ll then do is offload that risk to an underwriter or insurer but, they will only offer a policy as with all insurance products around the rules mandated by the FCA and, that make commercial sense for an insurer.

A blanket, repair or replace, forget that happening in that scenario, as previously touched on. Not even a ghost of a chance.

Therefore, in the end, you won’t get a blanket warranty I shouldn’t think irrespective of how you go about it as, just like you as a consumer, X Maker isn’t going to take the risk that puts them out of pocket, just the same as you.

The risk or not to the consumer is more or less held static, no net gain.

This is not a hypothetical, this is what happens right now.

Alfa’s cooker is an example, Termikel made product sold under a Rangemaster badge, warranty underwritten by Warranty Solutions, service by a sub-division called Minerva Services. In fact, Rangemaster sub contract loads of service out, most of the domestic stuff I believe.

I feel that you may well be underestimating the complexity behind the scenes of all this and much more but, that’s not at all unusual, most people don’t understand just how complex an ecosystem lies behind many industries.

Also if you made all that sort of requirement a mandatory legislation thing you’d discourage if not kill off new entrants to market. Too hard, too expensive.


SoGA and CRA override a warranty/guarantee if their is any conflict, and can give redress for up to 6 years.

My dishwasher is covered by a repair or replace warranty that I purchased.

As you have said earlier, manufacturers do offer a range of longer warranties, so it already happens. We need to find a way to encourage that approach. It may be we are left with a (very) few manufacturers who can underwrite their product with a decent warranty – which will cost the manufacturer money to service of course and this will be passed on to the customer. Tqually I would expect a commercial insurance warranty to take account of risk when pricing its product, as they do elsewhere.

I do not expect this to be free to the customer – other than deficient products dealt with under CRA. I may be alone in being prepared to pay extra to get an assured cost-free defined life from a product. Manufacturers are in a position to design repairable products, to incorporate durable components, and to put competent designs together. Failures will always happen, but it should not be for the customer to have to pick up the whole cost of a manufacturer’s failure. A guarantee/warranty should cover such occurrences, and that should last well beyond a year (or the equivalent number of uses).

Problem is Malcolm, many of the machines on sale today will not see 6 years, they are not designed to last that long and it’s an established fact now.

So to get anywhere under the 5/6 year rule is more or less, in practical terms anyway, impossible.

The cost of proving it would likely exceed the cost of several replacement machines they’re so cheap now. I have to say though that, to date, I have yet to see a valid claim under that rule that got anywhere. For most people though I expect the cost/hassle/inconvenience will put an end of that line of enquiry long before you get to that point.

And to get what back? After you account for depreciation and recession the value is derisory anyway. It’s just not worth the aggravation.

I expect most just bin it, buy some other pile of junk with a different brand name on it around the same price and have the same to look forward to in the future.


Malcolm wrote: “We have bits of common ground between us all and instead of arguing over trivial details we might be better off putting a proper case together – which will involve understanding various points of view and making compromises.” That I will agree with. The fact that there are problems in other sectors is not relevant to a discussion about how long a washing machine lasts.

May I suggest that we don’t assume that the public are knowledgeable and capable of making informed decisions. Last night a neighbour asked if she could put a five year old TV in my skip. You would think that an adult would know that electronic waste had to be recycled properly. You might hope that they might have contacted the retailer and discussed their statutory rights. But no, they bought a new TV. Last week I met a family in my old local. The father told me that he had paid £3700 in overdraft charges to his bank. At least he has encouraged his son, who recently performed in the Albert Hall and even took premature retirement to support him.

Anyway, I agree that we should work on finding areas of agreement and compromise. Today’s discussion has probably discouraged our new contributor from the US from posting again. I hope not.

In accept that certain products will not last 6 years, and CRA takes account of that. I do not subscribe to a 5 year general warranty because I think it is unrealistic, and some purchasers do not want to pay for what that would entail . The essence perhaps is that we should have knowledge of how long a product should last when we buy it so we can make a more informed choice. Which? already attempt this in a crude way by attaching a reliability rating.

Lets take a normally quality manufacturer whose products do last a long time. Let us suppose they are designed to last 10 years minimum (or an equivalent number of uses). If the expected failures in that time are 10% then the manufacturer could cover this by putting 15% on the cost and be able to even provide a replacement machine, let alone deal with repairs. They can examine the suspect machine for misuse and abuse that would invalidate a claim.

I doubt any contributor has been discouraged if they see a progressive conversation. I hope he (or she) provides some information to back up the assertions made. in the US, Frigidaire, Samsung, LG, Whirlpool and Kenmore/Maytag seem to have jointly colluded together in planned obsolescence of washing machines, by purposely designed a spider arm that will fail in 5-6 years – see is your washing machine built to fail

Uhm. No.

People don’t get the whole thing about replacements with LDAs. It’s not easy.

To swap out an appliance often costs more than the appliance not including the original cost price by the time you’re done paying for delivery, installation, removal, disposal and then there’s the cost of the products as well as most often at least one service list cost to ascertain the issue is genuine and requires that remedy.

It is by far not something anyone in the industry does through choice. Only when it is absolutely the only course of action remaining open to them.

One swap out can easily cost you 150% the price paid at purchase.

To do that in advance of being utterly and absolutely sure it wasn’t a customer generated issue, well I’m sure you can imagine the train of thought there.

Even one service visit wipes the profit on the sale let alone much else.

What you can say is that you’d perhaps get an average 10% failure in year one, that would increase in year two and so on but the problem becomes compound as you move on till it reaches saturation.

Knowing how it’s thought on what they’d likely do it calculate the percentage attributed to service based on current cost so, if you’ve got five years worth of machines with a 40-50% hit rate that’s the base cost they’ll use. Kinda makes sense in a way as, they need to employ bodies to go fix them, buy bits, run infrastructure and so on to meet that demand, not a theoretical one.

But the notion of swap outs in the large appliance industry is one that ins’t just met with resistance, it’s positively to be avoided at all costs.

And you’ve got to comply and account for it in WEEE as well so, not just so simple.


Malcolm – We will see. I’ve noticed that where two or three regulars are arguing a point, others may not join in and new faces may never be seen again. At least our contributor has included seem to have which makes it a guarded comment.

Regarding your previous comment, I believe that the focus needs to be on cheaper products with a shorter life and helping people that don’t have much expertise.

One swap out can easily cost you 150% the price paid at purchase Which is why I suggested the manufacturer allows, on a 10% failure rate, an extra 5% – i.e. 150% of the price for 10% of the appliances.

A cheapo machine might have a high failure rate, but I would doubt a decent make would start with 10% failures before the year one guarantee runs out and then increases after that. Perhaps we can find some life statistics for washing machines of different makes. Which? any ideas?

What they do Malcolm is to budget 8-10% (roughly) on the gate cost for service.

So, factory gate cost of £100, they put £10 toward service on each box.

Given that a service call will cost £40-100 a pop in labour alone I’m sure you can see why that might be a problem. Especially if you get hit with an epidemic failure or a recall. Fact is, there’s simply not the resources in place to cover anything untoward, it’s so tight a margin of error.

It’s also a major factor in why there’s a dearth of repairers, simply put, there’s no money in it so nobody wants to do it. Add to that the throwaway society stuff along with sealed units and it’s not hard to see why service is a big, big problem that’s likely to get bigger going forward.

It’s also why that service for many is, well pants, there’s no nice way to put it really. But it’s likely to get worse, not better.

As witnessed with the recent Hotpoint recall, there simply isn’ t the bodies on the ground to cope with it, they don’t exist. Whirlpool et all are completely powerless to do anything to change that.

If they added that sort of funding as you mean to the cost then retail prices would double or more overnight.

Great news for the repairers and people may well get better machines that lasted longer but, would the public accept that sort of mandated and mandatory increase or would it seem too Draconian a measure?


For a manufacturer producing well designed, well specified good quality machines they presumably do not expect such high failure rates and, as in my case, can offer a 10 year warranty.

@aporter This might be a good time for Which? to review comments/suggestions/problems and perhaps give its thoughts, and those of other consumer groups, on whether there is any worthwhile way that consumers can benefit?

Adrian said he had joined the cars team but maybe he or Lauren will be able to encourage someone from Which? to comment. I hope so.

If there are manufacturers producing machines as good as you imply, is it worth paying extra for a warranty?

A warranty, like your house insurance, protects against an unexpected failure. I may be unlucky and have a component fail – a leaky pump for example – so I’m simply protecting myself against the cost of having that repaired. I work out the cost per year of owning and maintaining the appliance and felt that the peace of mind was, in this case, worthwhile. You are quite right that if a product is from a particularly good manufacturer the warranty may not be necessary. Indeed by offering one the manufacturer seems to be stating the same thing – this product is very unlikely to require attention or a repair in 10 years. This is really where this discussion is heading, isn’t it? No point in a manufacturer offering a warranty that is totally at odds with their known reliability or durability. I would not usually take one out- unless it seemed to make real financial sense (to me).

“For a manufacturer producing well designed, well specified good quality machines they presumably do not expect such high failure rates and, as in my case, can offer a 10 year warranty.”

They play averages. It’s a numbers game like walking into a casino I likened it to in an article I wrote a few years back and you need understand the simple rule that, “the house never loses”.

Same applies with insurance cover, maintenance plans or whatever they’re dressed up as.

The logic is, more people lose than will win. Just like insurance.

It’s like consumers, they also seek the same, that they always win out the deal so I think it massively unfair to berate any business for acting in the exact same self interest.

In my view and, it is merely my view given my take on how businesses should operate, is that you have to find a middle ground. There has to be a win on both sides.

This is hampered in large part by the constant and incessant requirement for ever cheaper and cheaper goods which only serves to drive down the initial quality and I don’t think many will disagree with that but also to drive down the level of care after that as well.

This is not just a UK thing by any stretch, it’s global, this need to be ever cheaper and hang the consequences.

I’ll never forget standing in a factory watching some Russian or whatever buyer for a retail chain rip into a manufacturer sales guy as he couldn’t give another €30 of the landed cost of a washing machine. Honestly the way this person was going at it you’d think lives depended on it.

This person just said that their customers simply wouldn’t accept it any other way and that if that meant they had to sacrifice a warranty, let quality slip, deliver them using a horse and cart they just didn’t care, that’s what the customers wanted. Cheap.

Or a large UK retailer that would call in reps from makers and put them in glass offices then have one buyer run between them to get them bidding on who could do what they wanted the cheapest. One step away from blackmail as XX would do it, why can’t YY do that or better yet, do it cheaper.

All because the customers demand cheaper.

What gets stripped out (dignity ignored) is any cost they can jettison overboard.

So warranties, quality, backup… anything is fair game to get the cost down.

And as I don’t want to get myself into trouble I will say this broadly and so as not to get nailed for it, not one single retailer that operates many branches in the EU or UK I’ve seen operate does not pull this sort of stunt.

Manufacturers aren’t just competing with one another is the point and if you ask me, if you want out that rat race you need to, get out that rat race. I’ve not seen many that are brave enough to do so or even try and those that have tried, failed.

House wins every time.


I agree with most of that Kenneth, but just a couple of comments:

“All because the customers demand cheaper.” Customers are not demanding cheaper products. What happens is that cheap products are manufactured and prove popular. The companies are in control. The white goods industry needs a Mr Dyson to encourage people to pay more for their products.

“It’s like consumers, they also seek the same, that they always win out the deal so I think it massively unfair to berate any business for acting in the exact same self interest.” May I respectfully suggest that business if puts its house in order, there might be less cause for criticism. For example, it seems to be normal practice for retailers to refuse to help customers whose product develops a fault soon after the guarantee or warranty has expired. What they should do is to inform the customer of their statutory rights and what evidence they will need if they wish to make a claim and not to even think about it if the product has been abused. I think it is massively unfair of retailers to tell customers that nothing can be done because a product is out of guarantee or to suggest that they contact the manufacturer, which has no legal responsibility.

I can’t see anything meaningfully disruptive on the horizon other than perhaps the offering as a package.

The products are pretty static, unlikely to change in any real way and even if they were to do so, people would buy a fridge to keep stuff cool, do they care how it works? The answer is, not really they all do the same menial task just the same so the differences are how they look and how much they cost.

Hence the race to the bottom on price, ejecting almost all else in pursuit of that as people buy what looks the way they want as cheap as they can get it.

What retailers do is not relevant in this and in any event, that’s a policy business by business across however many retailers that there are. They just do what they do, they’re only one channel to market is all so “putting their house in order” has nothing to do with consumer behaviour nor manufacturer’s responding to consumer demands other than they are a conduit through which the message is passed back and forth.


I do not believe that all customers demand the cheapest products; a lot may, but many do not. Just as in other fields, whether phones, computers, cars, insurances……. there is room for different producers with different business models. We have a lot of thinking consumers who are capable of looking beyond price.

“the house never loses”. is said about warranties. Quite correct – at least for a provider that gets their numbers right. But that is not the point; insurance spreads the risk so that while most people “lose” a bit by not claiming, those unfortunate enough to have an expensive loss are protected from the cost. House insurance is a classic – would you ignore insuring £250 000 asset that might burn down when you can pay a regular premium to cover that eventuality? It is peace of mind and for some people the same applies to covering the cost of an expensive appliance failing. Their choice is whether the cost is proportionate to the risk, in their eyes.

Kenneth – What retailers do is indirectly relevant because their refusal to even consider the possibility that a consumer may have a valid case will generally result in purchase of a new product. Why don’t manufacturers provide customers with information about their rights in the documentation provided with new washing machines, etc? Would you agree that this should be done voluntarily or should it be enforced?

It is pointless having consumer rights if there is no economic way of enforcing them. The legislation is there to provide protection but without the support of, for example, a decent Trading Standards body few consumers will bother with the time or expense. consumers should be as “powerful as the organisation with which they have to deal”. That paraphrases Which?’s mission statement. But they seem to be empty words when it comes to this kind of issue.

Where do consumers go to get the help they need to get a fair outcome when they have a legitimate problem? Anyone got ideas?

I would start by focusing on what might be achieved relatively easily. My thoughts would be:

1. Push for all retailers to provide a leaflet explaining consumers’ statutory rights in simple terms and put the same information in manufacturers’ product documentation and on both retailers’ and manufacturers’ websites. I suggest that the wording is standard rather than letting each company produce its own.

2. Set up a system that makes it easy consumers to report companies that are failing to comply with the law. This could help identify the main offenders. There will be people that think that the Consumer Rights Act is a six year guarantee covering accidental damage and abuse but this feedback can be ignored.

The durability question has been ducked by Which?, probably because it is more complex. Yes it’s important but I would prefer to tackle easier issues first.

It is not the manufacturer’s responsibility to explain consumer rights to buyers. There’s also no legal requirement or obligation for retailer to do so either that I am aware of.

And honestly, it’d probably confuse more than help.

You are correct of course Malcolm, if it can’t be done economically then it is pretty pointless but it’s a two way street.

The vast bulk of claims I’ve ever seen are not valid, they hold no water at all at least in the appliance industry. All they do for a business is eat time and resource, in turn that costs money.

There’s a few that may well have merit but, they are a tiny minority.

Most are just fair wear and tear, general breakages or failure and so on that owners think they can bring a claim to have resolved quickly and easily, most often without a scrap of evidence that any claim is valid.

Most often what happens is that a machine is sat working for some years, something breaks and the customer tries to claim a free remedy or, expects that. You’ll also see the “not fit for purpose” rolled out et all. Almost always it’s all a nonsense.

So the onus after six months is for the owner to *PROVE* that the defect was there from new for good reason, it’s to try to avoid false claims and when I say “false claims” believe me when I tell you that a number of them are nothing less than out and out fraud or, attempted fraud.

Both parties must have equal protection in law, it would be completely unfair and wholly unreasonable to have one having more power than the other or to even suggest that should be the case. If you did, that would constitute discrimination against either party and that’s not on.

I know that neither of you would attempt a fraudulent claim, I just get that vibe but, trust me that there are many, many people out there that are not so honest. Therefore most claims need to be looked at in detail and the validity assessed.

I’d reckon off the top of my head that 9/10 you see (at least) are not valid claims in respect to the 5/6 year rule.

The protection is there, for valid claims and there’s mechanisms in place to enable the whole thing to work but it’s not as easy as just making a call or firing off an email to get resolution for very good reason.

The downside is that, for low cost goods it’s probably most often not worth the hassle and effort to fight it.