Have you ever had a washing machine break down?
Yeah, me too. Once you get used to an appliance, it is hard to be without it. I had to wash a few clothes by hand before I got the washing machine up and running again (I say me, but in reality, it was a technician).
Washing machines are not cheap. You should not have to fork out on a new appliance only for it to break down a few years later. If you have to repair one, that is not cheap either and can end up costing almost as much as the machine itself.
Well, I am here to help you fight back against planned obsolescence. We should not have to buy and know that we will need to replace it. In an ideal world, we would buy everything once. So, how can we make our washing machines last as long as possible?
We will get to that, but first, let’s look at the average lifespan of a washer.
What Is The Average Lifespan Of A Washing Machine?
A washing machine is expected to last 14 years.
If you complete a load of laundry every day (or average seven loads a week), then 14 years is the length of time which it takes to do 5,100 loads of laundry. That is the point at which a washing machine should be replaced.
Related: How Long Will Your Dishwasher Last?
Of course, if you use it less than this, then a washing machine can last longer than 14 years, and if you use the washing machine more than this, then it might not last as long. There are many other things which can also affect the lifespan.
If you are washing heavy loads constantly, compared to lighter loads, then it is going to take a toll on the washer, and it may not last as long.
You will also not get as many years out of a cheap washing machine when compared to a high-quality one.
So, you are thinking of buying a washing machine, or perhaps you already have one.
How To Care For Your Washing Machine?
When you buy a washing machine, you expect it to keep working with little to no maintenance. While this should be the case, there are some small things which you can do to extend the life of your washing machine. A few minutes here and there can save you a few hundred dollars down the road.
Follow our 8 expert tips for a long-lasting washing machine.
1. Check the Hoses
When you installed your washing machine, you would have connected hoses for hot and cold water. They are behind your washing machine but should not be forgotten about. Check them every few months for cracks and bulges, and make sure that the fittings are tight.
Also, make sure that there’s enough space for the hoses so they don’t bulge and crack prematurely.
2. Don’t Overload
Every washing machine has a maximum load limit. You can load close to that limit but should never go above the limit or you risk damaging the motor. If you have multiple heavy items to wash, it’s better to wash them in small loads or combine them with other laundry loads if possible.
3. Don’t Use Too Much Detergent
Excessive amounts of detergent will not clean your clothes any better than the recommended amount. In fact, too much detergent can act as a lubricant and prevent the clothes from properly rubbing against each other. It’s the rubbing that helps to get all the dirt out of your clothes.
Alternatively, you can use pods and you never need to worry about dosage.
4. Maintenance Washing
It’s recommended to do a maintenance wash once a month. Set the temperature on your washer between 140 °F (60 °C) and 194 °F (90 °C) with no clothes in it, and add some detergent (1/2 cup) with bleach. Set your washer to full cycle and, once it’s done, your washer should smell like new. If not, try the cycle again.
Pro tip: You can use 2 cups of vinegar instead of detergent.
5. Clean the Interior
The inside of your washer may look clean, but there can be a lot of dirt that is hidden. The rubber door seal especially accumulates dirt and grime, and that is caused by the dirt that comes off the clothes, detergents, and minerals in hard water. The same is true of the hoses, filters, and other moving parts.
Check for any build-up and clean the dirt before it becomes a bigger problem.
6. Leave The Door Open
It may sound silly, but you should leave the door open for a while after washing a load. This helps to stop any smells from developing over time. It’s recommended to wipe down the door, too.
7. Empty the Tub
Remove clean clothes as soon as your washer is done washing. If you leave your clothes in the tub for too long, mold can start to grow.
8. Level the Machine
If a washing machine is not level, it can move when in use. The combination of an unbalanced appliance, a spinning drum, and vibrations caused by a wash cycle can cause the washing machine to move when in use. Not only can this damage the machine, but it can also damage things around it.
Check the level and turn the washer legs clockwise or counterclockwise to lower or raise a corner of the machine.
Which Brands Are The Most Reliable?
With so many companies to choose from and so many big names out there, it can be hard to choose one. After all, aren’t the big companies all much the same? Well, not always. There are a lot of trusted suppliers out there, but some are better than others.
I took a look at some of the companies out there and rated them for longevity.
1. Speed Queen
You may not have heard of Speed Queen, and I had not either until I started to investigate washing machine brands, but I am glad that I have now heard of them.
As far as washing machines go, there are few which last as long as Speed Queen washing machines. The top-end machines are rated to last for 25 years or 10,400 loads. Speed Queen also offers between 3-7 year warranties.
Another big name in the washing machine game, but can they come close to Speed Queen?
These machines have a life cycle of 10-15 years. If you follow the maintenance tips on my list, then I see no reason why you should not hit the upper end of this lifespan. Caring for the machine is key, and LG offers some tips:
• Clean the drum monthly
• Remove detergent from dispenser every month
• Drain the filter
• Empty lint filter regularly
Another trusted name in washing machines and one which will get you a decent amount of time before needing to be replaced.
You get 10-13 years with a Kenmore machine. Again, there are some things which you can do to lengthen the lifespan on your Kenmore washer, and these come straight from the manufacturer:
• Use a level surface
• Rinse dispenser drawer regularly
• Use the self-clean cycle
• Inspect water hoses
Another big name. So, how do they fare?
A GE machine may last longer than a Kenmore and, yet, it may not. The range is more specific with a GE, and you can expect to get 11 or 12 years out of a machine.
5. Electrolux & Frigidaire
With both brand names, you know that you are getting quality but does that quality translate into a long life:
With Electrolux and Frigidaire, you get 10 years minimum under normal use. This could mean that the washing machine will stop working after 10 years, or it could work forever. If you want it to last longer, then follow some of the manufacturer tips:
• Run the cleaning cycle when prompted
• Clean the dispenser drawer regularly
6. Maytag & Whirlpool
Another manufacturer which expects their washing machines to last for 10 years. As long as you are cleaning the machine regularly and using the self-clean cycle, you can expect it to last long-er.
Last, but not least, Samsung. They produce high-quality machines which can compete with the others on our list.
Again, they suggest that their washing machine will last for 10 years if used correctly. Following the maintenance guidelines will go a long way to accomplishing this.
When Should You Buy A New Washing Machine?
You never want to have to do it, but there will come a time when you need to buy a new washing machine. If you have followed my tips above, then that will not be for a long time but that time always comes all too soon.
Before you go out and buy a new washer, you need to make sure that you need to buy one. So, how do you know when it is time to bite the bullet?
If you have a leak, then it may be time to buy a new washer. Before you do, check the main culprits to find out if it is an easy fix.
Check the hoses to make sure there are no cracks or holes. Check the connections too and ensure that they are tight. Have you been overfilling the machine when washing a load? That could be a culprit too.
If you have investigated and not found the source of the leak, then it could be the tub. A crack in a tub can be expensive to fix, and you are better off replacing the machine, especially if you have had the washer for a long time.
2. Noise and Machine Movement
Yes, washing machines make noise and move, but you may notice unusual noises or movements. They can happen together or separately and they could be caused by the same problem or different ones.
If you think that something is wrong, first check that you have not overloaded the machine and that you are using the right setting. You can also check that the washer is level and there are no obvious loose parts.
If that fails, you should call out a professional. And, be sure to call one out early. If you notice a problem that you cannot fix and have a professional fix it promptly, you will ensure that it does not develop into a bigger and more expensive issue
If your washing machine is more than 10 years old, it’s probably not as energy and water efficient as the newer models.
The newest HE (High-Efficiency) washers need to meet certain criteria. They must use less water, detergent, and power than traditional models and there are maximum values that it must not go over.
If you see the ‘HE’ symbol, you have found an efficient washer.
4. The Drum Doesn’t Fill Up
If your drum or tub does not fill up with water, it could be down to the cycle, and there may be a delay in the start. It could also be that water is being blocked or turned off. Check that the water is on and there are no kinks or blockages in the hose. If you cannot find the problem, call in a professional.
5. Expensive Repairs
If your washing machine does break down and you cannot repair it yourself, you may have to pay a professional, and that can get expensive.
At times, the cost of the repair can actually cost more than a replacement. Repairs can extend the life of your washer, but it might be better to just bite the bullet and replace the washer. That way, you can also upgrade to a more efficient model and save money on your utilities.
If you invest in quality and follow my tips, then your washing machine can last a long time, but there will come a time when it needs to be fixed or replaced. When it is time to trade in your old washing machine, think about the environment.
Your first choice should not be to take the washing machine to the dump. Some companies will recycle your machine when you buy a new one from them. There are also recycling options in your area, which you should be able to discover with a quick search.
Look after your machine, and replace it when needed. Washing machines cost, but they are worth it in the long run.