Total Washout

In hindsight I should have known something was up. First, our washer-dryer started making this weird low whining sound mid-cycle. Next, the dryer function stopped working altogether: bath towels started coming out the dryer cycle sopping wet, yet steaming hot – think airplane wash cloths. Finally, it began starting switching on and launching a new cycle of it’s own accord, in the middle of the night. After the umpteenth 3am wake up to switch it off, I realised it was time to pull the plug and admit defeat.

That was Saturday morning. Since then, I have discovered the washer-dryer warranty had expired; called (and paid) for a repairman to hum, haw, and confirm it was indeed a total wash out; gone to Peter Jones to choose a new machine; buy aforementioned machine; prayed and cajoled with the kind Peter Jones people to deliver before next Friday; noticed in horror my chic Conran Shop laundry basket quickly overflowing; and sent all our most urgently-needed garments to be dry cleaned.

While I sit tight and wait for my new washing machine to be delivered (at some point today – bets on it arriving five minutes before the end of the stated delivery window?) I thought I’d share what this week has taught me:

PAY ATTENTION TO THINGS LIKE WARRANTIES, WHEN THEY EXPIRE AND WHETHER YOU CAN PAY TO EXTEND THEM. Believe it or not, I actually extended the warranty two years ago, when the washer-dryer originally started acting up, but at the start of the year, in the grips of a January-induced, ‘let’s streamline our household expenses’ mania, I decided the smart thing would be not to renew it. Corollary of lesson numero uno: if you’re going to make a knee-jerk call on which appliances not to renew the warranty, remember:

YOU CAN SURVIVE WITHOUT A DISHWASHER, BUT YOU CAN’T SURVIVE WITHOUT A WASHING MACHINE. OK, so ‘survive’ is a little dramatic. Also yes, I once lived eight months without a washing machine in the house (thanks to an absolutely nightmare of a landlord) but then again, I was in my twenties and we had an exceptionally nice laundry room in the building.

DRY CLEANING EVERYTHING IS BLOODY EXPESNIVE. To this point, emoji of the week: 💸 (or as I’ve renamed it, ‘bye bye new Loewe handbag slush fund’).

NOT ALL WASHING MACHINES ARE CREATED EQUAL. There’s front loading, top loading, stand alone, combined washer-dryers, integrated. Hashtag send help.

THERE’S A WHOLE BUNCH OF BRAND NAMES TO GET TO GRIPS WITH. Yeah, vaguely heard of them – Whirlpool, Miele, Indesit, Siemens – but nope, never before had to choose among them.

…SO FOCUS ON THE MODEL FEATURES INSTEAD. Here’s where the nice Peter Jones sales associate saved the day. Now, unless you’re specifically looking at buying an entry-level model (like John Lewis’ own brand) or go all out for the top-of-the-line (Miele), going on brand name alone is a bit misleading. The truth of the matter is most brands you’ll find at a reputable store will be good, solid, reliable machines. Moreover, it’s worth noting they’re basically all made by the same manufacturers. AEG, Siemens and Bosch are all made by Neff. Indesit also produces Hotpoint. Elextrolux also makes the John Lewis machines. Whirlpool also produces Zanussi. I could continue, but you get the point. The upshot is that it comes down to individual model features, and how these match to your own needs: in particular, things like capacity and spin speed.

MATCH THE FEATURES TO YOUR NEEDS. It makes sense that the bigger the drum (the big metal spinning thing inside), the more you can wash. Machines will normally range between a capacity of 5kg to 12kg, so it’s a matter of matching drum size with your needs. High capacity allows you to wash less frequently, cutting down on energy bills and helping the environment (can I get a whoop?). Meanwhile, the higher the spin speeds, the more moisture is extracted, leaving clothes dryer when they come out the machine. Most machines will range from 1000 to 1600 revs per minute (or RPM’s), so again it’s really down to what you need.

WASHER DRYERS AREN’T NECESSARILY BETTER VALUE. Here’s the thing. While it may sound like you’re getting a 2-for-1,it’s worth considering the drum in a stand-alone dryer is considerably larger than in a washer-dryer. This means, whereas with a washer and stand alone dryer, you would simply move the laundry from one machine to the other, with a washer-dryer you will need to take out each washing load, half it, and run each half through the dryer separately. If it sounds like a total pain, it’s because it is.

APPARENTLY, WASHING MACHINES NEED T.L.C. Along the lines of: leave the drawer and door slightly ajar for 10-15 minutes after taking out each load, to avoid the build up of mould and bacteria. Always wipe down the inside of the window and door seal (the big plastic bit inside between the door and the drum), after each use. Run a monthly service wash (basically, an empty cycle on a 90C degrees cotton setting) to kill off any bacteria inside the machine. I mean really, who knew?

SOME OF THE MOST COMMON PROBLEMS WITH WASHING MACHINES ARE COINS OR OTHER SMALL OBJECTS CAUSING A BLOCKAGE, PREVENTING THE MACHINE FROM DRAINING PROPERLY. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that coins – as well as silk cufflink knots and shirt collar stiffners – may have contributed to the death of our old machine. Might have saved me the hassle if I’d made a point of regularly calling on a repairman to check on the lint filter (the little compartment usually found at the front of the machine, where all these little objects tend to collect).

But you know. You live and learn, huh.

Black Bar (Updated)

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Black Bar (Updated)

IMAGES — The Conran Shop.

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