Homefront’s appliance insider, Mark Eglington, shares some of his dirty little secrets that are must-haves when it comes to “doing the laundry.” After all, who wants to get their knickers in a twist or their towels in a tangle?
By Mark Eglington
1) Is bigger really better?
Greater washer capacity is not all it’s cracked up to be. All you really need is a seven or eight kilogram wash capacity—that’s the size of a full laundry basket. Being able to wash 35–40 shirts per load is more than enough. A well-designed 8 kg machine can easily wash your king-size duvet cover and bed linens.
2) Three rinses per load
To wash clothes you need three things: water, detergent and plenty of time. The drum simply has to go slowly round and round. The soap requires time to suds up and wash. Some machines even have sanitary cycles that kill bacteria. Make sure you have a minimum of three rinses per load.
Generally, people are full of it—soap, that is. Use too much of the wrong detergent and it will over-foam and stay in the clothes. A good machine needs just one heaped tablespoon of a low-sudsing detergent. Over-foaming will also burn out your washer after a few years. Wise advice: The first time you use a new machine, skip the soap. There will be plenty left in the clothes from their last wash.
3) Go green
Dryer sheets, be gone! They’re full of chemicals that aren’t great for your skin or your machine. Instead, use dryer balls or fabric softener in the washer to reduce static and stop creasing.
4) Built to last
Less-expensive, poorly built machines might die after six to seven years, while you can expect a 15–20 year lifespan from a more stylish, better engineered European machine.
5) Stacked or side-by-side?
It doesn’t matter, but make sure your machine is front-loading. Personally, I don’t believe in top loading. If noise is a factor, you can now get a virtually silent machine in which the inverter motor and superior insulation absorb noise-making vibrations during operation.
6) Green with envy?
Many top-loading washing machines are water guzzlers—more than 100 litres of water per load. If you’re concerned about saving the planet, why not look into more efficient European machines that consume about 50% less the water? And, even though the wash takes longer, electricity costs on these appliances will be about a third less.
7) She’s no dummy
Look for a machine that controls water intake, temperature and rinse performance with specialized programs. This produces results that are consistently great, load after load. Some machines also have a feature called Eco Valve, a flap that shuts off when the detergent is flushed into the washtub. This prevents wasting both the energy needed to rinse each load, as well as extra detergent.
8) Looking good
Clothes last longer when they’re washed gently on a slower, softer cycle. Rather than washing in hot water, look for a washer that sets the stage by filling with cold water first. It’s the best way to keep clothes young. Also watch for plastic drums that can have harmful rough edges. The best machines have stainless steel drums instead.
9) In love with plain Jane
Don’t be fooled by novelty coloured machines that look all slick and shiny. Fashion colours might be trendy, but it seems to me that they’re often just marketing hype. Stick with basic, well-designed white machines for easier colour matching with your home and outer shell durability.
10) Tumble versus bake
Look for a machine that tumbles slowly and reliably while consistently blowing warm air through the clothes, instead of one that uses high wattage heating elements to bake your clothes dry. Crease-free is pretty well guaranteed when the last 12 minutes uses only cold air.
Running out of time? Separate the colours from the whites and set the delay timer for 3 a.m. It’ll be done and ready when you get up, and, with a little luck, you’ll have time to hang and fold before you head to work.
Mark Eglington is the son of a South African who taught him how to sell the very best European appliances to Canadians. He grew up in Oakville, got his MBA in Australia and, along the way, interned at the Liebherr factory in Germany.