I have used both front loading washing machine as well as top loading machine in India over the last decade or so. In the process I learnt a lot about the technologies, the advantages and disadvantages of both types.
Are you wondering which is the best washing machine brand in India?
There are only a handful of washing machine brands that rule this space. The most famous brands are LG, Samsung, IFB, Bosch, and Whirlpool. If I were to pick the best fully automatic front loading washing machine in India, I would lean towards LG purely because of very good after sales service. Both IFB and Samsung are as good as LG in terms of product but LG edges them out in terms of service. Bosch washing machines have excellent build quality but they are somehow not very popular in India. The best top loading washing machine in India would be LG undoubtedly due to its superior service and build quality is similar to IFB (top loading). Samsung and Whirlpool are other contenders especially in top loader. Samsung knows the pulse of the Indian market and has introduced lot of features. Samsung and LG rule the roost in semi-automatic washing machine segment.
1. 5-step guide to selecting the best washing machine
1. Family size: The size of your family determines the capacity of the washing machine most ideal for you. Nuclear family with 3 or 4 members is most common these days in India. The ideal washing machine size for such a family is between 6 to 6.5 kg.
For family size between 3 to 5, ideally 7kg or 8kg washing machine should work well. For families larger than this, you can go for 10kg washing machine.
2. Availability of regular water supply: Despite superior technology available, many people complaint that their washing machine is not working properly. Some of the issues can be traced back to the issue of irregular water supply.
If water supply is highly irregular such as once in few days, semi-automatic model is ideal for you. This is because these models can store water for later washing purpose.
3. Budget: In India, budget tilts the decision and in fact the most important criteria. The companies know this very well. Hence, you find washing machine at all price points. If you are looking for the best washing machine under Rs 10,000 then semi-automatic model is the ideal choice.
However, like most Indian families if you want a fully automatic machine but do not want to spend a lot, top loaders are the perfect choice. You can find many top loading machines below Rs 15,000.
Having said that, these days there are advanced top loaders which give the front loaders a run for their money. If you don't mind spending then go for premium top loaders or front loaders. These typically cost Rs 25,000 and above.
4. Ease of use: Next to budget this is the most important criteria that tilts the balance towards top loading washing machines in India. Many people find it inconvenient to bend and load clothes in front loader. This is why front loaders are not very popular in India, despite its superior washing ability.
Moreover, these days children live away from home and hence, aged parents find it easy to use top loading machines. Similarly, they do not prefer semi automatic machines as it involves manually shifting clothes after wash is complete to the dryer compartment.
5. Area available: While this may not sound too important, I would recommend you to evaluate the area available in your house. This can save you lot of trouble later on. Front loaders are very heavy and not easy to move around in case you decide to change the position later.
Semi-automatic occupy lot of space even as they are easy to move around. Hence, you need a relatively larger space for semi-automatics compared to top or front loaders.
2. Best 3 Front loading washing machines
Our pick: I would tend to lean towards Bosch due to its superior build quality, and features available for the price point. Even though it might appear costly, if you were to purchase it online, it is bang for the buck you pay.
One caveat to note is that Bosch models require regular supply of water. Otherwise you will see errors. In fact, this is also one of the reasons Bosch is not popular in India as people tend to think the brand is not good.
Bosch also prefers selling online and does not actively engage distributors for its washing machine. For this reason, if you were to visit any store, the dealer would be happy to show you either LG or IFB when it comes to front loading washing machine.
However, many customers are not happy with service from Bosch. Due to this reason, LG and IFB are very famous.
3. Best 3 Top loading washing machines
Our pick: In top loading washing machine LG is the clear winner. Though Samsung is not far behind. The Korean behemoths are slugging out in the Indian market with innovative features. They are trying to out to do each other.
You can safely go with either brand and I am sure you will not be disappointed. LG has top notch service. You just have to call their centralized service center in case of any issues.
Finally, Bosch also makes the cut. As mentioned above it prefers selling online and does not actively engage distributors for its washing machine.
4. Best 3 Semi-automatic washing machines
Our pick: Samsung is the most popular brand in the semi-automatic washing machine category. Though LG is not far behind. The Korean behemoths are at it again in this category also. They are both equally good.
You can safely go with either brand and I am sure you will not be disappointed. LG has top notch service.
Whirlpool is quite popular brand with certain innovative features. However, while buying semi-automatic models please keep in mind that you need to manually drain water and load after each cycle.
5. Washing machine buyer's guide
(I) Difference between fully automatic and semi automatic washing machine
Semi-automatic washing machines
Semi-automatic washing machines are really entry level machines and cheaper compared to fully automatic ones. They consist of two tubs, one for washing and the other for drying. It requires you to manually pour the water before start of the cycle and manually drain the water after the washing process. You also need to shift the clothes manually from the washing tub to the drying tub.
These type of machines are always top loading. They have lesser number of controls and relatively easy to operate. They do not require continuous water supply and hence consumption of water is also less.
Advantages of semi-automatic washing machines
While semi-automatic machines look very simple, are there any advantages of owning one?
Yes, it gives you better control. For instance, let us say, you want to wash only one pair of trousers. It is rainy season and trousers are soiled. In a fully automatic machine you cannot wash only one pair of trousers.
However, a semi-automatic machine lets you do that. However, due to the constant manual intervention people generally prefer fully automatic ones.
Fully automatic washing machines
Fully automatic washing machines are relatively advanced compared to semi-automatic models. There are two main variants. Fully automatic front loading and fully automatic top loading washing machines.
In this type, clothes are dry ~80% inside the washing machine. So you need to leave them out for less time to dry completely.
(II) Top loading vs front loading: The million dollar question
Top loading fully automatic washing machine
Among these two, the top loading ones are most popular in India as they marry both convenience and cost. They are relatively cheaper compared to front loaders and does not require manual intervention. Thus making it the most popular choice.
Within top loaders, there are two variants. First type uses agitator and is the most common. The agitator looks like a spindle in the middle of the drum and equipped with fins. It moves around the clothes during the wash cycle thus removing the dirt.
There are other top loading models with impellers. These are sort of propellers found at the bottom and moves clothes from the outer towards the center. These give more room for laundry in the drum and also use less water compared to models with agitators.
Front loading fully automatic washing machine
On the other fully automatic ones are considered superior in terms of their ability to remove dirt better. They work with tumble action, consumer less water and energy. In short, they are highly efficient compared to top loaders.
They are also expensive compared to top loaders and require constant supply of water. This could be a problem if there is no sufficient pressure to feed water constantly. Front loaders are also gentle on the clothes whereas the top loaders treat clothes slightly harsher due to the agitation. Front loaders last longer. I had an IFB front loading washing machine that lasted 10 years before exchanging it for Rs 1,000.
(III) What is inverter technology?
The word inverter can be misleading and cause confusion in your mind. We are used to thinking “Inverter” is something that keeps the lights on in the event of power failure.
So we tend to think that inverter A/C or inverter washing machine would work when there is power cut.
Let us get this clarified first. In the context of washing machine, an inverter washing machine is nothing but one that is powered by an inverter motor. This motor is brushless and hence does not heat up fast. This ensures lesser heat dissipation, less noise and vibration, and gives a longer lifespan due to lower number of moving parts. Hence, it is energy efficient and provides better wash cycles.
(IV) How to tackle hard water?
Hard water is a big problem in India.
But wait! What is hard water?
Hard water is nothing but water with high content of Calcium and Magnesium salts. At many places this could also be Ferrous salts, in which case the water would be reddish brown in colour.
Why are they bad?
It is because of many reasons. Firstly, they interfere with the washing process and requires more detergent than required. They also get deposited along the sides of the drum thus impacting the life of the washing machine. The clothes are not cleaned completely and might cause skin irritation when worn.
Is there a solution to this?
You bet! A simple filter that can be attached to the washing machine would convert the hard water into soft water before loaded into the machine.
(V) Which is the best washing powder for top loading or front loading washing machine?
When we first bought a front loader in 2005, my mom only bought Surf Excel Matic Top Load detergent power.
Her reasoning. Beta, we have spent so much for the washing machine, so we need to maintain it properly. Nevertheless we did try liquid detergent also and sometimes normal detergent as well.
The IFB front loader lasted for a good 10 years or perhaps 11. I am not sure if using a top loader specific detergent increases the life of the machine. I spoke to many people and the jury is still out on this one.
I cannot say with 100% conviction that you must use a front loader specific washing powder. However, if you think it enhances the life of your machine, please go ahead and use it. Keep in mind though, it is expensive compared to regular detergent.
(VI) Technologies decoded
The big washing machine brands are spending a fortune in R&D and the results are showing up. As a result, we have innovations in soaking, improved drum, auto detergent dispensers, dual drums, quieter washing machines, smart control etc.
Let us see what this means to you and whether it is worth spending extra money on these!
(i) Dual washers: The Korean standoff - LG’s TWINwash vs Samsung’s FlexWash
Dual washers have two compartments allowing you to add two loads of laundry simultaneously. LG introduced the design way back in 2015. Not to be left out Samsung followed suit but with a better design.
LG’s path-breaking dual washer marries the best of two worlds, front-load and top-load. The result is a massive 21-kg front loader with a smaller Sidekick tray with 3.5kg capacity at the bottom pedestal. There are smaller front loader variants such as 18kg and 12kg.
With this unique design you can wash the usual large loads in the front loader and use the smaller try at the bottom for delicate and smaller clothes.
The pedestal raises the height of the machine by few feet thus making it easier to load the front loader. However, since the mini tray is at the bottom, it still involves bending on your part.
Cut your laundry time in half! Now you can finish two loads of laundry in 49minutes with LG TWINWash
Samsung inverted LG’s design and put the mini washer at the top. Essentially it is a single machine with two washers and a dryer, run at the same time using the same water source.
Just like LG, this also lets you to add the regular load to the front loader and use the mini tray at the top for delicate and smaller clothes. Since the mini tray at the top, it eliminates the need for bending while loading it making it ergonomic.
What is the verdict?
As you might have imagined, all these technological add-ons would mean that the washing machine’s price would be astronomical.
Would you spend lakhs for a washing machine? Please let us know in comments.
According to Consumer Reports Org, the min loader in both Samsung and LG are able to remove only mild stains and is not water efficient. They cannot match up to the powerful cleaning of the front loader.
On the other hand the front loaders scored very well for both the brands. While the designs are different, there is no stark difference between the two in terms of performance.
(ii) Efficiency improvements with hardware:
Direct Drive: LG revolutionized the motor technology with its inverter direct drive motor. The motor is connected directly to the drum, thus making the belt redundant. The brushless motor has minimum moving parts thus preventing heating up.
It also ensures low noise and efficient washing with optimal power and water. As the motor is able to detect the load, and operates at optimal speed. With the conventional technology operated with belt, it operates at highest efficiency at full speeds. In short, the inverter motor can operate at variable speeds.Similarly, Samsung also has digital inverter motor in its premium models. Samsung provides 10 year warranty on these motors. Just like Samsung, Whirlpool has IntelliSense inverter motor. Whirlpool also gives 10 year warranty on the motor. Siemens calls its technology iQdrive motor.
(iii) Stain removal technologies:
Daag Achhe hai (Stain is good) changed the fate of Surf Excel. But ask any Mom (or dad), definitely no one would agree with it. More so when the stains are stubborn such as grease, mud, coffee, or even those found in collar. To attack these, different brands use various methods. I have discussed a few below.
Auto prewash: LG’s Auto pre-wash helps to remove stains in advance before the actual wash cycle begins. The pre-wash cycle lasts 8 minutes and can be activated with a push of a button.Dual Activ: In some of its models, Samsung provides a separate sink at the top where you can pre-wash clothes with stains. So it is not a technology per se, but just an additional space where clothes can be pre-washed with hand. There is a button to send a jet of water and the excess water can be drained to the drum below and use it for the washing cycle.
(iv) Drum technology:
VarioDrum: Bosch’s drum boasts of wave-droplet design. As the drum spins in one direction, the paddle cleans the clothes and when it spins in the opposite direction, the steep side of the paddle continues to clean the clothes.It also reduces crease by giving the laundry more space to move around.
Diamond Drum: This is Samsung’s proprietary feature where the drum is made of diamond shaped depressions. The holes are 25% smaller and found within these depressions.
This is mostly beneficial in front loaders where it prevents clothes from sticking out and getting damaged. Samsung claims from its tests the reduction was about 34%.
Turbo Drum: LG’s drum technology allows for movement of the drum in opposite direction to the pulsator. The drum rotates in both the directions which reduces tangling of the clothes during the wash cycle.
(v) Washing technology:
Various brands of washing machines use different water motion technology that helps to clean the clothes better.
6 Motion Direct Drive Technology: LG’s technology is found mainly in premium models that moves the drum in multiple directions thus cleaning it more efficiently. The 6 motions are Stepping, Filtration, Scrubbing, Tumble, Rolling and Swing.
SoftMove technology: Whirlpool's SoftMove technology senses the load type and customizes the drum movements according to the fabric type thus removing the toughest of stains.
The 6 types are:
- Energic wash for cotton/whites
- Power Shower for synthetics
- Colour Bath for light and dark colours
- Wave motion for colour
- Slow motion for delicates and
- Soft cradle for wool
Not to be left out, IFB also has its own type of washing styles in its front loaders. Some of them are O2 wash, Cradle wash, Air bubble wash, 360 wash, and Steam wash.
(vi) Self cleaning drums
I hear you say, what if washing machines are intelligent enough to clean themselves. Yes, we humans always want our machines to do more. As if washing clothes is not enough, they should clean up themselves.
The companies heard you. We have self cleaning drums. Good smelling drums mean good smelling clothes. So let’s see what the companies have in their arsenal..Samsung’s Eco Drum Clean cycle helps to remove the detergent built up during the wash cycles. Samsung suggests that this should be run after forty cycles. Doing this is very simple. Without loading clothes, switch on the machine and turn the cycle selector towards Eco Drum Clean cycle and Start. Check the washing machine maintenance tips to take better care of your washing machine.
(vii) Are steaming washing machine better than regular ones?
This may not seem like a big feature at first look. But ask anyone who suffers from chronic allergy, they will appreciate it better. Steam acts an anti allergen.
TrueSteam: LG’s TrueSteam technology essentially uses a jet of steam to remove allergens, reduces wrinkles and odour, and also softens the clothes.
ActiveOxygen: Bosch claims that with its ActiveOxygen feature there is no need to wash baby clothes or underwear separately. According to Bosch, this method releases natural substance containing oxygen molecules inside the machine.
A cold ActiveOxygen fog pretreats the laundry and a second fog at the end of the wash cycle completely removes the germs. However, do note that the two treatments together lasts 30 min in order to effectively remove the germs. So use this feature only when you have sufficient time on hand.
Washing machine with an allergen cycle included work by raising the temperature and time for that cycle. This is said to effectively remove the allergens such as dust mites, pet dander etc.
(viii) Bubble technology:
This technology uses bubbles to remove stains. The bubbles generated by mixing the detergent with air and water, are more efficient in penetrating the clothes and removing the dirt. Air is dispelled through tiny holes at the bottom. The water is typically cold water and in fact, this works best with cold water.
Ecobubble: Samsung’s bubble technology is called as Eco Bubble technology. It deploys a bubble generator to mix water and air along with the detergent much earlier in the wash cycle.
This creates a foam much before the main water inlet flows into the drum. This helps the bubbles to penetrate the fabric much faster and efficiently than conventional wash cycle. This works well for Indian households where we typically use colder wash cycle.O2 wash: IFB similarly has O2 wash which it claims produces millions of air bubbles that penetrate the fabric and remove stain/dirt. This works similar to Samsung’s Eco Bubble technology.
(ix) Soaking technology:
BubbleSoak: This helps to remove stubborn stains by soaking the clothes thoroughly with a mere push of a button. Bubble Soak was developed by Samsung.SuperSoak: Similar to Samsung, Whirpool developed its own technology known as Super Soak. This is done by continuous soaking and scrubbing for nearly 25 minutes.
(x) Detergent technology:
Auto detergent dispensers: I always wonder what is the right amount of detergent to add in the washing machine. Are you like me? Then this feature is for you.
In some models of washing machine, there is a container where detergent and also fabric softener can be filled in separate compartments. Then you need to activate the auto dispenser in the program and save it.
This ensures only the right amount of detergent is dispensed based on the load and type of clothes. Whirlpool calls it Auto detergent dosage while Samsung calls it Auto detergent drawer.
Bosch calls it I-Dos and it claims that once activated the system will set the precise amount of detergent down to millilitre. I-Dos considers the load volume, fabric type, degree of soiling, and hardness of water.
(xi) Future of washing machine technology:
The future is already here. Days are not far, when you will power up your washing machine with a single command.
You wake up in the morning and say, "Alexa, switch on the washing machine". Then the washing machine comes to life, without you having to do anything. Thought I would imagine you will have to load the clothes anyway. Unless you have a robot to do that! Okay, let's not get carried away.
NFC: Near field communications is usually used in smartphones wherein the technology allows devices to communicate with each other when placed closely within 4cm distance.
LG uses NFC to let users download additional programs in their smartphone.. Some examples include Wool, Baby Care and Cold Wash. You can then apply these programs by bringing the phone close to the washing machine where the NFC tag is displayed.
Smart apps using wi-fi:
Samsung’s Smart Washer app: This app lets you to control the Samsung washer/dryer with your smartphone. The app will also notify the status of the washing cycle, errors and also actions to be taken.
Few months ago, Haier launched IoT enabled washing machines that can be controlled using Haier Wash App. The Haier Wash App will remind the user to take their clothes out once the washing is over and will maintain a complete record of their laundry usage in the past.
Similarly, LG’s SmartThinQ lets you to control or monitor the washing machine from anywhere and anytime. You can even track energy consumption or add a range of new wash cycles.
(xii) Hard water technology:
As discussed above hard water impacts the smooth working of a washing machine. Some washing machines use devices to counter this problem. For instance, IFB uses a device called Aqua Energie. It is powered by magnets to break down the calcium molecules in the water.
Thus, the smaller particles are washed away and does not interact with detergents. This has multiple benefits. Lower detergent is used, no deposits on the drum, efficient wash cycles and saves energy.
(xiii) Anti vibration technology:
I am sure you would have seen washing machine spinning so hard that even wakes up Kumbakarna from his slumber. However, the companies have innovated so that we have washing machines that makes less noise and vibrate lesser. You can sleep in peace.
Samsung is again at the forefront with its VRT Plus technology that helps to keep the noise level minimum during the spin cycle. VRT+ stands for Vibration Reduction Technology. It not only lowers the noise level, but also keeps the washing machine stable during the spin cycle.Bosch has its Anti Vibration design that helps to reduce vibrations during the spin cycle and also the machine does not shake. The sidewalls of Bosch washing machines with AntiVibration design have contours, arranged in concentric circles which reduce vibration and increase stability. Plus with sound insulation and shock absorbers, noise is dampened even further.
(vii) Overloading vs Underloading:
I never thought about this as a major topic. But while researching for this article I came across this topic. I thought it is important to address this as people generally do not talk about this.
There are essentially two types of mistakes we do while loading. Either we dump it with whatever clothes we find. Or on the other hand, if there are not many clothes to be washed, but you still go ahead and spin the machine.
Either way, the washing machine is not working at its optimal load. In case of overloading, the clothes can get entangled with each other forming a single bundle.The detergent cannot reach all the clothes evenly and thus leaves behind stains. Moreover, chances are high that the clothes are crumpled and unwanted creases are formed.
Underloading has its own set of problems. The detergent is in excess and thus is left behind on the clothes. This is also waste of resources such as water and energy.
As a rule of thumb, try to maintain the load between 75-80%. This gives enough room for the clothes to move around during the spin cycle. However, remember this also depends on the type of clothes. For light clothes going higher will not harm. However, for heavy items such as jeans or woollen clothes it is ideal to stay around 75%.
If you ever see an error that says UE it refers to unbalanced load error. This can be rectified by redistributing the clothes or leveling the washing machine.
(viii) Do you need to pay hefty amount for AMC?
I am generally not a big fan of AMC or annual maintenance contract. I believe it is a way to make money after sales. Having said that there are times I wish I had an AMC in place. I had a bad experience with my earlier washing machine.
One fine day the machine stopped working. The guy who came for repairing said there is fault in the board and has to be replaced. I paid Rs 6,000 for it and the company gave warranty for six months.
As luck would have it, the same problem occurred again after six months. So this time I decided to go with a local service person. He fixed it for less than Rs 2,000.
Whirlpool charges Rs 2,615 for 2 years for semi-automatic models. It charges Rs 4,490 for 2 years for top loaders. For front loaders, they charge Rs 4,440 for 1 year.
Do you think that is hefty? I would think so too. A work around would be pay extra and get extended warranty if the company gives one. For instance, LG provides extended warranty for 5 years. This should be bought at the time of purchase.
If there is no extended warranty, I suggest wait for couple of years before going for AMC. I still have not signed up for AMC for my next machine.
Would you take that risk? Let me know in comments what you think.
(ix) Do you need a Stabilizer for your washing machine?
Do you know why my washing machine conked off? The service guy said that voltage fluctuation damaged the motherboard. It is not like we have huge fluctuations. Just the usual Indian way of plus or minus 10 or 20 volts once in a while. But this reason alone managed to hurt my machine twice.
It is not common to see stabilizers used for washing machines. However, if your area has huge voltage fluctuations, then I would recommend you install one.
Buying washing machine is not rocket science! Well that is what I thought until I wrote this article.
Washing machines are putting other devices to shame with hoard of innovative features. Enough to confuse anyone. This article will help you to select the best washing machine in India in 2019.
The 5-step guide should help you to shortlist washing machines in 30 minutes. From there it should not take you much time to further drill down to one brand and model.
To summarize, the 5-points are:
- Family size
- Availability of regular water supply
- Ease of use
- Area available
For a typical Indian nuclear family with 2-3, or 3-4 members, a washing machine size of 6.5kg or 7kg would do just fine. Typically, Indians prefer top loading washing machine.
Though traditionally front loading washing machines are considered superior technology wise and hence costlier. However, these days top loading washing machines have premium features that give the front loaders a run for money.
Honestly, for a typical Indian household who does not want to shell out more than Rs 25,000 there are plenty of models available. It should not be very difficult to select a suitable model that fits your budget.