MOST FUSS-FREE: SAMSUNG WA11FS9MTA (11kg)
$1,099, from major electrical stores
None – it's a no-frills machine.
• It's one of the quietest and most stable – it only trembled oh-so-slightly when in use.
• My thin tees and soft tops were gently handled in the Delicate cycle; duvets were fairly dry after going through Blanket mode.
• It was fairly easy to use even though it's not as versatile or sophisticated as the other machines. I could adjust the spin timing (but not the speed) and duration of the rinse of some programmes.
• Its eight wash programmes are efficient, ranging from a 43min Quick Wash to a 90min Blanket programme.
• Its Air-dry function (a cool-air-only cycle to reduce the wetness of the laundry without completely drying it) has shorter durations – 15 or 30min, compared with the 45-90min of some of the other washers.
This is perfect if you want a quiet machine that washes well without the bells and whistles.
MOST VERSATILE: LG WFT1471 DD (14kg)
$1,399, from major electrical stores
Warm wash function Top-load washers don't normally come with a warm wash function, but this one does. The Stain Care and Whitening programmes wash at 40 deg C, and the Allergy Care programme at 60 deg C. The only drawback is that the Allergy Care programme took more than four hours to complete.
• It washed and spun quietly, like a well-oiled engine. It even has a Silent Mode, useful if you're a light sleeper.
• It was gentle to both regular and delicate clothes. Although laundry came out more damp than from other washers, the clothes were not entangled.
• It has helpful features like a self-cleaning lint compartment and a soft-close cover. A sticker on the side of the machine provides the washer's model number and the numbers to call troubleshooting advice.
• The 12 wash programmes cater to every laundry need, from Normal to specialised ones like School Care and Eco. Some programmes let you add Steam and Strong Wave functions (to clean dirty clothes better).
• It has sleek stainless steel finishing and touch controls.
• Its tub is one of the deepest – I needed to go up on tiptoe to reach in for the last pieces of baby clothes.
• I could only select the air-dry function (60, 90 or 120min) after the laundry was done, instead of right at the start, which would have been more convenient.
It's quiet, gentle to laundry and lets you use hot water – I only wish the warm wash worked in shorter cycles. Its extensive wash menu would serve big families well.
MOST INNOVATIVE: ELECTROLUX EWT1212 (12kg)
$1,499, from major electrical stores
An ultrasonic stain remover wand The wand – a large pen attached to the top of the washer – uses ultrasonic energy waves and water to create vibrations to loosen stains on fabric. It worked like magic! It cleared day-old ice cream blotches and lightened old Milo stains from my kids' tees effortlessly.
• Other than reading up on the stain remover wand, I did not need to refer to the instruction manual to use the washer, thanks to its intuitive control panel and unambiguous buttons.
• Even though it has no air-dry function (unlike the rest of the machines), there was no need for it because it evenly spun-dried large loads of laundry.
• The front of the washer is gently sloped, making it easy to reach for laundry in the base of the rather deep tub. It also has a soft-close cover.
• Its wash programmes are efficient, ranging from 44min for woollens to 1hr 9min for bed linen.
• It was loud and vibrated more than the others during the spin cycle. A pole in the middle of the tube rotates to create the wash action (unlike the other machines whose tubs rotate), and it looks odd, but is not inconvenient.
• Its delicate function is more intensive than that of the other washers.
With its magic wand and vigorous washes, this is a great stain-busting appliance that's efficient and easy to use if you don't mind the noise.
MOST USER-FRIENDLY: TOSHIBA AW-DC1300WS (12kg)
$969, from major electrical stores
A Child-proof mode While all the rest of the washers have covers that auto-lock during the rinse or spin cycle, this machine locks it right at the start.
• The spin cycle was quiet, but during the wash cycle, I could hear the water splashing and swishing in the tub some 5m away. However, it contained vibrations really well and hardly shook as the tub spun.
• Laundry was well-washed and evenly dried in all cycles. It was also kind to delicate items.
• I could select the air-dry function (which kicks in at the end of the wash programme) right at the start; not every machine offered that option.
• It has eight efficient wash programmes, ranging from 40min for a regular cycle to 1hr 35min for a soak programme. They are clearly named, too.
• Like the Hitachi washer, it gives a good range of customisable options. I could adjust water levels, wash and spin duration, rinse frequency, as well as programmes like wash-only or rinse-only.
• A water hose sticks out from the top of the machine. It would be less awkward-looking if it were attached to the back of the washer.
• It was easy to accidentally detach the detergent dispenser.
Easy to use and gives ample options for different laundry needs, although it was a tad noisy at times.
MOST EFFICIENT: HITACHI SF-130SS (13kg)
$899, from major electrical stores
Auto self-clean function The washer automatically cleans the tub for 12min before every spin cycle. In addition, it has Tub Clean and Tub Dry functions that you can activate regularly to clean the inside of the machine.
• Regular and large laundry loads were well spun after the wash.
• It has one of the widest tubs, which makes loading a duvet a cinch.
• It caters to smaller laundry loads, with a mode for loads of 2kg and less.
• It is highly customisable – I could select water amount, duration of the wash and spin cycles, rinse cycle as well as spin speed (400, 600 and 800 rpm) for most programmes. When I ran the Air Jet programme, the blow-dry function (15, 25 or 45min) kicked in automatically after the spin cycle.
• It's the only one with a detergent indicator to show the recommended scoops for each load, and an indicator that shows the weight of the laundry, as well the amount of water used.
• It has the quickest wash cycle – a 29min Speedy wash. Its longest cycle is a 74min Fuzzy programme.
• It was a tad louder and vibrated more than the LG, Samsung and Toshiba washers, especially with small loads.
• The water inlet pipe sticks out from the washer and is rather unsightly.
Not only is it productive, it also pays extra attention to tub cleanliness.
This article was originally published in Simply Her October 2014.
All product and pricing information was correct at the time of the magazine's publication. We advise readers to check with the stores for the latest availability and pricing information.