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Choosing a washing machine

Washing machineTypes of washing machine

Basic washing machines wash and spin dry your clothes, while washer-driers dry them as well.

Checklist

Use this checklist to help you choose a washing machine that suits your accessibility needs:

Opening and closing the door

If it opens with a push button:

  • Do you have to bend down far to reach it?
  • Is it comfortable to push?
  • Is the door easy to grip and swing open?

If it opens by pulling a handle:

  • Is it easier to use a handle that you squeeze to release, or one that you just pull? Try both out to see which is easier.
  • Do you have to bend down far to reach it?
  • Is the handle easy to grip?

Loading and unloading

  • Does the door open wide to give you enough room? Some open 180 degrees.
  • Does the door swing shut by itself? This can get in the way.
  • How big is the drum? A larger one can do more washing in one go, and is easier to load and unload.
  • Can you close the door with a light touch after loading?

Using the dispenser

  • Does it open smoothly without you forcing it?
  • Is the handle easy to grip?
  • Can you open it easily with the hand you prefer to use?
  • Does it have large compartments? These can reduce spills.
  • Can you easily remove or replace it for cleaning?
  • If you find a dispenser too fiddly, try using a detergent that goes in the drum with the washing (like liquitabs).

Using the controls

  • Many machines have a lot of different programmes which can make the controls difficult to understand. A simpler machine may have everything you need.
  • Are labels and markings large and do they contrast well with their background?
  • Are buttons easy to press? Large buttons that stick out are better.
  • Are dials large and easy to grip and turn?
  • Are positions on the dial well-spaced? Cramped settings need more precise control.
  • Are the controls well-spaced, so that you don’t press the wrong one accidentally?

Useful features for people who are blind or partially sighted

If you're blind or partially sighted, have a look at our list of seven features that make washing machines easier to use, like tactile controls and audio output.

Our table of useful features shows you at a glance which washing machines have which of these elements. We chose these ten machines because they all have some or all of the seven ease-of-use features.
There's also detailed information about the accessibility of each machine tested - click on its image in the table.

This information from the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers is unbiased. We hope it will help you choose the right option to meet your needs.
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